Breakthrough Discovery: Training to Failure vs. Near Failure

In my training approach, I often aim to push myself right up to the edge of failure without actually reaching it. I don’t intentionally set out to fail a rep, but I push myself to the point where the next rep feels almost impossible. This means that I usually don’t have any full reps left in the tank. Occasionally, I might hit a rep that I could have done or decide not to push for it, but this isn’t intentional.

Sometimes, this strategy leads to drop-offs in reps in subsequent sets, which I’m okay with. I prioritize progression over strict adherence to equal reps across sets. If I can hit, for example, 25 reps across 3 sets, I might add weight rather than focusing solely on maintaining consistent reps. As long as I’m making progress over time, I’m satisfied with my approach.

I enjoy training this way and adjust my program to find the right balance of volume that allows me to continue pushing myself without risking burnout or injury. If I were to increase volume significantly, I’d likely be more cautious about leaving a rep or two in reserve to manage fatigue and recovery better.

I appreciate articles and research that shed light on different training methodologies. Recently, I came across research by Bill Campbell, particularly regarding protein needs. Given my three decades in the industry, I’ve delved into various studies and theories. One aspect that caught my attention is cross-education/training of muscles, where training one limb can impact the strength and mass of the other, especially in cases of injury. It would be interesting to see studies comparing training to failure or near failure on one limb versus leaving reps in reserve and how it affects overall muscle development and cross-education.

In my personal experience, I’ve incorporated both approaches into my training regimen and adjusted recovery time accordingly. This balanced approach has been effective for me, even as I’ve aged. Recently, I made modifications to my workouts, focusing on high-intensity training to near failure, based on a workout regimen by Christian Thibaudeau. This adjustment resulted in noticeable gains in muscle mass and fat loss over several months, without the use of TRT or creatine, relying instead on proper nutrition, rest, and selected supplements for recovery support. While my initial goal was different, the results have been positive, highlighting the effectiveness of tailored training approaches.

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