I don't like going to absolute failure too often. In fact, I rarely work till failure myself. I work very close to failure (1-2 reps), or to a technical failure (when form starts to crack). And I believe I still get as much benefit from it as going to failure. Here's a nice study:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?ter ... to+failure
"In conclusion, going to complete failure during lateral raise is not necessary to recruit the entire motor unit pool in untrained women--i.e., muscle activity reached a plateau 3-5 repetitions from failure with an elastic resistance of approximately 15 RM"
Always going to a total failure will teach and accomondate you to lose and fail, and it's bloody heavy to the nervous system. I still like programs like 531 and I still utilize back-off sets that have max reps with 50% load. But I never fail. I'll only go to failure when testing for 1RM.