Lava Barre

1 Set to Failure 3 Times a Week: The Ultimate Guide to Effective Training

The products featured in this article have been independently reviewed. When you buy something through the retail links on this page, we may earn commission to help support the blog - at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

If you’re looking to build muscle and get stronger, you’ve likely heard of the “1 set to failure, 3 times a week” training approach. This method has gained popularity due to its simplicity and time-efficiency, making it an appealing option for busy individuals. But what does the science say about this approach? Is it truly effective for maximizing muscle growth?

In this article, we’ll delve into the scientific evidence surrounding the “1 set to failure, 3 times a week” training approach. We’ll discuss its potential benefits, drawbacks, and suitability for different individuals, even for experienced exercisers seeking nuanced information. Our goal is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of this approach so that you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you.

To do this, we’ll draw on the latest research from the world of conditioning research, examining the findings of studies that have investigated the effects of this training approach on muscle growth, strength gains, and overall fitness. We’ll also consider the practical implications of this approach, such as how to properly execute it and how it fits into a broader fitness program. So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, read on to learn more about the “1 set to failure, 3 times a week” training approach and how it can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Demystifying “Failure”: What Does It Mean and What Does It Do?

Defining Muscular Failure

Muscular failure is the point during resistance training when you cannot complete another repetition with proper form. There are different types of muscular failure, including momentary, metabolic, concentric, and eccentric. Momentary failure is when you cannot complete another repetition with good form. Metabolic failure occurs when you cannot complete another repetition due to fatigue. Concentric failure is when you cannot complete the concentric phase of the repetition, and eccentric failure is when you cannot complete the eccentric phase of the repetition.

It is important to differentiate between true failure and technical failure due to poor form. Technical failure is when you cannot complete another repetition due to poor form, but you could complete another repetition with proper form. Training to technical failure can increase the risk of injury and decrease the effectiveness of the exercise.

Physiological Responses to Failure

Training to failure can trigger hormonal and metabolic responses, including potential increases in growth hormone. However, there is conflicting research on the direct impact of training to failure on muscle growth compared to other training methods. While some studies suggest that training to failure can increase muscle growth, others suggest that it is not necessary for muscle growth and may even be counterproductive.

Safety Considerations

Training to failure can increase the risk of injury due to fatigue and potential form breakdown. It is important to prioritize proper form and technique over achieving “failure” at all costs. This means using heavy loads and weights that challenge your muscles without sacrificing proper form. It also means avoiding overtraining and allowing your muscles time to recover between workouts.

Weighing the Evidence: Benefits and Drawbacks

Potential Benefits:

If you are looking for a quick and efficient workout plan, a one set to failure workout may be appealing to you. Some potential benefits of this approach include increased muscle activation, improved mind-muscle connection, and psychological satisfaction for some individuals. However, it is important to note that further research is needed to confirm and quantify these benefits.

Drawbacks and Limitations:

While a one set to failure workout may seem like an easy and time-efficient way to build strength and muscle hypertrophy, there are potential drawbacks to consider. One of the biggest concerns is the increased risk of overtraining, burnout, and hindering recovery, especially for beginners or advanced exercisers already training intensely. Additionally, relying solely on one set to failure for long-term progress may lead to plateauing concerns.

Individual Suitability:

It is important to understand that the effectiveness of this approach depends on individual factors like training experience, fitness goals, recovery capacity, and risk tolerance. Advanced lifters may benefit from incorporating this approach into their hypertrophy training to stimulate new muscle growth, while untrained individuals may need to focus on building a foundation of strength before attempting a one set to failure workout. It is also important to note that a specific warm-up is necessary to avoid injury and maximize performance.

If you are considering a one set to failure workout plan, it is recommended to consult a coach or trainer for personalized recommendations based on your individual needs and goals.

Beyond the Hype: Alternative Training Strategies

If you’re looking to optimize your muscle growth, there are many ways to structure your training program. While some people swear by single-set training to failure, others prefer many sets with lower intensity. Here are some alternative training strategies you may want to consider:

Exploring Volume and Intensity Continuum

When designing your training program, it’s important to consider both volume (sets, reps) and intensity (weight, effort) in addition to failure. For example, you could perform one set to failure three times a week, or you could do three sets of 10 reps at 70% of your one-rep max. There are many effective training programs that utilize various volume and intensity combinations for muscle growth.

Here are some examples of effective training programs:

  • 5×5: Five sets of five reps at 80% of your one-rep max. This program focuses on high intensity and low volume to promote strength and muscle growth.
  • 3×10: Three sets of 10 reps at 70% of your one-rep max. This program focuses on moderate intensity and moderate volume to promote muscle growth and endurance.
  • Pyramid: Starting with a light weight, perform 12 reps. Then increase the weight and perform 10 reps, increase again and perform 8 reps, and so on until you reach your heaviest weight for 1 rep. This program focuses on increasing intensity over time and promoting muscle growth.

Prioritizing Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the key to continued muscle growth and avoiding plateaus. To achieve progressive overload, you need to progressively increase the demands on your muscles over time. Here are some methods for achieving progressive overload:

  • Adding weight: Gradually increase the weight you’re lifting for each exercise.
  • Adding reps: Gradually increase the number of reps you’re performing for each exercise.
  • Adding sets: Gradually increase the number of sets you’re performing for each exercise.
  • Shortening rest periods: Gradually decrease the amount of time you’re resting between sets.

Balancing Challenge and Recovery

While pushing your muscles to their limit is important for muscle growth, it’s equally important to incorporate adequate rest and recovery days into your training program. Here are some tips for optimizing your recovery:

  • Get enough sleep: Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night to promote muscle recovery and growth.
  • Eat a balanced diet: Make sure you’re getting enough protein and other essential nutrients to fuel your muscle growth.
  • Manage stress: High levels of stress can interfere with muscle growth and recovery, so make sure you’re managing your stress levels through activities like yoga or meditation.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to muscle growth. Experiment with different training strategies to find what works best for you and your body.


In summary, training to failure with one set, three times a week, may not be the most effective approach for muscle growth. While some studies have shown positive results, others have shown little to no difference compared to other training methods.

It is important to consider individual factors such as fitness level, age, and injury history when deciding on a training program. Prioritizing proper form and incorporating progressive overload within a well-rounded training program can also help maximize muscle growth.

While training to failure can be a useful tool for breaking through plateaus and pushing your limits, it should not be the sole focus of your training. It is important to explore alternative training strategies and consult professionals for personalized guidance.

Remember, the key to achieving your fitness goals is consistency, patience, and a willingness to adapt and learn. Keep pushing yourself, but always listen to your body and prioritize safety above all else.

By following these guidelines, you can create a training program that is tailored to your individual needs and goals, and help you achieve the results you desire.

Related Posts:

Photo of author

Lauren Price

Lauren Price is the co-owner of Lava Barre, a specialized fitness boutique that focuses on achieving balance for the body, mind, and soul. With a passion for fitness and wellness, Lauren and her business partner Vanessa set out to create a unique barre class that not only challenges the body but also inspires the mind.

Leave a Comment