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Go to Failure or Not?

So I have been lifting to failure for some time now and i like it but I read alot of stuff mainly on here that says not to train to failure.My current routine im following is a split 4x8 where I Take a weight i can handle for 8 reps and do 4x8 with it and when i get 4 solid sets of 8 reps I add weight and repeat.

Generally I do 5x5 but changed it up to try and gain some size.So far I have produced soreness but am still looking for reasons why not to train to failure.

If you’re going for strength, don’t do it. If you’re going for size, do it or not, it’s really up to you.

I lift to failure every time and I make great strength gains.

Strength + weight gain = muscle gain, by the way.

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:
If you’re going for strength, don’t do it. If you’re going for size, do it or not, it’s really up to you.[/quote]

…Why not do it if you want strength?

It does work, quite well for me actually.

You seem to have been doing it for some time now. And it seems to have worked too. Are you looking for a reason that it works?? If it does you don’t need anything but to keep doing it :wink:

For me, I generally try to think of the highest weight I can do for that particular set/rep scheme at that particular point in time. If I have to rack (or leave on the ground, or even miss!!) for the last couple sets or reps I won’t sweat it, because I know I’ll get it next time. But I still try not to miss, and that’s what I found is best.

I can’t tell you the scientific reason anyway I just keep doing it :wink:

[quote]Mega Newb wrote:
rmccart1 wrote:
If you’re going for strength, don’t do it. If you’re going for size, do it or not, it’s really up to you.

…Why not do it if you want strength?

It does work, quite well for me actually.

[/quote]

I don’t know if you just started off or have years of experience, but if you just started off what works quite well for you doesn’t really matter.

Again, I have found that NOT going to failure is the best. But it also doesn’t matter anymore than what that Mega Newb dude has said, because if it works for you right now, by all means don’t stop!!

Your nervous system “learns” better when it’s not in ultra-mega red alert mode. Fatigue is also detrimental.

Play an instrument for 5 hours. Did you do better the first hour, or the fifth. Probably the first unless you were taking it easy the first 4 hours.

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:
Your nervous system “learns” better when it’s not in ultra-mega red alert mode. Fatigue is also detrimental.

Play an instrument for 5 hours. Did you do better the first hour, or the fifth. Probably the first unless you were taking it easy the first 4 hours.[/quote]

Yeah but the person who played 5 hours a day for a week would have made more progress than the person who played 1 hour a day for a week.

I dont think 1 way is better than the other, but to say that if you want strength, then you shouldnt go to failure, is wrong.

[quote]daraz wrote:
Mega Newb wrote:
rmccart1 wrote:
If you’re going for strength, don’t do it. If you’re going for size, do it or not, it’s really up to you.

…Why not do it if you want strength?

It does work, quite well for me actually.

I don’t know if you just started off or have years of experience, but if you just started off what works quite well for you doesn’t really matter.

Again, I have found that NOT going to failure is the best. But it also doesn’t matter anymore than what that Mega Newb dude has said, because if it works for you right now, by all means don’t stop!![/quote]

I havent been training for THAT long, but I have made gains that rival anyones on the site, Im sure. And I did it while either missing a rep, or stoping right before I missed a rep, every squat, deadlift and bench workout.

I think most people would be better off training the way I do, but I cant say for sure.

Be careful when training to failure especially on deadlifts and sqauts its easy to injure yourself I do it in squats all the time but usually avoid it in deadlifts-usually stop 1 or two before failure, hurts lower back a bit to keep forcing it right about the knees-

After your last set you should feel like your done, or the weight was probably too light for you. You don’t necessarily have to go till you black out, just that last set should be pretty agonizing then you know your doing something right.

Really everyone is different, if your progressing with a certain program keep it up.

Everything works, everything stops working eventually.

Failure in general works better for isolation exercises. Not that you can’t do some work in the squat, BP, DL, C+J till mid rep (to fail 7) or higher once in a while, but if you are fairly advanced this is a bit risky.

No research shows failure works any better than working one-two reps from failure. Volume in the right percent RM is king.

If you do 7 reps to failure, or s sets fo 5 witht he same weight, which is better?

Having said that, i still once in a while work to failure, just never in squat or DL, unless missing a triple or double counts.

jmo

[quote]jackreape wrote:
Everything works, everything stops working eventually.

Failure in general works better for isolation exercises. Not that you can’t do some work in the squat, BP, DL, C+J till mid rep (to fail 7) or higher once in a while, but if you are fairly advanced this is a bit risky.

No research shows failure works any better than working one-two reps from failure. Volume in the right percent RM is king.

If you do 7 reps to failure, or s sets fo 5 witht he same weight, which is better?

Having said that, i still once in a while work to failure, just never in squat or DL, unless missing a triple or double counts.

jmo[/quote]
couldn’t agree more. i wasted a lot of years maxing out every workout and went nowhere. it took a series of injuries for me to wake up a realize that the right mix of volume and weight would get me much further, much faster

[quote]Mega Newb wrote:
daraz wrote:
Mega Newb wrote:
rmccart1 wrote:
If you’re going for strength, don’t do it. If you’re going for size, do it or not, it’s really up to you.

…Why not do it if you want strength?

It does work, quite well for me actually.

I don’t know if you just started off or have years of experience, but if you just started off what works quite well for you doesn’t really matter.

Again, I have found that NOT going to failure is the best. But it also doesn’t matter anymore than what that Mega Newb dude has said, because if it works for you right now, by all means don’t stop!!

I havent been training for THAT long, but I have made gains that rival anyones on the site, Im sure. And I did it while either missing a rep, or stoping right before I missed a rep, every squat, deadlift and bench workout.

I think most people would be better off training the way I do, but I cant say for sure.
[/quote]
Hey newb,prepare to get bashed for that one.

Great info thanks.

So heres what i do in a nutshell.Like I said Im doing 4x8 right now and I dont do failure for every exercise but a good portion of them.If I hit all 4x8 then I add weight if I get say 7 reps on the 3rd set and 6 on the 4th then I owe myself 3 reps and usually add 5 pound and make it up.Its 4x8 or a total of 32 reps .

Recently I have begun lifting a little lighter on back and pausing at the top and controling the weight for a good squeeze and really tying to lift the weight in a controlled fashion instead of just pulling and dropping and it feels pretty good.

When I bench for instance like thursday I hit my 4x8 and kept going up I did like 3 more sets adding a total os i think 40 pounds so even though Im lifting to failure for 8 reps I still have quite a bit left for say 1 or 2 reps a set.But Im not one of those guys who maxess out all the time just felt good.

Most people think that the soreness u get after 1 day of training a body part means the muscle is growing. That is not necessarily true. It means that u have hit that muscle hard and inflicted some damage onit. whether it grows or not depends on different factors. If u want strength increases aim to minimise the soreness u get. Do this by decreasing the volume, not intensity, of ur workout. Lets say u train ur chest. Do 5 sets of heavy benchpresses, use a weight that u know will stimulate the muscle into growing. Then get the hell out. Shaping up the muscle is a different phase.here u can apply flyes, dips, and decline/incline benchpresses to really shape up the powerful muscle u built.

Who’s bashing me?

At westside they routinely work up to 1-3 rep maxes, when they say max effort they dont mean stop 20lbs short of your max or do 3 reps with your 5 rep max for your top set (because your nervous system doesn’t “learn” as well if you dont).

I think training to failure on your heavy set is a great way to gauge progress and keep people from holding them selves back (which is half the battle). And we all have held our selves back at one point or another. We have all seen the guy who uses the same weight for the same reps for years and never makes progress because the weight still feels heavy.

There are draw backs to training to failure of course, but there are also benefits.

1, you give it your all every workout, I see people who never push them self hard enough to make good gains. Going balls to the wall on a set will at least make sure that its not a lack of effort.

2, you can easily gauge progress, if you hit 8 reps with your 6 rep max and your lift is up, that simple.

3, it isnt a set rep, weight, or periodization scheme, your weight and reps can change every workout and keep progress moving right along. Which for allot of people is great, its easy to get stuck because your doing the same thing every week.

4, Just working up to 1 heavy set to failure is much easier for most people in my opinion because its only 1 set, there is no 10x3 where you hold your self back for the first 5 sets to conserve energy.

So in general, training to failure does, can, and will work for allot of people. Especially healthy, some what new lifters. Because its true, once you get up into big weights you cant continue to train like this, you get to beat up and risk of injury increases.

Dont get me wrong I squat and dead 600+ (bench isnt special)and have no problem going to failure, a few days a week, but then again when you take age, diet, weight lifted, and years training I cant talk for everyone. But I still feel confident saying “most” lifters would do better training the way I do.

Its just my opinion tho.

It also depends on the lift. I’d be more than willing to go to failure in squats and benches, but when it comes to oly lifts and deadlifts, failure is a dangerous game.

[quote]steel_12 wrote:
Most people think that the soreness u get after 1 day of training a body part means the muscle is growing. That is not necessarily true. It means that u have hit that muscle hard and inflicted some damage onit. whether it grows or not depends on different factors. If u want strength increases aim to minimise the soreness u get. Do this by decreasing the volume, not intensity, of ur workout. Lets say u train ur chest. Do 5 sets of heavy benchpresses, use a weight that u know will stimulate the muscle into growing. Then get the hell out. Shaping up the muscle is a different phase.here u can apply flyes, dips, and decline/incline benchpresses to really shape up the powerful muscle u built.[/quote]

Shape up the muscle?

Also, for your (OP’s) biological explanation.

Efforts that require near maximal loads will put a different stress on your body than when around 60-70 percernt.
Your muscle is bathed in a fluid called sarcoplasm.
This sarcoplasm contains many nutrients and the sorts that feed your muscle and allow it to operate.
When you do very high intensity, there is immediate attention put on the muscle and so the first thing that will give way is the muscle itself. We all know that doing exercise tears muscle fibers (known as myofibrils). Your muscle will also use up it’s store of ATP (Adenosine Tri-phosphate)

However, if you do low-medium intensity exercise , the stress on your muscle fibers isnt as great but after a time, you will feel that “burn” which many debate to be many different things. The point, however, is that the sarcoplasm is losing nutrients at a faster rate than the body can replenish and the muscles need these to move. This tends to be more aerobic.
Not to be confused with the ATP already stored in the muscles which is used for high intensity efforts - anaerobic.

Hence, people are told for strength to do 5-8 reps since the damage is done directly on the muscle and the sarcoplasm is only brought into play after the exercise is over (to replenish ATP).
However for size, 12-20 reps is better, since the “damage” is done through the sarcoplasm.
Your body tried to adapt on the stress.
By doing “moderate-high” rep, you re telling your body you need more nutrients (since the first thing to run out is the nutrients in the sarcoplasm, as opposed to muscle fibers being torn)so your body compensates by giving you more sarcoplasm. Which is why your muscles might look big, but feel soft.

An analogy that might help:

You have a car with 4 wheels and a full tank of gas.
Wheels are the muscles, ATP is the engine, transmission is the CNS and the gas/water is the sarcoplasm.

If you go really really fast the wheels will burn out and the engine will overheat. You then need to wait a while for everything to cool down…the gas/water do this.
Also, you wont last as long. You can only drive like this for…let’s say…half an hour.

If you go really slow, your engine is fine and so are your tires, but eventually you will run out of gas. You can drive like this for 2 hours.

The driver, aka your body, realises that:

-If he drives fast that his primary concern is the engine and wheels are the most important because they are the first thing to burn out. The gas isn’t as important since even at the end you have some gas left.
So the driver will buy better wheels and a better engine but leave the gas tank alone. The wheels and engine wont be better, but the material will be sturdied. To make his machine more efficient, he also upgrades the transmission.

or

-If he likes to drive slow since he needs to get somewhere further but can take his time, his primary concern will be how much gas he has left. Since there is little stress on engine, transmission and wheels, he leaves those alone but he buys a bigger gas tank. He might, maybe with time decide to upgrade his wheels, engine and transmission just a bit, since he does use them to a certain extent, but his main concern is the gas tank. However the only way to do this is to make his car bigger.

So the idea is that if you train to failure, more emphasis might be put on the sarcoplasm instead of the muscle fibers themselves. You’d have to read up on it. I think it depends on how you work to failure. If you do low rep high intensity failure as opposed to low intensity high rep failure, your body will adapt differently.
You’ll have to read up on it.

Take this with a grain of salt, but it’s what i’ve come to understand. If i’m off, please someone correct me.
Hope it made sense.

[quote]Mega Newb wrote:
rmccart1 wrote:
Your nervous system “learns” better when it’s not in ultra-mega red alert mode. Fatigue is also detrimental.

Play an instrument for 5 hours. Did you do better the first hour, or the fifth. Probably the first unless you were taking it easy the first 4 hours.

Yeah but the person who played 5 hours a day for a week would have made more progress than the person who played 1 hour a day for a week.

I dont think 1 way is better than the other, but to say that if you want strength, then you shouldnt go to failure, is wrong.
[/quote]

Haha, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? The one hour of concentrated practice is superior to 5 hours flogging away, because the 5 hour player would be reinforcing a lot of bad motor patterns at the end of the 5 hours.

I’ll take Pavel’s advice and stay away from failure.

www.elitefts.com/documents/nothing_but_the_bench.htm

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:
Mega Newb wrote:
rmccart1 wrote:
Your nervous system “learns” better when it’s not in ultra-mega red alert mode. Fatigue is also detrimental.

Play an instrument for 5 hours. Did you do better the first hour, or the fifth. Probably the first unless you were taking it easy the first 4 hours.

Yeah but the person who played 5 hours a day for a week would have made more progress than the person who played 1 hour a day for a week.

I dont think 1 way is better than the other, but to say that if you want strength, then you shouldnt go to failure, is wrong.

Haha, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? The one hour of concentrated practice is superior to 5 hours flogging away, because the 5 hour player would be reinforcing a lot of bad motor patterns at the end of the 5 hours.

I’ll take Pavel’s advice and stay away from failure.

www.elitefts.com/documents/nothing_but_the_bench.htm
[/quote]

I was reading your link. How does one “strengthen” ligaments?