Training to failure will cause increased fatigue, prolonged recovery, and greater muscle damage. If you train short of failure, you will recuperate faster. If you train to failure each set, plan to take greater days off (~48 hours) between muscle groups. Several supplements can support muscle recovery, but the research is conflicting with many studies.
BEST VITAMINS FOR MUSCLE RECOVERY SUMMARY
- The best vitamins for muscle recovery were tart cherries, Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, polyphenols, and creatine.
Training to failure will cause increased fatigue, prolonged recovery, and greater muscle damage.
If you train short of failure, you will recuperate faster. If you train to failure each set, plan to take greater days off (~48 hours) between muscle groups.
IS THERE A HYPERTROPHY ZONE
For about the past decade, it was said that bodybuilders should train with 8-12 repetitions for muscle growth, but if you want to gain strength, train with 3-5 reps. The 8-12 reps are known as the hypertrophy zone or muscle-building reps zone. There has been a complete reexamination of the so-called “hypertrophy zone.” It was typically thought that repetitions less than 5 increase strength (80-100% of a 1RM), repetitions between 8-12 stimulate muscle growth (60-80% of a 1RM), and repetitions greater than 15 optimize endurance (60% of a 1RM).
The new research suggests that muscle growth can occur at a wide range of repetitions; there is no magic number and no “hypertrophy zone.” Lopez et al. analyzed over 28 studies investigating muscle growth in response to various rep ranges. Only studies in which sets were performed to volitional failure were included. Studies comprised of a wide variety of rep ranges, including high- (>15 repetitions maximum (RM), moderate- (9-15 RM), and low (≤8 RM) resistance training. The author concluded that in untrained- and recreationally-trained individuals, muscle hypertrophy or muscle growth was load or weight-independent. Strength gains only occurred by using a heavier weight.(1) He also found that those with more years of training (2-7 years) needed more sets and reps to gain muscle.
Muscle Hypertrophy- Cont.
A 2021 meta-analysis of 23 studies with 563 participants found that heavier weights increases maximal strength. In contrast, a wide spectrum of loads or weight (30-90%) can be used for muscle hypertrophy. The author also stated that heavier weights could cause excessive wear and tear on the joints and ligaments; therefore, alternating between light, moderate, and heavy loads is a good strategy for muscle hypertrophy.(2)
More resistance training sessions are necessary for those with a longer training experience, providing greater increases in muscle size due to a principle of diminishing return. Untrained athletes can gain muscle with as little as 3-5 sets per week, but muscle growth will eventually plateau if you continue to use this set range. The more trained you are, the more volume you will need to grow.
TRAINING TO FAILURE REQUIRES LONGER RECOVERY
Based on the research, you can train with lighter weights to failure and get similar results as those training with heavier weight. Training with different rep ranges may be more enjoyable than training with the same weight. Caution should be mentioned that recovery between workouts can be extended when training with higher reps to failure.
Previous studies have shown reductions in the ability to recuperate for up to 48 hours after resistance exercise when sets are taken to failure with 70-80% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM), which could negatively interfere with other training components.(3, 4) A previous study reported that training to failure resulting in a near-complete depletion of PCr (80%) stores and a reduction in ATP (21%). However, when sets were stopped short of failure by 50%, there was a much lesser decline in PCr (15%).(5)
Researchers compared different rep ranges in the bench press, squat, and countermovement jumps and their effect on muscle recovery up to 48 hours post-exercise. The subjects performed ten different workouts using 3 sets, but the workout varied in rep ranges and also whether or not they were taken to failure. See the chart below. The Max Reps were taken to complete failure, whereas the half reps stopped short of failure. For example, if they performed 12 reps with 70% of a 1RM, when they performed the half reps short of failure, they performed 6 reps of 12 with 70% of a 1RM. The researchers measured muscle recuperation at 6, 24, and 48 hours after each protocol.