To Miss a Lift or Not to Miss a Lift. Is Failure an Option?

Let’s talk about failure.

No not muscle failure for hypertrophy but missing the lift. There’s two ways of thinking about this: Is it bad? Is it good?

Failure is the greatest teacher, right? So failing a lift can teach us some things? It depends, context is king here. If you failed the lift because you weren’t focused, you can learn that you need to be focused. If you failed the lift because you just weren’t strong enough for that 30lb jump, you can’t learn anything. However if you miss lifts a lot, your body will learn to miss lifts.

If you’re over stimulated you can learn to not get so amped. If you’re missing the lift because it’s a shitty bar, you can get a better bar. If you’re missing the lift because of ego and trying to do more than you can, then you can’t learn anything useful.

We don’t want to miss lifts in training, 1) it’s going to take you time to recover from missing the lift 2) you’re teaching your body bad patterns 3) now it’s in your head.

What do we do if we miss lifts in training? If you failed and know why you failed and know it can be corrected, hit the lift again ONLY IF YOU KNOW FOR SURE YOU CAN SMASH THE LIFT. If you don’t know why or aren’t confident you can absolutely nail the lift, move on for the day.

Now - this is going to be different if you’re raw or geared to some degree but the point remains we don’t want to fail lifts, but if we do we must learn from it. Don’t be that guy who is always missing a lift. This won’t help you on the platform and definitely wont help you long term.

For geared lifters who miss on a deadlift and it was because your straps were too tight throwing off your position, you can easily loosen the straps, but if you held and fought the bar for 7 seconds, do you really have energy for another attempt for the night?

Knowing why you failed is important, but knowing what you and your body can do is an entirely different story for geared lifters.

Whats YOUR experience with failing lifts? Do you do it often? What have you learned about missing a lift?


Missing a lift or even doing a really hard grinder always kills me. I cant recover from that as my CNS is probably not ment for anything heavy(i can recover from 2x2 hour cardio sessions a day easy tho). If i do a very heavy 2 repper, there is a big chance i will feel it for 2-3 days. A heavy grinder single can shut me down for a week. I am trying to never go close to failure. As soon as my barspeed slows, i am ready to either stop it there or just attemt the next rep, but i feel it will be shitty i just let it go.

P.S - i have no experience in competition… i am just a powerlifting enthusiast on 531, who wants to increase his maxes.

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Pretty much same as your said. When I fail lifts it sets me back it usually fries me or tweaks something. Also makes a difference if I fail a squat and dump it, it hits me a lot harder than if I fail and have two guys grab it up. Either way I try not to fall too often.

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For me, failing a bench in a shirt and having people take it is the most painful experience. Something about all that tension disappearing at once makes my triceps feel like they just got blown off.

It can’t be helpful to my recovery at all. A 40# PR would be less taxing.

Generally speaking, bad, if for no other reason than a failed lift is much more likely to hurt you. Nothing derails progress, and keeps you from the pleasure of lifting, like an injury.
If I’m planning for a max lift (for a meet or just to test myself), I have a pretty good idea 9-10 weeks out what is realistic. My attitude is that if I hit that mark, I’ve succeeded, and a few extra pounds above it is icing on the cake. I find that if I stick to my plan and don’t let my ego take over, I’ll almost never fail a lift, and even better, I avoid injuries. No one on this board squats, benches, or deadlifts for a living, so having fun with powerlifting while staying healthy should probably be the priority, not impressing other people by trying ego lifts. And I’d say that argues for avoiding attempts that are iffy.
(To be clear, I’m talking about the big 3 here because they can hurt you badly if something goes wrong; if you want to risk failing a one-rep-max on the preacher curl or the triceps pushdown, have at it)

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Pushing past failure every session or week is a terrible idea but if you get to the end of a 6-8 week block and you’ve put hundreds of good reps in and you decide to go for a rep which you feel is 50/50 (or less on) and you come up short then I see no issue here (assuming it doesn’t snap you up). I lean towards favouring this, if anything. Training where you don’t occasionally push that limit is missing something IMO - I think it’s better to do a really tough, say, triple than to try a maximal single though.

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The coolest way to fail is with a lot of chains hanging on the bar. You go from lifting it to not lifting it anymore in a smooth way.

Everything is fine, you just go slower and slower until the bar stops.

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If you fail, do it spectacularly

Less a fail and more sabotaged but I wanted an excuse to post this for a while - it’s 5 years old now :astonished:


I’d say single joint smaller muscle lifts are at more risk for injury during a 1 rep max failure :stuck_out_tongue:

Lol absolutely. Look at Joe Sullivan when that shitty bar bent on him and he got pinned. Absolutely great to watch but that really injured him pretty hard.

For sure - you have to push but if you’re constantly missing lifts… it’s not going to help you. I only know a handful of lifters ( less than 3 actually ) that actually were able to continue to progress this way.

Lol man aint that the truth. I’ve got some chained deadlift pulls that look like I’m pausing but in reality i just can’t pull any more and i’m stuck lol

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Haha! I was actually thinking of you as I wrote that.

I remember one of your videos, pulling sumo vs a big pile of chains, going from fast off the floor to stopped above your knees. Great position at the bottom and an isometric at the sticking point. It seemed like a pretty useful way to train a lift.

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dis one?

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That looks like it! I didn’t even remember the extra ROM.

Anyway, I guess you “missed,” but it looked pretty controlled (not dangerous?) with about 8 reps worth of “work” directly at the spot where you need it. Like TUT at the sticking point.

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Well a deadlift fail is usually not dangerous, as you can bail really quick ( unless something snaps )

But lots of failures can result in you always failing however i think I like what you’re saying here. I was just training not to quit when it gets hard >.<