Lifting until failure?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 20, 2012 6:19 PM GMT
    I was just thinking about the whole concept of lifting til failure and I had two questions on this. Hope I don't rehash any old threads..

    What is lifting til failure? I understand that it's lifting til you can't, but what defines "can't". I ask because I do pull-ups all the time. Let's say I do 10 perfectly. Then on the 11th, I only go 90% of the way up. Is this the point of failure? I like to push myself, so I just keep going anyway. I stop when I feel like I'm not getting any benefit from it anymore.. like when I'm only lifting myself 50% of the way up. But is it just the first 10 that's relevant and is the 11th or 12th imperfect pull-up just wasted time?

    2nd is- is lifting til failure absolutely necessary? I read an article that said you don't have to lift until failure. You just have to keep increasing the weight and improving. I ask because sometimes I'll do a complete 4 sets, but feel like I can still do more. I will increase the weight the next week, but at least for that moment, I feel like I didn't do enough.

    Thanks in advance!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 20, 2012 11:38 PM GMT
    For me, I call failure when my form starts to suffer.

    For example, this morning I was doing 5x5 sets/reps of Barbell Rows.

    On the 5th set, I was unable to close the bar to my sternum (per the guidance on Stronglifts.com), so I didn't count that rep - tried a 6th rep, but also "failed" that.

    For pushing exercises like bench presses, I call failure when I can just barely get it back up to the rack. I probably have enough power to unrack it for another rep and bring it down to my chest, but at that point (w/o spotter) I'd have to do the Roll of Shame.

    This is because I usually work out alone. icon_razz.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 21, 2012 4:48 AM GMT
    I think some guys take the "failure" part too literally. If you're going for maximum muscle exertion, hit as many reps as possible until you can perform one last rep without using bad form. If you have to cheat to complete the last rep or two, or ask a couple of your bros to spot those last 3 reps, then you've gone too far.

    So using your percentage examples, I'd say 95% is a pretty good measure of "failure".
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 21, 2012 4:55 AM GMT
    Failure is when form starts to go bad, even though sometimes I'll still do a couple more reps and compromise form ever so slightly. I tell all the newbies that come in to meet with me to lift until failure- and most of the time they are using the machines so its more difficult to have bad form. But why not lift until failure? IMO, if you aren't, then you aren't stimulating the muscle as much as you could be. I want to activate all the muscle fibers I possibly can.
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Jan 21, 2012 10:23 AM GMT
    it's why someone should spot you.icon_idea.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 21, 2012 10:39 AM GMT
    To me failure is when the lightest weight can't do another rep. I usually work with dumbbells ... after a warm up (light weight) ... i do as heavy and as many as i can, then switch to lighter weights several times repeating the process.

  • Jan 22, 2012 12:22 AM GMT
    sixty_six saidI was just thinking about the whole concept of lifting til failure and I had two questions on this. Hope I don't rehash any old threads..

    What is lifting til failure? I understand that it's lifting til you can't, but what defines "can't". I ask because I do pull-ups all the time. Let's say I do 10 perfectly. Then on the 11th, I only go 90% of the way up. Is this the point of failure? I like to push myself, so I just keep going anyway. I stop when I feel like I'm not getting any benefit from it anymore.. like when I'm only lifting myself 50% of the way up. But is it just the first 10 that's relevant and is the 11th or 12th imperfect pull-up just wasted time?

    2nd is- is lifting til failure absolutely necessary? I read an article that said you don't have to lift until failure. You just have to keep increasing the weight and improving. I ask because sometimes I'll do a complete 4 sets, but feel like I can still do more. I will increase the weight the next week, but at least for that moment, I feel like I didn't do enough.

    Thanks in advance!


    muscle grows by two methods Myofibrillar and Sarcoplasmic growth. A high amount of reps builds up the amount of fluid inside your muscle, this causes a fast growth. Low reps causes a real growth of muscle tissue in your muscle. The best way to increase muscle size is to use both of these methods. Get Bigger Muscles

    tear down the muscle either way and it will grow bigger.

    no you don't have to workout to the point of exhaustion every time that you work out.

    mix it up drop sets, forced reps, etc.



  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 22, 2012 3:25 AM GMT
    Thanks! advice is much appreciated.

    I guess doing pull-ups 50% of the way up is just wasted energy. I just don't like the feeling that *maybe* I'm not doing enough, but then again, it probably is counter-productive. That extra energy expended on those pull-ups with bad form could've gone to some other exercise.

    And I'll try to mix up my routine next week. It's been 3 months since I've tried something different.
  • tightwrgls

    Posts: 22

    Jan 22, 2012 3:45 AM GMT
    Mixing it up to huge! My trainer has some weeks of high rep low weight workouts, heavy weight low reps and then some workouts are a mix all the way through. Unless you are on a machine or doing something like pull ups or push ups you really need a spotter for when working to failure. The spotter can help you past the sticking point (very little assistance), help get weight into place, and assist if you can only do the negative part of the lift. Sometimes that assistance is needed just to build self confidence in getting more aggressive with weight. Likewise, the knowledge that someone is there to spot you can sometimes inspire you to lift more.