- Training to failure in the gym is a “huge mistake” according to former World’s Strongest Man Hafthor Björnsson.
- The main reason for this is that it knocks your confidence, he told Insider.
- Working your muscles until you can’t do anymore has benefits, but only occasionally.
“Challenging yourself in your workouts is important for getting stronger and fitter, but pushing yourself too hard could actually be limiting your progress”, according to former World’s Strongest Man Hafthor Björnsson.
Björnsson — best known as “The Mountain” from “Game of Thrones” — told Insider that you shouldn’t train to failure every time you workout.
Training to failure is when you keep going until you physically cannot complete a rep, and doing so is a source of pride for some gym-goers, as Insider’s Gabby Landsverk previously reported.
“Always trying for that PR [personal record] is a huge mistake,” Björnsson said. “You should never fail in training.”
Training to failure can knock your confidence
Professional athletes should only fail in competitions, Björnsson says. He thinks athletes and regular gym-goers alike shouldn’t do so very often.
“I never ever almost failed a lift in training sessions, you should always leave something in the tank in the gym,” he said.
The reason for this, he says, is that failing can knock a person’s confidence.
“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 training sessions, you build so much confidence,” he said.
And this is useful for professional weight lifters because when they get to a competition, they “believe they can lift anything.”
For amateur weight lifters, testing your strength by trying for a “one rep max” on a lift from time-to-time has its place, but this shouldn’t be every gym session.
Training to failure occasionally can stimulate muscle growth
Whether a one-rep-max or a set of multiple reps, there is some evidence to suggest working until you fail in the gym can have benefits.
By placing a large amount of stress on the muscle fibers, they are forced to adapt and repair stronger.
The key, however, is not to do this too often and ensure you’re giving your body enough time to recover.
“Training to failure once a week, when you have extra energy, can form tiny tears in the muscles that lead to growth when repaired,” Jessica Mazzucco, a New York City-based personal trainer, told Insider.
You don’t need to do so to make gains though, and most people would benefit from more moderate-intensity exercise, she said.