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TRAINING TO FAILURE (unconditioned v conditioned trainee)

A prevalent question always asked is whether unconditioned (novice) trainers should be training to failure like conditioned (advanced) trainers?

(I will be interchanging the words unconditioned/novice/conditioned and advanced trainer throughout this post)


Well the short answer is.... NO, Novice trainees do not need to train to absolute failure, doing so could potentially be worse off than beneficial for the individual and here is why that is.

When it comes to training regardless of your training age, one aspect that is overlooked which plays a pivotal role in our abilities to contract a muscle efficiently is our neuromuscular system, which is the nervous system itself (hence the name - NEUROmuscular). The nerves system plays a pivotal role in our ability to contract muscles and within our neuromuscular system we have what's known as motor units which facilitate the process of contraction of a muscle (movement of a weight). Now a novice trainee in the early stages of their training or even straight out the gate (never trained before) will have an accessibility to fewer motor units than an advance trainer. With this now known it wouldn't be logical for a novice trainer to train to failure like a conditioned trainee would.

Why? well because with an inefficient neuromuscular system and an inability to use as many motor units this will cause a lot of stress on the motor units that a novice trainer does have access to, which will create a greater amount of mechanical stress, more fatigue to the muscle which will require more time to facilitate recovery. So if you was to replicate what a conditioned trainee was doing you would most likely run into far greater implications. Acute state of overtrained being one of those plus being driven into the ground in the initial phases of your training experience which wouldn't be enjoyable, leading to a reduction in adherence, potentially resulting in you given up entirely. Now that would be a complete waste, especially when you could've got away with training to failure in the first place. 

What would be the best advice for a novice (unconditioned) trainee is to focus on stimulating more motor units, which will come from perfect execution, neurological adaptation (mind to muscle connection) and perfecting form. This doesn't mean you can't train hard, you can still gradually increment load on the bar when applicable but ensure everything is nailed, as well as not taking all sets to failure and over time you will see greater progress, a more efficient neuromuscular system and greater adherence for the longevity. Eventually as you accrual training experience (how long you've trained for) you will inevitably see intensity and volume increase, You will also notice you will need to train to a proximity to failure more frequently the training experience you have to create a novel stimulus (muscle growth) but the more training experience you have the more efficient your neuromuscular system is, the larger access of motor units you have which will mean you can train for longer, harder and proximity to failure.



So to summaries, Novice trainers don't delve into the deep end and try and annihilate yourself in the first weeks of your training, take your time and train to your strengths.

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