If you’ve ever tried your hand at improving your physique by attempting to build lean muscle mass, you won’t need anybody to tell you just how difficult the entire process actually is. Building muscle is about so much more than simply lifting a few weights and drinking a few protein shakes now and again. In order to build muscle we need to be following an intelligent, tried and tested training routine, used in conjunction with a healthy, protein rich balanced diet. When it comes to training principles and protocols, there are a number of things we can do that are supposed to get the most out of our training. Take training to failure, most pros and fitness enthusiasts will tell you that training to failure is essential when it comes to building muscle, but is it actually? Let’s take a look shall we?
What is training to failure?
Training to muscular failure is basically a method of resistance training in which we will perform as many repetitions as possible, until we physically cannot perform any more. That means that instead of following a program which calls for 12 reps, if we get to 12 reps and feel we can still get more reps, we carry on until our muscles are not physically able to do any more.
Drawbacks of training to failure
We’ll take a look at the positives associated with training to failure but before we do that, let’s take a look at a few potential drawbacks associated with training to failure. To begin with, research has suggested that training to failure could lead to increases of catabolic (muscle wasting) hormones such as cortisol. This suggests that training to failure excessively could actually be more of a hindrance and could lead to muscle wastage and breakdown. Not only this, but cellular energy levels quickly diminish with regularly bouts of training to failure, which can lead to muscle fatigue.
Benefits of training to failure
We’ll now take a look at some of the benefits associated with training to failure. Training to failure has been proven to be anabolic in certain instances, which basically means that it can help to build and promote lean muscle gains. Training in this way can lead to intramuscular growth factors and smaller muscle fibers actually become more fatigued during the end of working sets. Because of this, larger fast-twitch muscle fibers are instead incorporated, which in turn makes the exercise more productive and more effective. By training to failure you also know that your muscles have done all that they can and therefore you know for certain that you’ve done all you can in the gym. Providing you eat the right foods, and rest and recover as required, you will find that your physique will begin to show signs of improvement on a near week by week basis.