Guys like us have goals.
We’re determined to get bigger and stronger as fast as possible.
So we go 110 mph all the time, in the constant pursuit of making gains.
If you played sports, you probably carryover that same mindset to the weight room. You have the mentality that you have to go as hard as possible, all the time.
Although this can be a great attitude to have, it can actually leave us beat up and over trained with lesser strength and hypertrophy gains.
Ever see the guy in the gym using a weight that he’s absolutely struggling with? He’s usually not the most jacked guy in the gym.
On the other hand, the most jacked dudes are actually doing the opposite. They’re using a challenging weight that they can handle for the prescribed rep range and leave one or two reps in the tank on sets. Just check out The Rock’s IG for example.
If you are a genetically average, drug free lifter training to failure is actually going to do the exact opposite of what you’re training for. Over time you’ll get weaker, smaller, frustrated and burned out.
If you’re not sure what it means to train to failure then check this out.
Training to failure means that if you are doing a set of bench press for 6-8 reps for example and your last rep you either go for and can’t get it up or you get it but it literally takes every single thing you got to get it up. The last rep is painfully slow and you could not have gotten one more if you had a gun to your head. Either way is hitting failure.
When you train to failure day in and day out a few things happen.
- Technique breaks down and your movement quality goes to shit. Leading to excess joint stress and overcompensation.
- Your Central Nervous System gets absolutely fried which makes your workout very difficult to recover from and leads to systemic fatigue.
- Underdevelopment of muscular strength and growth due to what I mentioned above and the fact that you aren’t going to be able to follow the progressive overload principle. To add, you’ll constantly be missing reps.
Although our egos can lead us to training to failure time and time again we have to keep that shit in check. We have to constantly remind ourselves that trying to do too much is going to lead to the exact opposite of what we want.
Here’s how to avoid training to failure.
- If you are healthy enough for the big lifts (bench, squat, deadlift) find your 3 or 5RM on those movements. Then use percentages of your max for certain rep ranges. For instance, if your 5 rep max is 275 lbs. on the bench press and the following week you are going to bench press for a set of 6-8 reps, you can take 85% of your 5RM (230 lbs. in this case) and use that weight for your sets of 6-8. Prilepin’s Chart can help you out with this.
- If you are doing a body weight exercise like chin-ups, imagine during your set that if you had a gun to your head and can only do one more rep, you’re going to stop and leave that rep in the tank. So if with a gun to my head I can do 15 chin-ups, I’m going to stop at 14.
- If you are using dumbbells or doing an exercise you can’t take a percentage with, select a weight that you can do about two more reps with than the prescribed rep range. So if I am doing a dumbbell row for a set of 10 and I know that I can get the 100’s for 12, I’m going to use the 100’s for my set of 10.
If you follow these guidelines you’ll be able to follow the progressive overload principle and make more weekly progress in your training.
Training to failure is very difficult to recover from and will only impede your gains and performance, so be smart about your weight selection.
Although you still want to train hard and never train like a total softy, you also have to be smart and avoid failure. Doing so is only going to save your joints and leave you bigger, stronger and feeling better.
So leave your ego aside and choose an appropriate weight. The longer you’re in the game the more gains you’ll be able to make.
I hope this helps, guys.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. As always if you have any questions feel free to drop a comment below. If you found this post to be helpful then please click the share button so your friends and family can check it out too.