T Nation

Micro-Tear or Protein Synthesis


So I have a potentially really stupid question. My understanding of weight-lifting has always been that essentially what is happening is you are subjecting muscles to trauma resulting in micro-tears that heal over time, resulting in hypertrophy (in extremely simple terms). However I keep reading that as a natty it is best to train a body part more than once a week due to protein synthesis being triggered for 24-48 hrs following training, which makes it sound like it’s more about triggering protein synthesis than the micro-tears to the muscle.

The reason I am here writing this is because I am looking at switching my program from working out a body part once a week, but really hard that one day a week, to multiple times a week with only a single exercise for that muscle group each time (essentially a push/pull program). What I can’t seem to understand is how doing a single exercise for a body part multiple times a week can be superior to beating the hell out of a body part once a week and the only sensible answer is that protein synthesis is everything, and the trauma to the muscles is less critical. Am I wrong with my understanding?

I’ve been working out hitting 1 body part a week to decent results for the last 1 1/2 years, but the gains have been of course slowing down. Any info anyone can provide would be appreciated.

Thank you.


Hey heres just my two cents.
Of course i am inexperienced and im just a teen so everyone can give you better advice than me but il still give you this info.
Iv recently been given a push pull split and that person stated that every time they go off it for a while and gains stall they go back to their push pull split and the scales go back up.
Iv been doing alot of research lately and push pull is very effective there are many routines out but here is a good one from tnation that allows you to train bodyoarta multiple times a week but its kinda high intensity :


Once muscle protein synthesis is triggered, there’s no need to go any further and, in doing so, you would potentially hinder hypertrophy.


Thanks for the info. What actually started this whole inquiry was a post on T-nation about a workout plan for natural lifters and it did suggest a push/pull workout. Usually I try to avoid workouts that are easier because they are usually not worth it, but all signs seem to point to this being effective, if I can save time and make more gains then it’s win win as far as I’m concerned. I suppose I’ll give it a go for a few months and see what happens.

Thanks again.


We actually discussed this issue to death in two threads in the bodybuilding forum.

Do this for homework. Look at the people who train a muscle once every five to seven days with multiple exercises. Next up, look at the people who are pushing protein synthesis and increased frequency with one exercise per session.

Then make your decision as to who looks like bodybuilders or compete as bodybuilders.


In addition to causing trauma and protein synthesis, lifting weights can train your nervous system.

-Doing “heavier” lifts trains you to recruit more muscle fibers.
-Doing “compound” lifts trains your muscles to work together in a more coordinated way.

As Brick says, this may not be the “best” way for bodybuilders to train. But it’s a pretty good way to lift more weight.

If you’re slowing down a little, a different training style might help you. Maybe something new will be exciting/motivating. Maybe lifting heavier will stimulate some size. Or maybe you’ll learn that really like some lift, or different rep ranges.


Bodybuilders ARE attempting to fully recruit muscle fibers in the muscle being trained, hence the focus on the mind muscle connection. The ones who are successful at this get big. When you apply this to strength training, i.e, training a lift, you are attempting to fully recruit all the muscles involved in the lift while coordinating them to lift the weight. You can call this proprioception or whatever. The ones who are most proficient at this get fucking strong.

There’s really not that much of a difference in principle if you think of it in this way.

That being said, and why I brought this up is: If you are not sufficiently proficient in executing a few lifts according to what I described above, a training plan with a variety of compounds and isolations would be more suited to your level for whatever goal you may have.


Good post!

Routines with compound lifts and isolation are good!

100% Personal Opinion:
But if you’ve been doing lots of isolation, it can be cool to go mostly compound for a short time.(maybe 6 weeks?) Like a “crash course” in a new style. So you get used to something you’re not familiar with. By avoiding the isolation, you sort of learn what you’re missing. Then, when you combine them into a “normal” program you know how they fit together.

Anyway, here’s a cool Josh Bryant article


I’m not telling him to do lots of isolations and less compounds. My point is, seeing that he’s posting in the beginner section, there should be a focus on learning activation of the various muscles, or in simpler terms, learning to “feel” the muscles involved in each compound lift working while getting better at the lifts themselves before embarking on a program with limited lifts like he described.


Oh no, I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth, or argue or whatever.

I didn’t even know for sure that dude was doing lots of Single Joint (smart talk for isolation) exercises.

I just didn’t want to come across like I was trying to talk OP out of trying Push/Pull for awhile.


Nah I’m not arguing either lol. Just trying to clarify stuff as much as possible since this is the internet.


OP, it also depends on what type of physique you want. You can get a good physique doing many routines. But if you want to look like a bodybuilder–which is not about simply having a “nice body”–then train like one.


x2 with this. -Rotate through a bunch of different approaches/programs off this site you will both A) learn what your body responds best too and B) build your training tool box so to speak.

Something like a run of that strength program Flats links, then 12 weeks on a well laid out split like these here:( Do This Routine Instead of That Dumb One ), then 12 weeks 5/3/1 and so on


BrickHead he said that he was a natty, he will never look like a bodybuilder no matter what he does. When you are on drug you are constantly building muscle, no matter how bad you train.

From personnal experience as a natty I get better result with higher frequency low volume protocols.
And it keeps my test level high as I keep in check cortisol. Another aspect of training that is mostly irrelevant for guys on drugs.


There are also thousands upon thousands of drug-free bodybuilders who train with low frequency (every five to seven days) and moderate to high volume.

Are you regularly taking your T values? How do you know they would be affected by training to typical bodybuilding training? What about all the men with normal T values while doing typical bodybuilding split routines?

Who are you to say someone will never look like a bodybuilder when this person didn’t even provide a picture?

Do you have pictures? If you look like a bodybuilder with high frequency training, then good for you.


I don t take drugs, I will never look like a bb, stop bsing everyone that they can get as big as Ronnie Coleman naturally :slight_smile:

My test meter is my libido :slight_smile:

I am 43, training since I am 14, tried many things and personnally never got better result as natty than high freq, low vol and as a bonus I am keeping my libido through the roof.


Hmm, perhaps you should head over to the bodybuilding thread and check out all of the natural bodybuilders who look like bodybuilders. Feel free to check my personal thread as well.

And no one said that men have to resemble the drug aided elite to look like bodybuilders.

T value doesn’t dictate libido in all cases as there are even some men who have intact libidos at low normal values. One can also have a high normal or supra-normal T value with a low libido.

It’s quite interesting how it seems that nearly all those who are the most vocal about what natural bodybuilders should be doing never even made an attempt to look like bodybuilders or entered at least one bodybuilding show.


Well read on high volume, cortisol and testosterone. There is not absolute relationship between libido and test but a strong correlation

I might not be right but that is what I experienced as I get older. High volume = low libido. If you have a better explanation than low test, go ahead

I spent most of my teenage years in the late 80s early 90s doing bb style workout. Biggest regret of my training life. Apart from looking better and bigger it didn’t really help in anything else. I would have been better off power cleaning to increase my speed and vertical. But I didn t know better. Thats what my sons are doing and it shows on the field and on their body.
My 14year old has exactly my body type and structure. So I can compare. Both natty, he train smart, I was training bb style. I look at pic and we look mostly the same, but his improvements in performance compare to mine are off the chart.

My point, if your natural, train hard in a well balanced way, perhaps adding a bit off bb style training here and there on lagging muscle, you will end up looking more or less the same, but your performance will greatly differ


And based on your definition of bber. If I decided to dial my diet and lose a 5%( perhaps a bit more) of bodyfat I would look like a bb. I did it in the past just to try, but the reward is not worth the effort for me at this point in my life


You jus told me you would and never will look like a bodybuilder. Now you’re telling me you would look like one so long as you drop 5% body fat.