Training Past Muscle Failure

Training beyond the point of failure needs some explanation. It is all not what it seems so we need to take a closer look at the physiology of exactly what happens when we reach that point of complete muscle failure, not being able to lift the weight another inch.

Reaching that point where you can no longer lift a weight happens because a message has been sent from your Golgi tendon organs telling your brain to stop trying to lift that weight because it will cause injury if continued. A message also gets sent to your subconscious brain to switch off as soon as you get to a point where you have never trained before.

Together with the lactic acid buildup causing that pain, you actually would not cause injury to either your muscles or your skeletal system if you stick to correct form. It is important to note that true muscle failure, which has nothing to do with your Golgi tendons or lactic acid buildup, your brain automatically shuts down the muscle fibers from firing when your true muscle threshold is reached.

That last rep that you simply cannot do because of muscle failure is actually about 90% mental and not your muscles. But no matter how psyched you are about doing that last rep, if you cannot do another rep using good form, you need to stop before your form starts to change, not after as you will only get injured.

The great philosopher Herman Melville said "Failure is the true test of greatness." Whatever body-part you're training there is a very important conversation going on between your brain and the targeted muscle group, your skeletal system, your respiratory system and your nervous system.

Knowing exactly when to go beyond the point of failure is not as easy as it might seem. Whenever you train beyond the point of failure you need to ensure that your workouts are shorter and you never do the same body-part in one week. Never fear training to failure, confront it head on at least once a month by expanding your sets to go beyond previous boundaries.

If you have a training partner, you could do forced reps to squeeze out that last rep or two. It is strongly advised to not train every set to failure or past failure. It causes enormous physical stress requiring more recuperation time.

Below is the list of techniques you can use for training past muscle failure:

Partial reps



Forced reps

Descending Sets

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