T Nation

The Concept of Training to Failure

Training to failure is, as I understood, lifting light to moderate weights for the maximum repetitions you can manage, right? so if that is true, can anyone tell me the difference between it and heavy lifting? in heavy lifting you lift heavy and do 6-8 reps. the 6-8 reps are usually the most reps you can manage to do. so what is the difference here? both training styles, in my eyes, train to failure, failure here is the inability to do anymore reps, which happens whether you lift heavy or light and I consider them to have the same level of intensity too. can anyone explain this to me?

oh and since lifting heavy is already taxing and exhausting on the body, don’t you think it makes sense to lift heavy with the recommended 6-8 reps on compound moves, and go to failure on isolation exercises? because I think that on single-joint exercises at some point, your single joint won’t be able to handle the heavy weight. am I right?


If you reach the point where you cannot perform another rep, you’ve trained to failure. If you reach a point where you can’t perform another clean rep, you’ve reached technical failure. This can happen in any rep range. I think you have the misconception that “training to failure” would have to be done with an extremely light weight for a seemingly infinite amount of reps. “Lifting heavy” isn’t really a style of lifting or even a real term. It’s just lifting heavy ass weights, doesn’t mean that it’s a certain number of reps. You could “lift heavy” and “train to failure” at the same time…crazy stuff huh?

You are way over thinking things, failure is failure no matter what rep range, what rep range you fail at is just determined by your goals