T Nation

Back To Basics, Shut Up & Lift

With regards to all the confusion and back & forth arguing between opposing training styles and methods, I took it upon myself to eliminate some of the confusion and list what you really need to know to get results, without getting too detailed with all the scientific B.S. and endless diatribe of self-serving posts that try to justify our own methods as right and someone else’s as wrong.

All this stuff works. The real question is how well it will work, and that is all up to the individual and his or her preferences.

Strength, Hypertrophy, & Endurance

The contractile proteins in a cell are responsible for most muscular growth(Hypertrophy). These must be exposed to enough stress or they will not be damaged enough to OVERCOMPENSATE by increasing in size. Therefore it is not enough to recruit a muscle fiber, you must also DAMAGE the actin and myosin filaments if it is to grow.

If you choose to ignore the potential growth of quite possibly half of the cells(muscle) in your entire body, then you are literally shutting the door on a gold mine of pure mass from Type I’s IIa’s or IIb’s! So many people complain about their lack of ability to gain mass, when the real problem is their lack of knowledge in working out for mass.

The point is that their are muscle groups that are over 80 percent slow twitch, and to ignore that high a comparative ratio of fibers would be ludicrous!

Too many generalizations and oversimplifications are made geared towards lumping ideas all together when they need to be broken down.

(1) The recovery time is not the same for all muscles and should not be trained that way.

(2) Targeting fast twitch Type IIb’s through explosive movements can be beneficial on the concentric phase, but it takes away from the benefits of strain and force on the muscle that slower reps or longer duration sets provide on the eccentric phase.

(3) Lower rep sets do not recruit and exhaust as many muscle fibers as higher repetition sets. (4) Low reps does and or heavy weight does not mean size gains, not without hypertrophy specific training involved such as decreased rest periods or drop set style fatigue. ie… lifting in a 1-5 rep range will do little for mass if the contractile proteins are not broken down.

(5) Defintions of intensity and rep ranges are specific to the individual, two lifters lifting in the 6-8 rep range may have night and day ideas of what failure and pain thresholds are when deciding to end the set.

(6) Your sets must be heavy enough and long enough for optimal mass gains to be realized otherwise you are training for strength or endurance, a quick 1-3 rep in a powerlifters set with a 3-5 minute rest is geared towards strength and limited size gains where a bodybuilder may do the same 1-3 reps but needs to do them without enough time lapsed to take away from the hypertrophy response

(7) Training for size in the smaller Type I endurance fibers has been clearly misunderstood. Fail or come close to failure in the repetition range discussed below and your slow twitch muscle fibers will give you more mass then you would have believed! After all muscle is muscle.

When did we decide to stop training some of it, because it could possibly take 50 exaustive reps to hypertrophy it?(maybe because its harder to do) and make it grow, or because these fibers arn’t as big as the other fibers? Makes little sense to me. That would be like saying "I’m not training biceps and only targeting triceps because triceps are bigger and take up more mass on the arm.

(Mitochondrial density is often ignored and overlooked and extremely beneficial for adding muscle size)

BACK TO BASICS

General guidelines for rep ranges at or near failure and their effect on Strength, Hypertrophy, & Endurance. These would be straight sets, but combining a drop set method of any rep range would be along the lines of hypertrophy and size adaptations due to the fatigue factor.

(These are loosely stated and are specific to the individual and their genetic makeup and or experience with training. …ie training with certain rep ranges (higher or lower) will cause certain type muscles fibers to take on characteristics of the said rep range).

Strength 1-5 reps(fast fast fast and long rest intervals)

Hypertrophy 6-12 reps( can be fast or slow, shorten the rest intervals & lengthen the sets, higher frequency)

Endurance 13+ reps(long exaustive durations, slow slow slow)

GROWTH response(Hypertrophy):

Type I’s 25-50 reps are excellent (16-25 are very good) (13-15 are decent) (12 or less are low)

Type IIA’s 9-12 reps are excellent (6-8 & 13-15 are good) (below 6 and above 15 are low)

Type IIB’s 6-8 are excellent (9-12 are very good) (3-5 & 13-15 are decent) (below 3 & over 15 are low)

There are 2 things you need in order to make a muscle grow. Both the RE method and the ME method use them, they just use them in different amounts. You need STRAIN and you need FATIGUE.

What Chad Waterbury is trying to do is really just CHEAT FATIGUE(Fast to big) on some of the smaller motor units and give it to the larger motor units. This is relativly untapped with regards to bodybuilding. This is basicly modified powerlifting but the programs will be set up with hypertrophy in mind.

It’s not a bad idea at all considering the tremendous size of powerlifters. Even though they train for strength, their training is so effective on hypertrophy that they develop a tremendous amount of it(hypertrophy) almost as a side effect. We will have to wait and see if it works as well or better than other methods, or you can just try it out for yourself and see. I think it will work just fine.

But then again, the best program in the world will have little effect on trainees with poor training habits or intensity. Give a determined trainer the worst program in the world and he’ll make it work regardless of how poorly it is set up.

merlin

Sign this guy up to a long term contract.

Squats and milk

merlin

What are your thoughts on effectively combining the RE and ME methods? Which of the following do you think makes more sense from a bodybuilding perspective?

(1) Combine both methods in the same session by working up to several heavy sets and following this with additional volume and a few high repetition sets until fatigued.

(2) Alternating separate sessions using either the RE or ME as the main source of stress. One focused of heavy/volume the seconded on volume/fatigue

[quote]Chirs wrote:
merlin

What are your thoughts on effectively combining the RE and ME methods? Which of the following do you think makes more sense from a bodybuilding perspective?

(1) Combine both methods in the same session by working up to several heavy sets and following this with additional volume and a few high repetition sets until fatigued.

(2) Alternating separate sessions using either the RE or ME as the main source of stress. One focused of heavy/volume the seconded on volume/fatigue

[/quote]

Experiment! That is my honest answer because I think it will differ upon the individual. Now my personal opinion is to alternate them but use them both because strength and hypertrophy have a strong correlation together. Getting bigger will require getting stronger or you’ll just plateau. I have combined them before but I think its better to split them up.

With focus placed on the heavy compound exercises and larger muscle groups, I tend to use more of a ME method and avoid failure in order to keep frequency high. ie… I may do nothing but heavy triples of back squats for an entire session. I also do rest-pause triples for a total of 9-12 reps for a set(looking for failure maybe towards the last set or near the end of the workout, usually lighter weights though). I’ll do light 9 rep squats and do a rest-pause double, then strip it hit 9 more, than strip it again and hit 9 more.

I have all kind of crazy rep schemes I use. Whatever works. Some of the smaller muscles and exercises I will train in a RE method and use drop sets or rest-pause sets to failure. Usually I split these ME & RE methods up on different days and would say that may be your best bet. When I combine them its usually a different muscle group. Say ME heavy squats, then I’ll do some RE rest-pause calve raises to failure(50-40-30-20-10 rep sets) with 5 to 10 second rest-pauses. But those squats were all heavy triples or doubles with long rest periods, so training for strength on the quads and size on the calves is not unheard of for me to do in the same workout. Other days I’m doing all calve raises with max weight on donkeys right after the ME squats. I workout based on feel. I have a gameplan but never a schedule.

For me its all muscle specific or exercise specific or goal oriented specific(strength or hypertrophy or both). Some muscles I really avoid failure on, some I could care less because they are pretty much ready to go the next day… like biceps dumbbell curls for high reps for example. I literally could train them everyday to failure and never do to much damage to the CNS. A muscle like the quads or exercizes like deads would just kill the CNS if taken to failure or at least failure to often, so I stick to shying away from failure on the CNS taxing movements or larger more taxing musclegroups.

I really hate generalizing but I think most people would benefit from using both methods on alternative days or at least alternative weeks or periods. My main thing I incorporate is different loading parameters trying to hit all muscle fibers in every muscle. I definitly think you would be way ahead of the game by combining the two methods as opposed to just using one if hypertrophy is your goal. Maybe even use the methods for certain muscle groups like I do. I like CT’s type of training(rest-pause sets 5-4-3-2-1) or dropsets mixed with a little bit of Waterbury(10x3) or standard powerlifting. Mix these two styles together and you’d come out looking like an animal and strong as one if you set it up right(periodization). I really like to experiment with anything and everything. I’ll leave no exercise or method unturned.

merlin

I’ve been looking around for a good source that provides average fast twitch:slow twitch ratios for each muscle groups, but haven’t located one. Does anyone have a good source they can share?

Hmm? Quite the opposite, I do believe. Low-rep, heavy-weights sets recruit many more MUs than do RE sets.

You seem to be placing too much emphasis on fatigue. Fatigue itself does little to nothing for muscle hypertrophy. You speak of muscle damage, but fatigue does not damage muscle. High intramuscular tension does. Heavy weights cause more protein degradation per rep than do lighter weights, which means they would be better for hypertrophy.

That’s very interesting. I’m going to have to ask for references, because I’ve never heard of any such thing.

[quote]anthropocentric wrote:
I’ve been looking around for a good source that provides average fast twitch:slow twitch ratios for each muscle groups, but haven’t located one. Does anyone have a good source they can share?[/quote]

Me too. Surely there must be something on this? PTs? Med students? Anyone? Delavier’s Strength Training Anatomy doesn’t mention anything. I read somewhere that traps and calves are mainly fast twitch, but I can’t remember where.

[quote]wsk wrote:
anthropocentric wrote:
I’ve been looking around for a good source that provides average fast twitch:slow twitch ratios for each muscle groups, but haven’t located one. Does anyone have a good source they can share?

Me too. Surely there must be something on this? PTs? Med students? Anyone? Delavier’s Strength Training Anatomy doesn’t mention anything. I read somewhere that traps and calves are mainly fast twitch, but I can’t remember where.

[/quote]

Calves are mainly slow twitch. The soleus can be as high 80 even 85% slow twitch. The answer to this question is different for everyone. You’ll have to take a look or test your genetic make-up to see what the percentages are of your muscles. 50-50 would be half slow half fast. Most of your muscles are going to be around 50-60 % either fast twitch or sometimes slow twitch dominant.

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:
merlin wrote:(3) Lower rep sets do not recruit and exhaust as many muscle fibers as higher repetition sets.

Hmm? Quite the opposite, I do believe. Low-rep, heavy-weights sets recruit many more MUs than do RE sets.

merlin wrote:ie… lifting in a 1-5 rep range will do little for mass if the contractile proteins are not broken down.

You seem to be placing too much emphasis on fatigue. Fatigue itself does little to nothing for muscle hypertrophy. You speak of muscle damage, but fatigue does not damage muscle. High intramuscular tension does. Heavy weights cause more protein degradation per rep than do lighter weights, which means they would be better for hypertrophy.

merlin wrote:(Mitochondrial density is often ignored and overlooked and extremely beneficial for adding muscle size)

That’s very interesting. I’m going to have to ask for references, because I’ve never heard of any such thing.

[/quote]

Actually, a higher repitition set recruits more fibers because it calls upon additional motor units to continue the RE set. A set to failure will eventually recruit most of your usable motor pool. A heavy set just recruits alot of fast twitch units but doesn’t get as fatigued as a higher repitition set and therefore it just doesn’t need as many to finish the work.

It really depends on how long the set is and a RE set can pretty much go forever recruiting everything in your arsenal. (Example) Do a 2RM exercise for 2 reps then rack the bar, then do a 10RM for 30 rest-pause reps + 20 partial reps + a 30 second static hold and rack the bar or drop the weight at exaustion. Now decide for yourself which exercise you thought recruited more motor units to perform it.

Again, you need fatigue and strain to damage muscle. Not one or the other. You’re training for strength without proper fatigue, and you’re training for endurance without proper strain. It can’t be said any simplier. 1-5 reps will do very little for hypertrophy without a metabolic effect, and 25-50 reps will do little for hypertrophy without some level of strain.

Mitochondrial Density An Increase In Fat Burning, Muscle Mass, & Your Ability To Train

(1) 95 percent of the ATP used for muscular contractions is produced in these organelles. Simply put, the more Mitochondria your muscles contain, the greater endurance for the criterion task will be. This allows you to stimulate your muscle fibers in a much greater fashion, then your lesser conditioned counterpart. The greater the stimulation, the greater your growth will be. Also as you recall, between sets our muscle’s energy stores must be replenished. You will recover as quickly as your mitochondrial density will allow. This translates to a greater ability to maintain intensity throughout the workout. Too many out of shape bodybuilders conk out after one set of squats, or one compound movement. If you can’t go the distance, then you have lost the battle.

(2) Efficiency at converting stored energy - In essence Mitochondria is responsible for converting stored energy( or available energy ) into useable energy. The more you have of this gem, the higher your ability to burn off stores will be. This translates to an enhanced ability to burn fat! Think of these organelles as fireplaces or our muscles " cellular furnaces. " The larger its capacity is, the more it can burn!

How many times have you heard the statement, " I was born with a difficulty to burn fat " or " I store fat easily. " Increase your cellular furnaces and you will not only use energy more efficiently( use it instead of store it due to lack of efficiency), but you will also increase your ability to burn off stored fat! Another example would be a construction job.

If you are in charge of building a house and on the plot of land next to you another person has been put in charge of building the same size house. Who will construct it quicker? The person with 100 men, or the person with 50? Exactly, the person with 100! Its the same principle, you need to increase the amount of men working for you.

That is the positive side of such an adaptation. The negative however, is the complete opposite. If you neglect to condition your muscles they will not use energy efficiently, you will store fat more readily and not have as much ability to train.

(3) Supports Hypertrophy - The process of repairing a muscle is also fueled through this mechanism! If you do not have sufficient Mitochondrial density, you will reach a point in which muscular growth becomes an impossibility! You will never even come close to reaching your genetic potential if you did not seriously train for density in this area! Literally, your muscles will get to a point in which hypertrophy cannot be supported any longer and even maintained!

You see muscle is constantly being repaired and maintained. Even when I stand up tiny tears occur in these cells. The more muscle you have the more energy it takes to just maintain it. Eventually( and when I say this, it happens sooner than most realize! ) maintaining the mass becomes a massive job, let alone building it up.

The answer: Well you already know it! Build up your mitochondrial density!!! Not only will you continue to grow, but you will grow faster, because you are supplying your body with energy quicker and more efficiency to accomplish the difficult task of building a muscle up! Again, you have two choices

A. Ignore this area of training and expect to run into a plateau. And do not expect to reach your genetic potential.

B. Increase your bodies ability to produce ATP and enhance your short term and long term ability to gain mass!

The choice is yours!

merlin

[quote]anthropocentric wrote:
The point is that their are muscle groups that are over 80 percent slow twitch, and to ignore that high a comparative ratio of fibers would be ludicrous!

I’ve been looking around for a good source that provides average fast twitch:slow twitch ratios for each muscle groups, but haven’t located one. Does anyone have a good source they can share?[/quote]

Here is a post from another thread. It has the %'s of ST Slow Twitch in certain muscles broken down. I guess this is an average.

"The following are the percentage of fiber type 1 in different muscle groups and which are fiber type is predominant.

Deltoid 57.1% (tonic muscle)
Erector spinae 56.4% (tonic muscle)
Supraspinatus 59.3% (tonic muscle)
Trapezius 53.7% (tonic muscle)
Latissimus dorsi 50.5% (tonic muscle)
Gluteus maximus 52.4% (tonic muscle)
Infraspinatus 45.3% (phasic muscle)
Rectus abdominis 46.1% (phasic muscle)
Biceps brachii 46.5% (phasic muscle)
Triceps 32.6% (phasic muscle)
Adductor magnus 58.2% (tonic muscle)
Biceps femoris 66.9% (tonic muscle)
Soleus 87.7% (tonic muscle)
Tibialis anterior 73.0% (tonic muscle)
Vastus medialis oblique 52.1 (tonic muscle)
Vastus lateralis 42.3 (phasic muscle)
Gastrocnemius (lateral head) 50.5 (tonic muscle)
Gastrocnemius (medial head) 43.5 (phasic muscle)
Rectus femoris 35.4 (phasic muscle)

Source: R. Colling (1997), Distribution of muscle fibre type. Ex Physiol 552 "

merlin

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:
You seem to be placing too much emphasis on fatigue. Fatigue itself does little to nothing for muscle hypertrophy. You speak of muscle damage, but fatigue does not damage muscle. High intramuscular tension does. Heavy weights cause more protein degradation per rep than do lighter weights, which means they would be better for hypertrophy.

[/quote]

I was going to share my own personal experiences that refute your claim, but merlin explained it with good, sound science.

[quote]merlin wrote:
Actually, a higher repitition set recruits more fibers because it calls upon additional motor units to continue the RE set. A set to failure will eventually recruit most of your usable motor pool. A heavy set just recruits alot of fast twitch units but doesn’t get as fatigued as a higher repitition set and therefore it just doesn’t need as many to finish the work.

It really depends on how long the set is and a RE set can pretty much go forever recruiting everything in your arsenal. (Example) Do a 2RM exercise for 2 reps then rack the bar, then do a 10RM for 30 rest-pause reps + 20 partial reps + a 30 second static hold and rack the bar or drop the weight at exaustion. Now decide for yourself which exercise you thought recruited more motor units to perform it.[/quote]

So by yourself, you’ve resolved the Waterbury vs Henriques debate? Impressive! Then you will know that your claim refutes all present knowledge on the topic of muscle recruitment.

It makes absolutely no sense to propose that RE sets recruit MORE fibers than a ME and/or ballistic set. If you didn’t need those fibers at the outset, you won’t be recruiting them at the end. It’s as simple as that.

If what you are saying were true, everyone would able to exercise all of their available motor units (and get big) by simply lifting an empty bar to failure. Obviously this is not the case.

Anyway, thanks for the mitochondrial info.

Well pardon me kroby, I was under the impression that EDT worked pretty well.

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:

So by yourself, you’ve resolved the Waterbury vs Henriques debate? Impressive! Then you will know that your claim refutes all present knowledge on the topic of muscle recruitment.

It makes absolutely no sense to propose that RE sets recruit MORE fibers than a ME and/or ballistic set. If you didn’t need those fibers at the outset, you won’t be recruiting them at the end. It’s as simple as that.

If what you are saying were true, everyone would able to exercise all of their available motor units (and get big) by simply lifting an empty bar to failure. Obviously this is not the case.

Anyway, thanks for the mitochondrial info.
[/quote]

There really is no debate to be solved. I think some people just confuse themselves and make a debate out of nothing. Follow the size principle and you should understand how recruitment works. Also understand that there are exceptions to the size principle. Then try to understand when the most STRAIN in a RE set occurs(towards the end). There is a recruitment order and then force is applied, then the amount of units required for the force will be called upon.

(EXAMPLE) Lifting a 3RM for triples will call upon a certain amount of motor units to complete the lift. Now use a 5RM for triples it will be less than the 3RM for the first 3 reps (assuming the same speed on both lifts is applied), as the set continues by rest-pausing it or by stripping the weight for a total of say 12-20 reps, the accumulated motor units used to complete this lift to failure are more than the heavier load with lower reps. Its that simple.

Both loads will use the size principle to recruit the necessary amount of motor units as force is applied throughout the lift. The idea being that the longer you continue the set then the more motor units will be called upon as others stop firing and become fatigued.

If you’re comparing just lifting the bar for 1 rep then racking it to lifting a bar half as light for 100 reps, then the RE method would still call upon more motor units to complete the task. I think you’re confusing overall-strain with lifting load. Under a heavy load you may have severe strain and recruit a lot of motor units for a few reps ie…1-3 reps. To continue this in a RE method would only cause more damage to the cells as fatigue sets in even if you were to simply do partial reps with it. The load simply doesn’t matter.

The RE method works for any load. You can do countless partial reps with a 1 RM never even completing 1 rep and do alot more damage to a muscle with the duration of strain & fatigue.(recruiting more motor units than just lifting it with maximal force reps). Think of the RE method as just an extension of whatever you are already doing. It simply means to REPEAT and thus follows more recruitment.

merlin

Maybe I’m doing a poor job of explaining this. I’ll try to simplify this.

The contractile proteins in a cell are responsible for most muscular growth(Hypertrophy). These must be exposed to enough stress or they will not be damaged enough to OVERCOMPENSATE by increasing in size. Therefore it is not enough to recruit a muscle fiber, you must also DAMAGE the actin and myosin filaments if it is to grow.

There is a reason why bodybuilders lift with a less than maximal weight and use the RE method for hypertrophy. Maximal strain is not what produces hypertrophy(this is only part of what is needed and this is more along the lines of increases in strength). Using a heavy enough load for a long enough TUT(metabolic response) to cause the muscle to breakdown and rebuild itself(OVERCOMPENSATION) is what hypertrophy(muscle mass increases) is all about.

merlin

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:

If you didn’t need those fibers at the outset, you won’t be recruiting them at the end. It’s as simple as that.

[/quote]

This statement is incorrect. Once a muscle recruits motor units from the onset of a set, it can and will call upon more motor units as some of the motor units stop firing when they become fatigued.

merlin

I believe that has to do with the fact that you have to attempt to produce more force to complete the set than at the outset. For example, to start with, in a 10 rep set, maybe you only have to consciously attempt to produce 70% of your maximum force to lift the weight (hypothetical). As the set continues and fatigue sets in, you have to try harder.

By rep 7 or 8, you may have to attempt to produce 85% or so of your 1RM force, even though you’re still only producing the 70% because of fatigue. At the end of the set, you’re having to attempt around 90% or so (again, this is just hypothetical to attempt to illustrate perceived vs actual effort) just to produce the 70% you need to lift the bar.

Now, my question is, why not just lift faster and recruit the 90% (again, hypothetical) from the get-go?

[quote]rmccart1 wrote:
I believe that has to do with the fact that you have to attempt to produce more force to complete the set than at the outset. For example, to start with, in a 10 rep set, maybe you only have to consciously attempt to produce 70% of your maximum force to lift the weight (hypothetical). As the set continues and fatigue sets in, you have to try harder.

By rep 7 or 8, you may have to attempt to produce 85% or so of your 1RM force, even though you’re still only producing the 70% because of fatigue. At the end of the set, you’re having to attempt around 90% or so (again, this is just hypothetical to attempt to illustrate perceived vs actual effort) just to produce the 70% you need to lift the bar.

Now, my question is, why not just lift faster and recruit the 90% (again, hypothetical) from the get-go?[/quote]

The answer to your question is “you can”. I do. Remember that this sometimes may result in more strength than actual muscular size gains. Its a trade off. Otherwise, we would all just lift maximal weights all the time. You have to incorporate other methods for countless reasons. ie… (increase your cardio so you can last longer in strength training or hypertrophy specific training)

Good question. This is what Chad Waterbury is trying to explore. You’re on the right track with the fast reps(FT MU) and the heavy or near maximal loads(again FT MU) which are bigger and help bulk up the muscles. Its really the reverse way of trying to build a muscle.

“Fast to big” wants to build it up with the early reps and the traditional RE reps want to use the last reps to build a muscle(it has to, the first few reps in a 10 rep straight set are almost useless and this is why BB’ers rely on those last few reps to get the job done… they had to build up to this level of strain and fatigue by going thru the range of “useless” reps to get to their “productive reps”. The end of the set is their rainbow. It’s backwards. This is why some people are confused.

You will succeed both ways. The “dynamic” style here is good for FT MU recruitment. Good for the eccentric phase. It doesn’t produce the strain or force on a muscle that a slower rep does but it may all be relative. In essence it’s easier to lift the same load fast then it is to lift it slower. You can go slow or fast and both speeds will work. You basicly decide what you want more from the lift(strain from speed and or strain from TUT or a medium speed with less TUT).

Also, different motor units will be called on depending on the speed you’re lifting. I use several lifting speeds and loading parameters. I prefer explosive style lifting(it’s just easier for me) but I do long rep sets as well.

merlin

Just out of curiosity, how do you typically structure your workouts? What do you do about tempo?