Should you train to failure? It really depends

This article will take you 4 minutes to read. Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section, they will be answered!

Training to failure… an eternal debate. How many times do we hear people arguing about whether or not you should go to failure…? Too many!

So what’s right and what’s wrong? Arthur here! And we are going to look at whether you should work to failure or not in your gym routine depending on various factors!

What is training to failure?

Going to failure is simply doing a set until you can’t do any more reps. 

When you go to failure, you are doing the maximum repetitions for one set until your muscles tell you, “I’ve had enough, I simply can’t lift any more!”

When should you go to failure?

Should you go to failure every set? Going to failure depends on your level. The more advanced you are, the more you can allow yourself to do so. The less advanced, the less you should go for failure and it does not stop there…! 

The busier you are in your everyday life, the less you’d want to go to failure in your training sessions. If you are someone with plenty of time and who can invest a lot of time in the gym, you most likely are going to be able to go to failure.

Examples of when you should or shouldn’t train to failure

First case: advanced lifter

You’re used to doing volume training, you have trained for a while. You are not getting burned out by training to failure anymore. You should not abuse it because you have to recover, but you are more resistant to this type of training.

Second case: beginner

As a beginner, the last thing you want to do is to burn out. You’re simply not used to training as much as an advanced lifter who’s done thousands of reps already. Your resistance is less than theirs. Your recovery is very important and you need to know yourself better before you go onto more “advanced” techniques.

Don’t trust me? One of my buddy Andre has a fitness blog where he also explains this very well. How experienced you are will determine to some extent the amount of stress you can put on your muscles.

Training to failure is exhausting and will destroy your recovery if you are not used to training that intensively and if you do not have a lot of experience in the field like an advanced lifter does.

(I’d encourage you to go and read his article, you will gain a lot of insight into training to failure).

Third case: busy life

If you have a busy lifestyle and are working everyday, then you know how tiring this is. The last thing you want to do in your training is go to failure.

You are just going to burn yourself out. Recovery is key here and you want to push yourself at the gym, but not to the point that you will not recover and that your next sessions will be highly impacted from the last one, leading you to stagnate…

Fourth case: You are living for the gym

In that case, it’s already a bit different. If your training is one of the most important things in your life, then you will also be doing everything to recover outside the gym. When you can recover efficiently, working out to failure is ok to implement in your training. You don’t come back to the next session sore and unable to train.

What does this all means?

All of this simply means that going to failure depends on recovery. Failure training can simply kill your recovery and lead you to plateau. The more advanced you are and the more time you have got to train and recover outside the gym, the more likely you are going to be able to train to failure!

They recover much faster. The less advanced and the less time you’ve got to recover following your gym session, the less you’d want to train to failure.

The rule is to start slowly and get the basics first. Don’t train to failure if you are starting out. Push yourself at 90%, not 100%. If you feel good and you enjoy it, go to failure sometimes at the end of your sessions.

Just don’t get carried away.

You might also find yourself more comfortale training to failure when you are bulking up. Eating a lot of calories helps your muscle recover more quickly and boosts your overall energy.

You might want to avoid training to failure when cutting down. You are low on calories, you are tired…the last thing you want to do is make it worse.

Is going to failure actually effective?

Training to failure is usually just a reflection of your motivation. You love bodybuilding and you love pushing yourself. It’s just that too much of it might harm your recovery so you have to use it in moderation so that it is beneficial.

Going to failure is effective if you can do it safely. You should go to failure as often as you can without making it hard to recover. What matters is progression.

If failure training does not help you recovering, then you are not optimizing your training for progression. Train to failure as much as your body allows you to at your current level.

If you are fine in your recovery by working out to failure then it is ok to carry on, as long as you don’t cross that barrier.

When in my training session should I train for failure?

You should go for failure towards the end of your session. If you are mixing both strength and volume training which we recommend, you’d want to save your energy first on your heavier lifts and strength training which are at the beginning of your session.

What if you can’t tell what’s good for you yet?

If you don’t know where your limit is, you don’t have to train to failure. What you can do if you want to push yourself more is simply do more volume by adding extra sets to your session. You do not go to failure on these sets.

Instead, you give it 80-90% on your set and do more of these sets without completely going to failure. This is a powerful training style and a great alternative to going for failure. Do more sets without burning yourself out.

For now, you can also simply stick to training methods like 5×5 and scale your progression until you get stronger and know yourself better. When you manage to get to an advanced level, you will know for yourself whether to go for failure or not. 

The gym is about mastering the basics and becoming better at those, but there is still a personal touch to it. You will know how to adjust over time by learning how your body works.

We hope you enjoyed this article about training to failure!

Any comments, please leave them down below!