Training To Failure - The Truth about Building Muscle

Published: 26th June 2009
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For quite some time, exercise professionals have debated the truth about building muscle involving the training to failure method. Talk with some fitness experts say that the only way to get the muscle mass you desire is to train to the point that the muscles begin to fail. This, they say, must be done on every single set. However, other fitness experts are not in agreement with the training to failure technique. Some people have done both techniques looking for ways to get a larger muscle mass and become stronger.

Here is one person's standpoint on training to failure on both sides of the technique:

Advocating Training to Failure

There was a time I advocated training to failure to anyone I met that wanted to increase their muscle mass. I already knew that with hard work and high intensity that they could improve their strength and their size. Advocating training to failure worked perfectly because I trained all my low volume workout clients with it.

Problem with Training to Failure

After some time, I moved away from the low volume workouts and for many reasons, experimented with slightly advanced approaches. Here there was a problem. I noticed you couldn't train high volume and intensity because large repeated reps would cause you to burn yourself out.

The Realization of Training to Failure

Once I realized the problem with workouts and training to failure, I no longer advocated it. I realize it did no good to push yourself because when you became more advanced, you wouldn't be able to. I informed my clients that training to failure, while good at low volume, wasn't necessary. I let them know that they should train but still have the ability to do more. They should, I said; never go beyond getting to momentary muscular failure.

Everyone who trains is serious about it. They want to increase their muscle size and do it quickly. Doing this by training hard is typical of these folks. Many people began to ignore my recommendation and would train to failure on 90 percent of their sets. Honestly, I'm the type of person that prefers train to failure no matter what training volume I'm using. I've been doing it for so long that I have no idea to train any other way. I have to give the gym and my exercising 100 percent of my effort. Nearly everyone I know who enjoys lifting heavy weights, myself included, like to do training to failure because it's fun and we don't hold anything back. We give it everything we got and then some.

With this realization, I've lowered my recommendations for training volumes. For many people, I advise them not do in excess of 12 sets for each workout especially if their goal is just to boost their muscle mass. It's important to train hard but safe if you keep a low volume. You certainly don't want to overextend yourself and get burnt out. You want to make any workout you do fun, exciting and industrious. If you're pressed for time to train, you'll need to make your workout shorter but effective.

What does it mean by training to failure to be exact? It means you continue to do your reps until you cannot do another rep. You should never fail midway into a rep especially when you are on a squat or bench press with no spotter around. This can be dangerous and life threatening.

What you should do is train as hard as you can. However, stop when you push out one last rep with all your might (it must be slow and brutal to push out). You don't want to pass out from the workout so do not overtrain, even if you feel like you can do more after a short rest period. Doing so is termed overtraining and you are likely to fail before succeeding.

Keep this in mind: the truth about building muscle; high intensity and low volume are two things needed for you to increase your muscle mass quickly.
Learning the truth about building muscle is only one part of the puzzle. Exercise routines and diet also play a major roll in building muscle mass. Go to for more great tips and advice on the truth about building muscle and learn the secrets to building muscle mass quickly and easily.

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