Training to failure means performing an exercise until you can’t complete another repetition. In the real world, failing usually implies that you didn’t complete a task. In the gym, it has a positive stigma. Sometimes, failing IS the task.
There are two types of failure in the gym: fatigue and technical failure. When you fail from fatigue, it means that you can’t physically lift the weight or complete the rep. Technical failure means that you could complete the rep, but your form would be terrible. In other words, when you lose technique, you fail.
At TS, we fall more into the camp of technical failure. While some hardcore gymgoers might insist that you need to push your muscles to the absolute limit, research shows that isn’t necessarily true. Instead, you just have to get close to your limit.
Technical failure combines the hardworking mentality of training to failure with less risk and the same amount of reward. By pushing close to absolute failure, you fatigue a muscle close to the max. However, when you stop before your form deteriorates, you avoid injury.
One way to do this is by leaving 2 reps in the tank. By the end of the set, you should feel like you could’ve done two more repetitions if you really tried. It works because when you go for the final one or two reps before your muscles shut down, form tends to deteriorate.
Next time you’re in the gym, try it out. It might take a few sessions to get the feel for where your limits are, but over time you’ll have more awareness of how you are to failure.