Home » Is Training to Failure a Mistake for Muscle Growth?

Is Training to Failure a Mistake for Muscle Growth?

by Gym Slacker

What is Training to Failure for Muscle Growth?

Understanding the Importance of Failure

Training to failure has always been a topic of debate in the fitness world. Some people swear by it, while others believe it’s a huge mistake. So, what is training to failure? It refers to the point in your workout where you can no longer complete another repetition with proper form or move the weight at all.

Strength vs. Hypertrophy

Before we delve into the pros and cons of training to failure, it’s important to understand the difference between training for strength and training for hypertrophy. When your goal is to increase strength, training short of failure is key. You need to know your failure point to gauge your percentage or RPE (rate of perceived exertion). In this scenario, your maximum effort is the last rep you can complete without any additional reps left in the tank.

The Nuance of Failure

However, when it comes to muscle growth (hypertrophy), failure becomes a crucial factor. There are different types of failure, including form failure (inability to maintain proper form), mechanical failure (inability to move the weight), and eccentric failure (inability to control weight during the eccentric portion of a lift). Each type of failure has its own impact on muscle growth.

Different Exercises, Different Approaches

The type of exercise you’re performing also determines the approach to failure. For pulling exercises like lat pulldowns, you can cheat a bit by using momentum to complete a few extra reps. On the other hand, pushing exercises like bench press don’t allow for cheating through momentum. Similarly, leg training mostly limits the use of momentum, making failure more challenging to achieve.

Rep Range and Failure

The rep range you’re working in also plays a role in reaching failure. In lower rep ranges (4-6 reps), fatigue sets in quickly, and failure is reached within a rep or two of fatigue. In moderate rep ranges (8-12 reps), failure occurs later, allowing for a few additional reps. In higher rep ranges, the ability to push through fatigue increases.

Grinding Reps and Form Breakdown

There’s a common misconception that grinding out reps to reach failure results in form breakdown. However, as long as the reps are attempted and completed in good form, grinding them out can be beneficial. Pushing through fatigue while maintaining proper form ensures that the exercise is performed correctly, maximizing muscle recruitment.

The Importance of Knowing Failure

One of the biggest mistakes in training to build muscle is not having a clear understanding of what failure is and when it occurs. This lack of knowledge can prevent you from maximizing your gains. You might be quitting a set prematurely, leaving reps in the tank. If you’re prescribed to stop short of failure, not knowing your true failure point can lead to stopping short of your potential.

Building More Muscle with Failure

To build more muscle effectively, it’s crucial to have the knowledge of what failure looks like, feels like, and how it impacts your training. Understanding your limitations and pushing past them safely is the key to muscle growth. By knowing your failure point, you can accurately gauge your reps in reserve or RPE, ensuring you’re not selling yourself short in your workouts.

In conclusion, training to failure for muscle growth can be both beneficial and risky if not approached correctly. Knowing when to reach failure and understanding the impact it has on your training is essential. So, next time you hit the gym, make sure you have a clear understanding of failure and how it can help you on your muscle-building journey.

Click here to subscribe to Athlean-X today!

You may also like


ATHLEAN-X™ June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

THE GIVEAWAY IS BACK – I’m giving away my brand new complete 90 Day Beaxst PPL program to 40 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 40, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached! Clicking twice does nothing. Only one entry per video. Remember to watch to the end for more workouts.

If you don’t win, no worries, you’re not going away empty handed. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

TT June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Such a quality content this channel has, truly amazing.

Sean May360 June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

I don’t know do. The guy next to you looks like he doesn’t even work out. And with your shit on you look like you’re a skinny dude. Like a roofer or bricklayer. That doesn’t eat lunch. I like your videos. But you haven’t gained any muscle in years. You’re barely maintaining. You are healthy. But you don’t look too healthy when you have clothes on. You’re smart. you have a great advice. But you don’t have muscle gains. You’re just maintaining. And that’s fine. Do you train anybody? That is actually big and strong. Maybe having someone like that next to you. Would be a bit more motivating. Then a guy that doesn’t work out.

Xellros June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Training for strength, but on shoulder press/overhead press. I feel like I've still got plenty of power, but the darkness starts closing in. A number of years back, I blacked out and woke up with my brother picking me off the floor. Is there any way to train to failure with heavy weights on overhead press without blacking out? I don't think it's a breathing issue, I think I literally cut of circulation to my head, and my brain stops getting oxygen.

Raymond Snyder June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Great advice for everyone Jeff.!! Ive been doing this failure thing for years now, and it does work.! For real..!! Then i just seen this video today and i was like, cool..!!👍 Cuz most people dont go to failure or even close.. In special forces training you go beyond failure.. most peope have no clue how far they can actually go, beyond failure.. "Pain is just weakness leaving the body"..! But i do failure, beyond failure…! My last set i do failure, then i go beyond that, and do a drop set of one or two weights. So if i do #60, then drop to #50 and then #40, failure on each.. i do that for every exercise for chest, back, legs, shoulders, bi's, and tri's.. i go heavyonce a month. Then ill go moderate twice, and light once.! Every week is a different exercise for each body part. Cuz i know our muscles get accustomed to the exercise. So i always change it up to confuse the muscle group.. But i do see people in the gym pushing the 8-12 rep set. But when i look at them they have like 3+ reps or more to go.. Or they are on there phones for ten minutes and then do another rep. That makes me laugh.. 😂 Or people come into the gym and they do the same exercises each and everytime.. i just roll my eyes.. but, I do go up to them and give advice, but some listen and some don't.. But you have helped me with your knowledge all these years and i put it to use. Your my personal trainer and i appreciate your videos and the way you break everything down.! 👍 I've been a subscriber(student) since i believe 2010..? I've learned so much from you Jeff, that when i go to the gym i try to at least help the young kids out as much as i can. Cuz a lot of them have no idea what they are doing. Especially their form is out of wack.. So I even give them your AthleanX YouTube site… I tell them, dont listen to all these other knuckleheads on the web. Cuz most of them have no degrees, no experience, they are just there to make money. Most are copycats of people like Jeff and other real trainers.. Jeff has years and years of experience and degree's to back it up.. So listen and learn and put what you learn into effect..!! Peace to all and God bless.!! ✌️🙏 Thanks again Jeff, You are definitely the man..!!👍💪

MrAuto727 June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

So basically I shouldn't have a rep goal but have a set goal? I should do five sets whatever exercise until failure on each set?

DuelScreen June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

This is such a good video. Thank you for the clarity and the examples. This was super helpful.

Keith June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Ive gotten good results training to failure but now that im older that'd probably be a mistake
The risk of injury is far greater

ikingbeasti June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

You guys should do a female version of athlete x

ελευθερία June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Jeff should put a disclaimer that people over 40 should attempt with extreme caution. Body responds to failure differently than when you're in your 20's and 30's.

Darius June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

So we should train TO failure, not FOR failure

Steve Fields June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Why does it look like Jeff is locking out his elbows during the dumbbell chest press? I know you're supposed to go for full ROM, but I'm hesitant to push my arms out that straight with weight

G. Moore June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Doesnt more strength mean larger muscle size? On those pull downs, i thought that wide grip isnt optimal. Also, on the lifts, u want to kill momentum as much as possible. Momentum ks an external force. Shldnt each rep be done fairly slowly, like 3-4 seconds? Or i guess it depends on the exercise. That final rep is everything..now let your body recover..and then..grow. Track gains to determine optimal rest time. Also, is there benefit to just hold the weight in that isometric state or whatever that is called..meaning you cant push or pull but can hold it a little longer? Takes work so is there a benefit?

GottaRun June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

I've just recently learned about training to failure and I'm suddenly making noticeable gains. It hurts like hell but if you're gonna put the time into training/lifting weights you might as well do it right. And I learned a lot of it right here.

dylan lee June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Training to failure i dont do because i have joint issues. Ill do it til im done

Todd Davis June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Just what I needed.. thanks for this in depth video

Mark Sweeney June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

We used to do forced reps with a training partner back in the 80s for squeeze out one, two extra reps on every set

People say

oh you will jackup your central nervous system


innocentrage1 June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Been doing 12, 10, 8, 6 reps for years. Found this and another YouTuber mention going to failure or close to failure and it has been so much better results wise since I've been doing this

AGodHimself June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Absolutely amazing video!

Christopher Felix June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

So very heavy lifting, training to failure isn't necessary. Lots of sets with low reps and good rest between. The lighter the weight the more important failure becomes. Am I interpreting that correct?

Groza Roberta June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Why is he laying down on the bench with both legs?

S. Wilson June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Exceptionally well explained guys. 👍

Giannis81S June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Thank you Jeff!! You certainly have a point here, but in my experience, even if you pay special attention to the form of the exercise, pushing to failure like that maximizes the risk of injury and that becomes counterproductive in the end. Now if I was 20-25 again and had good knowledge of form, that could work, but I am 42 and I don't know how far I could push this concept. It is a thing to keep in mind though.

arber nuka June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

How many exercises and sets per muscle group should i do if I decide to train to failure, cuz doing every set till failure makes me believe I won't make it to set 7 or exercise 3.

Akash A June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

My excuse for not going to failure is I use BowFlex dumbbells and can't drop them

F B June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

I keep liking and disliking the vid only to like again in an infinite cycle

Micker June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

If you go to true failure on heavier sets, you need to make sure you don't do too much volume. It's very easy to overtrain, when you do a lot of heavy sets to failure. You don't need more than a few sets per body part. Anyone doing 10 sets+ for chest etc, is just wasting energy and time.

skyliner June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

I have one big problems with your advice…. both of you have been training hard for years… and you are both small…. your look is not my goal, so your advices come into question in my head, i am thinking of doing opposite of what you said, to avoid spending years in gym and looking small like you…. I didnt write this to be offensive or anything, i like you guys a lot, this is just my geniune concern. With clothes on, you look like normal dudes… if i am to put all that time and effort, sweat and tears, i want it to be obvious that i am big strong guy, so that females notice me when i enter the rooom. And dont pretend guys, that is our goal, to have big arms and shoulders etc. Love you guys, been watching you for a long time, didnt mean to offend you, but all that years of hard work you put in… and you have objectivly small arms…

Rock 'nfn' Roll June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Jesse, for realz! You are looking great, dude. It 's been an honor watching your journey. You are an inspiration. I hope you feel as good as you look. Keep it up.

C.J. Watkins June 16, 2023 - 1:10 am

Don Ross (God rest his soul) was my mentor. Your guidance and instruction is very much like his


Leave a Comment