When Failure IS An Option
In the pursuit of muscle, body builders are constantly on the lookout for new ways to increase the intensity of their workouts.
After all, pushing the limits of what the body is capable of is what this sport is all about. As a result of this mindset, performing exercises until failure is a popular way attempt to maximize mass. Some studies have shown, though, that this method is not appropriate in all circumstances. But when used effectively, it can help you propel your physique to the next level.
Pushing the limits of what the body is capable of is what Bodybuilding is all about
Failure training is a method in which a lift is repeated until you cannot produce enough force to complete the last repetition and your muscle(s) “fail.” In failure training, there is no predetermined number of reps to aim for; you simply continue lifting until that momentary failure. It is important to note that failure training is not achieved simply by stopping when you think that you can’t complete another rep; your muscle is the master here, not your mind – repeat the lift until you actually fail to complete the rep, regardless of what you think.
Failure training involves repeating an exercise until you cannot produce enough force to complete the last rep
At first glance, training to failure may seem like the ultimate strategy for gaining strength, a magic method for mass. Indeed, in the world of bodybuilding, higher intensity is often thought to translate to better results. And while this mindset can pay off in many cases, going all-out all of the time may not actually be beneficial. Training to failure puts a considerable amount of stress on your body, which can contribute to more difficult recovery.
Glutamine helps with the removal of lactic acid, promotes recovery, and assists in the prevention of DOMS
For this reason, I like to finish failure training sessions with ALLMAX Glutamine, an amino acid that helps with the removal of lactic acid, promotes recovery, and assists in the prevention of DOMS.
IS FAILURE TRAINING FOR YOU?
Don’t get me wrong – hard work is essential for great results. But the type of work matters, too, and failure training isn’t appropriate for everyone. Research has determined that “training status and goals of the lifter should guide the decision-making process” on whether or not to use this technique. Failure training isn’t recommended for beginners, and it’s important to note that it is “not essential for increases in…strength and hypertrophy” (1).
But that’s not to say training to failure is worthless – in fact, the truth is quite the opposite. It is undoubtedly a powerful tool in a lifter’s arsenal, as the technique can lead to increases in muscle size and strength because it increases the secretion of growth hormone (2). Additionally, research has shown that failure training produced greater increases in bench press endurance than traditional training (3).
Failure training has been found to lead to greater increases in bench press endurance than traditional training
Failure training is not for casual lifters, though. This method is ideal for programs “structured for increases in strength and hypertrophy.” Research has also suggested that failure training could be the key to breaking through plateaus – but it is most effective when used occasionally, not all the time. In essence, training to failure is a sporadic, extra burst of intensity. For these special occasions, I like to prepare for the imminent onslaught with Beta-Alanine, Caffeine and Arginine provide a boost of energy and strength, while the amino acids ensure immediate recovery.
Beta-Alanine provides an immediate boost of energy to enhance your point of failure
But how often should you use this secret weapon? It’s up to you, but consider some research done on the subject. When the failure training was adopted as part of a six-week cycle, it “resulted in superior increases in strength and hypertrophy in both untrained subjects and elite athletes.” The success of failure training lies in its ability to induce greater stimulation in the highest threshold fast-twitch muscle fibers. It should be noted that in contrast, the “highest threshold motor units may never be fully recruited” through non-failure training (1).
So next time you need to blast through a training barrier, incorporate failure training. When used sparingly, and strategically, this technique can promote growth unlike any other.
- Willardson, Jeffrey M. The Application of Training To Failure in Periodized Multiple-Set Resistance Exercise Programs. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2007, Vol. 21 Issue 2: p628.
- Goto, K. et al. Muscular Adaptations to Combinations of High and Low Intensity Resistance Exercises. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: 2004, Vol. 18: p730-737.
- Izquierdo, M. et al. Differential effects of Strength Training leading to Failure versus not to Failure on Hormonal Responses, Strength and Muscle Power Increases. Journal of Applied Physiology: 2006, Vol. 100: p1647-1656.