“That’s a good weight…for a small woman.”
– Dorian Yates
How you can train to failure
Last week a reader asked me about how you can train to the point of muscle failure.
With weights I usually lift until I can’t safely do any more reps. After that I might lower the amount that I’m lifting and then keep going. But I’ll usually just call it a day. Doing 20 rep squats or bench will wear you out.
Additionally, I don’t like to put myself in physical danger.
I know a lot of guys who’ve ended up with serious injuries after they let their egos get in the way.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t push myself, or lift heavy weights, but it does mean that I’m not getting into stupid “who can bench the heaviest” contests.
Body weight exercises, which I’ve recently become a fan of, are a whole different creature. I’ll do them until it’s impossible for me to knock out another.
For example, when I do pull-ups I might set a goal to do at least 50.
My first set might be 12.
My second might be 10.
And so on.
Until my final set, which might only be one.
You go until you’re all out of energy and can’t do another rep.
What is training to failure
Training to failure is not doing 9 out of your 10 reps.
That’s a mistake that I used to make all the time when I was starting out.
I’d bench 135 for 8 reps and then declare that I was tired.
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t see any real gains.
It wasn’t until I started working out hard, after reading Super Squats, that I really noticed a change.
Lifting heavy, and lifting a lot, was the cure for my 148 pound physique.
Why I like this method
I’ve tried to lift light weights for a ton of reps.
It didn’t work.
I also tried to lift super heavy weights for one or two reps.
There were no noticeable gains.
When I started working out to the point that I couldn’t do another exercise, and began to eat huge portions, I exploded.
Below I’ve attached a progress picture from October of 2013.
I’d only started lifting at the end of December, and didn’t really know what I was doing until late March.
After six months of serious lifting I was able to completely transform my body.
The year before I could wrap my entire hand around my “biceps.”
Real exercise brought me real results.
There are thousands of workouts to choose from.
Different people get different results.
However, I have personally found the most success from performing heavy lifts repeatedly, up until the point that I could no longer do them.
Body weight exercises, like dips and pull-ups, have also helped me to develop my back and triceps.
Coupled with some big meals, training to failure can be the perfect tool for getting in shape and overcoming a poor physique.