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Failing isnt always failure

We are taught to do things the right way and avoid failure.  It’s a paradox, because there is success within failure.  Isn’t it ironic…don’t you think?  Failing is not always failure.

Failing is not always failure

When it comes to fitness…training to muscular failure is controversial. Everyone has their own opinion on the subject.  Sometimes, you hear it being sliced, diced and debated by the hardcore lifters in the dark corners of the gym (far away from the cardio equipment)…sometimes.

Failing is not always failure

I love this picture, brings back childhood memories of the basement

So what is “Muscle Failure”?  Muscle failure is a point of exhaustion, where a muscle can no longer perform an exercise with appropriate form.  Boom there you have it.

Take note veteran clients

Fact: In everyday life (outside of a gym) there is virtually no human activity that involves going all the way to muscle failure.  Fatigue yes…failure no.

Okay, so if failure is not a needed for everyday function…why on earth would you want to train that way?  True to form, like any good irony, failure has benefits.

Subjecting muscles to some discomfort is necessary to bring about optimal results. Training to muscle failure is one technique, sparingly used, can open new pathways to gains.

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Stimulate, Recover, Repeat.

I train my clients using periodization and its time to switch-it-up again.  So, for the next few weeks my veteran clients will be working on failure.  It sounds sooo wrong when I say it out loud.  “Okay, were failing…starting today”!  HA! I.Love.IT. Nonetheless, coming out of circuits, it should be a refreshing change in the line up.

Luckily, they already drank my “Kool-Aid” and are used to my style of training. Affectionately dubbed “FAN” training (Fun.And.New) by one of the veterans. Seriously, I’m blessed to have the best clients in the world!  Muah!

Is training to failure right for everyone?  No.  The decision to train to failure depends on multiple factors, including

  • What the training stimulus is
  • Recovery surrounding the workout
  • Recoverability of the athlete
  • Time of year/season/periodization
  • Psychological freshness
  • Risk vs Reward

In programs like these, session are usually a bit more calculated and the workout is set for the athlete to achieve certain standards.  The key to doing it correctly is to incorporate a couple of sessions a week that are done just short of failure.

Don’t forget to include a few days of complete rest.  Take it slow and leave room for consistent improvement and stay patient. In other words, end your workout on off days feeling fatigued, but not completely spent.  Leave some energy in your reserves (ex – It was still a tough workout but you didn’t completely drain the tank or vomit in the parking lot).  🙂

Safety Tips

Don’t train highly technical lifts to failure

Stop at technical failure, not absolute failure

Always maintain proper form and enlist a spotter

Warning:  If overused, training to failure can lead to over-training and fatigue, so it should be used cautiously, infrequently, with supervision, and with the approval of a doctor.

Training to failure can be a catalyst for bolstering your fitness program and reaching new levels of athleticism. So there you have it.  Go forth & fail my friends!

What is your favorite piece of equipment at the gym?

Name one piece of equipment that you are too scared to use at the gym.

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***Disclaimer: Always check with your doctor first before starting new fitness routines to ensure that they’re right for you.***All opinions expressed are 100% my own.