Should you be training to failure?
Training to failure means pushing until you literally cannot do another rep. Taking some of your sets to failure can be a good way to ensure you are training with sufficient intensity, and it can also help you learn your limits when gauging your RIR (reps in reserve).
However training to failure too often will increase your chance of injury, inhibit your recovery, and negatively impact your long-term progress.
So, here are some tips on the WHO, WHEN and HOW of training to failure, so you can be sure you are doing it in a way that is safe and effective for your long-term progress!
WHO should train to failure:
- If you are a beginner, then you don’t need to be training to failure very often.
- This is because when we are new to lifting, it takes less stimulus, and therefore less intensity, to generate muscle growth.
- However, if you are more experienced, then you will benefit from training to failure more often.
- This is because as you get more experienced and get closer to your genetic potential, it will require more stimulus for you to continue progressing.
WHEN you should train to failure:
- You don’t need to take every one of your sets to failure, and doing so will only inhibit your ability to recover.
- As a general rule, it's best to limit training to failure to the last set of a given exercise.
- Most of your other working sets should remain at around a 7-9 RPE (meaning you could do around 1-3 more reps before failure).
HOW you should train to failure:
- It's best not to train to failure on advanced compound movements that use free weights (such as barbell squats or deadlifts). Doing so can increase your chance of injury and negatively impact your ability to recover.
- You can train to failure on single-joint movements, such as the leg extension, leg curl, bicep curl, or lateral raise etc, as these are less taxing on your neuromuscular system.
- Training to failure on machines instead of under a barbell is also safer when you don't have a spotter available.
To sum it up, you should aim to take most of your working sets to around a 7-9 RPE, meaning you could only do 1-3 more reps before you would fail. Don’t train to failure on your main compound movements, and limit training to failure to your accessory movements and final working sets. Now go get those gains gf!
TWS Coach Bronte x