When it comes to muscle failure training, we find people who are in favor and, of course, people who are not. On the one hand, many find it a great tool for improving their muscle strength and physical condition, while others consider it useless and even harmful.
In this article, we will try to understand if muscle failure training works. To this end, we will expose what science says about it.
What is muscle failure training?
It occurs when the fibers that make up muscle tissue are unable to generate the power needed to overcome resistance. Or when we can’t do more reps during a weight training session.
It is mainly based on reducing the number of sets in each exercise until failure is reached. In principle, it is about doing fewer workouts, but of higher quality.
However, as mentioned above, many people disagree with using this method. In most cases because to achieve muscle failure the training load must be very high. The latter could lead to some types of muscle injuries.
Who can do this type of training?
Not everyone has the capacity to go through a muscle failure workout without suffering later problems. In this regard, it is important to note that this type of physical work can only be practiced by two sports profiles:
- First of all, from professionals who aim to achieve hypertrophy. These athletes use muscle failure to enhance the growth of muscle tissue.
- On the other hand, athletes who want to increase their performance in sports that require endurance.
Hence, this method is not recommended for beginners, as one must master the technique of the exercise in question perfectly and perform a good warm-up in advance to avoid any kind of injury.
Furthermore, even if the level of the professional is high, a personal trainer should always be present. In fact, training for muscle failure will always require you to work with high loads and it is good that there is the help of another person to limit the risks.
How to achieve muscle failure?
When doing muscle failure training, there are two ways to achieve your desired goals:
- Low weight training. It is used when you want to do a higher number of repetitions or when training with body weight. Muscle failure occurs when we can no longer move the load.
- Using submaximal loads, working around 85% of our 1RM (maximum rep) and with a maximum of 10 reps. When we use submaximal loads, insufficiency is caused by the fatigue accumulated before reaching the last rep.
How to work on muscle failure
If we want to introduce muscle failure training into our routine, we can do it in several ways:
- Running the entire session until muscle failure, lowering the number of sets and at the same time extending the pauses between sets.
- Include it before or after fatigue, generating muscle fatigue before or after the main exercise we will perform.
- Apply it at the end of the workout, taking advantage of the previous fatigue obtained in a certain muscle group and performing two more series of muscle failure and with less load.
- Use the contrast of loads. To do this, perform 10 reps at 75% of our 1RM. Then, without pause, remove half the weight and continue until muscle failure.
Precautions to be considered
If we want to include this method in our training routine, we must do it very carefully and with the assistance of a professional. If we abuse this training, we run the risk of running into overtraining and, consequently, suffering from muscle injuries.
What does science say about it?
Even in the scientific field there is the same controversy of opinion regarding this type of training. On the one hand, authors such as Foland argue that it is not necessary to achieve muscle failure to obtain certain benefits in terms of muscle strength.
However, on the opposite side, we find the work of Izquierdo and his collaborators, who indicate that training in muscle failure can be a useful stimulus to improve the muscular endurance of a given muscle.
However, they also point out that if our goal is to work on muscle strength, this type of training is not the best way to achieve it.
As we have seen, this type of training is effective depending on a specific sporting goal. Beyond that, it’s good to keep in mind that not everyone can make it happen – you need to have some experience to get the most out of it.