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Most Effective Growth Stimulation

I’ve been subjected to a lot of conflicting information lately and I figure who better to ask than the people that have already been there and done it.

I just got done reading Berardi’s “Scrawny to Brawny” and I’ve been in the process of adapting his principles into my training. I’ve been going with moderately low reps and heavy weight (typically 5 x 5). I understand the reasoning behind that being to stimulate the slow twitch fibers and establish a good foundation for strength.

However, I hear more than often that “going very heavy is for strength gains, not size gains.” It makes sense to me, which is why powerlifters are so much stronger than bodybuilders but bodybuilders usually have more impressive muscular proportions and cuts.

I understand all the basic concepts, I’m just a bit conflicted as to what I should adopt. Perhaps a bit of both?

Keep in mind, I’m ectomorphic, looking to pack on as much mass as possible right now to build a good foundation. I’ve got my diet pretty well intact but I just want to make sure I’m going in the right direction with my training so I don’t waste precious time that could have been more productively spent.

Most professional bodybuilders started out by building a huge base of strength, I mean look at Ronnie Coleman, when he competed he was squatting and deadlifting well over 700 pounds.

Also, in 5x5 you are stimulating the fast twitch fibers which have huge potential for growth, unlike slow twitch fibers.

None of this matters if you aren’t eating calories than you are expending.

[quote]B Scott wrote:
I hear more than often that “going very heavy is for strength gains, not size gains.”[/quote]
It’s not so much “going heavy”, because you can still go “heavy” and gain size. It’s the total training volume (sets x reps) that primarily determines your response to training stimulus. For example, 10x3 is a popular program for putting on size.

You’re lifting heavy, because you’re limited to three reps, but because you’re doing so many sets, you’re telling the muscles “Get bigger now, kthxbye.”

Mixing higher reps/lighter weights with lower reps/heavier weights is a solid plan for getting large and strong. But it’s not the only method. Like I said, 10x3 is a solid plan, 5x5 is a classic, and even the Starting Strength program, which relies on 3x5, is known for adding muscle and strength. So, yeah, it’s confusing, but everything works at one point or another.

Talking about the Starting Strength program, Mark Rippetoe said almost the exact same thing as you: “…that’s what our whole program is about. It’s about making the most of the period of time when you can make the most rapid, easy progress.”

I know you just finished reading Scrawny to Brawny, but you might want to look into the Starting Strength program.


Whatever plan you decide on, as long as you’re lifting fairly heavy weights (with most sets in the 5-10 rep range) and eating sufficient calories (from plenty of protein, healthy fats, and carbs), you can put on size. Just start doing something now, and sort out the rest along the way.

What does your workout plan look like right now (exercises, sets, reps)?

The “most effective growth stimulation” (besides eating a caloric surplus, which in reality is #1) would be forcing rapid gains in strength in a moderate repition range (6-12 depending on the muscle group, sometimes even 15-20) while probably also stretching the muscle fascia either with a deep stretching exercise, or isolated pumping exercises to push as much blood into the target muscle as possible.

And this goes for ALL of your muscle groups, not just a few arbitrary ones that retarded trainers have deemed more important.

A typical bodybuilders off-season mass gaining chest routine would look something like this:

Incline Bench Press
135 x warmup reps
225 x warmup reps
275 x warmup reps
335 x 7 (concentric failure with either more reps or more weight than last time, or the same reps/weight but with improved technique)

Flat Dumbell Bench Press
70 x warmup
100 x warmup
130 x warmup
160 x 11 (same deal)

Pec Deck
Entire stack x warmup
stack+50lbs x warmup
stack+100lbs for 3 sets of 10-15 deep stretching, pec squeezing reps.

Muscles don’t grow bigger unless you force them to become stronger (in the environment of extra nutrients), and you can increase their potential for growth by stretching the muscle fascia. But rather than thinking of “stronger” in terms of a 1 rep max like a powerlifter, think about it as training like a powerlifter trying to increase their 8RM, or 12RM, or whatever the key exercise calls for.

Steroids, duh.

[quote]B Scott wrote:

I just got done reading Berardi’s “Scrawny to Brawny” and I’ve been in the process of adapting his principles into my training. I’ve been going with moderately low reps and heavy weight (typically 5 x 5). I understand the reasoning behind that being to stimulate the slow twitch fibers and establish a good foundation for strength.

[/quote]

I don’t necessarily agree with all the fast/slow fiber talk, but I don’t think you understand what you say you understand if you think a 5x5 is to stimulate slow twitch fibers.

Considering your lack of understanding, you should not worry about changing your program just yet. Just choose what looks like a good routine for you and learn from there.

If it was me personally I would work in the 12 rep range and slowly increase the weight from there.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:

I don’t necessarily agree with all the fast/slow fiber talk, but I don’t think you understand what you say you understand if you think a 5x5 is to stimulate slow twitch fibers.

Considering your lack of understanding, you should not worry about changing your program just yet. Just choose what looks like a good routine for you and learn from there.

If it was me personally I would work in the 12 rep range and slowly increase the weight from there.[/quote]

Sorry, I meant fast twitch fibers on that comment. The point I was trying to make is that a lot of what I’ve been doing is more relative to stimulating slow twitch fibers, or both (although I’ve typically avoided “the big lifts”). A lot of my time was spent trying to push higher volume workouts with medium to higher rep ranges (go figure). That’s until I started doing my own research within the past several months and tried a variety of techniques.

Essentially, I need to target all the smaller amounts of fast twitch fibers I have for hypertrophy. There’s obviously a variety of ways to go about that, but I’m simply pushing a bit of trial and error to see what works best for me.

In the end, inevitably, I’ve wised up to the conclusion that I need to forget all that business for now and just keep it simple. I’m no novice to training or nutrition, but I am a beginner when it comes to learning what I need to do in order to make my own body grow.

I appreciate all the replies though, fellas. I’m definitely going to utilize the advice.