Should you train to failure or not if you want to get the most from your exercise programme and training?

To answer this question, we need to break down what ‘failure’ is in this context as there are a few different meanings. We will do this below and then give you a few ways to maximise your failures (if that makes sense).

Training to technical failure.

This version of failure is best used for those big compound exercises where you are putting your body at risk of serious injury if you perform exercises under heavy weight with bad technique or serious fatigue. Do as many reps as you can before you are unable to perform the movements with the correct technique.

Think heavy barbell squats, deadlifts or military press as examples.

Training to exhaustive failure

Where you can literally not move the limbs you have trained. This version is more suitable for that lighter weight, less damage causing exercise where you can safely fail and collapse to the floor or finish safely with no danger to yourself.

Think press ups, dips or Bulgarian split squats in higher rep ranges.

Enhance that failure and push for more

By using drop sets or isometric contractions you can go beyond failure and keep that intensity for longer to try and reach your goals and push those muscles to their limits.

Drop Sets

Perform that heavy barbell squat and when you reach technical failure in your desired rep range, immediately grab some light dumbbells and carry on squatting or technically fail with your huge deadlift and then grab a kettlebell and knock out some more reps.

Isometric contractions

One we have mentioned before on the Premium Portal but a great way to further that muscle usage once you train to failure at an exercise. After performing your military press to technical failure grab some lighter dumbbells and lift them to the point of the shoulder press where you feel the most muscle contraction for as long as possible or after those split squats where you can’t move your legs, get up and perform a wall sit for as long as you can.

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