Why Train To Failure? by Justin Mihaly

By Justin Mihaly 2.5 Min Read

My clients and I train to failure. Why do we do this and why has this concept of hard work become demonized and misunderstood? 

(Guest post by Justin Mihaly - @jmihalyfit on IG | #TeamMihahly)

On the first day of my Physiology class at the University of Cincinnati, we learned that the body responds to stimulus. What exactly does this mean? Stimulus is how we morph and form our bodies into the health profile, muscularity, composition, and athletic performance we desire. Frankly, this could be whatever you want it to be. How do you force your body to respond to this type of stimulus? 

The main driver in accumulating the muscle mass you want is effort.

Volume without effort means nothing. Bicep curling 50 pounds for numerous reps feeling easy? That means you are not putting in enough effort and need to train harder. When you are putting in the effort and training hard or training to failure, you tear those muscle fibers down significantly. Your body's’ main goal becomes moving the weight. To do this more efficiently, your body calls upon more and more fibers to continue to contract against the load. This is why my clients and I train to failure. Training to failure means numerous fibers had to be stimulated by the stimulus you placed on that muscle.

Another factor I believe individuals overlook is your central nervous system.

When you force your CNS to perform something it is not decent at, it becomes uncomfortable. So, what happens now? Your CNS must adapt - when we force our nervous system to give us numerous efforts, it responds by trying to make the task required easier for next time. Your central nervous system grows new muscle tissue, making it harder for your body to be tricked. 

Studies that pertain to training are nice and easily understood. However, no one grows in the gym. A muscle grows when it is at rest and your body grows when you are properly nourishing it with the right food, getting a good amount of sleep, and relaxing your mind. All of these factors are important for your body to thrive and be healthy enough to support growth.

Since we understand how at a physiological level, training with maximal effort is conducive, let’s discuss a couple of principles:

  1. Your form must be excellent - if your form starts to be impacted, the set is finished. If your form is sloppy, you are doing the exercise wrong.
  2. All training is 5-8 sets to failure, which is called top set training. If you are training like this, rest days and sleep will be needed. 
  3. Rest times in between each set should be around 3-5 minutes, or however long you need. Effort is the most important.
  4. EAT YOUR PROTEIN. 

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(Guest post by Justin Mihaly | #TeamMihahly)

Have any questions? Please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram at @jmihalyfit.

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