Just recently, somebody asked me if my previous post “HOW TO GET BIG FOR REAL” was just a simple case of rebelling against the system, or the ranting of a lunatic. Well, this lunatic seems to be happy with the results, and my wife, well, she is happy too, not to mention a little stressed at the fact that she now has to be nice to me in order to keep me by her side ( just kidding honey, you know I love you).
I wanted to comment on a PM reply here, sent by a member of the website which sort of explained me why there is so much confusion on the whole subject of lifting the weights. His question was about frequency and failure. I really need to start off by telling you all that my empirical experience is that failure is a relative concept with a thousand variations. Here are a couple of examples for you:
I know the typical H.I.T. guy who thinks he has to fail in terms of form. This means, not to be able to maintain the tempo parameters or form parameters in an exercise. Then there?s your H.I.T. hardcore who thinks that he has to reach failure, period.
Meaning that he can?t lift the barbell anymore and call for help to his spotter so the bar doesn?t crush his ribcage, and of course, this means that in his last reps, his tempo parameters and form went out the window and he just did sloppy reps, but he did reach failure.
Now, for all of you folks out there who think that one concept is right and the other is wrong, let me tell you: failure is the inability to perform a given movement. You can choose between option ?A? and option ?B? as stated above, and what will change for real is your gains: strength or size.
Failure in terms of execution failure (breaking form and tempo) is a good way to work the muscle to the edge, and stay there, standing on the point of a needle, very close to the abyss of injury and it will result in hypertrophy, to a desirable point, not a dramatically heightened one, but you won?t get injured.
Mechanical failure (not being able to lift the weight even if breaking the tempo and form parameters) can make you big, but it will definitely make you strong, as well as dense, but it will also lead to injury sometime, but it will teach you to lift more weight.
You can?t train to failure and train often as well, if you think going to failure is actually being unable to move the bar, and you can?t train once a week and get big if you think that breaking form and tempo is reaching a ?good? failure.
You have to know the difference between those concepts, like you know when you get drunk with a keg of beer and drunk with 4 bottles of vodka. It is a matter of balancing out intensity and recovery.
I knew a guy who trained in the local bars in the park near to my home. Every day of the week, he was there, just playing soccer and walking his dog. But 4 days a week, he was hitting the chest with one of two exercises. On Mondays and Thursdays, it?s dips, and on Tuesdays and Fridays, it?s pushups. The same scheme goes for the back, and 6 years later, he keeps using the same scheme, using a periodic layoff after 7 or 8 weeks of exercising.
As far as legs go, playing soccer 5 or 6 days a week (considering that only 3 of those 5 or 6 days are really intense games, and the rest just good old recreational friendly matches) give him tremendous size and endurance, not to mention strength.
His physique could be exposed in a typical Men?s Health or Men?s Fitness mag, or American Health and Fitness mag (heck, even on women?s porn, which I know Mrs. Savage?s friends used to read until she met me and so did they) and he is definitely strong, not to mention he could outlast the energizer bunny on terms of endurance. So he must be doing something right, huh?
This guy taught me a valuable lesson. You see, I always thought that you needed to train often, but leave it at a 2 or 3 workouts a week kind of frequency, use around 100 or 200 reps per muscle group a week and also count the tempo between 402 and 201 and anything in between.
He taught me that you can get big out of a 10X tempo and a 30 reps set just by pumping your muscle in the right way, combining intensity with frequency as you should feel right with, as it provided you results in mass and strength.
I say that tempo is overrated to my friends, and that is because tempo is a variable, not a constant. I could lift a load in a 402 tempo, and use said tempo to reach, let?s say, my 5RM. Then if I changed my tempo to 201, I would use the same load and discover that it changed and that at a 201 tempo, this was my 10RM load. Yet, I would stick to the one that gave me the best pump.
The ?pump? is that good old feeling that blood is rushing into the tissues and your muscles are going to grow bigger at the next rep. Knowing it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling of joy when the session provides it and makes you crash and burn in self-pity and melancholy when it doesn?t.
Yet, I know people who can get a pump out of 10 reps with a 402 tempo and guys who need 15 reps with more weight and a 201 tempo to feel it too, and both would actually use almost the same weekly volume of total reps per muscle group. So, the tempo concept is variable, relative, and a pain in the ass.
So why do we follow it? Because it teaches us how to apply our strength, and measure our effort. It teaches us what kind of form to use, and what level of tension to provide the body, what type of contractions should we employ to stimulate muscle growth. To put it simply, it teaches us how fast to move to differentiate hip-hop from R&B dance steps.
I would like to say that people are starting to listen to their bodies and train enough. Chad Waterbury has great programs, and I can swear by Quattro Dynamo and Perfect 10, which just came out this week, just as well as I can swear by Christian Thibaudeau?s Optimized Volume Training and Pendulum Bodybuilding or Shoulder?s Overhaul, not because they worked for me (except QD) but because I have seen it work on different people, from newbies to old lifters.
So, I got to go, I don?t get paid to write for this mag, and I do get paid for doing my job, so it is time to return to those pesky schematics and also start the blueprints for my next project, so I have to go away now and go back to the real world, hoping you got the spirit of this post and also gotten something valuable from my experience.
See you soon, guys and remember, there?s no better advice than the one from somebody who has been there and done that, much before you did. Take care kiddies, eat well, and rest properly.