T Nation

Sub-Failure Gains

I came across this, written by Bodybuilder X … I found interesting tidbits from Dr. Ellington Darden that explain a lot. He has had quite a bit of success using subfailure training on some of his clients. He actually had one guy gain 39 pounds of muscle training like that. He says Arthur Jones actually experimented quite a bit with it as well and got very good results, but they never wrote about it.

Would you please elaborate?

I’m not sure who this guy is talking about?

He’s a guy who’s been around the champs, and involved in bodybuilding for decades. In the article he speaks about the value of sub-failure, especially the success you and Arthur had with it.

I’m guessing the link to the article was removed? Any hints as to how to find it via google?

Muscle-Building Myths Exposed! Part 1 and Part 2 on ironmanmagazine .com

1 Like

found it…

so this part?

" IM: I’m a big believer in stretch-position exercises for muscles, like incline curls for biceps, overhead extensions for tri’s and so on, because I’ve seen research that correlates stretch overload to dramatic increases in muscle mass. I think Arnold and Platz were in tune to that instinctively. What about training to failure?

BBX: I found interesting tidbits from Dr. Ellington Darden that explain a lot. He has had quite a bit of success using subfailure training on some of his clients. He actually had one guy gain 39 pounds of muscle training like that. He says Arthur Jones actually experimented quite a bit with it as well and got very good results, but they never wrote about it.

When I trained with Mike and Ray Mentzer, we did 12 sets for chest, but they counted only four sets. We did seven sets for triceps, but they counted four sets. HIT proponents would say that several of those sets were warmups and were not productive sets. I know they sure pushed pretty close to the edge on those so-called warmups, but if Jones actually proved that sets completed not to failure build muscle, why would we assume that warm-ups are not productive sets? Am I missing something?"

1 Like

then it says this…
" M: No, you’re right. According to muscle-fiber physiology, the all-or-none principle states that a fiber either fires completely or not at all. So from that standpoint a lot of fibers are firing all out even with light weights and not going to failure. Did most of the pros you trained with go to failure on their work sets? What about Padilla?

No, that is NOT what the all or none principle is pointing to. It’s pointing to a fiber twitch, not that a fiber fires with full tension or not at all. Everyone gets that wrong…(sorry that idea always bugs me when mis-used )

Fibers CAN fire and do fire, with variable tension.

Email directly to me from Roger Enoka

Good morning Ron,

It is important to realize that motor units are probably never achieve a fused tetanus during a voluntary contractions. The rate at which action potentials are generated is only ever sufficient to produce an unfused tetanus, which is less than the maximal force a motor unit can produce. Of course, the force produced by a motor unit during an unfused tetanus can range from low to high, but it is never maximal. We do not know why rate coding is never enough to achieve a fused tetanus.

I hope this helps.

Roger M. Enoka, Ph.D.

Professor

Room W205B, Ramaley

Department of Integrative Physiology

354 UCB

University of Colorado

Boulder, CO 80309, USA

I wonder how long ago this conversation was supposed to have taken place? Seems unlikely that Dr. Darden would forget that he had a client gain 39lbs of muscle using subfailure training…

1 Like

yeah … sounds misconstrued or something…

Okay, okay. This guy is referring to my six-month study with Dave Hudlow, which is reported in my book The New High Intensity Training (2004). You can read the summary on pages 212 and 213.

I would not, however, classify this study as involving sub-failure training. And Arthur Jones never, in my memory, experimented successfully with sub-failure training.

3 Likes

Thanks for clearing that up Ellington. It didn’t quite sound right.