Training Beyond Failure

by Trevor L. Smith

It seems every day someone comes along with a new and improved system of weight training scientifically designed to stimulate the muscle fibers unlike any other program ever could. I am so amazed that people are that stupid as to buy into this bullcrap. The magazines don’t help matters either. One month you read a fake training article on how your bodybuilding hero built his biceps. Hopefully you realize all these articles are Ghost-Written? The next month you get another routine from another Pro that is even better.

Those of you who save your magazines need only go back and glance at the last few years of your collection to realize that it is all the same crap with minor changes. Let’s face it, a truly informative magazine that had unique articles each month would be about 25 pages max, so the editors feel compelled to go for quantity instead of quality.

To me, when it comes to reading an article that is talking about a new system of training or nutrition or steroid use, a general rule of thumb to follow is that if the article is layered with a lot of big, scientific terminology, then crumple it up and save it for the next time you run out of toilet paper. A good writer or teacher has the ability to speak to all facets of society at the same time and a really good writer has the ability to use very simple terms and examples to explain highly technical concepts and theories. A bullcrap artist on the other hand likes to use these big words in an effort to confuse and baffle as many people as possible because people tend to give credibility to people who use big words.

Let’s give a quick example: Upon grasping the cylindrical carbohydrate, fat and protein source, the organism used it’s copious muscles of mastication along with sufficient temporal mandibular locomotion to activate the digestive enzymes and begin the process of nutrient absorption which was to take place in the mucus lined acid pouch within the bowels of the creature.
That’s a bull****ers way of saying the following: The guy picked up a cheeseburger and took a big bite, chewed it up and swallowed it. Keeping this in mind, I would like to explain a little bit about the way I train and how it might benefit you in your gym efforts. I call it beyond failure training, because the general rule of thumb is that when the body fails, the set just begins, and it is this philosophy that will cut through all the bullcrap of slow twitch, fast twitch, rep speed, training for size, training for strength bullcrap that people like to write about.

First and foremost it is imperative to understand that the body is capable of a lot more than we tend to give it credit for. Somewhere along the line in the past few years people have been screaming OVERTRAINING to the point of making me want to vomit. Mike Mentzer’s original heavy duty theories were rather unique and quite sound, but since the release of Heavy Duty 2, the theories have been in outer freaking space. Training a body part once every 14 days!!? Give me a break. The body is capable of handling huge amounts of stress and it is true that it needs adequate time to recover, but 14 days is a bit extreme. Past failure training is very simple and very self-explanatory and few people will ever do it because it hurts just too damn much. Sooner or later one of the four demons comes along and claims another victim who attempts to travel down the path of Past Failure training. It is not fun, it is uncomfortable, it causes pre-workout anxiety and fear, AND IT PRODUCES MASSIVE RESULTS.

The number one element that must be present in past failure training is 1000% Maximal Effort. No being a *****, no laughing and conversing during or between the sets. It?s **** or walk time! The other thing that is necessary is a training partner and a one that knows how to spot correctly! Sometimes I think I should offer a seminar on how to be a good spotter because every time I ask for one at the gym I invariably get a moron.

Past Failure training demands that when you are doing a set, as you begin to go to failure, where you cannot complete a full range of motion on your own and you are at momentary failure, your training partner assists you in completing an addition number of repetitions with the same weight, say 6-8 before you are allowed to stop. At this point you are in total agony and are pumped beyond belief and whimpering like a little girl who lost her dolly, yet it is not over yet! Your partner immediately drops the weight down around 40% and you continue with the set until you cannot get any more reps. Your partner again assists you to get and additional number of reps until you are fried. Then once again your partner drops the weight so you can continue your journey into no-mans land and once you begin to fail he again assists you in getting additional reps. Then and only then is your set complete. You are in tremendous pain, you are nauseous and dizzy and you want to go home. You feel like you cannot go on, and this is only after 60 seconds of work, yet the workout has just begun?

Next time we will delve deeper into this level of intensity and training and give examples of how one would train each bodypart using this style of training?

Remember this is a rather different way of training and even for people that are used to training in an intense manner it will be a shock to the system as there is intensity and then there is I N T E N S I T Y
Now some of the basic rules of thumb with this style of training are:

1.You will tend to need an hour or so to recover from the workout so that you can perform daily functions.
2.You cannot train in this manner for more than 6 weeks if you are doing it properly
3.You can only train once a day for a maximum of 4 times per week.
4.You can only spend a maximum of 45 minutes in the gym per session
5. It is EXTREMELY painful and you will tend to have anxiety before your workouts
6. You must keep all other physical activities to a bare minimum during your 6-week training cycle to insure maximum recovery and energy available for the workouts

It is important that you adhere to these basic rules as they will go a long way to insure that you stay on the path and do not monkey wrench all of your hard efforts in the gym.

O.K. now that we have the basic principles of Beyond Failure training, let’s take a look at what a typical leg workout might look like Starting on the leg extension machine and after warming up thoroughly, select a weight that will allow you to get 10-12 clean reps on your own before you would typically fail and end the set.

Begin performing the extensions in a steady manner (1 second up and 1 second down is a good example). Once you start to go to failure, your partner will assist you in completing an additional 8 repetitions past your failure point. At this point it feels like someone is blowtorching your quads. Your partner immediately lowers the weight by around 30-40% and you continue performing repetitions until you once again achieve failure by yourself. Again your partner assists you in completing and additional 6-8 reps and then immediately lowers the stack by an additional 30-40% and you continue performing repetitions until failure at which time you partner once again assists in you completing an additional 8 reps.

FINALLY, the set it over. You may tend to feel nausea and will definitely have trouble standing, but even more trouble sitting as this is doubly as painful. The first set is always the easy part because you have nothing to compare it to and you will find your anxiety levels building when you are about to start your second set of leg extensions. Repeat the exact same procedure as the first set. At the completion of the second set of Beyond Failure leg extensions you will more than likely be ready to call it a day after a total of 10-15 minutes of gym time, BUT it is not over yet.

Next choose a pressing movement for the legs such as squats, leg presses or hack squats. Load up the bar with enough weight that will insure you get 8-10 reps. Have your partner VERY close by to insure a safe spot and perform your set. As you get to failure have your partner assist in you getting only a few reps beyond failure?.say 5 or 6 and call it a day. That is it for the quads. Next it is on to hamstrings which I can guarantee you have no desire to work.

You will only perform 2 sets of leg curls and you will follow the same principles as you did during the leg extensions. However, you have to pay attention to your body and it is quite possible that after one set of leg curls you will be totally fried and have nothing left. This is because the quads are SO pumped and engorged that it is very painful to perform a curling motion with the legs. At this point crawl your ass out of the gym and try not to puke, but if you have to?.let it fly. That?s all she wrote for your leg workout. If you have anything left, you did not train properly. I can guarantee after following these principles your bottle will jump to new levels of growth. Remember if you are going to be in the Venice area and need clarification on these training principles I am occasionally available to put people through my style of training so they can go home with the proper intensity and techniques. Next time we shall take a look at Chest and Calves.