Training to Failure

Anything in the training realm will have its experts that say to do this and others that say to do that.  One thing that has recently peak my interest is training to failure.  Old school tradition screams “NO PAIN, NO GAIN!” or you will have the same, stagnant results.  With modern medical advancements, exercise physiologist can really tell if this hardcore statement holds any truth.  I must admit, having this weight lifting mindset ingrained since childhood, I almost feel this is blasphemy.

Before I go any further, let’s breakdown the word failure.  Coaches have often called it Momentary Muscular Failure.  This is when you can’t perform another rep with correct form and/or you can’t do another 10 seconds of cardio before you puke.  Lactic acid has built up to the point where there is no oxygen or energy for the body to use.  Exercise physiologist have reported that this high intensity training can be extremely taxing on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and leads to over training.

However, there are certain ways of training such as the Overload Principle that prove you can train to failure and avoid overtraining, if done correctly.  There are certain points in the year when training to failure is necessary in both cardiovascular training and strength training.  During the off season, when you are trying to improve upon your current level, training to failure is needed to make gains.  At this point in the year, racing is kept to a minimum and you can plan your week to get enough recovery.

However, as the racing picks up, you want to back down on the intensity slightly and start to maintain what you have accomplished in the off season.  Pushing yourself to the point of failure during the busy race season would be hell on your body.  You would be exhausted and sore come race day.  This all reverts back to periodization.  Pushing yourself at the right times, you can make the appropriate the gains then back off to a maintenance stage for the races.  Making sure you have enough recovery time will keep you and your nervous system in an optimum state.

Posted on Feb 21 2011, under Training | No Comments »

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