Most bodybuilders think it’s the most important element of a training routine.
The undisputed king, Arnold Schwarzenegger believes everything before it is simply a preamble to the main event. And Paul Foote…well, I agree with them all.
Failure, of course, is what we’re talking about today.
Pushing your muscles to failure is the key objective if you’re looking to put on size. Once you reach it, you have completely taxed your muscles and in this state, the muscle has no other option but to adapt to the stress you are putting it under. And how does it adapt – it grows! So, on your next workout, when you begin to feel the burn and from deep in the back of your mind you begin hearing the whispers of ‘that’s it, no more’, just know that if you can lift another couple of reps you’ll be richly rewarded in return.
If you want to really kick hypertrophy into overdrive, look to push beyond failure and bust out a couple of additional reps. Your body is in the perfect position to really maximize your growth potential and those additional few reps will be more beneficial for growth than the majority of the others combined.
Ok, so now you’re thinking ‘Um, if I go to failure how the hell do I push out any more reps…that’s the point of failure, right?’ Well yes, you’re right; if you genuinely go to failure than by definition you cannot do anymore. However, I’ve got two nifty techniques to get you knocking out those dream (or nightmare) reps:
Rest-Pause – This technique is one of the simplest around, but it is also your first-class ticket hypertrophy.
On the final set of any given exercise, push out the reps until you physically cannot complete one more full repetition. Rack the bar but don’t get off that bench! Rest for 10-15 seconds and get back to shifting that weight. You’ll go to absolute failure once again before you rack the bar for good.
Drop Sets – This technique is best used with a gym partner since the aim is to not allow your muscles to have any rest; but if you’re snappy you can get away with trying this solo.
On the final set of a specific exercise, push out the reps until failure, then rack the weight and get your gym partner to drop 20-30% of the total weight off the bar (as I mentioned speed is of the essence!). Then unrack the bar and go to failure once again on the new weight…sound brutal? IT IS:-)
Now, for all the Foote Soldiers out there, if you’re brave enough how about trying a set of Rest-Pause-Drop-set for the final set of a big compound movement.
This will be brutal and if you do it right there won’t be much left in the tank at the end of it. So, if you are going to take this on remember:
• Limit it to one or two exercises – Preferably the larger compound movements that incorporate a number of secondary muscles
• This will deplete your energy levels so save the best for last
• Form is essential to avoiding injury, going to failure will make you want to cheat but don’t sacrifice form for those extra reps
Until next time…train hard