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What is Muscular Failure: The Weight Room Part 2

DeLorme Definition of Muscular Failure

Continuing from Part 1 where I looked at the concept of muscular/task failure in general, Part 2 of what is rapidly becoming an overwritten series began looking at what muscular failure represents in the weight room specifically.    There I defined different muscle actions and types of muscular failure noting that I’d be focusing on concentric muscular failure.  I also looked at the concept of the sticking point and how it impacts on all of this.

In this part I want to continue that discussion and look at some of the actual definitions of muscular failure that have been used in the weight room over the decades.  As importantly I’ll look at what the implications of each might be in both a practical and research sense.    However, as promised in Part 2, I want to start by looking at the concept of the Repetition Maximum or RM.

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What is Muscular Failure: The Weight Room Part 1

Changes in Lever Arm During Biceps Curl

In the previous article I discussed the concept of muscular failure in a general sense.    This included a discussion of general muscular physiology and the definitions of muscular fatigue, muscular/task failure and exhaustion.    The one sentence summary of that article is as follows “Muscular/task failure occurs when the subject is unable to generate sufficient muscular force to meet or exceed the requirements of the task.”

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What is Muscular Failure: Definitions

Muscular Activation

Last time I took a look at the concept of training volume, what it is, what it represents along with some of the different ways it can be defined, tracked or measured (along with their often major limitations).     Among other topics, I described how one research group suggested that sets per workout or per week can be a valid way of tracking volume but “…only if those sets are taken to the point of muscular failure.”

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What Is Training Volume?

Definitions of Training Volume

Previously I have written about training intensity and frequency and, in that vein, I want to talk about training volume.  I’ll be focusing on the weight room and, as much as anything, this is hopefully a background article for something longer I might actually eventually write.   As with my article on intensity, what I will primarily be doing is looking at some of the different definitions of volume that are out there along with pros and cons of their use.

The FITT Equation

In the realm of exercise, one of the oldest used descriptions of training is usually called The FITT equation (I believe it’s been expanded in recent years).  The letters stand, respectively for Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.  Let me define each but reverse the last two.

Note: Yes, I know that T T has no implied order except that it was always described as Frequency Intensity Time Type so I am technically reversing them.… Keep Reading

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Does Training Frequency Matter for Muscle Growth?

Lyle McDonald Revised Frequency Recommendations

While I’m trying to muster the energy to do an update to my training volume series (which is not and will never be called a Bible because…well….pretentious much?), I figured I’d address a related topic: training frequency.  Now I’ve written about training frequency before, mainly looking at different “popular” approaches for hypertrophy training.   Here I want to address a current idea in the fitness industry and ask the question “Does training frequency matter?”  For the most part, I’ll focus on growth although I might switch and talk about strength a little bit too.

Defining Training Frequency

As always, let’s define some terms to ensure that we’re all on the same page.  Training frequency, at first glance, seems fairly simple to define.  It’s how often you train (and here I’ll be talking specifically about weekly training frequency).   If you train five times per week, your training frequency is, well, 5 times per week.… Keep Reading