Do You Need To Train To Failure For Hypertrophy?

There is a lot of debate surrounding the topic of training to failure. Some experts believe that it is necessary for maximal muscle growth, while others claim that it can lead to overtraining and injuries.

Training to fatigue too often will lead to increased muscle damage and it will affect training performance in the following sets. Excessive fatigue can lead to overreaching and impair our ability to recruit motor units in our training.

You do not need to train to failure for optimal muscle growth. Going all out and training to failure may result in inadequate sets and can hurt your gains. Instead, your training needs to be productive to experience optimal muscle growth.

We are going to look at the difference between training with different RIR (reps in reserve) versus training to failure. For example, 2 RIR means you stop two reps before failure.

There is minimal difference in growth between leaving 4 RIR and training to failure. However, the levels of fatigue are greatly increased.

This makes training to failure for every set not as optimal as if you left a couple of reps in the tank. Simply because the growth stimulus to fatigue ratio is not worth it.

Let’s talk about training for failure and how it may or may not be beneficial if you’re looking to achieve hypertrophy.

What Is Hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy is the increase in the size of an organ or tissue due to the enlargement of its cells. It occurs when the cells in the body divide and grow.

This can be in response to an increase in demand placed on the body, such as during exercise, or it can occur spontaneously.

The Benefits of Hypertrophy

Hypertrophy has several benefits, both for athletes and for those who want to gain muscle mass. When muscles undergo hypertrophy, they become stronger and can better resist fatigue.

This means that athletes who undergo regular sessions of hypertrophy training will be able to perform at higher levels for longer periods of time.

In addition, hypertrophy can help to reduce injuries by making muscles more resistant to stress.

Hypertrophy Training Methods

Several methods can be used to induce hypertrophy in muscles. One popular method is weightlifting. By repeatedly lifting weights that are heavier than the muscles can comfortably handle, the muscles are forced to adapt by growing larger and stronger.

Another common method is resistance training, which uses devices such as elastic bands or weight machines to create resistance against which the muscles must work.

The Benefits Of Training To Failure

When most people think of exercising, they picture themselves working out hard for a set period of time and then taking a break.

However, another approach to exercise is gaining popularity, particularly among bodybuilders and weightlifters. This method, known as training to failure, involves pushing yourself to the point where you can no longer continue the exercise.

Some people believe that this is the best way to achieve results, as it forces the muscles to work harder and results in greater gains. However, there are also some risks associated with this approach, and it is not right for everyone.

Before you decide whether or not to train for failure, it is important to understand the pros and cons.


One of the main advantages of training to failure is that it allows you to push your muscles to their limits.

When you work out without reaching failure, you may not be challenging your muscles enough to see significant results. However, by pushing yourself past your comfort zone, you can force your muscles to grow stronger.

In addition, training to failure can help you break through any plateau that you may have reached in your workout routine. If you have been stuck at the same weight for weeks or months, reaching failure may be just what you need to jumpstart your progress once again.


However, there are also some disadvantages associated with training to failure. One of the most important things to consider is your form.

When you reach failure, your form is likely to suffer. This can lead to injury and could cause you to miss workouts while you recover.

In addition, training to failure can be extremely mentally and physically taxing. It is important to make sure that you are getting enough rest and recovery time in between workouts, or else you will risk burnout.

Finally, remember that not everyone responds well to this type of training. If you are new to fitness this is not something you should attempt until you have a good grasp on your training

Best Ways To Train For Hypertrophy

Training to true muscle failure does have its benefits as you will net slightly more growth. So training to failure should be considered in certain scenarios.

There are 2 optimal ways to incorporate training to failure within training blocks:

Option 1:

Train at 2-1 RIR for the entire block while taking your last set to failure for each exercise.

This will ensure you are getting in high-quality and productive training while eliminating excessive fatigue.

This also gives you the ability to train to failure frequently, which helps you become more familiar with where your true muscular failure really is at.

Option 2:

Set up your intensity (RIR) so that is dynamic rather than static such as option 1. This is known as a process called progressive overload.

Week 14-3 RIR
Week 23-2 RIR
Week 32-1 RIR
Week 41-0 RIR
Week 50 RIR
Week 5+0 RIR
Deload (if required) 

So now your training decreases from 4 to 0 RIR each week so now you are using the full range and training to failure within the last week of a training block.

And when you complete that training block you reset that RIR with a new training block after a deload week if it is required or an introductory week. Both will dissipate fatigue to some extent.

Keep in mind these are just two ways to set up your training blocks and there are many ways you can implement training to failure.

Studies show that most people struggle to know where their true muscle failure is at. Meaning that most individuals stop shy of failure when they think they are there.

This is important to know because you should try your best to become familiar with where true muscle failure is at so you continue to train hard.


So, should you train to failure? The answer is you should definitely push your muscles close to failure at least some of the time when you’re working out, but if you do it all the time, you may actually be doing more harm than good.

Find a happy medium that allows you to work your muscles hard enough to see results without going overboard.