Strength Training with Repetitions to Failure does not Provide Additional Strength and Muscle Hypertrophy Gains in Young Women

Eur J Transl Myol. 2017 Jun 27;27(2):6339. doi: 10.4081/ejtm.2017.6339. eCollection 2017 Jun 24.


This study investigated the effects of a 10-week resistance training to failure on neuromuscular adaptations in young women. Eighty-nine active young women were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) repetitions to failure (RF; three sets of repetitions to failure); 2) repetitions not to failure with equalized volume (RNFV; four sets of 7 repetitions); and 3) repetitions not to failure (RNF; three sets of 7 repetitions). All groups performed the elbow flexor exercise (bilateral biceps curl) and trained 2 days per week using 70% of 1RM. There were significant increases (p<0.05) in muscle strength after 5 (15.9% for RF, 18.4% for RNF, and 19.9% for RNFV) and 10 (28.3% for RF, 26.8% for RNF, and 28.3% for RNFV) weeks of training, with no significant differences between groups. Additionally, muscular endurance increased after 5 and 10 weeks, with no differences between groups. However, peak torque (PT) increased significantly at 180°.s-1 in the RNFV (13.7%) and RNF (4.1%) groups (p<0.05), whereas no changes were observed in the RF group (-0.5%). Muscle thickness increased significantly (p<0.05) in the RF and RNFV groups after 5 (RF: 8.4% and RNFV: 2.3%) and 10 weeks of training (RF: 17.5%, and RNFV: 8.5%), whereas no significant changes were observed in the RNF group (3.9 and 2.1% after 5 and 10 weeks, respectively). These data suggest that short-term training of repetitions to failure do not yield additional overall neuromuscular improvements in young women.

Keywords: Strength training to failure; fatigue; maximum exercise; muscle hypertrophy; young women.