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Old 01-07-2011, 07:52 PM   #5
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Training past muscle failure.

Powerlifterís and those who compete in the strongest man/woman competitions have learned the value of preventing injuries and nervous system destruction by not training beyond momentary muscular failure. Taking less away from the body allows it to recuperate faster, meaning the overcompensation process (where strength and growth occurs) can conclude sooner and with consistency. Using excessive body english to reach absolute muscular failure or beyond (the point you can no longer budge a weight), especially with heavy work loads, creates great demand on the tendons, joints, and nervous system.

Your goal as a weight lifter should be to increase the weight on the bar through a Progressive Overload and train with great intensity, not training to the point where someone has to pull the barbell off your chest on the last rep or assist you in pumping out a few extra repetions at the end of an intense work set by pushing past failure. Do not want to avoid training to failure if you are a bodybuilder; itís the wrong kind of failure training you should avoid, especially when training a large muscle group like the legs. The ideal situation as a bodybuilder is to reach as close to muscular failure as possible on each work set, but in a way that will induce maximum stimulus to the muscle fibers without causing injury or impairing the Central Nervous System. I call this good failure because it is the absolute best way to train for maximum size. As a strength trainer/power-lifter you will want to train in the 1-5 rep range and try to leave one in the hole (stop one rep shy of good failure) on power-lifting movements to prevent injuries and Central Nervous System burn out.

## Bodybuilding and Powerlifting are not one in the same and you would do well to remember this if you want to be good at either.##

Some people have equated overloading the muscle with decreasing the amount of rest taken between sets. This means using a lot less weight on subsequent sets. Their purpose of moving quicker between sets is to burn the muscle beyond a point that canít be achieved with straight sets. I think some tend to forget that burning a muscle with higher reps or taking less rest between sets is not equivalent to burning the muscles by performing additional work sets. Increasing training volume up to no more than 12 sets per major body part each training session, along with the a properly utilized deload, will allow you to train with a heavier workload on a progressive basis. You'll need to wait long enough between sets to allow ATP restoration. On the other hand, when you move rapidly between sets, ATP cannot regenerate itself fast enough to support a true progressive over-load.

Itís important that you understand a burn obtained from using more straight sets equals over-load, but a burn obtained from applying beyond failure techniques like triple drops sets, super sets, rest-pause and or moving rapidly between sets does not promote the same degree of over-load. Also, itís been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that a certain amount of volume is needed when utilizing any rep-range with straight sets. Over-load and intensity should come through weight selection and the amount of sets performed, not to burn the muscle beyond fatigue. I think this is where some tend to get confused. Keep in mind that getting a nice pump is not the same as burning the muscles. Your primary focus should be overloading the muscles while obtaining a nice pump.

# # Obtaining a good pump by moving rapidly between sets should be avoided like the plague if your goal is to add size-strength. # #

I want you to understand that I have watched people waste a lot of precious time and energy using beyond failure techniques and many have the injuries to prove it! Nothing good can come from building the foundation of your workouts around training techniques whose primary focus is on nervous system/joint over load as opposed to progressive muscle over load. Beyond failure methods cause a severe burn in the muscle and this burn always carries over to the joints/tendons! This can produce tendonitis in short order. Iím here to tell you that using these extreme training methods with any consistency can hold you back by causing injury and nervous system fatigue!

Beware of Deception: Some of these training methods being exploited are more of a badge than a great training program. In fact, some of these programs are totally destructive to your body. Some of the followers can name the exercise selection for the most part, but that's about it. Ironically enough, they sure know how to preach it. Iíve witnessed more injuries from rest-pause, bouncy reps and forced reps, than any other forms of training. Don't allow yourself to become a victim. You'd think anybody in their right mind would know better, but it can be easy to get brainwashed through someone elses exxagerations about how much size they gained following a particular style of training. See to it that no one mis-leads you with pschological conditioning! Being able to discern between truth and error is very important. I respect the opinions of others but there has to be an authority in the weight lifting community. Cling to the things that are safe and timed-test in the gym. When a person departs from the basic foundations of weight training, they are going to end up disillusioned. Don't let some muscle magazines and some so-called training gurus lead you astray! We as bodybuilder's need to make sure as individuals that we take responsibility for what we accept to believe and teach others. I am not pointing the finger at anyone in particular. I am only pointing out the fact that our generation of weight lifters have an oppotunity to fix some things that are broken and say never again will we be led astray by deceptive marketing strategies that lead only to fantasy land.

The human body wasnít designed to go beyond failure. If you cannot lift a weight on your own within a given set, the weight load is too heavy! Extreme training methods have tore many a tendon clean off the bone and everyone who uses these techniques for long periods of time almost always develop a severe injury. Furthermore, techniques like rest-pause can weaken the muscle so severely it will rip a tendon clean off the bone before muscle failure occurs in the rest-paused reps within the set. It makes no difference whether or not the rest-paused reps are performed in the high or low rep range because extreme fatigue is still present and this stress carries over to the vulnerable tendons and joints.

Some training methods get their fame increased through articles in mainstream magazines. I have my concerns about some of these programs being exploited. Sometimes dogma and or marketing are a tough wall to crumble! Listen, Iíve spoken with literally thousands of trainers over the years who can vividly recall their last and final beyond failure training session. They grew to hate training and the gym with all their heart, mind, and soul! I think this speaks volumes about its validity in training to get giant muscles. I have been around bodybuilding for a long time now and I know many have the dedication to apply themselves. I donít want you to make the mistake of pumping up your muscles with massive amounts of blood or pushing the muscles beyond belief with low reps. No ones body and mind can take that kind of abuse for long.

Every training method has some validity when applied with some sanity but, most tend to get carried away and make up the meat of their workout with these more dangerous yet less effective training techniques. Due to safety reasons and the lack of gains made using extreme forms of training, I have quit recommending any form of training other than time proven straight-sets.

Let's pretend you are doing a set of incline bench presses. You lay back on the incline press and crank out one, two, three, four, and five reps. You get to rep number 6 and your face begins to show some pain. Those standing around you think you're finished but you get rep number 7. Surely you are finished they are thinking, but you use sheer will-power to lift the weight to complete number 8 while still avoiding momentary failure. You try for rep number 9 and have to bounce the weight hard off your chest in order to get the barbell up on your own and you just barely make it at that. The set should have been terminated after the completion of rep number 8! Repetition number 8 is what I consider good failure and repetition number 9 is what I call bad failure! Simply said, you continue lifting until you know that if you attempted the get the last rep you couldn't without severely draining the nervous system and using bad form!

Your goal as a bodybuilder is not to avoid training to failure; it's to avoid training to the wrong kind of failure. The ideal situation is to reach as close to muscular failure as possible, but in a way that will induce maximum stimulus to the muscle fibers without causing injury or impairing the Central Nervous System. I call this good failure because it is the absolute best way to train for maximum size.

* * Iíve experimented with training past failure and was very un-satisfied with the results. After making the switch to stopping at good failure, everyoneís results, including my own, have been nothing short of miraculous in comparison.* *

Contracting the muscles using good failure fatigues the muscle fully and builds muscle at a faster rate. As you become stronger, it becomes even more important to use impeccable form, choose the proper exercises that agree with your biomechanics and avoiding beyond failure training techniques so you can stay injury free. Nothing will set you back more than having to take time away from the gym due to an injury. I am all about longevity and have seen multitudes of serious injuries in the gym that could have been avoided in the first place! Knee wraps can be great for squats and other leg work. Weight lifting belts, manta rays and wrist straps work well for some during exercises such as dead-lifts and squats. Some elbow wraps can work great during triceps work and wrist braces like the tiger paw can provide relief for the wrist when doing heavy chest presses. Braces canl help you work around minor strains and tendonitis. Chiropractic care is another tool for bodybuilders experiencing pain in the spine! Glucosamine and Chondroitin can preserve cartilage in the joints and increase joint mobility. Active Release practitioners can reduce your symptoms of tendonitis. Use common sense and work around an injury when possible.

* * Muscle/tendon tears can be avoided by keeping the movement strict and never training past the point of not being able to get another good rep. For every rep of every set, power should be applied gradually. You must maintain tightness and never jerk, bounce, or toss the weight. **

It's important to work in the fullest range of motion possible without causing injury. You must be careful to avoid over-stretching the shoulders during exercises like flyes or you will damage the shoulders. The same thing applies to squats, leg presses, over-head presses, chest presses, dead-lifts, etc. Work in the fullest range of motion that's comfortable for your body not someone else's!

There are lots of kinds of exercises and lots of variations in the performance of them. Exercises done for higher reps would be more of a conditioning exercise. Exercises done with heavy loads and low reps will build strength. Exercises done with the heaviest load possible for moderate reps (6-12) will build muscle mass. Exercises done explosively will build power. The training effect would also depend on the training age of the individual. Most exercises are not inherently "bad for the joints." Exercises performed poorly can be stressful on the joints. Exercises performed with too great a volume or intensity for the conditioning level of the exerciser might become stressful on the joints. Certain exercises performed by someone with existing joint problems have the potential to create additional pain and should be performed with caution and care or avoided altogether.
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