The central theses
The main reason why people train to fail is that they believe that this increases muscle and strength gains by increasing muscle activation.
Training to failure is not more effective than training to failure. It can promote bad technique, increase the risk of injury and affect intensity and volume.
Take most of your sets with one or two repetitions that are afraid of a technical defect and only make a technical defect in your isolation exercises every few weeks.
If you have been working with the iron for a long time, you have often seen the type "ONE MORE REP".
These days it's usually a 20-year-old Stringer with Waffen SS hairstyle, Oompa Loompa Tan and maybe, just maybe, a little lip gloss (yes, I've seen it).
You will also often find that such specimens compulsively train to fail and be cut off one after the other with the weights on the floor or their bodies.
We may think they look ridiculous, but maybe the joke is on us?
Maybe training for muscle failure – the point where you can not move the weight – is the key to gaining weight?
Now how repeat regions and training frequencyThe subject of training to failure is controversial.
On the one hand, many bodybuilders, experts, and "gurus" claim it's at least beneficial, and some say it's essential for maximizing muscle and strength gains.
How true is that?
Well, in this article you will learn what the scientific literature says about training failures, including their effectiveness, safety, and implementation.
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What is training to failure?
In most studies, training is repeated until failure until you can not move the weight and finish the set. This is also referred to as absolute failure,
Keep in mind that this will not just push you down until it gets really hard or uncomfortable – it means that the weight, no matter what you do, simply stops moving.
This is what it looks like (failure at the sixth repetition):
Although many people claim to train to failure, most do not reach this point regularly. Instead, they stop at the point where the weight begins to move very slowly.
This is not an absolute failure.
Absolute failure is the point where you can not move the weight, even if your life depends on it.
Another important term to understand is technically errorThis refers to the point where you can no longer move the weight with the correct shape.
In other words, you may have the juice to push out one or two more repetitions if you have to, but not without compromising on your technique.
For example, suppose you could crouch down 3 reps if you had an absolute failure (the fourth repetition could not happen under any circumstances). That would give you a real repeat maximum for your squat.
However, if your shape collapses on the third repetition – you start to sway from side to side – your hips will rise faster than your shoulders and so on – this is because of your technical failure.
So, if you train to absolute failure, you get three repetitions, and if you train to the point of technical failure, you get two.
In general, should be the biggest part of your workout technically Failure, not absolute Error. You will soon find out why.
Summary: Training up absolute An error will cause as many repetitions as you can until you can not physically move the weight technically Failure will result in as many repetitions as you can until you can not do another repetition with the correct shape.
Use this training and flexible diet program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat in just 30 days and build muscle – without starving yourself or living in the gym.
Why do people practice absolute failure?
The logic of failure training usually looks like this:
The key point in lifting weights is to contract large volumes of muscle tissue as much as possible. These repeated contractions trigger a series of genetic, physical and hormonal changes in the body that lead to muscle growth. Over time, this process will make you more and more nervous.
But as your muscles get stronger, you must force them to contract more and more as you continue to grow in size and strength. This is known as progressive overloadand it is the primary mechanical motor of muscle growth.
The most effective way to gradually overload your muscles is to load the bar (to get stronger). However, you can also do more repetitions or sets over time.
Here comes the training to the absolute failure into play.
By setting a sentence to absolute failure, make sure you activate (contract) as much muscle tissue as possible. This sends a maximum powerful message to your muscles to grow.
That's the theory anyway.
Summary: The main reason why people train to fail is that they believe that this will result in greater muscle activation, which increases muscle and strength gains.
Does training help against failure to build muscle and strength?
There is no question that it is better for muscle and strength gains to set rates to absolute failure than to blow through your training.
The gymnast who strives as hard as possible on a regular basis will build more and more muscle and strength than the person who spends most of his time working on tapes, bosu balls, and baby weights.
The real question, however, is how a challenging, well-designed training routine does that does This includes the training to the absolute failure compared to such Not?
This question is not easy to answer as many studies seem to have failed not sure properly the subjects actually achieved a failure. In other cases, the programs are designed to be nearly impossible to achieve a true muscle failure.
For example, a current one study conducted by researchers from the Amazon University who were alleged to have performed several sets of high repetition squats with only 60 to 90 seconds between each set.
If you have ever squat, you know that it is more or less impossible to break several sets if you squat with little or no rest.
Another common problem with studies that might be instructive in this regard is that they rarely match the volume (number of sentences) between the training groups to absolute failure and not.
Often, the failing lifters make more sets than those who do not exercise. So it's not a real apple-to-apple comparison.
However, there are a handful of studies in which the researchers have ensured that the participants have failed completely and the volume has been adjusted. Let's take a look at these.
Such a study was conducted by scientists from the Federal University of São Carlos. They divided 32 untrained 23-year-old men into two groups:
Group one was forced to complete all their sentences to the point of total muscle failure.
Group two was asked to complete all their sentences will fatigue (as the repetitions became very unpleasant). This generally corresponds to about 1 to 3 repetitions that fail for most people.
So one group trained to complete failure and the other took their sentences a few repetitions before failing.
Both groups performed three sets of leg extensions twice a week for 12 weeks at 80% of their maximum reps, with a two-minute break between sets.
The scientists carefully recorded how many sets and repetitions had been performed to ensure that both groups had the same volume.
They also carefully monitored the workouts to ensure that Group 1 met their sentences for complete failure, and measured the maximum leg muscle mass and maximum leg muscle mass of participants before and after the study.
Group 1 showed a higher level of muscle activation, but both groups gained almost exactly the same amount of strength and muscle.
Why did not the extra muscle activation result in more muscle or strength gain?
The researchers were not sure, but a plausible explanation is that the subjects were all inexperienced lifters.
Thanks to various physiological factors, often referred to as "newcomer gains", newcomers are responding to the effects of strength training and do not require an extraordinary amount of stimuli to maximize muscle and strength gains.
Once this upper limit for muscle growth and strength gain is reached, adding more stimuli for more muscle activation, intensity, volume, frequency, or anything else will not boost progress.
In other words, the muscle machinery of your body can only work so fast. If you're new to lifting, it's much easier to overdrive it than if you're an advanced or advanced lifter.
Therefore, in the case of the study just referred to, it is likely that the group of lifters who were taking each set of absolute muscle failure activated more muscle tissue than those who did not, activating the latter group by the bulk of the potential muscle to produce response.
Another study On this topic, scientists from the University of Brasilia have conducted an investigation with young, untrained women. In this case, training the biceps curls did not result in more muscle growth than a few repetitions before failure.
At this point one can say that beginners have little reason to train to failure. What about more experienced lifters?
It's clear that more training is available to most people with more training experience, as a team of East Tennessee State University scientists recently investigated study,
The researchers divided 15 trained 27-year-old lifters into two groups:
Group 1 trained in the last sentence of each exercise until complete failure.
Group two trained on the basis of a percentage of their maximum number of reps, with each set a few repetitions before failure.
Both groups exercised on heavy weights three days a week, and did three sets of 8 to 12 or 4 to 6 reps (this varied throughout the study) in four different exercises. They also did one day of explosive training and two days of sprints a week. (This was not clarified in the study, but these individuals were most likely football players.)
The researchers measured the strength and muscle mass of everyone before and after the study.
Group one performed worse as a group two on almost every measure. The differences were only statistically significant when it came to strength in a handful of exercises, but in Group 1, there was still no improvement in almost every metric, while in Group 2, improvement was found in almost every metric.
Everyone in Group One also reported that training required more effort and more overtraining.
Why is that happend?
1. Phrases that have been doomed to failure are not "anabolic" sentences that are doomed to failure.
Muscle cells are like small motors in many ways. They can only produce so much power – they only have so much natural "horsepower" – and can only do so much work until they "redline".
In other words, it can only move so much weight and do so many repetitions of a move before it stops.
If you push a muscle cell to its limits, it will triggers A cascade of signals leading to increased muscle endurance, strength, and (often) more height.
In this way, the last reps of each set will have more of a muscle build-up than the first, but pushing to the point of absolute failure will not add thrust to the final sets that are a few reps.
In other words, putting the pedal on the metal can put a bit more strain on your muscles, but it also increases the risk of collapse (injuries and symptoms related to overtraining).
2. If sets fail, the body is hit more than if sets are stopped with a few repetitions in the tank.
research shows that training to failure disproportionately causes more fatigue, pain and wear than training to near-failure.
The more often you train to failure, the harder it can be to optimize your volume (sets or reps per week) and your intensity (strain) for maximum muscle and strength gain. You will not be able to work hard enough week after week.
Over time, this can hinder progress and even lead to a plateau.
Another disadvantage of training to failure is it often caused Break your technique.
One of the reasons is we are losing gradually the ability to feel exactly what we are doing with our bodies as our muscles become more and more tired. We believe we stay in shape, but we do not.
This is especially true for certain exercises like the deadlift. squat, and Military Pressthat are very hard to do right when pushed to the point of absolute failure. The last few repetitions often get sloppy and not much is needed to train a muscle or muscle joint,
Although it is fine to compromise the form from time to time to get a PR, you do not want to get used to bad technique training. The more you do this, the harder it will be to do the exercises correctly, especially if you use heavy weights.
This is a very common mistake for people who are new to lifting. By exercising regularly to fail, they undermine faulty movement patterns that are difficult to correct on the road. Or they just get hurt when the weights get heavy.
One last study of training to failure that I want to share with you is a Meta-analysis performed by scientists at the University of Sydney.
The researchers found eight studies comparing people who exercise with failure and people who do not exercise with failure. Half of the studies also ensured that both groups performed the same amount of volume, allowing a clearer analysis of the results.
After analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that training to failure did not produce a significant difference in strength compared to non-training to failure. They have not dealt with muscle growth, but chances are good that the results would have been similarly inconspicuous.
As the authors stated, ". , , It seems unnecessary to do an error training to maximize muscle power. "
This is also reflected in my training experience in the gym, helping thousands of people gain muscle and strength through my books, blogs, and podcasts.
I've never found a significant advantage in regular training to absolute failure versus training to technical failure, which is usually one to three repetitions before the absolute failure.
Well, one argument for training to failure is that many incredibly tall and strong powerlifters, bodybuilders and fitness models swear by it.
In fact, many of them seem to train to failure in just about any workout in one or more sets – and often in combined exercises such as squats, bench presses and deadlifts – and never seem to encounter problems with overtraining.
Well, not to sound cynical, but "steroids there."
As soon as drugs enter the picture, everything changes. Properly used, you can use steroids to train harder than you could ever naturally.
Even a relatively light dose of testosterone dramatically increases muscle protein synthesis rates and post-workout recovery, and many people take moderate or high doses along with a cocktail of other medications such as trenbolone, nandrolone, winstrol, SARMs, and others.
In addition, many drug users take chemicals and inject them to improve recovery and maintain joint health (eg, growth hormone).
So, if you see someone a) jacked up, b) consistently training to failure, c) making steady progress, and d) rarely experiencing problems related to injury, overtraining, or burnout, they are probably infected with steroids.
Summary: Training to failure is not more effective than not training to failure. It can promote bad technique, increase the risk of injury, and prevent you from using as much volume or intensity as you should to maximize muscle and strength gains.
When should one train to fail and why?
You now know that there are a number of reasons not to train to failure, and you can do it without it.
But that does not mean that it can not fit into any weightlifter program.
Let's examine the three main benefits of training to failure, to understand why:
1. It makes sure you bring yourself into your training.
Many people tend to get complacent during training. Although they may say that they end up in the tank with just a few repetitions, they could probably get another 4 or 5 or more if they really mess up their guts.
When they train to total failure, they are forced to give everything that helps them to recalibrate their real abilities.
2. It helps you assess your progress.
You will never really know how strong you are (and can become) if you do not approach the failure every now and then.
That's why it's worth driving the key-lock a few times a year to see where you stand.
3. It is not equally harmful in all exercises.
Training with compound exercises such as squats, bench presses and deadlifts harms the body, but what about exercise exercises such as bicep curl, triceps depression or pulling up?
Not as much.
Quite often, they can be doomed to failure during these exercises without any negative consequences.
This does not necessarily help you build muscle or strength faster than leaving a few repetitions in the tank at the end of each set. However, if you occasionally insist on absolute failure, your perception of the effort will remain what benefits the rest of the sentence. Your training.
Although most people practice failure too often and with the wrong exercises, if you get it right, you can profitably incorporate it into your workouts.
So I integrate training to failure in my training and what I recommend in my programs for men and women:
1. Do not train until complete failure.
Put simply, the small rewards of training for absolute failure do not justify the significant risks.
And as you've learned, in some cases training can actually lead to success, even to the point of absolute failure worse Results over time.
Therefore, I do not purposely train to absolute failure, even if I test rep-maxes. Instead, I take these sets to technical failure.
Otherwise, I usually avoid technical breakdowns in most exercises, but not always. That brings me to the next point. , ,
2. Do not exercise more than once every few weeks with technical errors.
This ensures that you do not inadvertently limit the performance of your larger lifts, which are more important to your overall height and strength.
Personally, I like to train until technical failure in the middle and at the end of my training blocks (ending with a real deload).
3. Do not exercise at more than two to three sets per workout after a technical failure.
Limit it to a few sentences per workout. I like to save technical error sets for my very last training exercise.
4. Never train for technical errors in squats, bench presses, military presses or deadlifts.
Most of your training for these exercises should be done to a point that is only characterized by a technical failure, which is usually 2 to 3 repetitions after the absolute failure.
You should only get a technical error if you test a rep-max – which you should not do often. In terms of effort, this would be a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, or the feeling that you could not get more reps (0 repetitions remain in the tank).
If you are new to weightlifting, you need to develop a feel for it. An easy way to learn this is to familiarize yourself with the RPE scale, which you can read more about in this article:
This is the best guideline for the RPE scale on the internet
This means that most of your technical fixes should be done with safer and easier isolation exercises.
Summary: Do not perform compound lifts to complete failure – keep them for your isolation exercises – and do not fail sets more than once every few weeks.
The conclusion to the training to failure
There are two types of muscle failure:
Absolute Failure that does as many repetitions as you can until you physically can not move the weight.
Technically An error that causes as many repetitions as possible until you can not do another with the correct shape.
The main reason why people train to absolute failure is that they believe that this leads to greater muscle activation and thus to an increase in muscle and strength gain.
That's mostly wrong.
Studies with both trained and inexperienced practitioners have repeatedly shown that absolute failure training does not help you gain more muscle or strength than giving sets to a few repetitions that are frightening.
In fact, over-training to fail can hamper progress by reducing the volume and intensity you can deal with and increasing the risk of overtraining, injury and disfigurement.
The training for absolute failure, however, has a few advantages:
It ensures that you bring yourself into your training.
It helps you to assess your progress.
This is not equally harmful in all exercises.
And so it has a place in a thoughtful weightlifter program.
This is how I do it:
I do not train to absolute failure, but only to technical failure.
I do not train more than every few weeks with technical errors.
I do not train with more than two to three sets per workout to a technical defect.
I do not train to technical failures in the squat, the bench, the military press or the deadlift.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you will benefit from the limited benefits that training can provide against failure and avoid the relatively large pitfalls.
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+ Scientific references
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Nóbrega SR, Ugrinovich C., Pintanel L., Barcelos C., Libardi CA. Effect of strength training against muscle failure vs. temporary interruption at high and low intensities on muscle mass and muscle strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2018; 32 (1): 162? 169. doi: 10.1519 / JSC.0000000000001787
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