Training to failure

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In weight training, training to failure is repeating an exercise (such as the bench press) to the point of momentary muscular failure, i.e. the point where a repetition fails due to inadequate muscular strength.[citation needed]

Training to failure is, however, a controversial topic. The proponents of High Intensity TrainingMike Mentzer, Arthur Jones and Ellington Darden — advise training to failure on every set. Other experts believe that this will lead to overtraining, and suggest training to failure only on the last set of an exercise.[1]

Heavy or light weights?[edit]

A 2010 study concluded that training to failure with lower loads can be more beneficial for muscle building than using higher loads. In this study, participants who trained to failure with a weight equal to 30% of their single repetition maximum ("1RM") had higher levels of muscle-building proteins 24 hours after their training session than participants who trained to failure with a weight that was 90% of their maximum.[2]

Going beyond initial failure[edit]

When the athlete has reached initial failure (i.e. fails to perform a further repetition), the exercise can be continued by making the exercise easier (change of posture, switching to lower weight) or by recruiting help (from a spotting partner or by involving another bodypart).

This of course increases the risk of overtraining and safety issues have to be kept in mind regarding posture.

Repetition Max (RM)[edit]

Working out your Repetition Max (such as your 1RM) must be done to true failure, so this also can be considered a form of training to failure. Though 1RM is the most popular and commonly used, any number of reps can be used, for instance a 10RM or 15RM, in fact your 10RM weight will be much more useful for you in terms of training for hypertrophy than your 1RM[citation needed]. Some say it can be performed with a much lower risk of joint injury (due to the lower weight)[citation needed], while others say a 1RM is safer because failure occurs due to absolute inability of your muscles to perform at the attempted weight rather than due to fatigue.[3] Your 10RM would be the weight at which you can do 10 repetitions, but fail to fully perform the 11th rep - whether that be from loss of form or just natural inability.