I am sure that a friend has mentioned this term so well known in the world of fitness, muscular failure, that today we stop to analyze it. We will try to answer whether or not it is advisable to reach muscle failure or when to go looking for it. 


Although the principle of muscle gain is the breaking of fibers, muscle failure should not always be our goal in each training session, as we will see below.


My work day after day makes me see things that are not well done, in this crazy world, we are all in a hurry, we want to improve and see results in two days. Instead of carrying out a correct preparation, we mix tables or training systems in order to see short-term results, but remember, in sports, rushing is bad traveling companions.



What is muscle failure and how to get it?


At first place it is necessary to describe what muscle failure is. So basically it is the point at which the muscle we are training not able to perform one more repetition in its positive or concentric phase. That is to say, and to give an example: if we are doing chest press we could not lift the bar since our pectoral is exhausted.



What are failure routines and what are they for?


Routines to failure consist of performing exercises with a heavier weight than is normally performed. The particularity of these series of exercises is that they do without repetitions; the maximum amount to which the athlete can reach is made.


Its primary objective is to increase the volume of muscle mass. This is caused by the rupture of the fibers that make up the muscles, the “myofibrillar hypertrophy”.

Basically, proponents of routines to failure claim that if a muscle doesn’t fatigue from training, it won’t grow. For this reason, it is sought through the series to failure to reach the resistance limit of the muscle. In other words, fatigue is increased to extend the growth threshold after training.



How to reach and develop muscle failure? 


If you demand a beginner to go to technical failure, he will surely fail on the first repetition, because the technique is not standardized and he does not have the necessary intermuscular coordination.


In this scenario, the mental exercise to coordinate and activate certain muscle groups, which are in charge of carrying out this action, is still not efficient enough.


So, you must standardize the technique (emphasize this) first, and also be clear that this technique has to be the most similar from the first to the last repetition.


Benefits and contraindications of training to muscle failure

Training to failure is often associated with a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which leads to soreness.


During this process, the muscle fibers are injured and as a result they immediately enter a repair cycle after training: the muscle adapts and grows, this is called hypertrophy.


The more stress a muscle endures, the larger it becomes. On the other hand, if the muscle receives less stress, it atrophies or reduces its size. When lactates rise, so do other metabolites, such as phosphate and hydrogen ions, which fuel muscle contractions and fuel growth.


What happens if we use it inappropriately?


Elevated fatigue will appear

Induces overtraining

Increases the risk of injury due to loss of proprioceptive capacity

Reduced explosive force

Thus, it is not recommended for athletes in certain periods of the season. Specifically, I reject this training method since it can be too aggressive for the muscle and can favor the appearance of injuries such as contractures, tears or tendinitis, among others. In any case, only trained people should perform these techniques to increase muscle mass.


On the other hand, if done properly, this training can improve muscle hypertrophy and muscle strength with great capacity.



‘Rest Pause’ training as an alternative to muscular failure






As an alternative I recommend another not so invasive training method called Rest Pause. The technique of this training system, as its name indicates “The rest and pause training” is the division of a series into several mini-series, with a short rest of no more than 10-15 seconds, we will always be working on around 70%-85% of our RM . 


This helps us get beyond muscle failure, without putting that maximum weight.


This is precisely what rest-pause training allows, as you will be lifting heavy enough to train high threshold muscle fibers and create a progressive overload to increase your muscle size and strength.

In addition, you will have enough rest to partially recover the adenosine triphosphate and phosphocreatine (ATP-PC) energy systems used to provide you with the immediate energy you need.