Training to failure.

Ask or answer questions, discuss and express your views

Moderators: Ironman, Jungledoc, darshana, stuward

Matt Z

Training to failure.

Post by Matt Z » Thu Mar 23, 2006 6:15 pm

How many people here regularly train to failure? Of those, how many use techniques like dropsets and forced reps to go beyond failure? I usually train to momentary muscular failure on at least one set per excercise while weight training (rarely I'll do two sets to failure). In doing so I select weights that allow me to reach failure within a target rep range which can vary from week to week. I also often use dropsets to go beyond failure on single joint movements. This has worked well for me, so I'm currious to see how many others are working out in a similar way and what results they've had.

Momentary muscular failure is defined as the point at which a person cannot perform another rep with a given weight, in good form, without resting. It is not limited to getting stuck in mid-rep.

Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 246
Joined: Sun Mar 19, 2006 11:20 am
Location: Maine

Post by DubDub » Thu Mar 23, 2006 7:02 pm

I just started trying to build sarcoplasmic hypertrophy in my pecs with the bench press, so I randomly selected 175lbs as a weight I could do for 3 sets 15 reps. Unfortunately I could not successfully do it three times. I managed 15, then 11, then only 8. 11 and 8 represent failure for me there. Immediately I did a drop set with 155lbs, only 4 reps. So instead of cutting weight I think I will stay with 175 until I can get 3x15, until then I'm going to perform failure sets.

Ryan A
Posts: 667
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2005 9:41 pm
Location: Davis, California

Post by Ryan A » Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:21 pm

Ideally, I train 0-2 reps short of failure on my top work sets unless they are bodyweight exercises like GHR and Pullups which I train to failure or do partial reps or cheat to finish the reps.

For instance, I just finished a 3 week cycle of close grip bench press doing 6 sets of 2-4 reps, always trying to get 4 reps on all 6.

The first 2 weeks I used minibands and in the 3rd week I did not.

The workouts looked like 6x4x135 for week 1, and 6x4x155 for week 2, then in the final week I did 6x4x195 without the bands.

So I may fail on the 4th set on the last rep ( i have a spotter) but I still attempt the 5th and 6th sets with thes ame weight and often get the full reps.

This is the case more often with lower reps I have found, that a technical flaw in a rep can cause a missed rep whereas for higher rep sets, technical flaws can be gotten through without missing the rep.


Post by Guest » Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:52 pm

I do all of the above. I train for hypertrophy. I do cycles of different stuff. My regular routine is sorta low volume to failure. I'll do that for a few months until my CNS has had enough. Then I do high volume around 70% not to failure for 4 weeks. Then a do a couple weeks of single sets beyond failure using forced reps, slow negatives and drop sets. On some things I have done a quadruple drop. Usually just regular and triple though. Then it is back to my regular routine. I do sprinkle in those techniques from time to time in my regular routine.

On the beyond failure weeks I tend to do an extra warm up set. I have done pyramids but I might experiment with that more in the future. That will involve 1 failure set per exercise. I might play around with German volume training as well, the only failure on that will be occasional from the short rest. I am getting results with what I do so I am kind of reluctant to experiment much anymore. On the other hand you never know when you might find something really cool.

User avatar
Stephen Johnson
Exalted Seer
Exalted Seer
Posts: 2097
Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:20 pm
Location: New York City

Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:10 pm

I used to train to failure regularly in my workouts. But time and injuries have taught me that if I'm kind to my body, my body will be kind to me. ;-)


Post by john » Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:14 am

stephen, so you keep doing your reps until you feel like your next one you will fail then you stop? and move on to next exersize? or if you still have sets left do you rest and do the rest of your sets? and also do you ever do drop sets? or is that also bad?


Post by Guest » Fri Mar 24, 2006 2:23 am

When not training to failure pick a weight and a rep number and just do that. It should be hard. Like if you want to do 8 reps, you pick a weight where you could get 9 or 10 to failure. Then you rest and do all your sets. Drop sets are good. They are usually done when training to failure. Use it sparingly. All you really have to do is make sure there is an inverse ratio between the intensity and the volume. Make sure it is not always the same ratio.


Post by john » Fri Mar 24, 2006 3:59 am

yeah for the most part i dont train to failure, but as soon as i can do all 3 sets total reps i up the weight 5-10% and sometimes that results in failure, in that case i guess id do a drop set and then next time do the same weight and if i can do all sets and reps id up it again


Post by JeffD » Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:59 am

Ryan A wrote:
This is the case more often with lower reps I have found, that a technical flaw in a rep can cause a missed rep whereas for higher rep sets, technical flaws can be gotten through without missing the rep.
Ive noticed this as well. Form is everything on the heavy weights. There will be times im doing sets of 3, the first 2 reps will seem pretty easy...and i'll get overconfident and stop paying attention to form somewhat thinking the 3rd rep will just shoot up. Then i'll end up just BARELY getting it up!

As for failure...theres never a workout that i dont go to failure at least on the last set of every exercise. Call it an ego thing if you want, but i just have problems stopping knowing that i have another rep or 2 still in the tank.

Matt Z

Post by Matt Z » Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:59 am

I don't see why going to failure should increase the risk of injury, as long as you warm up properly, maintain good form and use a spotter when neccessary. Of course, you can't go to failure every workout or on every excercise, but most of the time on most lifts works well for me. I've been training this way since middle school with no serious injuries.