What does the term 'Training to failure' mean?

I recently came across this term in David Conrad’s blog “A Simple Technique To Increase Muscle Growth”. To be honest I heard this term for the first time.

I am curious to know how the usage of this term came along. Secondly, what are the warning signs that we need to watch out so that we are not pushing our body too hard and not at risk of an injury?


Hi Jay,

That is a good question!

“Lifting to failure” is an expression that many bodybuilders use to refer to the point during a set of an exercise when they cannot successfully complete another rep of the exercise they are performing.

Many times when this phrase is used, what it actually refers to is “perceived failure”, or “stopping at the rep before failure”.

Allow me to explain…

When I’m referring to lifting to “failure” in the article, what I actually mean is lifting up until the point where you feel like you would not be able to complete another rep — you don’t have to lift until you actually fail a rep; I actually would advise against doing so unless you have someone spotting you and are an experienced lifter.

I am going to edit the “A Simple Technique to Increase Muscle Growth” article after I post this response to include a note at the bottom explaining what I mean when I’m referencing lifting to failure throughout the article because it is important to me that the information I give teaches methods that are safe.



There are a couple of drawback to this techniques. For instance, one study found that exclusively using the technique drastically increased resting levels of the stress hormone cortisol and suppressed anabolic growth factors. This sugeests that overuse of this technique may actually hinder long-term growth.

Another concern is that overdoing it may result in using the improper technique while exercising. If one is struggling with a move while on the brink, one may not be able to focus on the correct technique. The combination of using poor technique and over working your muscles might lead to injury.

So, It’s fine to use training to failure only occasionally, And not making it your regular workout.