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  • Writer's pictureIngri Pauline

Training Until Failure

There are many method of getting strong and one of the old schools way of getting there is frequently training until failure. If anyone tries to tell you this is the best way to train - RUN. This person is only going to hurt you and make your life miserable.

Firstly, failure occurs during the lifting phase of a repetition when the muscles can't produce sufficient force to continue to move the weight upward. But rarely is this training method being talked about in these terms. The debate around this issue tends to bring up talk as if you participation in training until failure speaks to your dedication, commitment or who you are as a person. Don’t fall for this.

There is absolutely a benefit in training at the max rage of your ability. In fact, it is in the upper echelon of our efforts that we see the most change. The harder you push, the more you grow. But failure training is different than dropsets or forced reps. Both of these are techniques to adjust the stimuli so that you body can complete the movement.

And pushing until failure costs you. If on one set you can complete 10 reps at complete failure, then the next set you only be able to complete 6 or so. But, if you have backed off, left some in the tank, and completed only 8 reps, you may be able to complete another 8 for the next set. In this case it only make sense to training until failure on the last set of any given exercise.

Also, lets keep in mind that this is one of the oldest techniques out there. And by that, I mean this was primarily done by body builders that are actively taking anabolic steroids. I have a hard time getting behind any training philosophy that comes out of the 70s & 80s body building culture simply because training and recovery are very different when using performance enhancing drugs. This community was responsible for telling people all they needed was a gallon of milk a day and a 90min/6 day a week training program and they could all look like Arnold and Lou.

Lifters taking PEDs do not get sore and don’t need nearly as much time to recover. Considering that training until failure by nature requires more recovery, I am extremely suspect of this advice and TUF enthusiasts. Really, I'm suspect of any weightlifting advice coming out of this time period and the body building community in general because of the rampant and secret use of steroids.

Another reason to reconsider the philosophy is merely anecdotal at this point, but I do think must be said. There are huge differences in the way men and women get through and training session. Because of our lack of testosterone, we do not have the for production capacity of men and are not able to produce nearly as much explosive power. But women have endurance like a mother f***er.’

While I have read no studies on the gender differences of training until failure, I have seen it with my own eyes quite often. A male lifter can train their legs until they can’t walk. They will training until failure, be completely done (as in: unable to complete another rep no matter the weight), and even worried about their ability to drive home. A female lifter can train until failure - shaking and the whole bit - wait 10 minutes, and be ready to do another set. I’ve seen it a number of times with my own eyes. These women we not holding back, they just are built differently.

When weightlifting always push yourself in the upper limits of your ability - but don’t repeatedly go aim to train until exhaustion. While this is good for one set per session or for one or two sessions a week, using this as a daily training philosophy will only get you hurt and tired.

Most women have better things to do than to sit around and recover or dream up new and painful ways of building new muscle - for professional athletes, its a lifestyle. Really, consistency is going to be your friend for your fitness journey, as will bringing a small amount of intensity to every session your do. This doesn’t mean you should walk away everyday shaking.

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