T Nation

Training to Failure

Would there be a different impact on the CNS of training to failure at different rep ranges? Would training to failure with a weight you can push for ten reps have a more taxing effect than reaching failure at three reps ( albeit with a greater weight )?

the heavier the weight, the more taxing on the CNS. The nearer to failure; this is the case too… so failure at a lower rep is highly taxing yes.

Strange question, why do you ask?

[quote]Joe Joseph wrote:
the heavier the weight, the more taxing on the CNS. The nearer to failure; this is the case too… so failure at a lower rep is highly taxing yes.[/quote]

This may seem paradoxical and contradictory to your statement, but whenever I go to failure at my 3RM, I feel stimulated and stronger. However, if I go to failure at my 12RM, I can’t do another rep for a long time. It seems that failure induced by longer sets are the more taxing ones.

On the CNS? Or on the Energy or metabolic system?

[quote]Joe Joseph wrote:
On the CNS? Or on the Energy or metabolic system?[/quote]

Maybe both. On the 12RM failure thingy, I feel crappy the next day. But that’s just me. More input from other people would help.

I think this depends on training age and how well you have trained your CNS to be efficient.

I’m no where close to my strength potential, so I feel more physically tired from maxing out on reps 10+. Obviously, everybody reacts differently to different rep ranges, but, after deadlifting or squatting for high reps, i have to lay on the ground for awhile, lol. While, when I’m hitting a 3 rep max, I wait maybe 5 mins, and I start training again.

[quote]undeadlift wrote:
Joe Joseph wrote:
On the CNS? Or on the Energy or metabolic system?

Maybe both. On the 12RM failure thingy, I feel crappy the next day. But that’s just me. More input from other people would help.[/quote]

The 12 rep range causes your body to respond differently than the 3 rep range. I dont know all the science behind it; but the 12 rep range tends to tap the glycogen energy system while the lower rep range will more focus on the cns.

Im not sure how long you have been training, but if you have always trained at a lower rep number of 3, you have not been training the same energy system as the you would be in the 12 rep range. Thus, if one all of a sudden changes from low reps to high reps, this can tax your body in different way; this is the reason why a lot of advanced lifters will change up there rep schemes every couple of months.

I know this probably does not answer your question directly; but my main point is that it seems from what your saying that your body has adapted to the lower rep range as you feel nothing the next day; however, you say you feel crappy the next day when doing 12 reps; which means that your body has not adapted to that rep range yet-this maybe an indicator that you might be better of going to the 12 rep range until your body adapts then switch back again.

Maybe you should post your program and how long you have been following it because i am sort of in the dark as far as advice i am giving.

[quote]Joe Joseph wrote:
the heavier the weight, the more taxing on the CNS. The nearer to failure; this is the case too… so failure at a lower rep is highly taxing yes.

Strange question, why do you ask?[/quote]

Like one or two of the respondees to my question I definately feel more drained from the higher rep failure than keeping to low reps. I asked the question initially because I want to do a few weeks of training to failure but was anxious to avoid over training and thought that keeping the reps low would be less taxing.

I am sure Chad Waterbury ( although of course not suggesting taking sets to failure which is his wont ) suggested in an article that lower reps ( for instance three ) were less taxing on the CNS. Dont know if that wholly applies to failure training though. Thanks everyone for your replies I have enjoyed reading them.

Actually, undeadlift is right. My bodybuilder friends always get fried once they decide to go to failure with their usual 20-ish RM. Even if they switch to more unfamiliar 5RMs, they find those easier on their bodies.

There is a scientific explanation to this but I’ll make things a lot simpler. Going to failure in a fatigued state (20RM) is much tougher than going to failure relatively fresh (5RM). The 5RM is more CNS demanding on its own, but failure is an entirely different animal by itself. Once energy stores in the muscles are depleted during those 20RMs, the CNS finally gives it its all, but nothing is responding. This causes extreme confusion to the CNS, which fatigues it a lot. The pain during those long sets don’t help either.

This is why those 40-second TUT HIT workouts are short and yet extremely taxing to the CNS.