T Nation

Plain Old Training to Failure

How many of you trainers out there totally eschew taking at least your final set to failure? It seems to be a dirty word to a hell of a lot of people around here, yet virtually every video I have seen featuring the worlds best BB’s have them straining every last muscle fiber in the attempt to nail last last rep.

Surely they all trained to failure didnt they? Maybe not beyond it with forced reps etc but atleast up to it.

To me, it’s a recovery issue. If you train a bodypart once or twice a week and can recover, by all means train to failure.

If you train much more frequently and can’t recover, don’t train to failure. Pretty simple, IMO.

[quote]steven alex wrote:
virtually every video I have seen featuring the worlds best BB’s have them straining every last muscle fiber in the attempt to nail last last rep.[/quote]

The issue with failure is nervous system recovery. For pro-bbers it’s a non-issue because the AAS take care of that for the most part. So to them failure is actually a good cue to know how hard they trained because there’s no woes associated with it.

But for a normal person training to failure increases the time and effort it takes to recover from a workout. Some people can pull it off training every muscle group once a week… but even then major muscle groups like chest or back taken to failure can trash you and affect other workouts.

Needless to say, if you train most of your muscles 2x per week or more, failure is out of the question.

And finally, there are plenty of huge guys WITHOUT AAS who stop their sets short of failure. Most natural guys who are big know that overstraining yourself is not what gets results.

All successful bodybuilders train to failure, on pretty much all working sets.

My advice, is don’t take advice about physique training if you don’t admire their physique. Then take a second to think about all of the lames touting that failure training is bad. Think about it…

[quote]steven alex wrote:
How many of you trainers out there totally eschew taking at least your final set to failure? It seems to be a dirty word to a hell of a lot of people around here, yet virtually every video I have seen featuring the worlds best BB’s have them straining every last muscle fiber in the attempt to nail last last rep.

Surely they all trained to failure didnt they? Maybe not beyond it with forced reps etc but atleast up to it.[/quote]

In most pro BB vids I’ve seen they did not train to failure. Perhaps in the occasional set it happened, but it doesn’t appear to be the norm.

Well, there are two opposing schools of thought. One school advocates one set to failure. Arthur Jones would be considered an advocate of such thought. Another school of thought says that taking sets to failure is not the most important element.

What is most important is the total amount of weight lifted during the exercise session. Charles Staley’s concept of Escalating Density Training is based around that concept.

Each system has its good and bad points and each system has significant proponents. As to which works best, I think it probably varies from individual to individual. Some people are wired physically and psychologically to respond best to the one set to failure concept.

They love it; they grow with it. Some people are wired physically and psychologically to respond best to the total pounds concept. They love it; they grow with it. I would suggest trying both and seeing which works best for you.

[quote]Majin wrote:
The issue with failure is nervous system recovery. For pro-bbers it’s a non-issue because the AAS take care of that for the most part.[/quote]

Hi Majin,

Could you explain to me exactly how AAS recover the CNS system?

Thanks!

[quote]Dexter Morgan wrote:
All successful bodybuilders train to failure, on pretty much all working sets.

[/quote]

This is a very stupid and sweeping generalization. How can you speak for all “successful” bodybuilders (as if successful isn’t an opinion). As if they all do failure on just about every set. Just as an example Milos Sarcev, a pro bb trainer, does not advocate failure but giant sets as his training principle.

[quote]W@LRUS!1 wrote:
Majin wrote:
The issue with failure is nervous system recovery. For pro-bbers it’s a non-issue because the AAS take care of that for the most part.

Hi Majin,

Could you explain to me exactly how AAS recover the CNS system?

Thanks![/quote]

They don’t, they TAKE CARE of the ISSUE. You grow even after wiping yourself out and you still feel invigorated. So the woes of CNS fatigue largely become a non-issue. Nice try.

[quote]Majin wrote:
They don’t, they TAKE CARE of the ISSUE. You grow even after wiping yourself out and you still feel invigorated. So the woes of CNS fatigue largely become a non-issue. Nice try.[/quote]

Do you know this from practical experience or is this just what you’ve heard via the rumor mill?

Or perhaps you’ve learned this from a reputable scientific journal?

Training to failure is easy for my simple mind to comprehend.

“All” is the easiest percentage to calculate. Also, I go to failure on almost EVERY set and I’m now making great gains. I do have to take 2 days off after every training day though.

This is a mix of what I’ve heard from guys on AAS and some studies I read online. I have no personal or medical experience with steroids.

Many dudes on juice are usually energetic and aggressive even though they’ve been training without stop, need less off days etc. Not all of them go balls out like that but there doesn’t seem to be much difference between them and those that do.

Add to that the fast muscle recuperation and they simply don’t feel the beatings the CNS takes because most cues of fatigue are just not there. I know I would die very quickly training like that.

I have been confused about this topic also. I used always go to failure for everything and now that is not my goal.

However… I have read the book “The Encyclopedia of Modern BB’ing” by Arnold. He says you should always train to failure to recruit the greatest amount of muscle fibers. To help motivate people he typically asked them “is it really true that you can’t do another rep”?

This is just leaving me caught in between more modern thinking and a guy who clearly knows what he is talking about.

Quick question: How do you know that a bodybuilder in a video is going to failure? Just because he’s straining on the last rep? Maybe he could squeeze out a few more reps if he wanted to. Without being in his body, how do you know?

And frankly, in most BB videos I’ve seen, I don’t think they go all the way to total failure on most sets, or even most exercises. There’s a big difference between pushing yourself and training to failure, however you define it.

[quote]steven alex wrote:
How many of you trainers out there totally eschew taking at least your final set to failure? It seems to be a dirty word to a hell of a lot of people around here, yet virtually every video I have seen featuring the worlds best BB’s have them straining every last muscle fiber in the attempt to nail last last rep.

Surely they all trained to failure didnt they? Maybe not beyond it with forced reps etc but atleast up to it.[/quote]

Here’s a good article on tgraining to failure by Charles Staley:

www.strengthcats.com/CSfinalrep.htm

[quote]steven alex wrote:
How many of you trainers out there totally eschew taking at least your final set to failure? It seems to be a dirty word to a hell of a lot of people around here, yet virtually every video I have seen featuring the worlds best BB’s have them straining every last muscle fiber in the attempt to nail last last rep.

Surely they all trained to failure didnt they? Maybe not beyond it with forced reps etc but atleast up to it.[/quote]

[quote]Dexter Morgan wrote:
All successful bodybuilders train to failure, on pretty much all working sets.

My advice, is don’t take advice about physique training if you don’t admire their physique. Then take a second to think about all of the lames touting that failure training is bad. Think about it…[/quote]

Are you kidding? Ronnie Coleman doesn’t train to failure (if you look at him train, you’ll see he’s got a lot more in him than he shows), and he became one of the most successful bodybuilders in history.

BTW, I find training to failure to be fun. I get to test my limits, and if I see that I got better than before, I gain more confidence for my next workout.

Don’t you think they ham it up for the videos? They are not going to make avideo of themselves slacking off now are they???

You can train to failure on one set, last set, first set, all sets whatever you want - as long as you know what you are doing and that if you do so there will be a price to pay in recovery. But if you train a bodypart once per week you should not have trouble recovering from training to lots of failure. But it might make you tired the next day for the next bodypart.

The key to everything is to know how what you do fits with what else you do.

And beginners prob. should not assume they need to train every set to failure, as I did, as a kid. I thought every rep and set at 100% max strength except for warmups which were often one set if even that.

People must push themselves of course but not too much.

[quote]Bloodandiron wrote:
Here’s a good article on tgraining to failure by Charles Staley:

www.strengthcats.com/CSfinalrep.htm

[/quote]

That is such a brilliant article I am posting it again

www.strengthcats.com/CSfinalrep.htm

Very good reading for all.

People should be discussing, not whether or not to train to failure, but when in fact to stop doing reps in a set, and how many sets to do, and what volume for the workout.

There are 2 points that I think are important to consider in this (and most) discussion(s).

  1. We are all different.

Just because one person can’t train for days if they train to failure doesn’t mean this will apply to you.

  1. The body is capable of adaptation.

When I started I used to get DOMS that left me in agony for days (almost a week in some instances), but I trained through the pain and eventually (after months) my body got used to it. I train harder, more often and for longer than I used to and most days I only get mild DOMS (if anything), nothing that would stop me from training effectively.

So you may be one of the people that can recover from training to failure, then again you may not.

Only one way to find out, right?