T Nation

Training to Failure?

Both T-Nation coaches, writers and trainees discuss whether or not to train to failure, some are for and some against. To hypertrophy, should trainers go to failure or not? Wat are the pros and cons, discuss?

There is certainly a place for training to failure for anyone, though I feel when and where is heavily genetic, and should not be preformed at every workout, lest you enjoy felling like the walking dead.

About once a week I will hit my biceps and calves and burn the hell out of them. They are usually a problem area for damn near everyone, and for me personally they respond well to this .

I will also rep to failure every few months to help gauge strength gains in certain movements.

I thought Thib’s article a few weeks ago discussed this well.


In my own experience, I have certain body parts that only seem to respond when I got to failure on each set.

I tend to avoid failure on the bigger, compound movements, but I will still occasionally push myself to failure when I just feel like really testing myself. I seem to make good progress on compound exercises without having to go to failure.

In general, I like to go failure on pretty much any isolation exercise I do, but I also keep the reps higher when I got to failure as I seem to respond better to that.

I do one set for each exercise to 100% physical failure and it is working fine. Why do 4 sets of something when you can inflict the same amount of damage in one set? It is a waste of time as far as I am concerned.

I rarely train to failure, if I do it wasnt meant to. Though I train frequently (thrice a week for each upper body muscle) with low volume. I think training to failure is kinda overrated but I guess it has its place, though my best results in strength and hypertr… are with training just short of failure. YUp, the Thib System help clarify a great deal of things as for this issue.

Well since you’ve already read the articles I’ll just give you my personal experience.
I use to train to failure every set at 10-12 reps hitting each muscle group once a week, thinking that was intensity and thinking that the ‘burn’ would make my muscles grow. I didn’t see much change in 2 years of training like that.

Low reps, longer rests and only going to failure on one set per exercise has helped me achieve great results in the last few months.
It felt wrong doing less at a lower intensity and I always thought that more is better, but the results proved me wrong.

I keep debating whether or not i should be training to failure or not, ive read alot of articles on it including some of thibs stuff and it seems like itd be a better idea to not but on the other hand training to failure has gotten kind of addicting to me. It’s like if i dont train to failure i feel like i might not be working myself hard enough for maximum gains. i think getting on a stricter workout plan might help me out. anyone got any other ideas?

  1. What’s your goal?

  2. What do most of the
    genetically not-so-gifted people who achieved said goal do ?
    (As an example: Dorian was not gifted genetically, especially compared to most other top pros in bbing.)

  3. Take what those guys/gals do/did and go from there.

  4. Avoid fads, especially when the person advocating the fad comes from a different field and only has street cred regarding that field and not yours.

It’s not rocket science.

I love training to failure and beyond. It gives me incredible orgasms.

I think people especially young peeps, underestimate the kind of really intense training that the body can recover and grow from if adequate food is supplied.

Drop sets, double drop sets are some integral parts of my training that I relish, but I am damn sure that I can only really do this BECAUSE I get tons of calories, eat my mcd’s and don’t worry about having a super clean diet. Fat gains arent really a problem, I just add some cardio if I start getting multiple chins.

[quote]Alquemist wrote:
I love training to failure and beyond. It gives me incredible orgasms.


Is that you Ahnold?

[quote]Player wrote:
Both T-Nation coaches, writers and trainees discuss whether or not to train to failure, some are for and some against. To hypertrophy, should trainers go to failure or not? Wat are the pros and cons, discuss?[/quote]

IMO, it depends on your goals and training methodology.

Low rep, long rest intervals, heavy load training should not be done to failure. This is very neurologically taxing and you will stop making progress quickly by going to failure with this kind of training. This is why power lifters do not typically ever train to failure.

Higher rep, short rest intervals, medium load works the metabolic system more and less neurological system so you can go to failure as it is more a metabolic muscle tissue failure than a neurological motor unit failure. So you can do this for some time without burning out. This is typically more a bodybuilding system program.

Read Over Training by Tibb. Good comments on Training Hangover.

There’s no clear cut answer and you can train to failure with less sets or train with more sets not to failure for more sets, depending on what you’re in the mood for, what suits your personality better, or to vary your workouts.

It also depends not the exercise. It’s easy to duplicate quality sets on machines or with dumbbells. This is not the case with squats, bent over rows, bench press, overhead presses, and weighted chin-ups.