What is training to failure?
Why train to failure?
The Train to Failure Program
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When beads of salty sweat dripping from your forehead are stinging your eyes like acid rain on the scorched earth, as your veins bulge out of your arms and your whole body tenses with complete muscle contraction, just so that you can barely get your last complete rep up in strict form, that's training to failure.
Let's go back to the beginning of this barbell preacher curls set. Your mind is set on lifting the weight before you with blazing eyes, nothing can stop your relentless determination, and you're giving every rep of every set everything your body can muster as if your life depended on it. Your focus is beyond comparison. Even that hot girl doing squats in the corner can't distract or deter you from your mission; in fact, she just adds fuel to the fire. You're hell-bent on putting every ounce of energy into this set until your blasted arms can't do another rep. Instead every muscle in your body is brought into one incredible sensation of focus and concentration toward the barbell in your clenched hands. The weight doesn't stand a chance. You continue grinding out another repetition with strict, perfect form in a continuously tensed arc towards a point just below your chin before slowly lowering the weight back down. The assault on your bulging biceps continues with painstaking consistency. Knowing the mass you add to your lower biceps is worth it, you continue to endure the intensity you've created for yourself, cranking out rep after bloody rep until finally your fatigued arms have nothing more to give in strict form under the stress. That's the last possible rep you're able to perform without getting help. You've successfully trained your biceps to failure on that set! Now, just a couple of minutes rest or so before you add weight and get ready to do it all over again!
Many bodybuilders train to failure on each set of their workout, simply because of the amount of intensity it forces out of them. This method of training causes the muscles to respond incredibly well for amazing gains and increased muscle. As long as they are training with strict movements and good form, the risk of injury is minimized, while great strides in muscle mass and strength are gained. Pushing it to the max means you can't get another rep in strict form. When you reach this point, you've trained to failure and you're done with that set. This is the point where it's critical to STOP. Pushing out reps after reaching this failure point can cause micro tears in the muscle fibers and add up to overtraining and injuries. The goal with the Training to Failure Principle is not to overtrain, rather to train to the limit and then stop. This means don't go to 110% of failure or even 100% of failure. Aim for 90-95% muscle failure. Your best guide is your form. Once your form starts slipping, diminishing into cheating or forced reps you are done, but as long as you can crank out another quality rep do it. After a period of recovery time (2-5 minutes), the body will be ready for your next set to be lifted in strict form to failure again. That's the philosophy. You can use it to your advantage along with anabolic supplements, which will allow you to get the most out of your workouts; giving your body the right nutrients and building blocks it needs to recover quickly and grow as fast as safely possible!
The basics for both male and female:
You want your body to have available everything it needs to recover quickly and stay in an anabolic (muscle-building) state. Here are some highly recommended supplements for both male and female bodybuilders.
| Whey Protein Shakes and/or Amino Acid Tablets such as:
Super Amino 4800
Optimum 100% Whey
N-Large II (for mass gaining)
TKE Nexus (for fat burning)
EAS 100% Whey Protein
Meal Replacement Powders
Glutamine for Muscle Recovery!
| Tribulus Terrestris
Tribulus is safe and effective!
A typical upper-body set for an experienced bodybuilder:
Set One: Warm up with a light weight to get the blood flowing and loosen up the muscles of that group. Perform 15 or so reps with good form.
Set Two: Up the weight to reap muscle failure at 10 to 12 reps.
Set Three: Up the weight again to push the muscles to fail at 8 to 10 reps.
Set Four: Again, stack on some more weight for your POWER SET. Use perfect form and try and crank out six good reps before your muscles fail.
Set Five: This is optional. Keep the weight the same as the power set and get as many as you can (hopefully another six reps). Only add this into the workout after you've done it for awhile and you're ready to increase the intensity another notch for certain or all exercises.
Hi, I read your article Training To Failure and found it very informative. I have the following problem: I am an intermediate bodybuilder and I seem to have reached a plateau after 3 months of fast gaining bodybuilding 4 days a week. I don't seem to be making more gains and though I aim to train to failure, I seem to be getting tired before my target muscles feel the pain (for example when I bench press, my arms tire before my chest. When I train my biceps, I seem to get tired before I feel the burn and if I add weight, I seem to get tired at an earlier repetition before I feel the burn also. What do you recommend for me to gain lean mass at this stage and for me to push to the need max, because my training to failure takes place before feeling the muscle burn.
That is a good question. To get the desired burn, you may have to drop the weight a bit on your sets. Therefore, you would be able to do more repetitions, and stress the muscle more before failing. Then, on your next set(s), you will have leeway to up the weight and go until you fail again. This should burn the muscles very well. If you are still not feeling the burn, I suggest performing more exercises for that body part. For example, on chest, your triceps and shoulders will most likely fail much sooner than your chest. To compensate for this, try performing 3-5 sets of flyes on the pec-dec machine or using a comfortable weight on dumbbells and a flat or slightly inclined bench. Immediately following, do bench press. You'll find that your chest is significantly burned and that your arms and chest may give out closer to the same time. You won't be able to put up as much weight, and you might not be able to perform as many reps, but your burn will be much higher and more intense and that is what you want because that is what's going to get your muscle bigger and stronger. Another possibility is that your energy levels are low. To remedy this, you must ask these questions:
1) Are you getting at minimum 8 full hours of sleep?
Carbohydrates-When, what kind, and how much to eat In the world of bodybuilding and fitness, proper consumption of carbohydrates is essential. Eating too much can make you fatter and eating too little will make you drag so much that you will lose muscle from your workouts, not being fueled properly. The key, as in all of life, is balance.3) Perhaps you need some energy enhancing supplements to give you the boost you need to propel your workouts to the next level so that you fail not because you were tired, but because the muscles could go no further. Some top recommendations are: Creatine, L-Glutamine (for enhanced recovery), and any sort of Thermogenic (i.e. ThermoDynamX, Xenadrine NRG, Thermo Hydroxadrine, etc.).
With carbohydrates, what you really have to watch out for is the sugary, high glycemic index carbs which are released into the bloodstream very quickly. This rapid accumulation of sugar in the body creates a surge of insulin, a hormone which makes you fat if it stays elevated every day. You can still eat the carbs you need and get away with it if you eat the right ones which are low on the glycemic index and in limited amounts. Also, reduce your consumption of carbs on non training days.
I have had success with eating carbs right before and after a workout, which is when you need them most, and leaving them alone for the rest of the day. You need carbs before a workout for fuel, and after a workout to replenish your lost glycogen storages. Actually, it is best to consume quick release carbs in the form of a liquid right after a workout because you will absorb the carbs right into the muscle without risk of an insulin surge. After a workout, I would recommend a powdered blend of carbs and protein you could easily find in Bodybuilding.com's cyber store at the best prices around.
You should consume only liquids for 2 hours after the workout so it can all go straight to your muscles which are screaming for nutrients. Your muscles will improve if you take advantage of this window of increased absorption.
L-Glutamine will also give you an advantage and you will notice decreased muscle soreness from workouts. This is because it feeds your muscle exactly what is depleted most from a hard workout as L-Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid found in raw muscle tissue.
A good multivitamin will also reduce free radical damage after a workout as muscle breakdown produces a lot of free radicals.
Having discipline with your diet is an absolutely essential part of your success in building a better physique--so remember that!
4) Are you getting enough vitamins and minerals? Make sure you're taking your daily multivitamin so that your body has everything it needs to build, heal, and repair.
5) Make sure you're getting enough protein for your muscles to build. Approx. 1.5-2 grams per pound of bodyweight per day.
Don't worry as much about how much you're lifting, focus more on intensity and burning out the muscle. Fatigue it to absolute failure. If it is giving out early before it's burned, you should lower the weight and do more reps until you fail. If it's still not burned, throw in some more exercises. Like on biceps day...if you've done 5 sets of standing barbell curls (each to failure) AND 3 sets of biceps-isolating, excruciating incline dumbbell curls and you're still not burned, force yourself to do three sets of alternating dumbbell curls or burnout three sets on a biceps isolation machine. Whatever it takes. I promise you're biceps will be throbbing for at least 2 days after your workout.
Keep lifting hard!