Train to Stopping Points, Not to Failure

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Exercising to a breaking point won’t do you any favors.

Some weightlifting enthusiasts believe that the only way to truly maximize your gains is to push it to the point that you are in genuine, potentially life-threatening pain. The saying may be “no pain, no gain,” but that means like, realistic pain, not “my entire spine has compressed, call an ambulance.” Forcing yourself to train until your muscles fail is unsafe, not to mention potentially detrimental to your confidence.

In an interview with Insider, former world’s strongest man Hafthor Björnsson, also known as The Mountain on Game of Thrones, explained that he has never failed a rep in his life. That’s because he’s unfathomably strong (though he totally is), but because he’s very aware of his limits and knows not to go too far when exceeding them.

“I never ever almost failed a lift in training sessions, you should always leave something in the tank in the gym,” he said.

“When you fail, you bring doubt to your head, you start to believe that you can’t lift that weight. If you never fail in a training sessions, you build so much confidence,” he said, adding that that confidence is vital for professional weightlifters, as it helps them believe there’s nothing too heavy for them to lift.

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All that said, you can earn yourself a minor boost in gains by training to failure, but only if you do it sparingly. If you have the extra energy, you can train until your muscles fail exactly once for an entire week. Yes, a week, because your muscles need a lot of time to repair all the damage you just did to them. You’ll definitely pick up some mass when they rebuild, but this definitely isn’t a system you can abuse, lest you genuinely get hurt.