Training till Failure?

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    Training till Failure?


    What do you guys think about training to failure? I've always heard a lot of controversy on it and trained till failure myself. I have always ramped up and used my last set to break the muscle down as much as I possibly can by going to failure. Should I be slowly ramping up and getting near my weight used for failure?

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    I've also received a lot of conflicting information on this topic. I think the general idea is that like any strategies to up intensity (giant sets, super sets, negative reps, drop sets, etc.) going to failure should only be done occasionally and not every workout as that can lead to over training.
    That said, I pyramid up to a wait where I fail before 8 reps every workout and for the most part I always find good results.
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    That's really what it boils down to. If you're getting good results then you're doing something right. If you're not getting results then maybe it's time to change it up.
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    define failure. are you saying concentric failure, which is ok. or isometric failure, not so safe and could lead to injury. or eccentric failure, do very rarely as it can very well lead to injury.
    you can call me "ozzie" for short.
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    You'll have to be more specific as "training to failure" is far too broad of a term and the safety of it changes depending on the lift. Benching to failure is a bad idea; pressdowns to failure has very little danger.
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    Beyond the specificity mentioned above...

    What is the end outcome? Strength, muscle size, banshee workout?

    There are pros and cons to taking a set to failure. The trick is to optimize the pros and minimize the cons via smart programming.
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    Every set is to failure for me. I believe this is the only way to maximally trigger the anabolic machinery and science also bears this out. Low to medium volume at the highest intensity is almost always best for the drug free athlete!
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    I train to failure on ancillary exercises. I don't train to failure on prime lifts. Deads, squat, bench
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBroser View Post
    Every set is to failure for me. I believe this is the only way to maximally trigger the anabolic machinery and science also bears this out. Low to medium volume at the highest intensity is almost always best for the drug free athlete!
    Care to share some studies? I haven't seen (also have not looked that hard) at the in vivo response of mTOR activation to resistance exercise taken to failure vs. stopped shy.

    There are some benefits I have seen to training to failure, such as increased neuromuscular junction size and thicker motor neurons. I also believe you may get some additional damage to the sarcolemma and contractile proteins, especially when accentuating the eccentric portion, which can lead to remodeling.


    My concern is how do you determine what failure is on bigger movements. On the bench press its easy, but on the squat is failure when technique breaks down and compensation occurs, or is failure when you can longer perform another rep (i.e.: all the compensating muscles have fatigued too). The latter poses many problems, such as increased risk of injury and over use, and ingraining poor movement patterns.

    Br
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZiR RED View Post
    Care to share some studies? I haven't seen (also have not looked that hard) at the in vivo response of mTOR activation to resistance exercise taken to failure vs. stopped shy.

    There are some benefits I have seen to training to failure, such as increased neuromuscular junction size and thicker motor neurons. I also believe you may get some additional damage to the sarcolemma and contractile proteins, especially when accentuating the eccentric portion, which can lead to remodeling.


    My concern is how do you determine what failure is on bigger movements. On the bench press its easy, but on the squat is failure when technique breaks down and compensation occurs, or is failure when you can longer perform another rep (i.e.: all the compensating muscles have fatigued too). The latter poses many problems, such as increased risk of injury and over use, and ingraining poor movement patterns.

    Br
    You have already hit the nail on the head with some of the benefits you mention, but their are also studies involving the better hormonal (better as in better for anabolism) response to training to failure vs not.

    Obviously on some movements it is only safe to train to the point where you cannot complete another positive rep in good form without having a solid spotter right there with you - such as with squats and bench presses - so, if you are in the gym alone then I recommend using mostly exercises where it is relatively safe to train to failure on your own. However, if you wish to include squats and bench presses my suggestion would be to superset those movements with an isolation exercise. By doing this you can take a squat or bench press to a safe point of 1-2 reps short of failure, then immediately jump to a leg extension or DB flye and bring the muscle to complete exhaustion in this manner.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBroser View Post
    You have already hit the nail on the head with some of the benefits you mention, but their are also studies involving the better hormonal (better as in better for anabolism) response to training to failure vs not.

    Obviously on some movements it is only safe to train to the point where you cannot complete another positive rep in good form without having a solid spotter right there with you - such as with squats and bench presses - so, if you are in the gym alone then I recommend using mostly exercises where it is relatively safe to train to failure on your own. However, if you wish to include squats and bench presses my suggestion would be to superset those movements with an isolation exercise. By doing this you can take a squat or bench press to a safe point of 1-2 reps short of failure, then immediately jump to a leg extension or DB flye and bring the muscle to complete exhaustion in this manner.
    Can you point to some of said studies demonstrating this effect?
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    I will have to search around to find the specific studies I have been viewing of late (although it is my 20 years experience training bodybuilders and athletes of all types and levels which has truly taught me what I know -- studies just verify these things more and more as time goes by), but the gist of them has involved:

    -Failure training turning on protein synthesis to a greater degree and for longer than non-failure training.
    -Failure training igniting great local and systemic levels of IGF-1/GH.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBroser View Post
    I will have to search around to find the specific studies I have been viewing of late (although it is my 20 years experience training bodybuilders and athletes of all types and levels which has truly taught me what I know -- studies just verify these things more and more as time goes by), but the gist of them has involved:-Failure training turning on protein synthesis to a greater degree and for longer than non-failure training.-Failure training igniting great local and systemic levels of IGF-1/GH.
    I have yet to see anything that demonstratively suggests either the former and what significance, if any, that it will have on hypertrophy. However, for the latter, this has proven to be false when done on a consistent basis (Willardson, 2007 JSCR) and, when it has shown an elevation, there has also not been anything to show additional hypertrophy. Training to failure in the manner that you are suggesting is unnecessarily risky. There is a time and place for training to failure, but it is like any other tool that must be used at the appropriate time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    I have yet to see anything that demonstratively suggests either the former and what significance, if any, that it will have on hypertrophy. However, for the latter, this has proven to be false when done on a consistent basis (Willardson, 2007 JSCR) and, when it has shown an elevation, there has also not been anything to show additional hypertrophy. Training to failure in the manner that you are suggesting is unnecessarily risky. There is a time and place for training to failure, but it is like any other tool that must be used at the appropriate time.
    You may think so, but the 110 lbs of drug free muscle I have added to my own body tells me different (and I am only ONE "case study" regarding the efficiency of training to failure). I respect your opinion, but my success in this field and experimentation with DOZENS of training protocols with hundreds of clients will keep my thoughts on the subject as is.

    That said, I still encourage all individuals to continue to do what is working for them if results are satisfactory to them.
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    I can't comment on how it affects local or systemic levels of IGF-1/GH or hormonal anabolism, but in my experience personally and as a trainer, training to failure certainly has a place in the gym.

    As others have said, I wouldn't advocate going to failure on heavy compounds where compromises in form can lead to injury, but my philosophy is to take all auxiliary exercises to failure. I agree with EB that low to moderate reps with high intensity (that is, failure before the 8-10th rep) are the best for the natural athlete, but reaching failure on the 20th rep of a set of squats is also very intense. I think it boils down to progressive overload and the difficulty in progressing if you're not establishing PRs and breaking them.
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    Threads like this are gold.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbuick
    Threads like this are gold.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBroser View Post
    You may think so, but the 110 lbs of drug free muscle I have added to my own body tells me different (and I am only ONE "case study" regarding the efficiency of training to failure). I respect your opinion, but my success in this field and experimentation with DOZENS of training protocols with hundreds of clients will keep my thoughts on the subject as is.

    That said, I still encourage all individuals to continue to do what is working for them if results are satisfactory to them.
    Not to add fuel, but this is purely anecdotal. Had you gone shy of failure, perhaps the same results could have been made in the same time frame if not less than? Hence the need for studies involving controls with similar athletes.

    If I could find a person who has eaten nothing but vegetables at maintainence calorie intake yet developed heart disease, am i safe to say this will happen to everyone given my single person study with no control?

    Food for thought.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBroser View Post
    You may think so, but the 110 lbs of drug free muscle I have added to my own body tells me different (and I am only ONE "case study" regarding the efficiency of training to failure). I respect your opinion, but my success in this field and experimentation with DOZENS of training protocols with hundreds of clients will keep my thoughts on the subject as is.That said, I still encourage all individuals to continue to do what is working for them if results are satisfactory to them.
    This is not directly thrown at you, so keep that in mind, but I HATE it when people freaking do this. When disproven by the science, they will conveniently elect to go against it, but, when it helps to support their position, they will stand completely behind it. You can't buffet the science, especially when it refutes your position on multiple occasions (the citation I provided was a review of several studies) after you claim that the science did support your position.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodja View Post
    This is not directly thrown at you, so keep that in mind, but I HATE it when people freaking do this. When disproven by the science, they will conveniently elect to go against it, but, when it helps to support their position, they will stand completely behind it. You can't buffet the science, especially when it refutes your position on multiple occasions (the citation I provided was a review of several studies) after you claim that the science did support your position.
    I totally get what you and the above poster are saying but the truth is there are studies that "prove" both sides. Heck, studies now say you can get as much or more growth out of using 30% of your 1RM for a ****-ton of reps to failure than with sets of 7-10! Nobody trains like this for hypertrophy! Wonder why though, since science bears this out.

    For every study there is a study that counters it. Sorry, but it is true - and this goes for almost everything on the planet.

    But anyway, I have been training bodybuilders, athletes (every type), and everyone in between for over 20 years now...and I have treated everything as a long science project. I keep records of everything...I have experimented with every training technique and program known to man (including failure vs. non-failure workouts) - I consider MYSELF to be a scientist, the gym to be MY lab, and the hundreds of clients I have trained over 20 years to be the BEST POPULATION possible. I decided to prove to myself what works best - for myself of course - but also for all of my clients since that is how I make a living. I am not just another "trainer," but work with extremely high level and important people all over the world so RESULTS must be had. They must be dramatic and maximized.

    So, forget my 110 lbs of natural muscle - I have produced similar type of hypertrophy for so many others as well that to me, this is all the proof I need. And one thing that I learned is that training to failure is more efficient for hypertrophy than training short of failure - as long as volume is not too high.

    So, if you feel I am wrong then do it your way. Perhaps you should experiment a bit more in the trenches before you simply buy into the studies you have read. Or, perhaps you are happy with the hypertrophy that takes place with short of failure training and see no need for anything else.

    I am going to stick with what has worked for me to make me into one of the best naturals in the country AND what has made me the successful coach I am today - and that is not in any way an arrogant statement (because GOD knows I appreciate everything I have been given and feel blessed every day and take nothing for granted). What that statement means is simply that I have tried it all, kept meticulous records, and that my experiments have shown me the best way to do things (and this is how I treat everything in life, from training, to marketing, to studying for school, and everything else).

    Much respect.

    That is all I can really say on this subject, so now I leave the thread to you guys : )
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    Nobody is doubting you and your successes. However, when you claim science backs up your claims it would be helpful if you post the aforementioned studies when asked for them. It simply helps the discussion
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    Quote Originally Posted by EBroser View Post
    I totally get what you and the above poster are saying but the truth is there are studies that "prove" both sides. Heck, studies now say you can get as much or more growth out of using 30% of your 1RM for a ****-ton of reps to failure than with sets of 7-10! Nobody trains like this for hypertrophy! Wonder why though, since science bears this out.

    For every study there is a study that counters it. Sorry, but it is true - and this goes for almost everything on the planet.
    I think you greatly missed my point here, though. You made a claim that the science suggested your methods and your position was refuted, which you refused to acknowledge, without showing something to suggest your position. Basically, you cannot be wrong with your claims either way because you choose anecdotal when it's convenient and science when it's convenient. Now, if you posted something that suggested that training to failure consistently is beneficial for a period of, say, 10-12 weeks, then you'd have a better basis for your claims. I was hoping that you would post something that would add to the discussion, but you instead went with the anecdotal side and gave science the finger in this instance.
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    Instead of him posting all these links trying to back up what he's saying, why don't u just try it!...ud b surprised how much better personal experience can be than all this ever changing sport science bs..
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown58
    Instead of him posting all these links trying to back up what he's saying, why don't u just try it!...ud b surprised how much better personal experience can be than all this ever changing sport science bs..
    You are sadly misinformed and completely missing the point. If we went consistently on anecdotal observation we would all be perpetuating bullsh!t left and right. We would never actually understand the mechanisms behind what is going on and how to optimize each variable safely.
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    Look at all these articles on AM for example, u seriously believe everything u read on here? U have to digest everything u take in, keep what works after u "apply it", cause otherwise ull never know, and sh!t out the rest...
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown58
    Look at all these articles on AM for example, u seriously believe everything u read on here? U have to digest everything u take in, keep what works after u "apply it", cause otherwise ull never know, and sh!t out the rest...
    Articles are just the writers opinion on something they have seen/heard/done, some more reputable than others.

    Scientific conclusions from a controlled environment are not opinion but fact.

    It's not even remotely similar.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown58
    Look at all these articles on AM for example, u seriously believe everything u read on here? U have to digest everything u take in, keep what works after u "apply it", cause otherwise ull never know, and sh!t out the rest...
    You think those articles are science...
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    People just bother me sumtimes like those guys on youtube, they have the nerve to comment on guys like Branch Warren, Johnnie Jackson, Kai Greene, so many "nobodys" that look like they never even touched a weight in their life talking smack about the pro's form, saying "oh look at how awful Jonnies form is, he doing this all wrong" haha r u serious!! Even Jonnie had to say in one of his vids, "all these guys talking bout my form, ha trust me, I know exactly what works for me, if my vids bother u that much, then don't watch it"
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    Quote Originally Posted by chitown58
    People just bother me sumtimes like those guys on youtube, they have the nerve to comment on guys like Branch Warren, Johnnie Jackson, Kai Greene, so many "nobodys" that look like they never even touched a weight in their life talking smack about the pro's form, saying "oh look at how awful Jonnies form is, he doing this all wrong" haha r u serious!! Even Jonnie had to say in one of his vids, "all these guys talking bout my form, ha trust me, I know exactly what works for me, if my vids bother u that much, then don't watch it"
    We aren't speaking about YouTube or bodybuilding. We are speaking about the efficacy of scientific study which is what you have challenged with no basis.
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    Ughhh...it is really you guys that miss the point - but its all good.
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