Training to Failure All The Time?

     Great story,  my Dad over the past week has been trying to lose weight by jogging like he did when he was a young buck.  Result, serious pain in his hip.  Why?  Well, for one, he does not lift and secondly he just went out and crushed himself for 45 minutes without ever using some type of progression.  Have you seen similar philosophies with people in the gym?  Training to failure sets all the time.  Chest press 1 set to failure, shoulder press 1 set to failure, squats 1 set to failure. 

This controls everything. Remember that

     Athletes need to be explosive  and fast when they play their game so crushing them all the time is not the smartest idea.  Certainly, there can be phases where you work to failure because you may be trying to stimulate hypertrophy, but this is far from the norm everyday they come in to lift.  Remember, that is your central nervous system is shot, you better believe the motivation to lift is not going to be there.  It may be important to note that training to failure can caused a decreased immune response.  Now considering that most people do not have beautiful diets, this could be a problem.  Even Charlie Francis has been noted from shying away from 100% all out effort.  This is also why staying over 90% on your heavy lifts can still help you get stronger.  Experienced lifters have been known to not go 100% for long periods of time because it is just too damn stressful.  Imagine if you are a 600lb deadlifter, your strength workout is 10 x 1, does that mean you have to lift 600 lbs on every single?  Most likely not.

     The take home:  I read someone’s blog awhile ago, and I think the one title was Stimulate Not Annihilate.  This is exactly what you want to keep in mind with lifting, especially with athletes.  You better believe athletes need to work hard, but they need progression.  Here are some tips that I have learned for max strength and/or power

  • Compound lifts: deadlifts, bench presses, presses, squats – stick with 1-5 reps.
  • Power: Olympic movements, etc.- same concept as above.  There is nothing worse than seeing a set of 10 for cleans and it being grinded out.  They need to be explosive with technical proficiency (Be sure with beginners to do higher rep with barely any weight is smart to achieve technical proficiency first).
  • For other accessory lifts: 7-15 could be a good range. I have started leaving some fuel in the tank on sets.  For example, I am lifting intense but not every set of 1 arm DB bench (3 x 10), the 10th rep is not max effort, perfect rep for that last rep.  Hopefully that gets that gets the idea across.

     Staying injury free, motivated, feeling fresh and Clenbutrx’d up (heart is racing just saying that word) is far more important for strength and progress than the opposite.



Categories: Strength Training


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