Yes, I didn’t mean to say it should never be done (to continue sets until an attempted rep actually is failed, despite true effort to complete it. As opposed to just deciding to at that point let a spotter help, though if he were to scream “FUCK YOU, BITCH!” and storm off, you actually probably could finish the rep with blood and guts effort. Those that routinely end sets this way – oh, I need a spot now – generally really are not failing, especially if they do any substantial volume of work.)
But rather that doing EVERY set to actual failure has its problems and limitations.
Bill Roberts wrote:
In my opinion, “going to failure” is one of the most screwed-up catchphrases in bodybuilding.
First, it is ordinarily used not according to the meaning of the words.
How often do you see a person who claims to “train to failure” fail?
The word “fail” meaning, attempting but not succeeding.
Now some beginners who fall into the HIT methodology actually do take the phrase literally and keep attempting reps until the weight get stuck and they strain mightily against it and sometimes it starts moving again, and if so they continue the set, and at some point ultimately all the striving in the world doesn’t move the weight: failure has occurred. That actually is training to failure.
However for anyone who has developed much strength this is a terrible way to train: it burns out the nervous system and prevents doing very much work at all.
So most don’t do that. Instead they succeed in lifting every rep that they actually do – they don’t fail during the set – but decide that if they tried another rep they probably would fail at it, and they call this “training to failure” because that’s trendy, don’cha know, and they read somewhere that you have to “train to failure,” so that’s what they need to call what they are doing.
Of course then you get the heroes who – though in fact they don’t fail at any point – let you know that they don’t just train to failure, why, they train BEYOND FAILURE, don’cha know.
The problems go beyond this: that is just the start of it.
Doing the most reps you can in your final work set – which might be the only work set after warmups, if warmups were needed – is a fine approach. But failure as a goal is not.
Somewhat depends on the exercise/situation though.
I actually go to failure when way doing DB bench (meaning I actually attempt a rep and wind up failing to complete it) because I know that I’m not going to get stuck under the weight.
I would never do that with BB bench though because of saftey reasons (I don’t want a heavy barbell stuck on my chest and not be able to press it off). If I always had a reliable spotter, maybe I would, but I don’t.
So, you have to use common sense and determine when it is safe to actually got to failure and when it’s not.
If it’s safe to go to failure, I do (and most who claim to do as well), if it’s not, I don’t (nor do most who claim to). But I’d agree that it’s more a matter of the intensity that you put into your training that matters and not whether you actually try a rep and fail at it.[/quote]