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Training to Failure: Yes or No?

I’m a little confused about whether we should train to failure or leave a couple reps in the tank. Seems so counterintuitive to lift weights but not go all out. Any thoughts?p

Depends who you talk to… People have gotten bigger and stronger doing both.

My advice would be find out what works for you and go with that.


Depends on the lift. On biceps curl probably no issues. On squats its a different story.

I can’t imagine taking every set to failure on squats. I am not mentally strong enough to work out in this fashion, and I don’t think my body would last very long doing this either.

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I safely go to failure. Push/pull until it hurts. But, depends on what you want. If getting bigger is your goal, lift heavy and go to failure. But i only go to failure in a few exercises. I usually cap off my workouts with higher reps.

This is a really good question, and a question with conflicting answers. The truth is, I don’t know which answer is “right,” but the last year or so I stopped routinely going to failure. I still do on occasion, but it’s not a regular thing. I started training with one of the giant gorillas at my gym and he turned me on to pump-type training with lighter weights and shorter rest periods. I was skeptical, but my experience has been that I’ve still experienced growth and my joints feel great. My two cents.

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I think it really depends on the movement & how many to failure sets you are planning on doing, I mean doing tricep pushdowns for multiple sets to failure isn’t so bad, but multiple sets to failure on deadlifts is likely asking for trouble.

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As you can see, lots of opinions here and not bad, just personal preference. For me, a 54 year old, 25 year gym vet with injuries, lifting to failure with heavy weights is prescription for further injury.

If you do choose to lift that way, please use spotters, don’t use momentum, do lift slowly, and no jerking or uncontrolled movements.

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Training to failure is designed to activate/fatigue all motor units of a muscle and is typically a strategy employed by lighter weight(60-70%) hypertrophy training.

At heavier weight intensities (85%+) training to failure isn’t needed as all motor units are active and just need to be fatigued.

Both heavy and more moderate rep ranges can be used to build hypertrophy but only heavier weights build maximal strength


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