Training: To Failure

Strength Training to Failure


Not me.  *Photo courtesy Simon Q, used via Creative Commons

Not me.
*Photo courtesy Simon Q, used via Creative Commons

As I mentioned last week, I’ve started a new weight training program with a trainer. I’ve long known that strength training is a pretty large gap in my fitness routine, something that I do half-heartedly and without any real knowledge of what I’m doing. I know that working with heavier weights and fewer reps has benefits, but it wasn’t something that I was comfortable taking on solo without someone to guide my form and skill.

It’s funny, but until I really sat down and thought about it, I never realized just how little strength training is part of life. All of my recreational activity — biking, hiking, running, coaching baseball — is cardio work. Aside from the occasional hardcore gardening project in springtime, when do I ever do anything strength-related?

This program, which I’ll be doing twice a week through the month of February on a trial basis, involves slow, controlled reps. Ideally, my trainer wants to see me able to do these slow reps for between 1:30-2:00 each before my muscles say, “Nope. We’re done here.” As we work up to that magical weight that causes the failure (a terrible word, really; why would I want to fail to succeed?) I do no more than 4:00 per slow set, always in motion.

Why slow? When your limbs move slowly, you don’t get the benefit from momentum. This seems like a trivial sort of detail until you realize that your muscles are quivering like crazy because you’re fighting through an otherwise weak spot in the movement arc.

Does it work? I don’t know yet. I do know that after my sessions, my limbs feel like they’re made from noodles, so the muscles are clearly working. We’ll see if that translates into increased strength, tone and better posture.

What’s new in your training regimen?

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One Response

  1. Greg O. says:

    What’s new? Doing split squats (I think they’re also called Bulgarian split squats) using a TRX handle. More challenging than doing them off a box jump box and less painful on my foot. Hip flexors hurt for days.

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