Training until failure is a famous concept in the fitness industry.
Performing every movement, exercise, or lift until you just cannot do it anymore.
This way of exercising is an art and done best by those who can work through every mental barrier they have.
It has been known to be utilized by bodybuilders and those trying to make substantial gains through lifting.
This method sure feels like it’s doing a number on your body, and can be an intense form of exercising.
Giving 100% every time you workout can be a motivational line conveyed by tons of personal trainers and leaves you feeling like you need to give everything to make any fitness progress, but is this true?
Should you be working out until failure?
This is not as simple as yes or no, as proven by the many arguments you can find between experts on whether working out until failure is efficient, or even healthy!
I believe working out until failure is useful depending on your goals, whether this being muscle growth or losing weight.
However, if you are training for strength, training until failure is going to be counter-intuitive.
Is training until failure necessary for muscle growth? When is training until failure bad? Or, how do we even train until failure? This and more are coming up below!
First things first, we can’t discuss something we don’t know how to do!
To work until failure, you just need to perform the exercise until you cannot lift anymore, and by that, I mean truly lift anymore.
If like me, you work out at home, then that may mean your main exercise type is bodyweight exercises.
So, if we were doing a set of pushups, we would want to perform as many as we can.
As it starts to become more difficult, we still keep going, and pushing, and pushing even more, until we physically drop to the ground. It is extremely tough.
Side note, you can see why I believe you can work out wherever you want.
Every way of exercising is pretty much possible at home, and this is just another one that people think isn’t possible, but is.
Check out my free ebook for more reasons on why I believe you can ‘Train Wherever The F*ck You Want’.
You then want to try and increase the weight and/or the volume you can do to failure each week.
I do recommend making sure you are having time off exercising to failure and making sure it is in a set cycle, as will be explained later.
We can also perform another form of training to failure, which is a bit more difficult if you are training at home, but still possible.
This is called a drop set.
When working out until you can’t lift anymore, rather than stopping when you can’t shift the weight, drop it to a lower weight, making lifting the weight more possible, and will work the muscles even more than just a standard to failure workout.
If we are wanting to do this from home, we may want to purchase some adjustable dumbbells, to make this easier.
Although, if you are just planning on using weight in a backpack, as I use in this video below, then just gradually removing items will do.
Training until failure is pretty useful for muscle growth – whether it is necessary is another question, though.
You can gain plenty of muscle through training without going to failure, there is no doubt about it, but training to failure is known to be able to speed up those gains.
When we lift weights to failure, we are fatiguing the muscle.
In turn, this causes a lower force to be outputted by the muscle, therefore a greater number of muscle fibers will be in use, to compensate for the lack of muscle velocity.
This means working out to failure will lead to hypertrophy, as more muscle fibers need to be repaired due to more activation.
As there is a positive relationship between muscle growth and workout volume, it proves that training harder and pushing yourself further would allow you to gain more muscle, in a shorter period of time.
Training until failure could be necessary for a more experienced lifter to make more gains, however, I do not believe that training to failure is required to see any type of muscular growth.
I think resistance training, a good diet, and a lot of sleep will get you there just as well.
Any type of high intensity will result in more energy being used.
More energy being used means more calories being burned.
To lose weight, we must be in a calorie deficit and if we are burning more calories than we require to function in a day, then the fat will melt away!
The reason training to failure will help with losing weight is that it is so intense and will require a lot more energy than your standard workout routine.
The thing is, training to failure reminds me of HIIT, you train hard and are left sweaty, fatigued, and very satisfied with the training you have just done.
My main issue with using training to failure as a method of losing weight is that it cannot be used as a “magic method” for weight loss, remember, we need to be in a calorie deficit for any progress.
This puts a lot of emphasis on what we eat and drink throughout the day, and what foods we are using to fuel our bodies for an intense workout.
If you are eating a lot more calories than you need, you will not lose weight.
If you eat foods that are not filled with nutrition or the right macros, you will not be fueled with the right energy to train until failure.
Simple as that.
Obviously, training until failure has a few negatives, especially if we have different types of goals.
First and foremost, I cannot imagine doing cardio until failure is very good, or even healthy.
What even is cardio until failure?
Running until you drop dead?
Anyway, I’m sure there is a possible way to perform a cardio routine close to failure, but actually going to failure is pretty useless, unless maybe you are a professional athlete who needs to.
If your goal is to increase your strength, training to failure is not a good idea.
To train for strength, either in the gym or at home, you need to be lifting heavy.
I know what you’re thinking.
If I am lifting heavy, about 90% of my PR, how am I going to be able to train to failure, without tearing a muscle?
Well, you can’t.
If you want to train for power, you need to be utilizing the strength of your muscle.
If you have just fatigued said muscle, there is no way you are lifting it.
Training to failure can also be bad if we are doing it too often.
Fatiguing the muscle, without rest can be detrimental to your health, and rather than gains, we will be getting injuries.
So, if training to failure can be bad for you, how often should we do it, if we want to incorporate it into our routine?
I can recommend maybe once or twice a week, or if possible, try to perform it in a routine.
What I mean by this is one cycle of push, pull and legs, or however you train, go to failure.
For the next 2 cycles, exercise normally with a set amount of reps for each set.
Rest is paramount when training to failure, and so training to failure every workout is not the best idea.
If you are going to take anything away from this article it is that there is not a set way to work out.
Training to failure can work for you and is a great way of working out, but if it doesn’t suit your goals, find something else that does.
Should you be working out until failure for muscle growth – yes.
It’s great for weight loss, as well.
Anything else isn’t necessary at all.
If you have never worked out until failure, I recommend giving it a try, especially if you are an intensity lover, and love to feel fatigued after a workout!
Great job in doing your research with your exercises. But don’t stop there!
Nutrition is important as well. And there is another part that is often overlooked.
And honestly its the most important thing to implement if you want your diet and exercise routine to last.
And that’ breaking the bad habits holding you back, and replacing them with new healthy habits that will help you take back control!
To find out how I can help you do this, book your FREE evaluation call here.