failure is safeA 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.

Inroading Strength & Failure

  • 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!

Your Buddy,

Mark

P.S. If you found the video useful, please go to the YouTube page and rate up. Thank you 🙂

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