Reps to failure or not

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Reps to fatigue ???

Posted by Michael

Hi Everyone,

I hope I am not beating a dead horse, if you all have already posted your view on this subject, I would appreciate if you let me know where it is.

I have always thought that whatever rep target you set for yourself, that the last couple reps should max you out ( with proper form of course), however I have had someone give me the following advice against this method. I can see the benefit of being able to do another workout sooner, but would like to get your thoughts...


........"working to the point of total fatigue (failure) is a double edged sword. In order for an adaptive response to occur in a given fibre that fibre must be a) recruited and b) fatigued.

One way to ensure that all fibres are recruited and fatigued is to perform work to total fatigue. However, this demands a great amount of work from the central nervous system, (because you are fatigued you are moving submaximal weights but with maximal CNS a normal set to failure the CNS will do the equivalent work of several 1 rep maximums) which in turn takes MUCH longer to recover from this onslaught than your muscles ever will.

Your muscles will recover in 48 hours or so but your CNS will take a week or more. This means you can only train once a week. By avoiding failure (stopping 2 - 3 reps short) you will get just as much fibre recruitment, almost as much fibre exhaustion (training stimulus!!) but will be able to train the same lift again in 2 days instead of 7....ergo, faster growth. "

Re: Reps to fatigue ???

Posted by Spencer

I disagree. For maximum growth and increases in strength, the last two or three reps are fundmentally the most important. Stopping short of this will not allow you to explore the full potential of your muscles and gains in strength will be tediously slow.

If you are experieincing problems with post workout recovery, then it's time to examine both your diet and how many hours sleep you are getting each night.

I agree with the last statement that training a muscle group twice a week allows for faster growth. But again how we take care of ourselves contributes to how we recover between workouts and ultimately how we perform in the gym.

Re: Reps to fatigue ???

Posted by hulk

I agree with Spencer that it is the working reps that give you the benefit. This can be three or if you are on a low rep routine just the one.

Regardless if you don't push the bubble you won't gain, that said I will often train well below 100%, this can take the form of skill learning or drop down weeks to rest. You just cannot push 100%, 100% of the time, it is too hard on the body and the mind.

If you are not making gains as tspencer says, look at you diet and rest. Of everyone training today I would guess as many as 70% are overtaining and the same number have poor nutrition.

Training, nutrition, rest - the three building blocks of training.

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