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With the popularization of high intensity training, Crossfit, and other intense training methods, the idea of training to failure has become increasingly more popular. The idea of working so hard that you cannot possibly complete another rep is seen as an important part of training. However is this necessary in athletic training when we are after strength and size gains?


Some athletes and coaches may feel that if they are not going 100% every single time they enter the gym then they are not getting better. Is this necessary? The simple answer is NO. In fact, it is not advisable to train to failure for any extended period of time. The adverse effects of such training far outweigh the potential benefits. The important factor is planning. During the planning process there will be times of higher and lower intensity, as well as higher and lower volumes. All of these factors come together to elicit the types of adaptations in the specific order that will allow for the athlete to improve their specific qualities related to performance.

However, do not confuse training to complete muscular failure with training to technical failure. Technical Failure refers to when an athlete can no longer complete a repetition with proper technique due to fatigue. This is an important concept because technical failure should almost always be utilized in strength and conditioning settings, so as to maximize adaptation and ensure safe training at all times.

So how should we train for size and strength?

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Comment by Dave Scott-McDowell on July 24, 2014 at 11:02am

absolutely.. I think an important lesson.. is less is most often more. more targeted specific work with a purpose will yield better results than trying to destroy your athletes with lots of work. 

Comment by John Weatherly on July 24, 2014 at 12:36am

Good article/info.  As stated, athletes have to practice their sport.  The total load of training and sport practice (along with other stressors) needs to be managed. 

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