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Training to Failure and Beyond in Mainstream Resistance Exercise Programs

Willardson, Jeffrey M PhD, CSCS1; Norton, Layne2; Wilson, Gabriel MS, CSCS2

Strength & Conditioning Journal: June 2010 - Volume 32 - Issue 3 - pp 21-29
doi: 10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181cc2a3a
Article

INTENTIONALLY REACHING FAILURE DURING RESISTANCE EXERCISE SETS IS A COMMON PRACTICE THAT MIGHT BE MOST BENEFICIAL FOR STIMULATING HYPERTROPHY. HOWEVER, FAILURE TRAINING PERFORMED TOO FREQUENTLY CAN RESULT IN REDUCTIONS IN THE RESTING CONCENTRATION OF TESTOSTERONE AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE OVERTRAINING SYNDROME. THE RESEARCH SUGGESTS THE GREATEST EFFECTIVENESS WHEN FAILURE TRAINING IS PRACTICED CONSISTENTLY OVER 6-WEEK CYCLES, INTERSPERSED WITH EXCLUSIVE NONFAILURE TRAINING CYCLES OVER EQUAL PERIODS. COACHES SHOULD CONSIDER ATHLETES' TRAINING STATUS AND GOALS AND THE POINT IN A YEARLY TRAINING CYCLE TO DETERMINE WHETHER SETS ARE TO BE PERFORMED TO FAILURE OR ENDED SHORT OF REACHING FAILURE.

1Kinesiology and Sports Studies Department, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois; and 2Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

Jeffrey M. Willardson is an assistant professor in the Kinesiology and Sports Studies Department at Eastern Illinois University.

Layne Norton is a doctoral candidate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Gabriel Wilson is a doctoral student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois.

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