Is your progress in the gym slow? Maybe you are undertraining. Or maybe you are training too much. Bodybuilders and weightlifters know that training to muscular failure is important for building muscle mass. But is training to failure needed on every exercise and every set?
What is training to failure ?
When training a body part, the bodybuilding wisdom is to train to momentary muscle failure, or until you cannot do a single repetition more, which ensures that the muscle has received its maximum stimulation.
This means that when you do a set of some exercise, you continue to do repetitions until you absolutely can’t do another rep. However, it’s probably not a good idea to train to failure on every exercise and every set, as this method can produce injuries and also easy overtraining.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (JSCR) conducted a study on two groups of trainees.
The first group performed one set of free squats for 8-12 reps to failure, while the second group performed multiple sets of lower reps but not to failure. At the beginning of the study the two groups had similar strength and endurance levels to begin with.
After the experiment, the multiple sets group had greater strength increase than the group that was doing only one set to failure. This experiment gives some evidence that multiple low repetition sets , not performed to failure, are more efficient in building muscle strength.
So how are you supposed to train? The goal is to get stronger and increase the weight you lift over time. Then when you get stronger you can start increasing the training volume. This strategy will result in greater muscle mass over time.
Is training to failure each time necessary ?
Training to failure each time is not a necessary factor for building strength and eventually muscle mass. Even if you can get 1-2 more reps more than the last time, or lift 1lb more, you are still making progress.