If you want to reach your ultimate potential when it comes to fitness, then you first have to fail. This means pushing your muscles to the point where they cannot continue to properly perform an exercise. To achieve muscle failure, your last rep should reach the point where you could not execute another repetition without assistance. When done properly, this type of workout can maximize your strength and muscle gains.
Muscle failure has become the key component in the “high intensity training” weightlifting movement. Under the high intensity training (or HIT) model, short but intense workouts are prescribed for maximum gains in minimal time. Additionally, due to the effort exerted in an HIT workout that goes to muscle failure, someone participating in such a fitness regimen will require greater amounts of rest and recovery. During this recovery, muscles experience extensive growth as they try to heal after being pushed to failure. Remember, muscles grow larger and stronger by rebuilding the fibers that have been strained during exercise.
Muscle failure has proven exceptionally successful for people known as “hard gainers.” Hard gainers are individuals who find it nearly impossible to increase their muscle mass due to their bodies’ natural inclination to be skinny. However, everyone can benefit from incorporating muscle failure exercises into their fitness routine. Why? Because muscle burns fat. (more on that later).
Two excellent programs for reaching muscle failure is the new ChaLEAN Extreme and the ever popular P90X! Each program emphasizes this process called muscle failure. In order to consistently reach this goal, though, you will need to keep track of the weights you use each workout session. Remember, as the sets get easier, you need to up the weights to keep challenging your body. The last 3 reps of each exercise should be hard. And the last rep should be the last rep you can perform with good form.
Much controversy exists around the training to failure issue. While many bodybuilders practice this method of training, others are not convinced of its merits. Those who do not support muscle failure fear it can be dangerous. This is true, but only if you do not practice proper safety and form. When working to muscle failure, you want to push your body to perform repetitions until no more can be sustained with proper form. Some people try to push even further, though, by continuing to move through repetitions using improper technique. This can lead to injury and even over training. When either of these results occurs, strength gains will obviously be less apparent.
Ultimately, working to muscle failure can help you challenge your body, push past a workout plateau, and reach a new fitness peak. This exercise principle encourages the growth of new muscle mass. As anyone interested in fitness knows, this increased mass means greater calorie burns each day. Subsequently, increased muscle mass is directly related to faster weight loss. So, if you want to gain muscle, lose weight, and reach your peak potential, remember to push your hardest at each workout. If you try hard, you can fail, and if you fail, you will grow.