Does performing resistance exercise to failure homogenize the training stimulus by accounting for differences in local muscular endurance?

Ryan J. Exner, Mana H. Patel, Dominic V. Whitener, Samuel L. Buckner, Matthew B. Jessee, Scott J. Dankel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The prescription of resistance exercise often involves administering a set number of repetitions to be completed at a given relative load. While this accounts for individual differences in strength, it neglects to account for differences in local muscle endurance and may result in varied responses across individuals. One way of potentially creating a more homogenous stimulus across individuals involves performing resistance exercise to volitional failure, but this has not been tested and was the purpose of the present study. Individuals completed 2 testing sessions to compare repetitions, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), muscle swelling and fatigue responses to arbitrary repetition (SET) vs. failure (FAIL) protocols using either 60% or 30% one-repetition maximum. Statistical analyses assessed differences in the variability between protocols. Forty-six individuals (25 females and 21 males) completed the study. There was more variability in the number of repetitions completed during FAIL when compared to SET protocols. Performing the 60% 1RM condition to failure appeared to reduce the variability in muscle swelling (average variance: 60%-SET =.034, 60%-FAIL =.023) and RPE (average variance: 60%-SET = 4.0, 60%-FAIL = 2.5), but did not alter the variability in muscle fatigue. No differences in variability were present between the SET-30% and FAIL-30% protocols for any of the dependent variables. Performing resistance exercise to failure may result in a more homogenous stimulus across individuals, particularly when using moderate to high exercise loads. The prescription of resistance exercise should account for individual differences in local muscle endurance to ensure a similarly effective stimulus across individuals. Highlights There is a large variance in the number of repetitions individuals can complete even when exercising with the same relative load. Ratings of perceived exertion and muscle swelling responses become more homogenous when exercising to volitional failure as compared to using performing a set number of repetitions, particularly when moderate to higher loads are used. The prescription of exercise should take into consideration the individual's local muscle endurance as opposed to choosing an arbitrary number of repetitions to be completed at a given relative load.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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