Complete Muscle Failure – A Sure Way to Grow
Before I dive into this, there’s a time and place for every style of weight training. There are times to train with extreme intensity and there are times when you need to back off. There are times to train super heavy and there are times when you need to drop it down some and bang out more reps. Building muscle requires a variety of weightlifting techniques. But there’s no denying that the fastest way to gain muscle is to train until you reach muscle failure; in other words, train with all-out intensity.
We’re Not Just Showing Up to the Gym; We’re Here to Train and Grow
How many people do you see in your gym making true progress in muscle growth and strength? Think about it; how many times have you thought to yourself ‘I’ve seen this person in the gym every day for a year but they still look the same as they did a year ago.’? It seems like some people have this mentality that if they just make the effort to show up they’re muscles will somehow magically grow or the fat will just vanish. Ok, so making it to the gym is a good thing as some exercise is better than none. And of course we all have different goals whether it’s gaining muscle, burning fat, toning up, losing weight, or just simply maintaining health. Heck, I commend anyone who makes any kind of effort to get in the gym (especially when I go which is at 5AM). But just showing up doesn’t guarantee changes in your body or health. And if you’re on my site reading this article, I know you’re here to gain some serious muscle and get stronger. And to make substantial gains it takes training hard and intense, bottom line.
Training To Failure
Training to true muscle failure is extremely taxing on your body and your central nervous system. As a result your workouts should be shorter. Weight training to failure exhausts the muscle to it’s fullest extent so you’re not going to be able to bang out 4-5 quality sets with solid reps. The focus when training to failure isn’t so much training volume but more so the quality of each rep and set. The goal here is the overload the muscle with heavy weights yet going beyond what you think you can do.
It’s important to note that on many exercises you’re going to need a trusted spotter, especially on exercises such as any type of free weight presses and squats. A vital aspect of training to failure is going until you can’t go anymore following by one or 2 assisted reps. If you just do a set of 8 reps, for example, but then you stop when you know you could’ve pumped out another rep or 2 you’re not reaching total muscle failure therefore you’re not going to get the full benefit here. Let me back up to the trusted spotter for a side note; for starters you need to have a workout partner with the same or similar goals and that person needs to be motivated so that you feed off each others’ energy. If you don’t have this it’s really best to fly solo. This person also needs to know how to properly spot you and not just pull the weight off of you saying ‘That one was all you man!’ You need to be forced to work overtime for it. If do not have a training partner, that’s ok. Most of the time you can find someone to spot you on exercises such as bench press or seated barbell press. You could do 1 free weight exercise and do dumbbells or machines for the rest of your workout and still train until failure.
Now this doesn’t mean you need to train to failure on every set. Ideally you want to hit at least one warm up set. Six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates was, or still is an advocate of shorter, more intense workouts and training to muscle failure. From what I’ve read Dorian did 2 working sets for each exercise going all-out on those sets. These workouts generally consist of 3-4 exercises per body part (4 for larger muscle groups and 3 for smaller muscle groups). This goes against the grain of many professional bodybuilders that claim higher volume workouts are more effective (keep in mind we’re all different and may respond differently to various weightlifting techniques). Sometimes less is more.
Training Intensity for Muscle Growth
Training intensity is a key factor for muscle growth. Although you shouldn’t train until failure all the time (breaks are needed here and there) you should implement this technique most of the time. For example, you should train to failure on your workouts for 6-8 weeks followed by a couple of weeks where you back off a little. Or you could alternate training to failure with certain body parts such as training chest and shoulders with maximum intensity for a week while training everything else with moderate intensity then switch it up the following week. As you’ll often hear me say, you have to find what works for you. But you can be sure of one thing; training to failure will indeed grant results in muscle mass and strength.
Train with Passion,