What are the advantages of 'to failure'?

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    What are the advantages of 'to failure'?

    I dislike 'to failure' exercises. Seems to me that it takes to long to recover.

    My common sense tells me it should be good for a 'plateau effect', also from a mind perspective, and finally to ensure some 'forgotten muscle' will be used.

    But does it worth? Should do them?
    What are the benefits?

    Thank you

    Well, I mean... yes, it takes a while to recover, but that goes along with exhausting yourself.

    It's definitely beneficial to exercise to failure. (1) It's consistently challenging, no matter your fitness level. (2) It's easily the most effective way to build muscle, again no matter your fitness level. (3) It's the simplest way to give yourself a progress check. For example, if you want to focus on pull-ups, you'll likely start out only being able to do one before "failing"; after focusing on that exercise, you can quickly check progress by going to failure to see how many more you're able to do.

    Should you do them? That all depends on your goals. If you're happy with your current level of fitness, then you'll be focusing on "maintenance." If you want to challenge yourself, then you'll want to mix in "failure" exercises with some frequency. Don't do it every day - because then you'll just be too physically exhausted to do anything, you're at a higher risk for injury because you're not recovering properly, and your muscle aches will be crippling - but every once in a while can be very helpful.

    One man's opinion. Good luck!


      There already was a thread to that topic
      Hope it helps.


        The first thing that came to my mind was that it trains your endurance, but I agree with Baston
        I would be cautious about it, though. I might pick a day and do the "to-failure" test and probably nothing else that would work the same body part. For example if I do sit-up to failure I won't do any other ab exercises on that day.


          In my experience it is a good way to raise the level of training but it cannot become the basis of a lasting workout.

          I applied it to push ups, for about two months after the morning workout, so already with tired muscles I did 3 sets first and then 5 sets of push ups to failure and I went from making less than 20 to the first set to 35 and more and the increase was also in proportion to the other sets.
          Personally having tried both 3 and 5 sets to failure, I would choose the 3 sets, 5 sets tire too much and in any case I would always use the fact of doing it at the end of training as an extra push.


            Personally I never train to failure. I heed Ori Hofmekler's advice about that. Training to failure trains your brain to fail. I know my limit, as in, I stop at the last rep or two before my muscles give in.


              I also use to failure rarely,but I find it good to increase reps for hard exercises.
              That's my experience,I went from barely doing 1 Pull up to now doing my record 10 Pull ups,that's by using the to-failure method,I don't know for other exercises but for me it worked well.


                Andi64 thank you for mentioning that thread here. Peterpan I understand the issue that comes with recovery in "to failure" exercises. Unfortunately there is no other way to build muscle and increase strength. In addition to my comments on the subject contained in the thread Andi64 already shared. I will add this here:

                Studies show that local muscular fatigue (and not metabolic stress) is the trigger for high-threshold motor units to be recruited during light load strength training to failure, while muscle fiber shortening velocities are simultaneously reduced because we are lifting either light loads slowly with many reps or high loads slowly with few reps. This combination allows greater mechanical tension to be produced (and therefore experienced) by the muscle fibers of those motor units, because of the force-velocity relationship. In either case we need the high load as the low-threshold motor units have already been trained by daily activity and have attained their maximum size. Therefore, the load is required to help recruit high-threshold motor units which would otherwise remain inert.

                I hope this helps clarify it.

                Nevetharine from a neuroscientific point of view training muscles to failure does not train the brain to fail. It trains the brain to learn to explore and overcome limits and limitations. This is useful because of a psychological phenomenon researchers call "transfer". Skills and attitude you learn in one domain can be directly transported and applied to a totally different one. Learning, for instance, to take the pain of pushing the body to the limit requires mental grit and tenacity which allows a person to focus on staying the course and not giving up, in something entirely different.

                ​​​​​​​I hope all this helps.


                  To complement what Damer says, here are two videos that can help get a better understanding of what training to failure does to your body, and when it is most appropriate, depending on your goals:

                  This one should be watched first:

                  ... then this one, if you want to explore the subject further: