Training to failure on any kind of regular basis always seemed to me like a bad idea. I’ve tried it a few times and found that it soon takes its toll on my mind and body. I simply cannot sustain pushing myself to the absolute limit workout after workout.
Then I would read how people like Bill Phillips believe in training to failure and wonder how they handle it. I always preferred what Bill Pearl says about the concept. I’m paraphrasing, but Pearl says to end a set when you could do one or two more reps, if you really had to. Finish your workouts leaving a little gas still in the tank.
That makes sense to me.
The other day, I was looking at an article in the latest Men’s Health magazine and the author described two different types of training to failure. One type is training to absolute failure, and the other type is training to technical failure.
He defined training to absolute failure as not being able to complete another rep, no matter what. While training to technical failure is that point when your body posture must change to complete the movement. In other words, when you have to cheat by leaning or swinging forward or back, or you can’t control the speed of the weight you are lifting. That makes a little more sense to me than going to absolute failure.
"Train don't strain" used to be the advice in the old muscle building courses. I think it still makes the most sense of all.