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The question of whether or not you should train to failure is one of the most popular workout questions you can answer. There are some that feel that doing so is counterproductive to your gains. Those that feel this way may not be asking the all important question of what are you training for, when they make that statement. In this video, I’m going to answer the question of whether you should train to failure once and for all.
To start, the goal of what you are training for will guide you in your quest for the answer of training to failure. If you are trying to put on muscle size, you will likely be training in the muscle hypertrophy range and letting the technique or form you use on the exercise, guide your stopping point. For instance, if you are doing pullups and you can no longer get any reps in reasonably good form (even if your tempo has been reduced dramatically) then it is time to call an end to that set. This would be failure, and it would have achieved what you are looking for.
Your effort in this set is going to be high. Incredibly high in fact. You just want to save yourself from the atrocious reps that do nothing to continue the work being done by the muscles you are trying to develop but rather displace all the load to muscles that you do not necessarily want involved.
Next, if you are training for power, your interpretation of when you should stop a set is influenced by the speed of the reps you are doing. Once your speed slows considerably, and you are no longer able to explosively lift the weight in under 1.2 seconds on any given rep then you would consider this set finished. Sure, you might be able to lift more because your tolerance for more reps is there, but since the tempo is no longer aligned with the goal of power you would call it quits for that set.
Finally, if you are going to train with high reps then what guides you is neither your tempo or your technique but more so your tolerance. Let’s face it, anybody can keep their form on a set of tubing curls (even as the intense burn mounts). Throw in the fact that the tempo is likely going to be maintained as well since momentum is not really an issue here and what it comes down to is your ability to withstand the intense burn that is mounting in the muscles you are working.
Knowing the difference in types of training to failure is only the beginning however. The more important element is understanding that if you want to see progress, gains, etc then you are going to have to train to failure. By very definition of the rule of overload, you are not going to create overload by doing set after set of unchallenging loads. You need to push yourself in some capacity in order to force an adaptation by the body to build itself back up bigger, stronger and faster.
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