When I review all the magazines and forums as to how one should train to build muscle, there seem to be as many theories as there are people! One thing that has become the most accepted is the 3 sets of 10 or 12 reps and 3 or 4 sets per muscle group. Where this comes from, I have no idea, but it’s been around for as long as I’ve been involved in the sport, which is 1985. It has evolved out of a combination of bro-science, urban legend, mixed in with a bit of anecdotal evidence. I think some people stumble onto what works without really understanding any science whatsoever!
Humans are constrained by the same laws of physics that govern the rest of the Universe, and I believe the media has invoked a kind of alchemy, whereby they’ve tried to individualize everyone to such a degree. People buy into this, allowing them to feel unique and special, “Special Snowflakes” as it were. This is complete nonsense, they think that what works for someone else, won’t necessarily work for them because they’re “individual”, different and special! This is not the case.
YOU CAN'T DEFY THE LAWS OF PHYSICS!
Building muscle is quite simple; you need to adhere to a few rules, which I’ll lay out here.
· Insulin Sensitivity
· Intense Training
· Lactic Acid
· Adequate Recovery
· Adequate Nutrition.
Insulin Sensitivity - Running first-hand trials, I discovered you could put on an extraordinary amount of muscle without much body fat, in relatively little time if you adhere to some rules. We have the medical community telling us about type-2 diabetes like it’s a real disease! They have come up with a couple of techy-sounding buzzwords, and now they’re selling you on the idea of “Insulin Resistance" or “Hyperglycaemia”! In reality what’s happening in the body is that there’s just nowhere to store the excess fuel, little piggy doesn’t want to stop eating high Glycaemic foods in large quantities. Imagine your car’s fuel tank is full of fuel, you drive to the gas station, and now you’re trying to fill your car up when it’s already full. What do you think will happen? When it comes to building muscle, if your insulin sensitivity is low, not only can you not get glucose (glycogen) into the muscle for energy, but you won’t get nutrients or amino acids into the muscle to enable repair and growth. Low carb diets and Glucophage are helpful for increasing insulin sensitivity. Amazingly every person I’ve worked with who has “Insulin Resistance” is within the normal blood sugar range once they start following my eating recommendations. So much for it being a chronic condition. The real reason for insulin resistance is a weakness of character and big pharma loves to medicate your weakness! Anyone can cure themselves in 6 weeks with a little discipline.
Intense Training – There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what this means. People will say “I had an intense workout, I trained for two hours”, now to be clear, if you can train for two hours, you’re not training intensely. Intensity and volume are mutually exclusive. You can train long or you can train hard, you can’t train long and hard! If you used a stopwatch to time the seconds you’re engaged in a set, versus the time you’re resting between sets, you’ll discover that you’re only engaged in physical activity for 7-9 minutes in an hour. The heavier the weight you use, going to absolute failure, will require you to take longer rests between sets. This is because you’ve increased intensity. A distance runner who can run for an hour without interruption is exercising at low intensity, whereas a 100m sprinter running flat out and fatiguing after less than 10 seconds is exercising at very high intensity. So importantly, intensity is greater load in less time. There are physics equations for this. P=w/t (Power (watts) = work (joules)/time (seconds)). So let’s take the bench press as an example. We start with the equation:
F=M x A (Force - Newton’s) = M (Mass - Kg) x (Acceleration – (m/s) meters per second)
Let’s say our athlete is using a weight of 100kg and accelerating the bar at 1 meter per second, this would work out to 100 Newton’s. Now for the work element of the equation:
W=F x D (Work - Joules) = F (Force -Newton’s) x (Displacement-(M) Meters)
So the force would be 100 Newton’s from the previous equation x Displacement/Distance travelled. Let’s assume the arm is 0.5m long, which equates to 1 repetition, and you do 10 reps. This equates to a total distance of 5 meters, so 100 Newton’s multiplied by 5 meters comes to 500 joules. The final part of the equation demonstrates how intensity is inversely proportional to time:
P=W/T (Power - Watts )= W(Work – Joules)/T(Time – (S)Seconds)
Power (Watts) =Work of 500 Joules from the previous equation divided by time in seconds.
Let’s assume it took 20 seconds to do a set, then it would be P=500/20, which brings us to 25 Watts. Now let’s assume everything remains the same except you accomplish the task in 15 seconds, then it would look like P=500/15, which equates to 33.33 watts.
You’ll notice if you’re observant, that all athletes that employ explosive, short-duration, intense training, have extreme muscularity. 100 and 200-meter sprinters, indoor track cyclists, 500m Speed -Skaters, Pole Vaulters, and Gymnasts to name but a few. Speed Skaters and the Cyclists have the greatest development, probably as a result of the massive lactic acid production, as they’re in a greater contracted position for the longest period, Illiciting the greatest level of hypoxia, and thus producing the most lactic acid. Their body fat level is much lower than that of endurance athletes, and thus we must conclude that body-fat levels are not predicated on volume of exercise, but on the size of the RMR(Resting Metabolic Rate), which is far greater in the short duration athletes.
So as we can see from this, as the time taken to perform the task deminishes, the intensity of the task increases relative to that deminishing time. And the higher the intensity, the greater the results. So to summarize, your goal should be More Weight, More Reps, More Speed, in Less Time, but importantly, make sure the muscle is always under tension, and in complete control of the weight. An enormous amount of kinetic energy can be stored in the tendons, so don’t bounce the weight, instead focus on using the inertia.
Lactic Acid - is critical to building muscle. When one trains a muscle anaerobically there’s an increase in lactic acid production. If a muscle is kept under tension, it cannot let blood into the muscle, this makes it go hypoxic (starved of oxygen): this is training above the lactate turn-point. This is very beneficial for muscle hypertrophy as it increases and changes key hormones that facilitate muscle growth. Heavy training with increased tensile load, increases MGF(Mechano Growth Factor) output, which in turn increases Myoblast (stem cell) proliferation. These Myoblasts form new muscle. Lactic Acid truncates IGF-1(Insulin-Like Growth Factor -1) into more powerful IGF-1 DES. The higher the intensity and time under tension, with the greatest load, will generate the most anabolic environment. Logically one can conclude that high volume endurance exercise will have the polar opposite effect. Studies have shown that high volume aerobic exercise can completely deplete stem cell production, creating an incredibly catabolic stimulus.
Adequate Recovery – When I hear terms like HIIT, I get unhinged, they too don’t understand the meaning of intensity or recovery. How do you do an intense leg workout, and then do HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) 3 or 4 times a week and expect to recover, and achieve any muscle growth? So many avid gym goers want to train muscle groups more than once a week thinking more is better- this is not the case even if at first it seems counterintuitive. Should you manage to do this, then you’re not training intensely enough. You’re probably engaging in high volume workouts, without doing the damage necessary to induce hypertrophy and hyperplasia. To give a simple example, the difference would be lightly scratching your arm with your fingernails or cutting your arm with a knife. Which would need more recovery time? And it’s directly related to the intensity of the action. If you can train your muscle twice a week, you’re not training hard – TRAIN HARDER!
Adequate Nutrition - It’s completely pointless training with huge intensity, and then not following it up with good nutrition. You’ve caused damage to your tissues, they now need a very specific set of substrates to facilitate this repair. You can’t build a house without the necessary bricks, concrete, sand etc. And you need an absolute minimum amount or more, but never less. And please, stop with all these new mindless buzzwords, and bullshit theories, like intermittent fasting. I’ve produced shredded athletes with zero intermittent fasting or any such scheme, and I’ll wager no professional bodybuilder engages in this dumbfuckery! I will, however, do a blog which outlines why this is nonsense! Do people honestly think the body just puts all of its processes on hold, whilst waiting for your next meal? Your body does not think like you think, it doesn’t think in terms of day and night, 12 and 24 hours, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Stop anthropomorphizing your body, it only functions and reacts moment by moment. If your body is attempting to repair tissue and you deprive it of the substrate necessary to accomplish this, what is its next action? Does it leave a gaping wound in your body? Or does it utilize some muscle tissue to aid with repair and hormone production? I’m assuming people are so ignorant that they think this all happens magically!!