Have subscribed to one of your clients you tube channel Jordan Syatt. I looked him up from one of your IG posts and am liking what I see especially his nutritional guidelines. Very interesting.
Thanks again for the heads up!
Jordan does some good work in regards to keeping it simple, but sticking with the current data we have. So that means he’s giving out the info in a way that the average person can understand. Which means, he’s probably smarter than a lot of these guys like Nuckols who just use a shit ton of words to try and confuse people and make themselves seem smarter than they are.
Exactly what I was thinking. The fact that he keeps it very simple makes it so much easy to understand. Just like training, keep it simple without all the hoohar! Thanks again Paul.
Did you get a chance to check out " The Evidence is Lacking for
“Effective Reps”" by Greg Nuckols?
Yes. A total shit show of an article.
10K words of Fat Greg saying literally nothing.
Insightful critique lol.
If it were anyone else asking I’d respond with more insight. But since you basically challenge anything I write, no point.
I am actually a big fan of yours lol. You present something and I ask where did you get that information from. Not sure why you feel challenged by that.
Maybe I’m mixing you up with someone else…it’s been a long week.
My response to Fat Greg’s article is fairly easy.
It’s legit like 10K words of him doing a lot of mental masturbation.
Basically Fat Greg couldn’t disprove the effective reps theory. Because it’s incredibly solid and grounded in a lot of very good science. Not only that, even in studies like Haun, where they stayed about 4 RIR, the effective reps theory holds true there as well. As does Chris’ theories about both peripheral and nervous system recovery.
Fat Greg then goes on to commit the ultimate sin. He then uses mostly studies where non trained individuals were the subjects…trying to make his point. We all know you toss those studies. No one cares what’s showing up for non-trained people.
If you simply read his own words, he can’t disprove it. Mainly because…it can’t really be disproven. The only challenge is that fatigue can reduce cross bridge force. That part was on point but apparently it will be addressed.
The rest of what Fat Greg wrote was just fluff. A lot of nothing. And the replacement model he proposed was a fatter turd than he is.
Oh and lastly…from three other really well known coaches…
“I wish his fat ass would stop trying to write about muscle growth.”
I’ve been saying this forever. He has zero clue about it.
I don’t think you read the article very closely. The evidence most firmly in favor of the effective reps model primarily comes from studies on untrained lifters (Goto and Martorelli in particular), while the studies on trained lifters largely fail to support it.
Not that this is at all relevant (you commenting on my body comp instead of directly addressing the criticisms I raised in the article is a pretty good indication you can’t address said criticisms), but the article was also read and greenlit by two natural pro bodybuilders before publishing.
It also seems that you didn’t understand the purpose of the article itself. The basic idea behind “Effective Reps” is solid, but it’s not something you need a specific model to relate to people (“hey, it’s not a bad idea to go quite close to failure to maximize hypertrophy on a per-set basis, and going to failure may be better in some cases”). My issue is that the specific model itself doesn’t match up with the evidence better than the simpler, more straightforward advice that bodybuilders have been giving for ages (and, if anything, it matches up worse). Why complicate something when you don’t need to?
I’m also curious about which of my ideas about muscle growth you disagree with so strongly. I haven’t read much of your content, but from what I have seen, I think you and I agree on most major things.
Yeah naw, that’s just not true.
In conclusion, considering the evidence regarding untrained subjects, it seems plausible to suggest that HI-RT to failure is not necessary for maximal increases in strength and hypertrophy. On the other hand, repetitions to failure seem essential for increases in muscle strength and mass of similar magnitude to HI-RT when performing LI-RT. When it comes to trained individuals, evidence show greater increases in muscle strength after HI-RT performed to muscle failure compared to no failure.
I think the idea of effective reps actually makes things far more simple than complicating it. It cuts through the bullshit of trying to figure out all the nonsense like “MEV MRV HIV” whatever.
If you narrow it down to the fact that there’s only so many reps in a given set that will actually go towards hypertrophy stimulus, then you can deduct how many reps you’d need to perform in a training session to balance said growth stimulus and recovery (whether it be peripheral or systemic, during or post training).
Not trying to figure out shit like “weekly volume load” which is far more complicated and for the most part, completely useless without context.
The area that I thought you did a good job was addressing the problem of fatigue when discussing the reduction in cross bridge force. However apparently, that’s going to be addressed by Chris himself.
That aside, I haven’t read a lot of your stuff either but what I have read doesn’t jive with real world experience.
What we see in studies isn’t what we actually see in the gym when it comes to bodybuilders more times than not. I know that, because I work with them daily. There’s a massive chasm there with you. The majority of bodybuilders do in fact tend to train to failure, on a limited number of sets.
From what I’ve read you also believe in doing a lot of volume for muscle growth and ascribe to the belief that “more volume = more growth” when in fact the data shows that isn’t the case. In virtually every well done study what we see is that moderate volumes tend to beat out the lowest volume groups, and that doing higher volumes offers up no significant advantage over moderate volumes. If you disagree you can take that up with Schoenfeld too, who agreed with me on that on my podcast. But I digress…
Anyway tapping back into the above quote by you
This is just not true. Again, what the effective rep models is the closest we’ve seen to what bodybuilders are actually doing in the trenches. I know this because again, the guys that sent me your article ARE bodybuilders and they disagreed with it.
Maybe it’s case where you should have changed the title and NOT attacked it so aggressively and instead came at it with a more neutral stance than having people believe that you “disproved it”. Which you absolutely did not do, and the overwhelming amount of observational and anecdotal evidence supports the effective reps model.
If you’d come off the (unfounded) belief that you need to do a lot of volume to grow (completely untrue both from data and anecdotal evidence) and actually spend some time working with smart guys on the hypertrophy side of the field, I think your ideology would change.
If there’s any major problem I see with most guys who want to grow these days, it’s that they have been told over and over to stay away from failure, and that’s bad and the boogey man and they won’t be able to recover from it blah blah blah.
This is the WRONG fucking message to be sending because I’ve seen so many guys who think they have 2 RIR, where in reality it’s more like 5 or 8 or even 10. Guys these days for the most part, don’t train hard enough to grow, and then think that anyone who is growing must be on the sauce.
There’s a massive epidemic of guys who train like pussies now because they have been continuously fed the notion that they don’t have to train to failure, and just need to do a lot of volume in order to grow. They spend no time understanding the FACT that if your bio-mechanics are on point, and you’re targeting the correct muscle tissue with your efforts, that you don’t need a lot of volume to grow. Especially if you’re training with a high degree of effort.
And I have mounds of evidence from my own clients that support this (not to mention the data in controlled studies).
Maybe that’s our disconnect Greg. There’s other stuff too, but I don’t feel the need to actually personally go after you other than calling you Fat Greg…which makes me laugh.
We’re talking muscle here, not strength, so the last sentence isn’t relevant to the discussion.
With regard to high-intensity training (which the paper described as anything over 60% 1RM), from the same paper:
Additionally, no studies have directly compared hypertrophic responses after exercising to failure or no failure.
For low-intensity, two longitudinal studies were cited where both groups went to failure (Mitchell, 2010 and Schoenfeld, 2015). The third study cited (Holm, 2008) compared sets of 8 at 70% vs. sets of 36 singles at 15.5% with 5 seconds between reps. Sets of 8 at 70% aren’t going to be to failure, and no one does singles at 15.5%, so that paper isn’t entirely relevant.
That review didn’t look at any high-load papers that even assessed hypertrophy, or any low-load papers that compared failure vs. non-failure, so I’m not sure why you’d cite it as evidence for either position if we’re talking about growth.
Also, basically all of the relevant research on the topic came out after that review was published. I reviewed it in my article. The four studies on trained lifters (Karsten 2019, Helms 2018, Pareja-Blanco 2016, and Carroll 2019) all came out after the Nobrega review was published. There’s one measure where a group going to failure or closer to failure grew more than a group stopping further from failure (VM thickness in Karsten; combined VM and VI CSA increased significantly more in the Pareja-Blanco study as well, but that’s a bit redundant since there weren’t significant differences for changes in CSA for the entire quadriceps, or fCSA), and one measure where a group going shy of failure grew more than a group going to failure (VL ACSA in Carroll) and ten null comparisons. Pooling the results of all four of those studies, there was no statistically significant difference and certainly no meaningful difference between conditions.
In the four studies on untrained lifters, on the other hand (Martorelli, Goto, Sampson, and Nobrega) there was a big difference between going to failure and stopping shy of failure, primarily driven by the Goto and Martorelli studies (and there were some issues with the Sampson and Nobrega studies that limit their generalizability, so I think the big difference in the Goto and Martorelli studies is indicative of the “true” difference). Also worth noting that when that Nobrega review you cited was published, only the Sampson and Goto papers had been published; I guess they missed the Goto paper in their literature search, and the Sampson paper was recent enough that it probably came out after they’d already submitted their review for publication. So that Nobrega review doesn’t give you a very good overview of the hypertrophy literature on this topic, since 7 out of the 8 relevant studies weren’t published yet to be included.
So tl;dr, the evidence supporting the “effective reps” model is pretty strong when you’re just dealing with studies on untrained lifters, but studies on trained lifters don’t support the effective reps model. That was actually a pretty key part of my article, so I’m not entirely sure you came up with this:
My skepticism specifically comes from studies on trained lifters, while the direct evidence in favor of the effective reps model mostly comes from studies on untrained lifters.
I agree with both of those things. I’ve especially been critical of MEV/MRV/etc. I think you may be conflating my beliefs with other people in the general circles I run in. I think a lot of people, ESPECIALLY people in the “evidence-based” fitness community, overcomplicate everything. I just think that “effective reps” is also an overcomplication and, specifically, that it’s more granular than the current research justifies.
Not at all. I think that’s probably true to a point, but that there are diminishing returns fairly quickly. If I was just picking some numbers out of thin air, I think that probably 5-10ish sets per muscle group per session is a good place to start (closer to 5 if all of those sets are to failure, if frequency is higher than ~2x/week, and someone’s a bit less trained OR already really strong without much experience in hypertrophy-style training, and closer to 10 if someone’s more trained and stopping a bit shy of failure, and training with a frequency of 1-2x/week), and that people should just troubleshoot from there, sticking with a given level of volume as long as they’re progressing with it, and making adjustments when they stall.
What, specifically, do you mean by that? I suspect this is the hangup. For people who think about things conceptually, “effective reps” means something like, “I should be pushing myself close to failure or possibly to failure if I want to maximize growth.” For people who are hyper-analytical, the specifics of the “effective reps” model are what they’re going to get hung up on, and it allows people to run with some pretty dumb ideas. For example, doing 10 doubles at RPE 7 instead of 4 sets of 10 to failure for hypertrophy because they’re the same number of “effective reps” (20 in both cases). That certainly doesn’t match up with “the overwhelming amount of observational and anecdotal evidence,” but it’s a) in line with the model and b) the direction I see hyper-analytical powerlifters going with it. I suspect you wouldn’t be on the “10 submaximal doubles for growth” hype train, but that’s what I mean by the model being too granular and specific.
I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve been saying the same thing for years. That’s almost a verbatim quote of something I said on the episode of our podcast that’s coming out Thursday, it’s the same energy as a comment I made when discussing my article.
I don’t know man. Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think we actually disagree about all that much.
I’ll address this so as the people reading it can get something out of it. Rather than just two people throwing studies back and forth at one another because honestly that shit is REALLY old. And half the time doesn’t give the average guy something practical to use. It’s really only useful to nerd out on.
So back to this…I think the effective reps model is the most simplistic one overall. I’m not sure how it makes things more complicated at all. And regardless of the body of literature used, the principles being talked about here are in fact, well known (the involutarily slowing of muscle contractions/the formation of the actin-myosin crossbridges/the activation of the greatest amount of HTMU’s) and well supported anecdotally. Which is what we see with training to failure.
Again, I see a very simple model for the average guy to use and apply. Train to failure, or very close to it, and focus on progressive overload. If guys would just get THOSE TWO THINGS IN CHECK about 95% of their confusion would be eliminated.
I would agree with all of that. Dammit.
Remove powerlifters from the equation and let’s get back to talking about effective reps in the context of hypertrophy only. Maybe that’s also where you’re having a little bit of a hangup as well.
I don’t think the effective reps model applies to powerlifting at all. I ascribe to the belief of doing more volume with high speed/power and sub-max loading in order to create more effective and efficient motor patterns in a lift. It’s more neural based.
Training for muscle growth however, is completely different. The effective reps model fits what we’ve seen anecdotally to a “T”. IF you’re taking it at the 5RM value, i.e. each set has about a maximum of 5 reps that can effectively contribute to growth if taken to failure.
This would also make sense when you look at the data that shows regardless of loading, that when a set was taken to failure, it produced the same (or about the same) amount of a growth response. But once you remove that failure part, then the results become skewed and messy.
Once you take everything back to failure, then the loading becomes virtually irrelevant in terms of training for hypertrophy (I think there is a load floor of 20% where it’s too light to produce equal effect but I digress).
I don’t know, reading your comments on there. Maybe the disconnect is your circles? Because a lot of what is espoused by them actually goes AGAINST what we’ve seen through data and anecdotally. It’s amazing to me that so many people keep tossing out the word “science” then ignore the massive amount of both research and anecdotal results we see daily about what produces hypertrophy.
I was with Contreras for a few hours this weekend at the Olympia and he said a lot of the same. That the volume thing has been so overdone and there are so many young guys that are frustrated because they keep being told that “volume is the driver” when it really isn’t.
A huge part of that, is that bio mechanics are not put at the forefront, and guys use complete dog shit mechanics, and then they don’t see growth, and finally they just up the volume because eventually…SOMETHING gets stimulated and they believe that “more volume was the answer!” When in all reality it’s just that their training fucking sucks.
And that’s my biggest beef in this industry. Shitty information distribution. So my thing is, if you’re not saying those things and I’ve just lumped you in with your crowd, then think about that…I’m probably not the only guy to view it that way. And you admit that you’ve probably recommended that volume (or more of it) is the way to go, but man it just is NOT. Especially if your mechanics are on point, and a huge problem with guys who talk only about programming is that they flat out have no idea about how well good mechanics will drive growth with very little “sets” being done.
What I’m getting at is, if you’re constantly associating with people who are producing training modalities that run counter to your own beliefs, I don’t see how you reconcile that position.
Welcome to the community. Paul has told me all about you.
LOL dude you’re such a tool bag. I was right the other time.
Lolll. I like the discussion between you two. Very informative.
You’re too dumb to even follow along.
I agree. So my question is, why not just say that? That statement is a lot simpler than the entire “effective reps” model, and it’s not compatible with, say, 10 doubles at RPE 7 for hypertrophy work.
I am. I’m talking about people who are trying to build muscle in the offseason. And regardless of who’s trying to apply the effective reps model (whether that’s powerlifters, bodybuilders who are trying to reinvent the wheel, or random gym bros), the model itself is 100% consistent with something like the example I’m using (10 doubles at 7RPE), whereas this isn’t (especially if you added in a stipulation like doing sets of at least 5 or 6 reps):
I just don’t think the model itself adds anything to that statement, except that it may make people feel smart by being able to back the statement up with something that feels sciency (even if the actual physiological rationale for it is a little shaky and over-simplified).
I agree with that, but again, I don’t know that using the “effective reps” model to explain that gives you anything over simply saying “growth per set is similar when you train to failure, doing sets of ~5-30 reps.” Part of the reason for that is that I’m skeptical about whether the “effective reps” model gets the physiology right in the case of low load training (the highest threshold MUs will get recruited, but I’m really, really skeptical that they get to peak tension), and I also think the physiology is a little more complex than simply falling back on the same explanation (full recruitment and max tension on the last five reps) for both high and low-load training, as “effective reps” does (several studies show similar MPS in spite of slightly different signaling cascades, so I think the path from point A [stimulus] to point B [MPS] is a little different with different loading zones).
My basic issue with the effective reps model is that there are a lot of implications of the model that are correct, but that are things people could already say (and were already saying) before anyone proposed the effective reps model; they’re not novel insights following from the model. However, there are also implications of the model that give rise to and support for a lot of really dumb ideas. Thus, I don’t think you gain anything for the model itself, but it does introduce ideas that are unhelpful, and seemingly antithetical to the way people should be training.
It’s amazing to me that people never step back and look at research from a meta perspective. In the vast majority of training studies, the training protocol is something REALLY basic, like 3x10RM twice per week for 8 weeks (pretty low volume, with everything to failure). In basically all of the studies, even with trained lifters, the subjects get 10-20% stronger and increase muscle CSA by 5%ish. That’s almost guaranteed to be MUCH faster progress than the people were making beforehand (if they had been gaining strength and size at that rate for the prior 3 years, they’d already be champion powerlifters and Mr. Olympia winners). Relative to however people were training before, it’s clearly much more effective. I don’t know. I think a lot of people read research and just never make any connections that the authors don’t spoon feed to them.
I personally associate with just a really small group of people in the “industry” (e.g. online folks; I’m friends with a lot of non-online lifters and coaches in my area, though), and the rest is people from the outside associating me with other folks. Since I’m not a “hypertrophy guy” and rarely write about it myself (and when I do, it’s mostly just tangential to another point), I guess people just assume I think a lot of the same stuff as the people they associate me with. Since I don’t consider hypertrophy squarely within my area of expertise, I generally just don’t say anything instead of swerving way outside my lane. The biggest reason I said anything about “effective reps” is that I think the physiological explanations were at least partially wrong, and physiology is what my formal training is in.
But anyway, I’m not close with a lot of the folks you probably assume I’m close with. I just don’t start beef with people in general, and certainly not when it would require going out of my lane.