Study Supporting Not Training to Failure

I suppose failure to recover was the critical mistake. But I just don’t know.

Those who did all these forced reps weren’t successful doing body parts that “burnout” on Forced Reps. Maybe it was mostly genetics. But like I said, I don’t know.

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This begs the question: Have you over estimated your rep capability by 2 or 3 reps? In other words, have you thought you could get 8 reps and only made 5 reps?

Haven’t read all the replies, so I’m sorry if I’m repeating a point that was made earlier.

This study looked at strength gains, not hypertrophy.

When you look at the most recent literature, some conclusions can be made:

  1. Proximity to failure is important for hypertrophy stimulation: the closer you go to failure, the more effective the set is.

  2. Proximity to failure is NOT important for strength gains. In fact there is a very small trend toward training to failure being worse for strength gains. The only important variable for strength gains seems to be the load used.

  3. Going to failure (or close to it) is more important when using lighter loads and is not as necessary for loads above 80% (for hypertrophy)


This is extremely interesting. Most all my “working sets” occur above 80%.

Yes, sometimes based on recovery factors but sometimes it’s just an outlier.

All my squat PRs have been on <5hrs of sleep.

I haven’t heard this one, at least not in the way you phrased it. Can you expand on this a little?

Do you believe this is due to the “whole muscle” effect, where not all muscle fibers are engaged early on in the set, but that unstimulated fibers begin to activate as previously stimulated fibers tire/exhaust?

From my experience it is the previous night’s sleep that is more important.

The Bench Press contest that I did 450lbs, was preceded by a night where I was too anxious to get any sleep that I would call restful in a motel bed. I thought I was going to have a terrible meet.

You can read in-depth about training to failure here:

As for your specific question, it’s likely because when using heavy weights, the 2 conditions required for a repetition to be maximally effective to stimulate muscle growth are present:

  1. Recruiting the fast-twitch fibers
  2. High level of tension (loosely correlated with not being able to move the weight fast)

With lighter weights, you need to rely on peripheral fatigue for these conditions to be present.


That has happened to most of the athletes I worked with (not just strength athletes) and is likely the case with 80%+ of all the world champions or record setters.

What I believe is that ONE poor night of sleep puts you in sympathetic overdrive leading a much higher adrenaline level the day after the bad night of sleep.

But it also typically lead to crashing down after the competition.

And for it to “work”, as you mentioned, you need to have been well recovered/rested prior to that bad night of sleep.