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This is quoted from Charles Poliquin…

What Does Soreness Really Mean?

Q: Do I have to get sore in the gym to be making progress?

A: For hypertrophy, I’d say yes. Hypertrophy is a biological adaptation to a stressor, and the stressor here is micro-tears in the muscle.

So I’d agree that this is true, but that’s one of the reasons you have to change your training routine every six workouts – to get that new soreness. But do you need to be sore all the time? No, but you should certainly be sore 48 hours after you initiate a new program. If not, then you probably did a Richard Simmons training routine.

Now, when an athlete is peaking at the end of his training phase, then he doesn’t want to get sore. But when you’re trying to build muscle, then yes, you should be sore to some degree after the first two workouts. (You shouldn’t however strive to get sore so badly that you’d need an Advil sandwich to get out of bed.) The next four workouts you adapt, and then by the sixth workout you’re ready for new soreness from doing something else.

My question is, since the whole purpose of bodybuilding is just to get bigger muscles regardless of functional muscle or not, is the idea just to beat the crap out of the muscle just enough to get it sore each time? If that’s the case, does a bodybuilder just needa go into the gym and work the muscle in any way possible to make it sore? As in, if I wanted to build up my biceps, and found that the best way to get myself sore was to do bicep curls and hold them in a static position for as long as possible, this would work so long as they were sore the next day? If that is the case, why do people even need to search for programs on here in bodybuilding? Can’t they just go to the gym and do w/e it takes to make that certain muscle sore with as little work as possible? just curious.

[quote]lifter85 wrote:
My question is, since the whole purpose of bodybuilding is just to get bigger muscles regardless of functional muscle or not, is the idea just to beat the crap out of the muscle just enough to get it sore each time?[/quote]

I thought we killed the “functional” bullshit. You mean there are still more fuckers out there who think in terms of “functional” and “unfunctional”?

Your goal is to get stronger and work a muscle well enough to get down past the initial fibers to fire during a set. That usually requires more than one set leading to the goal nearing one of fatigue that may or may not include muscle failure. Your goal is NOT to just get sore muscles. The more well trained you are, the less sore a muscle group may get from a workout. That does NOT mean you didn’t train that muscle group well enough.

Bottom line, I completely DISAGREE with Mr. Poliquin on that issue.

I can’t believe you wrote this. Ask the next truly extremely muscular guy you see at the gym (not just “a little built”) if they train hard or not. You don’t get big muscles by training half ass. Your goal is to train like you are trying to get stronger. Building muscle is NOT as simple as simply getting sore. That is why you should NEVER get all of your info from only one source.

One more thing, my muscles are “functional”. I haven’t met the bodybuilder yet who had muscles that didn’t work.

k just thought i’d ask

That’s a pretty good question. I think that yes, body builders a lot of the time essentially are just trying to find ways to cause micro-tears in their muscles. Once muscle and neuro factors have adapted to an exercise, body builders move on to something that’s more “destructive.”

That’s why routines get changed every month or so. And why reps are performed in ways that maximize damage (and therefore hypertrophy). A couple examples of this are slower reps and putting an emphasis on eccentric contractions.

[quote]Light weight wrote:
That’s a pretty good question. I think that yes, body builders a lot of the time essentially are just trying to find ways to cause micro-tears in their muscles. Once muscle and neuro factors have adapted to an exercise, body builders move on to something that’s more “destructive.”

That’s why routines get changed every month or so. And why reps are performed in ways that maximize damage (and therefore hypertrophy). A couple examples of this are slower reps and putting an emphasis on eccentric contractions.

[/quote]

I haven’t changed my routine in years, let alone every month. I may add a few more sets in here or there, but the major factor is whether the weight I am using is heavy enough to stress the target muscle group. I think it would be a mistake for someone to change their entire routine around every single month. You would never be doing a routine long enough to tell what is working and what isn’t.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

I haven’t changed my routine in years, let alone every month. I may add a few more sets in here or there, but the major factor is whether the weight I am using is heavy enough to stress the target muscle group. I think it would be a mistake for someone to change their entire routine around every single month. You would never be doing a routine long enough to tell what is working and what isn’t.
[/quote]

What works for you may not work for everyone else. If you indeed can do the same lifts for years without ever finding yourself in a plateau phase making little or no improvement, congratulations, you’re genetically blessed.

The rest of us do eventually stop improving, or at least slow down. This doesn’t necessarily need to be done by changing exercises. You can change the intensities, tempo, rep number, etc. This is why powerlifters use periodization and change their auxillary lifts. Simply increasing the workload in a linear fashion over time is not effective.

Every month probably is a little too often. But most people in the exercise science business I know recommend 4-8 weeks before changing something.

[quote]Light weight wrote:
This doesn’t necessarily need to be done by changing exercises. You can change the intensities, tempo, rep number, etc.[/quote]

I am now confused as to why you weren’t able to see that I do change sets and the weight used. I wrote that already. There’s a big difference between adding more weight (which increases the intensity) or changing the number of sets… and changing everything around every single month.

So, why did you recommend it?

[quote]Professor X wrote:

So, why did you recommend it?
[/quote]

I never recommended it, just generalized that many body builders change their workouts “every month or so” to restimulate progress. For the record, 4-8 weeks is the recommendation, not just by me but by most exercise physiologists and people in the field.

I guess we just disagree on whether different exercises are necessary for restimulation of progress. If you want to limit yourself to a handful of movements, varying only the number of sets and amount of weight, that’s your decision, but the consensus is that change is good.

Light weight,

Your trying to tell Prof. X whats right and what isnt, and you sound like a complete douche. Last time i checked, you have about 8 posts to your account, and a name such as Light weight does not sound much like a guy i would take advice from.

Stop teaching the teacher, and take some advice for once. You never know, you could learn something… that is, of course provided you don’t already know it all.

Wow, I have to strongly disagree here with “Professor”.

I dont care who you are, not changing your routine for years makes no sense and is just pure laziness or lack of imagination on your part IMO.

Sure I dont have your experience, but Im sure all the coaches here would agree that changing your program every few weeks or months is GOOD! I have read a ton of articles on this site, met with a few personal trainers and see what the big guys at my gym are doing and NONE stick to the same program for 1 year.

Everybody goes through plateaus… That is when you change program. I guess drugs could get you through a plateau?

I really dont understand your reasoning. How can you not agree with the fact that your muscle adapts if you do the same exercise over and over? Furthermore, dont you agree that hitting the muscles in different ways is good for hypertrophy? (one of CT’s recent articles). Changing your exercices with a new program allows you to do that. CHANGE IS GOOD. What the hell are you thinking?

Maybe I am wrong but I will take Poliquin’s, CT’s and Chad Waterburys advice over yours on this one and continue to change my program every few weeks/months. BTW you will not find me kissing your ass like some on this site are doing. I agree with most of your posts but not this.

[quote]hit the gym wrote:
Wow, I have to strongly disagree here with “Professor”.

I dont care who you are, not changing your routine for years makes no sense and is just pure laziness or lack of imagination on your part IMO.

Sure I dont have your experience, but Im sure all the coaches here would agree that changing your program every few weeks or months is GOOD! I have read a ton of articles on this site, met with a few personal trainers and see what the big guys at my gym are doing and NONE stick to the same program for 1 year.

Everybody goes through plateaus… That is when you change program. I guess drugs could get you through a plateau?

I really dont understand your reasoning. How can you not agree with the fact that your muscle adapts if you do the same exercise over and over? Furthermore, dont you agree that hitting the muscles in different ways is good for hypertrophy? (one of CT’s recent articles). Changing your exercices with a new program allows you to do that. CHANGE IS GOOD. What the hell are you thinking?

Maybe I am wrong but I will take Poliquin’s, CT’s and Chad Waterburys advice over yours on this one and continue to change my program every few weeks/months. BTW you will not find me kissing your ass like some on this site are doing. I agree with most of your posts but not this.[/quote]

I don’t need anyone kissing my ass. I haven’t asked for anyone to kiss my ass. Thank you for your pledge to hold your lips to yourself, but that was also not needed.

The biggest factor to gaining muscle mass is the weight being used or the volume involed in training. My general exercises used have not changed much at all. There may be times that I do one legged leg presses, or substitute hack squats, but there is not some complete change of my routine. I may add more sets here or there. I now warm up with lighter weights for more sets to get more blood going through my muscle groups, but I am not a beginner and nothing “shocks” muscles more than changes in weight or overall volume.

Why would I change what I am doing if it works? Just to meet a monthly change in schedule? I hate to break this to you, but you won’t see some huge increase in strength every time you hit the gym after you have been lifting for years. If that weren’t the case, there would be hundreds of people lifting over 1,000lbs on bench press.

Minor changes in sets or reps are not what I consider an entire overhaul of what I am doing and what many people label as “plateaus” are often indicators of a need for change in diet or volume in training.

Your belief that the muscle needs new exercises all of the time makes little sense. What happens after those exercises are no longer new? What the hell else would I need to do for shoulders that I haven’t been doing for well over a decade? Is there a lost exercise out there that I need to try?

You are thinking of this in terms of a newbie. I’m not new to this and neither are my muscle groups. I’ve tried most exercises that you may just now be running across. I’ve done stints of doing Arnold presses or adding in sets of one arm lateral raises (which I still do). I have been at this long enough to know what movements seem to work best for me…so I keep doing them with the main stress being volume and weight. Those are the two adjustments that are most important to any ADVANCED LIFTER or even many INTERMEDIATE LIFTERS who have been training for years on a regular basis, not whether you switched up the order of your exercises again this month or found a long lost movement.

If you aren’t making any progress at all, the first place you look is diet. The next place you look is the intensity of your training sessions. The first place you look is not whether you can add a new exercise in July as opposed to June.

X I think that, while I disagree with a few of the things that you said, one thing that I notice is the overall theme…

And that is to focus on the “macro” elements rather than the “micro” elements. When it comes down to it, building muscle is all about:

Stimulate- your training
Supply- your diet
Signal- hormonal factors

Take those elements and multiply it by time in the game and you will get results. Building muscle takes a while. Most guys with decent genetics who are training hard can get to the intermediate level fairly quickly (in a year or two). That is where I feel I am at. But after that, I feel that progress does not come so quickly. While it might take somebody two years to get from 3 to 7 on the fictional muscle development scale… it might take them 3-5 more years to get from 7 to 9.

The “micro” stuff such as sets, reps, exercise selection is not as important as the macro level of making sure you are training hard and eating right.

For an athlete preparing for competition, this might be different, but not for somebody just trying to stay consistent and pack on the size.

I differ from X in that I am a huge fan of exercise variety. I prefer to rotate some exercises as frequently as two weeks- I feel I have made great gains in strength that way and also have added size when that has been my goal and I have been eating for that.

However, take two identical twins on the same training program and have one keep the same exercises and one rotate them. Have them train for a year. While I feel the one who rotated exercises might have better strength gains, what would be the difference in muscle mass gained? Probably negligible.

But I dunno, YMMV.

[quote]jtrinsey wrote:
X I think that, while I disagree with a few of the things that you said, one thing that I notice is the overall theme…

And that is to focus on the “macro” elements rather than the “micro” elements. When it comes down to it, building muscle is all about:

Stimulate- your training
Supply- your diet
Signal- hormonal factors

Take those elements and multiply it by time in the game and you will get results. Building muscle takes a while. Most guys with decent genetics who are training hard can get to the intermediate level fairly quickly (in a year or two). That is where I feel I am at. But after that, I feel that progress does not come so quickly. While it might take somebody two years to get from 3 to 7 on the fictional muscle development scale… it might take them 3-5 more years to get from 7 to 9.

The “micro” stuff such as sets, reps, exercise selection is not as important as the macro level of making sure you are training hard and eating right.

For an athlete preparing for competition, this might be different, but not for somebody just trying to stay consistent and pack on the size.

I differ from X in that I am a huge fan of exercise variety. I prefer to rotate some exercises as frequently as two weeks- I feel I have made great gains in strength that way and also have added size when that has been my goal and I have been eating for that.

However, take two identical twins on the same training program and have one keep the same exercises and one rotate them. Have them train for a year. While I feel the one who rotated exercises might have better strength gains, what would be the difference in muscle mass gained? Probably negligible.

But I dunno, YMMV.

[/quote]

We don’t disagree much on that (in terms of your overall approach) and your “fictional muscle scale” is useful as far as genetic potential. It took me little time to get from “1-5”. I grew very quickly in the gym once I was eating enough and I wasn’t even doing shit right. I still have the stretch marks from that time period on my arms.

I was curling 70lbs dumbbells after less than 3 years of training regularly. It took me much longer to move past that, but still quicker than many I saw training around me. You have many people here so wrapped up in their focus on the tiniest aspects of training while they are completely missing the stuff that contributes the most to any gains.

Why worry about whose program on T-Nation you are following this month if you haven’t even learned to eat enough consistently everyday to gain any weight?

I don’t rotate exercises very much because I use those as a gauge of strength. If I move incline presses to the last movement, I will be weaker for it which changes what I can compare it from previous efforts. That strength is also not simply measured in the weight used (as that changes less the more advanced you are) but also how many reps I performed and/or how well those reps were performed. If I did 10 reps with great form, that is a huge improvement over 10 reps with some cheating on the last couple of reps.

i disagree with that article too, i never really get what people would call sore anymore, and haven’t in a long time…but the progress still keeps on coming…

and just like X, i don’t change my routine…and haven’t for the last 3 years, i have a great split routine set up with a wise choice of exercises…what i do is constantly increase the weight used, and that includes increasing reps or sets done…and personally i think this method works so much better for growth than changing your routine every month or whatever it is people are doing this days…

[quote]tora no’ shi wrote:
i disagree with that article too, i never really get what people would call sore anymore, and haven’t in a long time…but the progress still keeps on coming…

and just like X, i don’t change my routine…and haven’t for the last 3 years, i have a great split routine set up with a wise choice of exercises…what i do is constantly increase the weight used, and that includes increasing reps or sets done…and personally i think this method works so much better for growth than changing your routine every month or whatever it is people are doing this days…[/quote]

The fact that you are bigger than most of the people claiming that article is correct speaks louder also.

Some experts recommend changing things up every 6 workouts or so.

IMO, changing load and volume is changing a program sufficiently to get a new stimulus.

No one said that EVERYTHING has to be changed (load, rep, rest, exercises, split, frequency etc…)

Personally I dislike making too much change in my programs because it’s impossible to tell if you are making progress.

For example, how could you tell if you’re progressing if you do something like this:

Back squat : 4x6 for 4 weeks
Step ups: 2x15 for 4 weeks
front squats: 10x3 for 4 weeks
leg press: 3x10 for 4 weeks
Lunges: 2x12 for 4 weeks
leg ext + Back squat (super set) : 2x 15 4 weeks
lunge + front squats (super set): 4x6 for 4 weeks

Etc…

You’ll never know if you’re progressing because any gains you initially make will be a neurological adaption to a new exercise.

By the time you get back to what you know it will be easily over a year! And that’s ignoring tempo, exercise order, changed frequency etc…

Again, changing things up a little is good, but not a lot.

IMO

those skinny little marathon runners get sore a lot.

[quote]Light weight wrote:
Professor X wrote:

So, why did you recommend it?

I never recommended it, just generalized that many body builders change their workouts “every month or so” to restimulate progress. For the record, 4-8 weeks is the recommendation, not just by me but by most exercise physiologists and people in the field.

I guess we just disagree on whether different exercises are necessary for restimulation of progress. If you want to limit yourself to a handful of movements, varying only the number of sets and amount of weight, that’s your decision, but the consensus is that change is good. [/quote]

I think this varies greatly by individual. Just like X there have been many athletes who have gain a lot of strength and size without a great deal of change such as by using the BFS program. If you are not familiar with it, in that program you use the same basic compound movements for years only changing the set and rep schemes and perhaps some assistance exercises.

I don’t mean to kiss ass, but I’d just have to agree with Professor X with one reason: Reason.

I understand what he says and to me, it makes sense, so I don’t really have a reason to argue or doubt him. I tried to, but not by going through the process of trying to figure out he could be so wrong over an internet forum.

So, main point, Professor X, I agree with you… this time. I don’t know, maybe you’ll say something that sounds totally asinine, but until then, everything I’ve heard you say so far sounds pretty sound.

I may change a workout here and there, but I usually just add more weight for growth. I don’t believe in “muscle confusion”. I believe stressing your muscles with enough weight is key to putting on mass.

As long as I have a good overall workout plan, I can stick to it with great success. In fact, I haven’t made any major changes to my program in the last two years and those have been some of my best strength and mass gains(hitting 250 pounds). But I guess there will always be trends that people follow.