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  1. #1
    Registered User peachestke's Avatar
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    What does "to failure" actually mean?

    It is a beginner question, I've just never known what people mean when they type or say this phrase.

    When someone says to failure do they just mean that they do as many reps to a pre-set limit til they can't do anymore. Like if they plan to do 3 sets of 10 reps to failure, and in the last set they stop at 8 reps.

    Thanks for any clarification.
    Kaizen
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  2. #2
    Brbgym Lucas17's Avatar
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    When you can't do anymore reps and/or failed on the last rep

    Eg. I benched 5 reps, I failed on the 6 reps

    I benched to failure
    I'm calling Quest tonight
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  3. #3
    Registered User Baris_'s Avatar
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    A weight you can't perform the desired reps with on your own. Like the above person with the armpithair said, he couldn't finish the last rep; i.e. a spotter needed to help him rack it on the last rep because he couldn't finish it himself. That's failure.
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  4. #4
    Registered User SpeedCheeser's Avatar
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    Also note that it means to lift until you can't complete another rep with correct form any more.

    Ex: A lot of programs will give a rep range, ie. 10-12 reps to failure. This means if you can do more than 12 reps with proper form, you need to add more weight. If you can't do 10 reps with proper form, you need to take some weight off. You should be struggling on your last rep, which should be within the range.

    Rest and repeat for however many sets you need.
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  5. #5
    Registered User x-ray vision's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Modern Day Samurai shotgunshorty28's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Lucas17 View Post
    When you can't do anymore reps and/or failed on the last rep

    Eg. I benched 5 reps, I failed on the 6 reps

    I benched to failure
    ^^^ what he said.
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  7. #7
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    failure = can't do any more rep.
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  8. #8
    Registered User parky74's Avatar
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    Should you fail on your 1st set?

    But is it the last set only that should be up to the failure point, or should all 3 sets be performed until failure?
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  9. #9
    bulking on lechon and PB shoot2turtle's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by parky74 View Post
    But is it the last set only that should be up to the failure point, or should all 3 sets be performed until failure?
    it depends on what your training program dictates.
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  10. #10
    Seoul-Brotha Bostongeorge617's Avatar
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    Many people confuse failure with temporary fatigue. Just because on my second set I curl until I can't get another rep, that still isn't failure. Because I'm going to pick it up again and do ten more reps in a couple of minutes. Failure is when you know you cannot possibly get another quality set in. So it is only really possible to reach true failure on the last set since any preceeding set was followed with another one and you won't be able to perform another set after.
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  11. #11
    Encyclochuzzle chazzy1864's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Lucas17 View Post
    When you can't do anymore reps and/or failed on the last rep

    Eg. I benched 5 reps, I failed on the 6 reps

    I benched to failure
    At times, correct.
    Originally Posted by SpeedCheeser View Post
    Also note that it means to lift until you can't complete another rep with correct form any more.

    Ex: A lot of programs will give a rep range, ie. 10-12 reps to failure. This means if you can do more than 12 reps with proper form, you need to add more weight. If you can't do 10 reps with proper form, you need to take some weight off. You should be struggling on your last rep, which should be within the range.

    Rest and repeat for however many sets you need.
    At times, correct.


    There are different forms of failure. Absolute failure is when you couldn't do a single rep, no matter what.

    Positive failure is if say, you know if you bring the bar down for one more rep, you won't get it back up, so you stopped. So if you know your 5th rep was the last you could perform yourself, you stop without going to 6.

    There is form failure (i believe that is the correct term) where as said, you can't complete another rep without sacrificing form to do so.

    Those are the common ones, but I'm sure people have other criteria & other forms of failure. Most people list to positive or form failure.
    Originally Posted by x-ray vision View Post
    ^ That
    Originally Posted by shoot2turtle View Post
    it depends on what your training program dictates.
    and ^that.
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  12. #12
    Strength Enthusiast Retardo-pex's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Bostongeorge617 View Post
    Many people confuse failure with temporary fatigue. Just because on my second set I curl until I can't get another rep, that still isn't failure. Because I'm going to pick it up again and do ten more reps in a couple of minutes. Failure is when you know you cannot possibly get another quality set in. So it is only really possible to reach true failure on the last set since any preceeding set was followed with another one and you won't be able to perform another set after.

    But you will always be able to return and continue to exercise at some point...that's how the human body works. Failure is on a set by set basis, if you lift 10 reps and shoot for 11, but can not complete the rep, that is failure. You failed to complete the rep. No matter what exercise you will always be able to come back and repeat it after some period of time, whether it is in 2 minutes 2 hours or 2 days. With a high pain threshold you could perform the exact same workout 5 days in a row and probably move the same weight on the majority of the days, but we know this is counterproductive to the goals of bodybuilding.
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  13. #13
    Seoul-Brotha Bostongeorge617's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Retardo-pex View Post
    But you will always be able to return and continue to exercise at some point...
    You sir are correct. I am talking about within the same training session after a reasonable rest period. Granted the origins of my definition is dubious (Ronnie Coleman), and I understand that it does not cover a technical understanding of failure. Nontheless I feel that it is the most straightforward way to look at it.

    After my leg day was over yesterday, I would not have been able to perform another set of squats with conviction. To me, that was muscle failure. My legs were toast. Sure, I could have squeezed out a few reps. But not a full working set. I don't feel that just because I did as many as I could on previous sets, I went to true failure before that point.
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  14. #14
    Strength Enthusiast Retardo-pex's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Bostongeorge617 View Post
    You sir are correct. I am talking about within the same training session after a reasonable rest period. Granted the origins of my definition is dubious (Ronnie Coleman), and I understand that it does not cover a technical understanding of failure. Nontheless I feel that it is the most straightforward way to look at it.

    After my leg day was over yesterday, I would not have been able to perform another set of squats with conviction. To me, that was muscle failure. My legs were toast. Sure, I could have squeezed out a few reps. But not a full working set. I don't feel that just because I did as many as I could on previous sets, I went to true failure before that point.
    Ah ok my bad.
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  15. #15
    Registered User x-ray vision's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Bostongeorge617 View Post
    You sir are correct. I am talking about within the same training session after a reasonable rest period. Granted the origins of my definition is dubious (Ronnie Coleman), and I understand that it does not cover a technical understanding of failure. Nontheless I feel that it is the most straightforward way to look at it.
    You feel the most straightforward way to look at it is by defining it in a way in which no one else does? Whatever. You can always get another set in if you lower the amount of weight and/or rest longer. I lower the amount of weight I use on every set. Did I train to failure on my first set? If not, I could lower the amount of weight I use and literally perform hundreds of sets. No one talks about training to failure the way you described it.
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  16. #16
    Seoul-Brotha Bostongeorge617's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by x-ray vision View Post
    You feel the most straightforward way to look at it is by defining it in a way in which no one else does? Whatever. You can always get another set in if you lower the amount of weight and/or rest longer. I lower the amount of weight I use on every set. Did I train to failure on my first set? If not, I could lower the amount of weight I use and literally perform hundreds of sets. No one talks about training to failure the way you described it.
    I'm not going to belabour the rationale since I feel that is is simple and has been covered in my previous 2 posts. But to address the bolded, I did not make this point of view up as I already said. It is in a published book, and is simple to understand so I took a liking to it and adopted it. Your usage of the term "no one" is invalid. No one but Ronnie Coleman and me, would be more appropriate.
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  17. #17
    Registered User x-ray vision's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Bostongeorge617 View Post
    Your usage of the term "no one" is invalid. No one but Ronnie Coleman and me, would be more appropriate.
    Until I see the context in which Coleman used the term, I'm going with just you for now. You started with "Many people confuse failure with temporary fatigue" based on what one person said? Everyone else is confused? The English language doesn't work that way and describing a term in a way that can't even be used in bodybuilding (I asked you if I was training to failure after my first set and you didn't answer) is meaningless. This isn't helpful for the OP that is trying to understand the definition of a common term in bodybuilding. Describing it in a useful way and the way everyone I've met in over 25 years of training does isn't confusing the definition of a term.
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  18. #18
    Seoul-Brotha Bostongeorge617's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by x-ray vision View Post
    Until I see the context in which Coleman used the term, I'm going with just you for now. You started with "Many people confuse failure with temporary fatigue" based on what one person said? Everyone else is confused? The English language doesn't work that way and describing a term in a way that can't even be used in bodybuilding (I asked you if I was training to failure after my first set and you didn't answer) is meaningless. This isn't helpful for the OP that is trying to understand the definition of a common term in bodybuilding. Describing it in a useful way and the way everyone I've met in over 25 years of training does isn't confusing the definition of a term.
    Use the tools of the trade to help you. I use devices such as chalk for grip strength, gloves, wrist straps, lifting belts - if it helps you lift more, it's all good. - Ronnie Coleman, Hardcore, 2007 Triumph Books

    Biggest question in bodybuilding: Whaddaya bench? As I've said before, it doesn't matter how much you bench; it matters how much you [i]look[/i] like you bench... There's no round on stage that's the benchpress round. - Bob Chicherillo, World Class Physique, CMG
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  19. #19
    Theres no trying in doing TheComebackKidd's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by x-ray vision View Post
    Until I see the context in which Coleman used the term, I'm going with just you for now. You started with "Many people confuse failure with temporary fatigue" based on what one person said? Everyone else is confused? The English language doesn't work that way and describing a term in a way that can't even be used in bodybuilding (I asked you if I was training to failure after my first set and you didn't answer) is meaningless. This isn't helpful for the OP that is trying to understand the definition of a common term in bodybuilding. Describing it in a useful way and the way everyone I've met in over 25 years of training does isn't confusing the definition of a term.
    While I may not agree with BostonG's view of failure (it is an interesting one though), it seems to me as if the definition of sarcasm has been lost on you. Take some deep breathes. People are entitled to their own opinion. And who knows, the OP may find this definition of failure useful to him and he may very well adopt it into his workouts.
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  20. #20
    Registered User x-ray vision's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by TheComebackKidd View Post
    While I may not agree with BostonG's view of failure (it is an interesting one though), it seems to me as if the definition of sarcasm has been lost on you.Take some deep breathes.
    I don't think so. What sarcasm do you believe there was that I was unable to recognize as such? Take some deep breathes? I'm not worked up if that's what you're thinking.

    People are entitled to their own opinion.
    And I'm entitled to rebut "opinions", especially one that says people are confusing a term that they aren't.
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  21. #21
    Registered User Ruz4life's Avatar
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    Too many people on here try and act like scientists instead of just lifting the godd*mn weights.


    Who gives a **** of absolute failure, temporary failure, partial failure blah blah blah just bust your ass in the gym, eat right and rest and you will be fine.


    Ok spotter, "This set spot me on 5 reps because the sixth will be partial failure and then next set I'm going to do 8 sets to absolute failure raised to the second power of the fifth degree.."
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  22. #22
    Strength Enthusiast Retardo-pex's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Ruz4life View Post
    Too many people on here try and act like scientists instead of just lifting the godd*mn weights.


    Who gives a **** of absolute failure, temporary failure, partial failure blah blah blah just bust your ass in the gym, eat right and rest and you will be fine.


    Ok spotter, "This set spot me on 5 reps because the sixth will be partial failure and then next set I'm going to do 8 sets to absolute failure raised to the second power of the fifth degree.."
    It might have something to do with some people on here actually being scientists.

    Some people on here try to act too hardcore instead of just going to the gym with a year long game plan of how to obtain their goals.

    Who gives a **** of absolute badassery, temporary toughness, partial yeahdude blah blah blah just have a well thought out attack plan when heading to the gym, eat right and rest and you will be fine.
    Current Bests (raw/singleply)

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    - Squat 500, Bench 325, Deadlift 550 raw at 181-220.

    - Give the recreational bodybuilder thing a solid effort.
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  23. #23
    Seoul-Brotha Bostongeorge617's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Ruz4life View Post
    Who gives a **** of absolute failure, temporary failure, partial failure blah blah blah just bust your ass in the gym, eat right and rest and you will be fine.
    You have a point, but it doesn't help the OP who is asking the question come any closer to an answer. Your answer can be applied to 80% of the ridiculous questions that hit this forum every day such as:

    q: My left bicep is bigger than my right! Whats the best lower ab exercise? etc etc.
    a: Who gives a ****. just bust your ass in the gym, eat right and rest and you will be fine

    While this will solve their problems, it doesn't answer anything and they are still left with questions. Attempting to answer questions head-on is much harder, and more helpful. In doing so, opinions will vary and debate sometimes ensue.
    Use the tools of the trade to help you. I use devices such as chalk for grip strength, gloves, wrist straps, lifting belts - if it helps you lift more, it's all good. - Ronnie Coleman, Hardcore, 2007 Triumph Books

    Biggest question in bodybuilding: Whaddaya bench? As I've said before, it doesn't matter how much you bench; it matters how much you [i]look[/i] like you bench... There's no round on stage that's the benchpress round. - Bob Chicherillo, World Class Physique, CMG
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  24. #24
    Registered User Ruz4life's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Bostongeorge617 View Post
    You have a point, but it doesn't help the OP who is asking the question come any closer to an answer. Your answer can be applied to 80% of the ridiculous questions that hit this forum every day such as:

    q: My left bicep is bigger than my right! Whats the best lower ab exercise? etc etc.
    a: Who gives a ****. just bust your ass in the gym, eat right and rest and you will be fine

    While this will solve their problems, it doesn't answer anything and they are still left with questions. Attempting to answer questions head-on is much harder, and more helpful. In doing so, opinions will vary and debate sometimes ensue.
    Maybe the real answer that will solve their problems is they need to spend more time in the gym and less time on the internet asking stupid questions.
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