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Started By Adman (Sydney, NSW, Australia)

Started on: 2/3/2005 7:35:52 AM, viewed 5671 times
The importance of training to failure.

This seems to be a real bone of contention on the board so I thought I would start a post about it. Should one train to failure or not? In my opinion it is one of the most important variables in a HIT training program so YES, it is crucially important that you train to failure! I know I am quoting Mike partially when I write here so forgive me and don′t accuse me of plagarism but it′s because he is the man who put this issue into its proper perspective. For those who say it is not necessary to train to failure, what you are doing in effect, is denying the principle, of the necessity of intensity. You are suggesting that in a set of bench presses of 10 repetitions with 250lbs to failure, that the first or the third or the fifth rep, are just as likely to stimulate muscular adaptation in the form of strength and size increases as the last repetition. This simply isn′t true! If you only benched that 250lb barbell 5 times, racked it and went home, why would your muscles have cause to adapt/ grow? They have performed an amount of work well within their existing capacity. There is no need for them to grow stronger or larger since you are only forcing them to perform an amount of work that they are already quite capable of. It is only when forcing the muscles to attempt that of which they are currently incapable, that you force them to adapt to the severe stimulus in the form of overcompensation; hypertrophy. Observe men who engage in highly repetitive tasks at very low intensity such as labourers, joggers etc; do they develop large or powerful muscles? No, because the level of intensity is not high enough to warrant the muscles making an adaptive response. Why would they? They can already cope quite easily with the level of stress being imposed upon them, they have no need to change ie; grow stronger or larger. The necessity of training to failure is so obvious and important to anyone who understands how and why adaptive responses in the muscles occur that it is almost unnecessary to even discuss it. Anyone who truly understands HIT knows; training to a point of momentary muscular failure is CRUCIAL for best results.

This Topic has 117 Replies: Displaying out of 117 Replies:

danierusan (London, Middlesex, U.K) on 2/3/2005 8:11:14 AM

Trainning to failure is only important because it allows you to measure strength increases with some degree of accuracy. It′s not magic in itself – it doesnt magically switch on anything. Because we can measure progress or lack thereof we can efficiently make changes to our routine so that strength increases are forthcoming again…..

Neither do I think that a failed rep is disproportionatley more stressful that a successful rep….

Traps (Philly, pa, U.S.A.) on 2/3/2005 8:11:54 AM

training to failure. all the time.

what does this do the Central Nervouse System?

Can the body grow if the CNS is overly taxed?

If HIT is supposed to be focused on recovery, why does it take so long to train the muscle again?

What does continuouse failure training do to the immune system?

is such an inactive physical lifestyle with so little exercise frequency good for health benefits?cardiovasuclar health, mental health, etc?

what do you know about workload? do you know what it is?

Does 1 set to failure cause as much testosterone and growth hormone production as a multi set workouts?

what countries use HIT to prep thier athletes for the olympics?

Do any world record lifters use 1 set to failure training methods?

what is failure? is it when you can no longer complete reps in good form? or when you can no longer complete reps using sloppy form as well? what if negative strenght is still in tact?

what does kind of effect does a slow rep cadence have on lactic acid build up? what does excessive lactic acid buildup do for muscle growth?

does a slow rep candence increase intensity? or just time under tension? am i recruting more muscle fibers by doing this?

Adman (Sydney, NSW, Australia) on 2/3/2005 9:13:33 AM

danierusan: "A failed rep is no more stressful than a successful rep." So you are saying that the first rep of the set is just as stressful to your muscles as the last. You have just shown how thoroughly you understand the principle of intensity.

Traps: 1) I don′t know, what proof do you have that training to failure adversely affects the CNS at all? Where did you borrow that "information" from? Or is that something you have adopted from others who use that excuse because they are too afraid to push themselves to failure? Why don′t you even try defining for me exactly what the CNS is and how it functions.

2) You have have answered your own question. HIT is focused on recovery. The reason you have to wait "so long" between workouts is to ALLOW recovery to occur. Did you think you recover from a HIT session overnight, or in a day or two?

3) If training to failure damages the immune system as you seem to be suggesting, then will terminating a set 1 or 2 reps shy of failure protect it? Is that what you are suggesting? Are you suggesting we should lift light weights and stop as soon as we feel discomfort so as not to overly tax the immune system? Again what proof do you have that HIT has ANY adverse effects on immunity? WHAT WILL OVERTRAINING DO TO THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?

4)We are talking about bulding muscle and strength in the quickest possible time here. Thats it. Do you want to get bigger and stronger or do you want to run marathons? If your primary concern is with general fitness and cardio work, maybe you should buy a book on calisthenics. I think you will find what you are looking for in there.

5)I know quite a bit about workload but since you are such an expert why don′t you define it for everybody. The term "workload" can be used in numerous contexts. Why don′t you clarify exactly what you are trying to say and in which context you are using the term.

6)I don′t know. What tests have you performed on exercise subjects to measure hormonal fluctuations during various exercise modalities? Would you mind explaining to me what happens to testosterone levels in subjects who are overtrained? Please publish your data. I′m very interested.

7)Surely it isn′t possible that olympic athletes overtrain? The fact that most of them are burnt out in a very short space of time, suffer a large amount of "overuse" injuries and that you seldom see them compete in more than a couple of games, couldn′t possibly be due to overtraining could it?

8)I′m not sure, I don′t know the personal training regimens of all the powerlifters in the world. Since you must, as you seem to be omniscient, why don′t you enlighten me. I suppose that since most champion body builders perform 20 sets per muscle and train 6 days per week, the theory of HIT must be false right?

9)Failure is when you can no longer complete a full concentric repetition despite your greatest effort. Negative failure is another thing. Do you know the difference between positive and negative failure? Cheat reps are different again. Since you seem fairly confused on the basic terminology used in weight training, maybe you should consider buying a beginners book on weight training so you can learn the terminology.

10)Are you aware of an effective method of resistance training that avoids natural lactic acid buildup from occurring in the muscle being trained? Please share it with me and everyone else. Are you suggesting that lactic acid buildup during training is something that can or should be avoided? How?

11)Who said anything about rep cadence? I wrote an accurate post on the importance of training to failure. Which subject do you want to debate with me, rep cadence, muscle fibre recruitment, or intensity? You seem to be asking several questions in one. Go regroup and decide exactly what it is you want to ask me about.

I′m sorry, I don′t mean to be sarcastic but I don′t think either of you read, or understood my post. I′m a very reasonable person and I′m the first to admit it when someone proves me wrong but neither of you seemed to have absorbed a single thing I wrote. Nor have either of you refuted one single point I made. Have you read any of Mikes work? If you haven′t then I suggest his newest book; High intensity training the Mike Mentzer way." It′s written in much more simple language than "Heavy duty II, mind and body" and there are lots of pictures for you to look at.

dafortae (a, a, U.S.A.) on 2/3/2005 9:52:15 AM


While I agree with you 100% that INTENSITY is the MAIN key in producing muscle growth, I disagree about failure BEING a requirement.

Let me ask you ONE question, and I think you′ll understand that it′s not a requirement.

If someone breaks their arm, and that arm is put in a cast for 6 weeks, their arm will tremendously shrink over that period because of lack of use. When the cast is removed, the person simply uses their arm NORMALLY in life, like they did before. They DON′T go to failure or anywhere near failure, yet their arm returns to normal size. FAILURE WAS NOT REQUIRED. Now, INTENSITY WAS higher than when it was doing NOTHING in the cast, therefore, intensity is RELATIVE to the recent past. When one is an ADVANCED bodybuilder, one probable DOES need to go to failure more often, BECAUSE of the RELATIVITY to the high intensity in the past. However, we cannot make a blanket statement saying it′s ALWAYS required.


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