When you train to failure you have to pay attention to your training frequency. This will be lower than if training to failure does not or hardly occur in your schedule. This is not to say that a muscle group that is trained to failure can only be trained once a week, but that recovery will take longer than if you had not gone to failure. In addition, you may want to keep the training phase shorter, because these phases are very taxing. Training blocks in which a lot of volume to failure occurs is best kept shorter than your normal training blocks, especially in metabolic phases, since oxidative stress is not desirable for longer periods of time.
We have already briefly discussed the next ‘danger’ above: beware of junk volume. Don’t run more sets to failure than you need! This costs more recovery power without a positive return.
Finally, training to failure can cause fatigue of the nervous system / the entire system, especially when you go through legdays to failure. Legs contain so much muscle mass that an excessive build-up of damage, metabolites and fatigue from these workouts can negatively affect upcoming workouts, even if the upcoming workouts aren’t legdays. In addition, a first heavy exercise until failure (for example squats or deadlifts) can tire the nervous system to such an extent that your output is considerably limited in that further training.
SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST
When you’re in a power block, when you take advantage of failure, you only want to do it at your peak set for that particular exercise. After this, lowering the weight and turning more volume will produce a less strong stimulus than the peak set to failure, by definition.
In a hypertrophy block, going further can certainly have added value, for example by using a dropset.
In a metabolic block, training beyond failure on execution will absolutely prevent. With normal sets and with ‘normal’ rest you will probably never come to a complete extended or complete failure; an option here might be to superset different exercises, each targeting the target muscle in a different way. Another option is to deliberately keep the breaks between (super)sets short, to prevent the energy systems from fully recovering before a new set starts. This way you can build up fatigue over sets.
As described above, this way of training can lead to oxidative stress. You have to jump carefully with this. So ending every workout with a few drop sets to pump your muscles can definitely backfire.
TRAINING TO FAILURE IN PRACTICE
So it’s important that you don’t just ram through all your sets to failure. On the other hand, the repetitions to failure or at least close to failure are the repetitions where the most bang for your buck is, as you have read in the previous article.
I can’t give a direct answer in black and white to anyone how many sets and reps to failure is recommended per workout or per week; this depends on many factors. It is precisely for this reason that it is so important to log your training sessions and not just do something!
Too much failure in a strength block will give very immediate feedback, in the sense that you won’t be able to move the same weights the next workout because, for example, the nervous system has not yet fully recovered. Failure in a metabolic block has more far-reaching consequences than failure in a power block, because failure in a metabolic block requires massive volume loss at a low intensity; too much of this can lead to, for example, (too much) inflammation, which doesn’t necessarily lower your output, but which will definitely have negative effects on your progression in the long run.
The problem with this is that metabolic failure is many times easier than neurological failure; turning even more volume after a dropset is just a matter of removing some more weight and continuing. More volume after failure in a neurological block is almost impossible without reducing the weight and we discussed above that that usually shouldn’t be your goal.
BUILD IT UP GRADUALLY
One option to avoid this (failing too much in a metabolic block) might be to add an extra set to failure from week to week; in one e week you fail only on the last set of the last exercise of the superset. In week 2, you fail on both exercises of your last superset. And in week 3 on the last 2 supersets. In addition to keeping track of your training sessions, I can also absolutely recommend dividing your training sessions into blocks and writing out your volume (and therefore the volume to failure) specifically for the block in question.