T Nation

Failure and CNS

http://www.cbass.com/NEWEVIDE.HTM

That article seems to show quite clearly that strength and other areas don’t seem to change much between single or multiple sets to FAILURE.

Now, I’ve read a fair bit on this T-Nation site about the evils of training to failure all the time because of the long term damage to the CNS. This is leaving me a bit confused on what to do. Now, obviously, I want to train the least I have to for maximum results. I guess I am wondering what the results would be like if it was single set vs multiple sets and not to failure.

I have a lot of questions in my mind now; Would the volume be more important if you did not go to failure? Would it not matter at all and the results would still be similar? Would the results be worse without going to failure, or would they be better?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes I feel I can’t win with training, every week there is something new to read that craps all over something else I just read. sigh

Mike, Mike Mentzer is that You!!! LOL

Read up on HIT bro thats what your talking about in a nut shell single all out sets to failure. Sure it can work anything can for a while.

For some it may be the right way for them others no. Me no I seem to do better with a more volume based training not avoiding failure but not seeking it. Seeking to constantly perform better.

This is such a Huge topic with not only so called science and studies (you can find one for anything and both sides) but as many varied opinions.

Best you can do read up and try it give something Like Dardens HIT a try for a good run see if it work for you.

[quote]Dooshy wrote:

I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes I feel I can’t win with training, every week there is something new to read that craps all over something else I just read. sigh[/quote]

That’s because no one knows for sure. If we did, we would have training programs based on each individual’s CNS fatigue and adaptation abilities.

[quote]Phill wrote:
Mike, Mike Mentzer is that You!!! LOL

Read up on HIT bro thats what your talking about in a nut shell single all out sets to failure. Sure it can work anything can for a while.

For some it may be the right way for them others no. Me no I seem to do better with a more volume based training not avoiding failure but not seeking it. Seeking to constantly perform better.

This is such a Huge topic with not only so called science and studies (you can find one for anything and both sides) but as many varied opinions.

Best you can do read up and try it give something Like Dardens HIT a try for a good run see if it work for you.
[/quote]

from now on, I’m just going to wait for you to answer questions and then say- “yeah, what he said.”

meat

My main concern is about the CNS damage long term. I’ve read, as most of you probably have, that long term failure training fries the CNS a lot and can negatively affect your growth and strength over a longer period of time.

I guess I was surprised that the people on those studies did as well as they did over a period I would have thought was too long to have been doing failure training exclusively. What do you think?

[quote]Dooshy wrote:
My main concern is about the CNS damage long term. I’ve read, as most of you probably have, that long term failure training fries the CNS a lot and can negatively affect your growth and strength over a longer period of time.

I guess I was surprised that the people on those studies did as well as they did over a period I would have thought was too long to have been doing failure training exclusively. What do you think?[/quote]

I don’t know about “damage” to the CNS. I can see negatively affecting it’s efficiency.

My opinion is that if you are training for strength- you should leave a rep or two in the tank as well as changing up the exercises every two weeks. But I like failure training with light weights for high reps for recovery purposes and mass development. I throw in one day a week for this type of training and it actually helps me recover faster, gain more mass and as a byproduct helps me get stronger.

meat

I see. Thanks for the response.

I would really love to see a long term (like years) study comparing a large population spread (18-65) with large numbers of people in each catagory doing different routines (failure, non-failure, volume, 1 set, super slow, etc etc).

I think the results would be very interesting to see and it would be great to have some really hard data across the board with regard to all the main training methodologies and their effects on various areas (power, strength, endurance etc etc).

If a study like this already exists, please point me to it and feel free to call me a fool in the process :slight_smile:

[quote]maraudermeat wrote:
Dooshy wrote:
My main concern is about the CNS damage long term. I’ve read, as most of you probably have, that long term failure training fries the CNS a lot and can negatively affect your growth and strength over a longer period of time.

I guess I was surprised that the people on those studies did as well as they did over a period I would have thought was too long to have been doing failure training exclusively. What do you think?

I don’t know about “damage” to the CNS. I can see negatively affecting it’s efficiency.

My opinion is that if you are training for strength- you should leave a rep or two in the tank as well as changing up the exercises every two weeks. But I like failure training with light weights for high reps for recovery purposes and mass development. I throw in one day a week for this type of training and it actually helps me recover faster, gain more mass and as a byproduct helps me get stronger.

meat
[/quote]

Yes like meat said. It has its place for sure. and then doesnt have its place.

Find how it works for you and largely I suspect if your like most as meat stated going to failure with higher reps can be handled and actually beneficial yet consistant failure with high 80% + load can take a hell of a whack.

Hell Just a sqautting session going to 90%+ can leave me feeling fried for days without failing.

then every now and again couple times a year break the rules. It helps IMO just go balls out but be sure to recover afterward.

Sure that would be great but dont hold your breath. any study on healthy trained individuals is hard to come by let alone a very specific and targeted long term study

[quote]Dooshy wrote:
I see. Thanks for the response.

I would really love to see a long term (like years) study comparing a large population spread (18-65) with large numbers of people in each catagory doing different routines (failure, non-failure, volume, 1 set, super slow, etc etc).

I think the results would be very interesting to see and it would be great to have some really hard data across the board with regard to all the main training methodologies and their effects on various areas (power, strength, endurance etc etc).

If a study like this already exists, please point me to it and feel free to call me a fool in the process :)[/quote]

Meat has a good point. Leaving one or two in the tank when lifting 85%+ is a good way of not overtaxing the nervous system.

On the other hand, when training for hypertrophy don’t forget that you won’t hit a lot of your muscle fibres unless you train to failure.

I train for strength mainly but a little extra mass would be nice. I almost never train to total failure, I was just more wondering about those results in those clinical trials more then anything.

Usually I push close and on a rare occasion I’ll miss my final rep on my final set but that is as close to failure as I go normally.

[quote]Dooshy wrote:
I see. Thanks for the response.

I would really love to see a long term (like years) study comparing a large population spread (18-65) with large numbers of people in each catagory doing different routines (failure, non-failure, volume, 1 set, super slow, etc etc).

I think the results would be very interesting to see and it would be great to have some really hard data across the board with regard to all the main training methodologies and their effects on various areas (power, strength, endurance etc etc).

If a study like this already exists, please point me to it and feel free to call me a fool in the process :)[/quote]

Medium term studies have demonstrated that periodized (read: varied) programs are more effective than static, unchanging programs.

This breaks down into two areas:

Most simply, the body will adapt and stagnate if sufficient variability isn’t included in a program. This means variations in exercises, volume and intensity.

Not all qualities should be trained if only one quality (eg max strength/max power/muscular endurance/etc.) is desired, but many qualities are enhanced by training for certain others. Consider the Westside model of cunjugate periodization which in addition to training max strength also uses the repetition method and dynamic training for their carryover to the primary goal.

While I don’t know of any comprehensive long term studies on the efficacy of methods, there are plenty of medium term (~12-16 weeks) studies out there looking at individual methods. Moreover pletny of experienced high level coaches and sport scientists have played with the varying methods and sequencing patterns and have written of their results.

Trained individuals will respond differently than your standard subjects to training to failure.

For one thing, failing at 225 will obviously be more taxing than failing at 135.

I couldnt find the actual study on pubmed, and this article focuses on the differences between training to failure once vs. training to failure 3 times, rather than failure vs. leaving a few reps.

Training to failure too often over time will decrease your maximum potential to build muscle.

Training to failure will cause oxygen deprivation followed by oxygen perfusion. This results in extreme damage to cell membranes and DNA. The reason to train to failure is to try to 1- cause microtears in the eccentric lift in the muscle to promote hypertrophy, 2- increase time under tension and intensity while not knowing your maximum reps for a certain weight on a daily basis for each individual exercise.

The maximum number of reps under a certain weight would have to be tested daily to be accurate, defeating the purpose of trying to not go to failure in a preset rep max to fall short of. Failure is very damaging to the CNS in the heavier lifts in the lowest of rep ranges. Training to failure in the upper rep ranges is probably more ideal for leaving the CNS in an active state, although the long term consequences are practicly the same.

Training to failure isn’t the stimulus that causes hypertrophy. This is not to say that failure should never be used and can’t cause hypertrophy. Training to failure is the stimulus that shuts down the CNS. Therefore, be wise when using failure sets and approach with caution, especially if under maximum loads without a spotter.

The above is referring to muscular failure, not pain failure.