Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What if I gave you the F-Word...

by: Eduardo Lorenzo

What if I gave you the F-Word...

The new F-Word… or Failure that is, and it’s a word you should be familiar with if you are trying to build your best body ever.

Yet reality tells us different, now a days most people are afraid of failure; hey! Even I think it’s now the new “F” dirty word. This shouldn’t surprise you unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last 20 years. Take a good look at the economy, failure is exploding in frequency. The financial distress, corporate and consumer debt, foreclosures at record highs, banks and manufacturing companies going out of business; in other words: failure.

The quick fix to all this: bailing out banks, homeowners and aiding companies at large to stay afloat, only to see them keep practicing the same type of business that put them in line to bankruptcy or failure.

We seem to forget that most business ventures fail, and from those failures is that we as a nation have learned acute lessons that have helped us be prosperous and build good businesses that actually make sense and profits.

Do you see the similarity in regards to your fitness goals?

You need to train to failure. "Well not always" but from time to time failure training should be used to motivate you to try harder and in return you will build a great physique.

Let me explain this; failure refers to performing a set until the point of being unable to complete one more rep, despite all effort you "fail" to complete the last rep.

Training to failure is, however, a controversial topic. Some expert’s say you should always train to failure, others don’t even see a relationship of training to failure with real life activities… let’s say you are washing and waxing your car, failure in this case would mean you would do this till your arms drop, not very likely is it.

The argument is that training to failure is mainly considered a hypertrophy training technique, as muscular strength, power, and endurance gains can still be made without training to failure. However one might argue that if you can physically do more, then you are not training at your optimum level, so it may be considered a general principle for any aspect of training, even cardio/aerobic training such as running or cycling (until you physically cannot continue), but again this increases the risk of injury, of collapsing, and of feeling extreme discomfort for several days.

Various studies have been done, showing that training to failure does not substantially improve muscle development, but many thousands of hardcore weight trainers disagree based on their personal experience.

For many, they just compromise in some way. If they are doing three sets of a particular exercise during their workout, they only train to failure on the final set. In some ways, this compromise is a bit illogical. If training to failure is worth doing, why only do it once? If training to failure isn't worth doing, why do it at all?

Do I sound like I am contradicting myself? I can see my inbox flooded with countless e-mails from our avid readers. But it’s O.K. like I mentioned earlier this is a controversial topic.

Does it work? It’s a personal decision one must make. I for one, use this system from time to time, not always… there is no one such program that will do it all.

With that in mind these are my suggestions:

If you hit a plateau, then training to failure is an option because it will help you break that pattern. Remember the business strategy we spoke at the beginning; if you keep bailing out your body as with the financial system, you’ll only end up doing the same time after time with little to no results.

Mix it up from time to time to keep yourself out of the boredom and to challenge your body.

If you are training to failure, safety is always first. Try to get a spotter or use common sense; don’t get injured while trying to show off.

Take home message: training to failure is an option… quitting however is not.

Author: Eduardo Lorenzo, NASM-CPT
Eduardo Lorenzo specializes in sports performance, injury prevention, corrective exercises, physique enhancement, Boot Camp and weight loss programs.

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