Good stuff, Sento.
I too think that the likely benefits to rep range bouncing center on hormonal and neurological variations. Potentially. Things like blood occlusion and substrate utilization variances due to constant cadence reps or longer TUT’s may be of some benefit and trigger sarcoplasmic hypertrophy in unique ways.
Really, in addition to adding load, which I find to be an endeavor with diminishing returns after a certain strength level has been achieved, volume and density are more important variables than most else with respect to serious hypertrophy.
And Abel’s ideas on joint angle and plane of motion altering recruitment focus also seem to make sense from my past experience. Zatsiorsky also mentions this in SPST. That those interested in maximal hypertrophy should stimulate the muscle from as many angles as practically possible. Assuming safety and the potential to use a “significant” load. That being a highly relative term.
All in all, like so many issues in life, rules are made based upon an interpretation of the fundamental data. Kinda like the directions one might receive for how to get from Canada to Mexico. It’s all predicated on your chosen means. Different directions for a vehichle, a boat, or a plane. The methodology/route is directly dependent on the means/mode of transportation.
And I think that what happens is that so many lifters, coaches included, have subconsciously accepted and dogmatized certain assumptions that they become unable to think outside the box and see the hypertrophy formula in a more pure and simplistic paradigm.
Really to grow muscle you only need a few simple constants. Sufficient load, sufficient volume, and progressive overload. Overload, of course, broadly defined beyond the limited assumption of constantly adding more weight to the bar.
I’ve said it dozens of times, growth is a function of protein degradation and subsequent supercompensation via MPS. The Energetic Theory (see Zatsiorsky and Tsatsouline for the best lay explanations for any following this discussion from the shadows)is simple and elegant. It also allows you to strip away all of the artificial constructs imposed by average joes and experts alike, and rediscover the simplicity to this whole pursuit of muscle mass.
Well anyway, blah, blah, blah…
Well, acclimation in a negative context. As in many coaches espouse that working in the same rep ranges causes the positive adaptations we hope to occur to be lessened over time.
I think that what is really behind the concept has more to do with the assumed corresponding load. You know, 80%1rm = 7/8 reps max etc…
Its another assumption based on an assumed construct that I think the more “alive” concepts of EDT and MRT have broken away from. Yet still top coaches harp on how we acclimate to rep ranges and must therefore switch them around, when that’s really not the core issue.
Well, once again I’m not so certain that I’m convinced that your body ever “adapts” (in a negative context) to a given rep range. Well, that is if you’re consistently increasing the resistance. And honestly it doesn’t really make sense if you think about it.
For instance, there may be hormonal and neurological functions that get used to a certain rep range and adjust accordingly. But, really this would once again be sort of a benefit, unless of course you’re trying to be a “jack of all trades, but a master of none” (basically you want your body to be able to do a whole crap load of different tasks, but none of them great).
All we really know about building muscle is that it occurs due to that muscle having to overcome greater and greater resistance. Even as far back as Milo of Greece (who used to carry a cow on his back everyday between Olympic games to build strength and muscle) we’ve got stories of people getting stronger due to having to overcome increased loads.
In the case of Milo, it’s not like his days got longer, or he was counting the number of steps that he took each day to avoid his body adapting to the load, he knew that as the cow grew, so would his muscles in order to meet the demands.
Sure, you can probably play around with all kinds of set/rep schemes, TUT’s, splits, etc… and to an extent you might see some benefits from doing this. If you were an athlete for example and needed to develop many different physical attributes, then I think that changing things around like this would be very helpful.
But, you can also just continually add resistance, and that’s probably going to give you the best gains in terms of pure muscle. Lots of body builders train the exact same way for years on end and still build fantastic physiques. And it’s a heck of a lot easier too.
Honestly to each their own. If you really like periodizing, and switching around set/rep schemes and all that, and feel that it’s giving you good results, then I say great.
But, I personally haven’t been convinced that you MUST continually change up set/rep schemes in order to continue building muscle, or build an impressive physique.