A lot of people are avoiding the most productive rep in a set because of an undue fear of injury.
In my last post I put forward the case for continuing a set until muscular failure when the goal is to maximize muscular growth.
However, you may have heard it said that training to failure is unsafe.
There is a fear of going to failure in some circles because they feel the last rep or 2 of a set is the most dangerous. They believe that they are in danger of tearing their tendons by working at this level of intensity.
But is this fear justified? I’ve created a video to answer the question, check it out. I’ve summarized the points below.
- Because of the intensity, fatiguing of fibers, and lactic acid build up, there’s the perception that this last rep is dangerous and can lead to injury.
- This feeling/perception is totally unrelated to the safety of the exercise.
- The key to understanding this is the difference between the strength levels of the muscles and the connective tissues.
- As you progress in a set towards failure, your muscle strength levels diminish. So each successive rep gets increasingly more difficult to execute.
- However, the level of force the tendons can withstand remains constant throughout the set.
- Once your strength levels dip below 50 units (in the above diagram), you’ve reached failure. It’s completely impossible to complete another rep. That last rep forced you to use 100% of your momentary muscular ability.
- Here’s the difference with tendons: tendons are not elastic like muscle. They are strong, fibrous tissue. If you have a tendon that can withstand 150 units of force, it will still withstand this force as much on the last rep as the first rep.
- You CAN damage connective tissue with sudden, jerking movements. Also, attempting to lift a load which forces the tendons to deal with a force beyond that which they can handle will probably lead to a tear.
So don’t fear failure!
P.S. If you found the video useful, please go to the YouTube page and rate up. Thank you