Training to failure VS coding to failure

Conclusion of this post:

  • You should train to failure every time during your workout either at the end of each set or at the end of each exercise.
  • You should code to failure every time during your work either at the start of each code snippet or at the start of the entire project.

Why? I’ll explain next. First, an obligatory shameless self-promotion. Below I was doing a dumbbell floor fly…

Dumbbell Floor Fly: much safer than regular bench fly! Protect your shoulders.

It’s no secret that Agile software development emphasizes on “fail early, fail fast, and fail often.” However, it’s easier said than done. If you look beyond than building products, in a granular scale, it means every code snippet a software engineer writes doesn’t work most of the time. That is, until he/she gets it right of course. And the engineer must deliver usable code. Therefore it requires resilience and tenacity to be a successful programmer.

Think about it a little more. Every code snippet you write doesn’t work most of the time. How does that make one feel? Imagine after you write an email, you have to proof-read 5 times before you can send it. Otherwise Gmail won’t even let you hit “Send.” That’s right; that’s how programming works VS regular tasks people do at work. Grammatical (syntax) errors are seldom tolerated. If the error is tolerated and it’s a logical error instead, it’s even more troubling because you have to trace through the code/use specific test case to debug and identify what’s wrong. Now I know why I prefer writing emails than code!

Anyway, we’ve established that “in order to succeed in coding, one has to endure tremendous amount of failures associated with trial and error until success finally comes.” What about building muscle/burning fat? It’s a scientifically proven fact that “eccentric overload” – negative portion of each rep – creates muscle micro-damage, which makes you sore and you become stronger after recovery. When you “train to failure,” i.e. put in your maximal effort until you cannot do any more reps, not even one, that means you really exert yourself and cause eccentric damage as much as possible. (There are “forced reps” to further emphasize eccentric overload without the restriction of concentric part, but that’s more advanced.)

Therefore, both are failures one has to embrace, be it coding or muscle building. As Kobe Bryant said, “different animal, same beast.” It’s important to be mentally strong, not just physically. Because the former brings you the latter, and much more!

Stay strong and keep training,


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