T Nation

What is "Inroading"?

Does anyone have a clear enough idea of how to explain this term - Inroading?

In-roading is getting the Work or Effort into the target muscle. So when you reach failure it’s the intended muscle failing vs you just getting generally tired.

So I really lat focused cable pulldown or some Nautilus pullovers would be Good for inroad on your lats. Or rally hitting that one muscle.

Vs a bunch of kipping pullups where you could reach failure because your grip, biceps or lungs gave out before your lats. Or deadlifts that tire you out without really specifically working your lats to failure.

You’re focused on the working muscle as directly as possible instead of achieving some number of “reps”.

If you were in the combine benching 225 for reps you’d go as fast as possible, get a nice bouncey rhythm going and try to use a style that didn’t focus on any one muscle. Lots of Out Roading.

If you did the guillotine press with elbows flared, slow descent and a nice pause to really get after your pecs you’d be getting better in-roading.

Neurological pathways, signaling and connections from the dendrites of motor cortex become stronger as you establish and use them.

It’s a literal mind->muscle connection.

1 Like

If only @planethealh was here to explain this…


My definition is that Inroading is just the temporary or momentary reduction in muscle strength because of fatigue (which happens by many mechanisms).

By way of example: let’s say you can perform 1 repetition in good form of some exercise with 100 lbs. So your ‘fresh’ maximum strength is 100 lbs. Then you put 80 lbs on the bar, and perform as many reps as you can, typically in the range of 8 to 12 reps. When you get to the end of the set and can’t do any more, your strength an momentarily been reduced to 80 lbs. That would be 20% inroad (relative to your fresh starting strength).

In the early days of High Intensity Training (Arthur Jones and Nautilus stuff), great emphasis was placed on inroading to an acceptable degree. This, along with going to Momentary Muscular Failure (can’t do any more reps) was thought to be the key to triggering muscle growth. Many HIT advocates still subscribe to the “inroad theory” of exercise. They typically advise that you try to fatigue the muscle as deeply as possible with a single set of exercise, going to failure.

More modern theorists will say that is wrong, that inroad is just a byproduct of subjecting a working muscle to high tension, and it is the mechanical stress, rather than fatigue, which triggers adaptations. They would advise to train in a way which lets you subject the muscle to high muscle tension for a sufficient amount of volume while minimizing fatigue. This typically means using a fairly heavy weight, keeping reps low (5-8), stopping just short of failure, and doing more sets.

Thank you Gentlemen. Most illuminating.

I’m going to quote Brad Schoenfeld (again): “Inroading refers to the degree of fatigue experienced by the working fibers. Current thinking suggests that a greater inroading can lead to greater hypertrophy, at least up to a certain point. Thus, if you can induce greater fatigue in the spectrum of muscle fibers without “overdoing it” (i.e. promoting local or systemic overtraining), you can enhance the remodeling of muscle tissue to produce a greater hypertrophic stimulus.”

This is why I currently favour DC-style rest pause in the 20-25 total reps range.


Is that from his 2010 book? I noticed that he just published an update - The M.A.X. Muscle Plan 2.0. I will probably buy it, but I was curious as to how much might have changed in his thinking over the last 10 years.

My recollection is that back in 2010, he seemed to give kind of equal weight to muscle tension, metabolic stress, and mechanical damage to muscle fibers as triggers for hypertrophy. But since then, it seems like muscle tension is being assigned a more prominent role as a trigger. That isn’t to say that metabolic stress and muscle damage have no role, but perhaps more as a secondary facilitator of adaptation. Just my subjective perception of how the academic view may be changing. Of course, my perception may be biased by who I choose to read or ignore… :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like


Sounds like an interesting book/program. Do you recall how he set up the attached program in the original book, generally speaking? What is his ideas on the ultimate program?

It has been awhile since I looked at the original book. As I recall, it was quite a complex program, kind of an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach. It was built on periodization, and you went through cycles of strength building, metabolic conditioning, and then hypertrophy training. Even within those cycles, there was a lot of cycling between low rep heavy sets, lighter high rep sets, and deload weeks. Kind of difficult to summarize concisely. My sense was he was trying to incorporate almost every training strategy that had value, and give you some exposure to each over the course of the program.

Now that I think about it, I never got much practical value out of it, because it was just more complex than what I was looking for. I tend to prefer simpler, more minimalist programs that only require 2 days a week. I understand those might not lead to maximal outcomes, but I’m more than happy to settle for good enough programs that fit my life better. But I am still curious to see how his thinking might have evolved over the past 10-12 years.

1 Like