T Nation

Opinion on My Training Thoughts?

Hi Ellington,
I’ve listed my current ideas on training. Any additional thoughts / comments / other viewpoints?

  1. Muscle needs to be stimulated through training and inroading in order to grow larger

  2. Generally the most effective form of training is progessive strength training with weights

  3. The body needs to systemically recover from that stimulation or else a deeper and deeper depth of fatigue (inroad) is reached that cannot be compensated for preventing any stimulated growth manifesting itself

  4. Number 3 above determines that there has to be limited levels of frequency and volume of training that can be deployed in the stimulation / recovery process

  5. By its nature high intensity, and its related neighbour short duration, training best fits the premises of 1 - 4 above

  6. Water, sleep and carbohydrates are the primary requirements for optimum recovery

  7. Increased muscle mass requires increased calories to be sustained once it has manifested itself on the body

  8. A calorie excess over and above the amount required to support any additional muscle will ultimately result in excess adipose tissue disposition

  9. A calorie deficit below maintenance level will mean that any additional muscle growth will not be retained on the body. A deficit over time will result in fat and muscle loss - unless there is an effort to retain muscle through external stimulation (i.e. training) in which case the loss will most likely be fat

  10. An individuals muscle fibre type is a key determinant in identifying the ideal time under load and duration of any workout

This is a fine, fine listing. Thanks Jeff.

The only detail I would add is a statement about practicing precision form during most repetitions. And a final note that other things, besides training, really matter in one’s overall life.


I presume others are allowed to comment as well.
#3: I would recommend being more precise in relation to systemic fatigue and localized fatigue which are not the same. I am strongly against the notion that in order to grow you need to induce a significant systemic fatigue (aka CNS inroad) which will logically lead to the idea of infrequent training until a person recovers fully systemically. I will echo Vince Gironda who used to say “Train, don’t strain”: majority of individuals will thrive on more frequent training schedule with high(er) volume if they can limit and keep systemic fatigue at bay. After a workout (and a day or two afterwards) you should feel deep fatigue in the muscles worked (localized fatigue), but you should not feel any general fatigue/energy drain. As a side note, overreaching and/or change of training stimulus (aka novelty, variety) is needed to progress further.
#4: these limits are not so narrow as you probably think and/or imply in your statement. They will depend on the person in question, his/her level of fitness (in general and at this point in time), muscle fiber type, goals, limitations, psychological factors involved, etc. Again, there is nothing wrong with increasing volume and frequency 2-3 times of the usual (maintenance) level, if one has energy and desire to push himself, and do it for a short period of time (2-3 weeks). Ideal programs (aka maintenance routines employed all year round) which allow you to grow consistently over a period of time (let’s say, a year) on a constant basis do not exist once you pass the novice stage: you need to give a reason for your body to grow. Doing the same things all over again, even with a larger weight on the bar, is not enough. The body is masterful in maintaining a homeostasis.
#5: I assume you mean high intensity of effort, and not high intensity of weight, speed or anything else. What if the person doesn’t like training in "high intensity of effort "style, or his/her muscle fiber make-up is not suited for this type of training (slow-twitch)?
#6: agree on sleep, but I would be very cautious mentioning water and carbohydrates. You can have too much of a good thing and this applies to water as well (for the reason of diluting of stomach acid, tension on kidneys etc.). Many traditional/holistic medicine & lifestyle approaches (Ayurveda and others) are against drinking cold water, drinking lots of water and the general guideline is to follow your thirst. There has been no scientific evidence supporting 8+ glasses of water a day. Carbs: since most of them come either from genetically engineered grains and starches and/or chemically induced fruits and vegetables, the question is whether they should be overemphasized (from the standpoint of long-term health). Our bodies needs saturated fats and proteins (in that particular order) to function properly.
#7: much less than we can imagine and a lot will depend on the lifestyle and activity of the individual in question. If you finally managed to add 1kg/2.2lbs of muscle mass to your body (and the body was not happy with doing so, from the standpoint of survival mechanism), you will not lose that 2.2lbs of muscle quickly if you stop training and/or reduce your food intake for a short period of time. When it’s there, it’s there. If you stop training & reduce food for long, yes, you will lose it.
#8: we don’t know how much is needed (in terms of energy, macros & micros) in order to support additional muscle growth and our bodies are not 100%-efficient burners (i.e. 100 units of input do not result in 100 units of output), different food items have different energy output (a person may spend more energy digesting certain foods than others, and may have difficulty of digesting certain foods today, but not tomorrow - all this affects energy production from food and availability of proteins/fats/carbs for growth). Then, there can be periods when one can significantly increase his food intake (for a short period of time, though) without adding adipose issue.
#9: not that simple and really depends on a number of factors. Good luck trying to lose mostly fat (instead of muscle) on a diet below maintenance level without PEDs, if you need to go from double digits to a single digit body fat levels. That’s simply impossible and you will lose mostly muscle irrespective the way how you train. This is survival mechanism of the body - it doesn’t want you to be muscular.
#10: why TUL and duration of workout? I have predominantly slow-twitch muscles, but I don’t like long workouts (trying to finish within 30-45 min. max). I would say, fiber type determines frequency, volume, intensity, type of of the workouts (muscle tension or cumulative fatigue or mixed). Regarding TUL: what if I train in clusters (simple example: 6 mini-sets of 6 reps with short 5-15 sec rests in-between) for my mixed/slow fibers? I have 6 mini-sets of 15-20 sec TUL each which may not be considered enough for a slow-twitch muscle, but works wonderful.

Boris ;

Agree one all your points but especially with #3 as I fell into that trap for way too long , taking the preachings of Leistner of always going all out and Jones ‘harder but briefer’ approach to ridiculous measures. My own fault as I didn’t want to hear anything from anyone else back then.

You keep mentioning about knowing your slow and fast twitch muscles. How did you determine that ?

There are basically two types of tests: one involving 1RM and another one multiple reps. I will try to attach pictures to this post describing both. Taken from Advanced Exercise Application Manual of IART. However, if you trained for a long period of time, you will start seeing that some of your muscles fatigue faster, some of them need longer TUL / number of reps to get into groove, for some of them you will be able to do 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes 4th set) to failure with even more reps than you managed in the 1st set.

1 Like

Jeff60…what you wrote there is spot on

Dr. Darden…I love what you said about other things that matter in life…sometimes we tend to forget that and need to be reminded

1 Like

Gironda on over 40 training:

Let me offer for consideration a contrarian point of view, based on some of the stuff that Chris Beardsly has published: Parts of statements #1 and #3 may be at odds with the current science on muscle hypertrophy. High tension on muscle fibers (mechanotransduction) is now thought to be the primary trigger for adaptation. Inroad/fatigue is an inevitable side effect of training, caused by other processes that don’t trigger hypertrophy: they just increase the amount of recovery time needed. It is an important distinction because it impacts the conclusions in points #4 and #5. Rather that try to paraphrase, I’ll just quote him:

“After a workout, muscle fibers experience hypertrophy as well as a temporary period of sustained fatigue (reduced strength) due to excitation-contraction coupling failure, myofibrillar damage, and central nervous system (CNS) fatigue. While it often assumed that the mechanical tension that produces hypertrophy also causes fatigue, this is untrue. The excitation-contraction coupling failure, myofibrillar damage, and CNS fatigue are all caused by the activation of the muscle fibers, and the resulting influx of calcium ions into the muscle fiber.

Consequently, hypertrophy and fatigue result from different processes.

Therefore, methods that enhance fatigue will not necessarily produce superior muscle growth. Indeed, the optimal strength training program likely involves the largest possible dosage of mechanical tension for the smallest dosage of muscle activation and calcium ion-related fatigue. This can be achieved by workouts with a low-to-moderate volume of moderate-to-heavy loads, avoiding failure, and avoiding intensification techniques that involve lifting while very fatigued, such as forced reps and drop sets.”