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  • Training to failure

    Let me start by quoting Mark's home page today.

    "When you lift heavy things, heavy enough to “threaten” your body, you are sending the message that the affected lean tissue must adapt. Muscles adapt by adding fibers; bones adapt by ossifying."

    I consider "threatening" my body as training to failure. You have to experience the feeling to understand what it is like to train to the point that you can't move until a few minutes pass. It truly is a time of helplessness.

    I then rest and give my body time to heal adapt and grow.

    Why do so many fitness gurus consider this wrong?

  • #2
    Yep, you have to force the muscle to change, give it a reason to adapt, and then give it enough time to recover and repair.

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    • #3
      Not entirely sure Grok would have exercised to the point of not being able to move for a few minutes...doesn't seem a great strategy for survival from predators!
      Liz.

      Zone diet on and off for several years....worked, but too much focus on exact meal composition
      Primal since July 2010...skinniest I've ever been and the least stressed about food

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      • #4
        I can't quote any fancy studies or anything...and am basically just trying to remember stuff I've read...but if I recall correctly training to failure is actually detrimental to muscle growth and development in a very similar way chronic cardio is... the distructive hormones you trigger kills, or at the very least limits, the positive benefits of your training...

        from a metaphorical standpoint... if grok where to train to complete muscle failure he would make an easy snack... it doesn't make much sense for any creature to put itself into a state in which it can create no defense (whether running or fighting)

        that being said I do at participate in a weekly push-up competition that goes to failure ...but that is the only time in which I push myself that far...

        I generally stick to the 'grease the groove' technique... or 'leaving strength in the bank'... ..

        still...just my two cents...
        sigpic

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        • #5
          if grok where to train to complete muscle failure he would make an easy snack
          Mmm... but of course grok wouldn't train at all.

          The way I see it is training to proper physiological failure is akin to just surviving a fight or attack by an animal. Which then becomes a survival issue for the organism - which has to adapt to be stronger next time or risk death.

          Of course, that's just one of those neat retro-fitted evolutionary type theories and it might be a load of pants.
          My primal journal
          You might find these handy: Free gluten free restaurant cards in 50+ languages
          In Praise of the Primal Lifestyle

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          • #6
            I've read / heard on podcast that you can train to failure once every other week to promote growth but you absolutely shouldn't do it more often than that. You should also alternate between high reps/low weights and low reps/high weight and throw in a "train to failure" every once in a while. Tony Horton and others called it muscle confusion.

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            • #7
              How do you define failure though? I could train to failure with 100kg back squats then say strip the bar off and do 20kg back sqauts again...

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              • #8
                I usually train alone, and training to failure with weights is a bad idea in my opinion, unless you have ones made for it that can be dropped, like some of those rubber covered ones used for some Olympic lifts...but these are hard to find and can't be used for all exercises, and can still be problematic. (Ever drop a rubber bottom Kettlebell on your toes? :-) ) I do push it to the point that I cannot do one more rep but still safety reload the rack/set down the weight. Depending where I am at in my set, I may rest and go again until I reach that point again. Growth is a result of a combination of intensity, volume, and duration...so if you can't max one component of growth safely, max another one then.

                The only exception that I think is safe to train to failure (without a spotter) is bodyweight exercises, since you can put down the weight (yourself) in a fairly safe manner. These I do train to failure.

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                • #9
                  I have personally had good results training to failure, especially on bodyweight exercises. I wouldn't train the same body part to failure every day though, once or twice a week is plenty.
                  "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

                  "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

                  My blog: http://www.AlKavadlo.com

                  sigpic

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                  • #10
                    I do one exercise per week. I define failure as failing to complete the last positive rest. I use machines for safety.

                    This is my 6 week cycle.

                    1 chest press.
                    2 row
                    3 leg press
                    4 shoulder press
                    5 lat pull down
                    6 leg press.

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                    • #11
                      I've discovered recently that real physiological failure is quite different to what I thought was failure for the last 10 years or so. What I used to think was failure was really just 'pussying out' . Real failure is pretty damn unpleasant, at least at the time and it took a session with a trainer to show me that. I wouldn't do it more than once a week.
                      My primal journal
                      You might find these handy: Free gluten free restaurant cards in 50+ languages
                      In Praise of the Primal Lifestyle

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by racingsnake View Post
                        What I used to think was failure was really just 'pussying out' . Real failure is pretty damn unpleasant.
                        Excellent point! Glad you know the difference now! For anyone who wants to see what muscular failure looks like, check out this video of me going to failure on push-ups:

                        "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

                        "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

                        My blog: http://www.AlKavadlo.com

                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          One of the arguments against training to failure looks at your nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for muscle contraction, if you constantly train to failure you train your nervous system to fail. By NOT training to failure, you train your nervous system to always push out good hard contractions, it creates a positive feedback loop when training.

                          I think a good counter-argument to THAT though is by purposely going to failure to "train" your nervous system to kick "failure" to the curb and push through those reps where you would fail, like in Al's video.

                          Some say for strength gains it's best not to go to failure, while for size gains you should.

                          As with everything in life, a bit of both is usually ideal. I like to do some sets to failure maybe once a week or once every two weeks. Other training days I "flirt" with failure by getting pretty close. I think the argument of "if you train to failure you train your mind to fail" isn't entirely logical or true, I like pushing that really shitty rep out and conquering it, though I guess true training to failure would envolve pushing one AFTER that rep. I'm not trying to do that, that seems counter productive to me.
                          I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
                            I "flirt" with failure
                            I like that... haha..

                            Generally I also 'flirt with failure' in that I always leave a few reps in the bank...but generally not many (e.g. ~2-4 reps left)
                            sigpic

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by racingsnake View Post
                              I've discovered recently that real physiological failure is quite different to what I thought was failure for the last 10 years or so. What I used to think was failure was really just 'pussying out' . Real failure is pretty damn unpleasant, at least at the time and it took a session with a trainer to show me that. I wouldn't do it more than once a week.
                              +1. I could not agree with this more.

                              For bodyweight exercises (i.e. push ups) I train to failure. For something like a heavy bench press I train to just before failure, as failure might mean the bar crashing down on my sternum
                              My food blog ~ http://stuffimakemyhusband.blogspot.com
                              My primal success story

                              "Boxing seems to contain so complete and so powerful an image of life -- life's beauty, vulnerability, despair, incalculable and often self-destructive courage -- that boxing IS life, and hardly a mere game." --Joyce Carol Oates

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