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A Training Philosophy for Solid Mass Gain

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A Training Philosophy For Solid Mass Gain One of the absolute best training articles I have read in a long time. A Training Philosophy For Solid Mass Gain by: Kelly Baggett Foundational Principles 1. The biggest problem in natural bodybuilding is, in my opinion, the alarming number of people that screw up perfectly good training with poor nutrition. Based on my observations, the majority of serious and semi-serious trainees leave their workouts having done enough to stimulate growth, yet big mus
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  A Training Philosophy For Solid Mass Gain  One of the absolute best training articles I have read in a long time.A Training Philosophy For Solid Mass Gain by: Kelly BaggettFoundational Principles1. The biggest problem in natural bodybuilding is, in my opinion, the alarming number of peoplethat screw up perfectly good training with poor nutrition. Based on my observations, the majorityof serious and semi-serious trainees leave their workouts having done enough to stimulategrowth, yet big muscle mass increases typically require dedicated eating to take advantage of that stimulation. If you’re not willing to buckle down and take a hardcore attitude when it comesto your nutrition, you might as well stay the heck out of the gym.2. The 3 S’s are key for muscle growth. These are stimulate, supply, and signal. Training“stimulates” growth, eating “supplies” material for growth, and your levels of various anabolichormones “signal” growth to occur. Therefore, muscle mass gains are about 1/3 hormonal, 1/3eating and 1/3 training. Combine them together and they combine for a synergistic effect. See:Keys to Muscle Growth3. How powerful is the anabolic effect by itself? – In one study testosterone use alone was shownto stimulate up to a 17 pound increase in muscle mass over a 20 week period of time in theabsence of any training. Additionally, the average male will gain around 40 pounds of naturalmuscle during puberty in the absence of any training just due to changes in his hormone levels. If you want to surpass those results naturally and you’re not going through puberty, you better figure out what you’re doing.4. Partitioning refers to what happens when excess calories are consumed. Are they directed intomuscle or fat stores? The worse your partitioning, the more fat you gain when you gain weight.The better your partitioning, the more muscle you gain. This is largely impacted by training anddiet, yet with those things being a given, how well you partition is primarily determined bylevels of various hormones, which is determined by genetics.5. Maximizing PartitioningA natural trainee can maximize environmental factors that affect his partitioning by training atthe right frequency with the right type and dosage of training, eating enough food, sleepingenough, staying relatively stress free, and keeping his body composition within his “optimummuscle building window” which, generally speaking, is between the range of 10-17% body-fatfor most males and 12-20% for most females. At less then about 10% body-fat, levels of variousanabolic hormones such as testosterone go to crap, (unless you were born at 5% body-fat). At theother end, anymore then 17% body-fat and sensitivity to various anabolic hormones goes downthe drain.6. Nutrition  How powerful is the effect of eating? Studies have been done on overfeeding where people werefed an additional 1000 calories per day for 100 days without any training whatsoever. Of theweight they gained, even in the absence of exercise, an average of 35% was lean muscle mass.7. Genetic Limits Genetic limits really refers to how much muscle mass a person can carry at a given body-fat percentage and not how much muscle mass they can carry overall. Your “genetic natural limit”while maintaining a lean 6% body-fat might be 200 lbs. But if you train and eat your way up to a300-pound bodyweight, sure as hell you will be carrying more then 200 pounds of muscle. Thisis why the biggest sumo wrestlers, who do little besides eat, on average carry more muscle massthen the biggest bodybuilders. That’s not a recommendation to go out and get as fat as anoversized water buffalo, but it is reality.Training PrinciplesGrowth is stimulated from a combination of tension, total work, and fatigue. As we’ll see in aminute, outside the boundaries of extremely low volume programs, progressively increasingtension at a given level of work is the primary stimulus for ongoing gains in growth. Factorsrelated to fatigue might add around 10% to that.1. TensionTo get maximal tension on all available muscle fibers in a given muscle requires full motor unitrecruitment in that muscle. This can occur 2 ways:A: Lifting a heavy load (80%+) so that all the muscle cells are firing from the first rep. (example:Lifting an 80% load for 5 reps)B: Lifting a light load in a fatigued state so that your muscles “think” the load is heavy.(example: Lifting: a 50% load with short rest intervals and having the weight feel heavier thenyour ass after a 5 mile run.)Anytime you put forth a maximal effort and have to really strain to move the weight, regardlessof the weight on the bar, all the muscle fibers in the working muscle turn on and “tense up.” Thisis tension. Get a muscle fiber to “tense up” often enough in a workout and it gets damaged. Your muscles don’t know how much weight they’re lifting, they only know they’re working. It's notnecessarily the weight that induces hypertrophy but what the muscles go through while liftinga weight.2. What's the difference between heavy vs light loads for tension?Having said that, there is a difference between lifting a light load in a state of fatigue that feels heavy, and a load that “is” heavy. The main difference between the 2 is the heavy load willinduce earlier recruitment of the fast twitch fibers and more eccentric microtrauma during thelowering phase of a movement, which is the primary stimulus for growth of muscle proteinmyofibrills, while the lighter load lifted in a state of fatigue, often associated with morerepetitions, will tend to induce more growth through increased “energy and water storage”  mechanisms.3. Making strength increases and getting stronger over time is all about increasing tension, whilegetting a “pump” is more about total work and fatigue. Suffice to say, the heavier weight you liftwith a muscle or muscle group, the more tension you create in that muscle. Your muscles becomedamaged under tension and repair themselves by getting a little bigger so that they can better resist the load.4. The pump The more total work and temporary fatigue (due to lack of oxygen), you create in a muscle,(through high volume training, high rep sets, drop sets, static holds, rest-pause etc.) the bigger the “pump” you tend to get. These methods are typically associated with various “Weider” principles.5. Total work Total work refers to the total time a muscle is under tension and how much tension it's under over the course of an entire workout, which is basically the same thing as volume, which is sets x repsx load.Work = Sets x Reps x LoadSimply put, think of “total work” as the total number of reps you do for a body-part per sessionand how much weight you lift during those reps. How important is it? Well, obviously it hassome importance, otherwise all you’d need to to get big is generate a 1 second maximal effortisometric contraction a couple of times per week, which clearly isn’t the case, so we have to look at the importance of total work. There are 2 ways to increase the work:A: Lift more weight for a given number of reps.B: Perform more reps with a given weight.5a. Increasing work though increasing bar weight, while keeping the number of repetitions per workout relatively constant, has shown dramatic improvements in hypertrophy, yet increasingthe number of reps without intentionally ever trying to increase the load has a much larger influence on the endurance and metabolic efficiency of the muscle cell. Thus, for pure gains insolid muscle mass, gradually increasing bar weight while maintaining a certain number of reps per workout is key.5b. How many reps is enough?The research and real world observation seems to indicate 25-50 reps twice a week for a body- part is plenty. Any more then 50 twice per week and some people may have issues with recovery.What seems to be the most important factor is that a “minimal” amount of volume is maintainedand not to intentionally seek out humongous increases in this area. At the volume most bodybuilders train with (A minimum of 4 sets of 8 reps per bodypart twice per week), theminimums are met and it’s really a non-issue.  6. When is not getting enough work in an issue?Realistically, unless you’re referring to idiotic style Mentzer type HIT routines, (5 total reps per  bodypart once a week or whatever), adding a crapload of volume just to get more total work inisn’t gonna make much of a difference in the big scheme of things and is not nearly as importantas the increasing bar weights that you lift. Some idiots will use extreme examples to prove their  point that total work and volume is extremely important and give examples why bodybuildersshouldn’t train with heavy weights. They’ll use idiotic examples such as comparing one guy wholifts 400 lbs on the squat for 5 total reps per week and another who lifts with 250 lbs for 50 reps per week. Will the 250 pound squatter get better results? Probably so, but realistically speaking,who the heck only does 5 total reps per week for a bodypart? Hell, even a powerlifter will get 20or 25 reps in for a bodypart twice week. Now, if we compare a program where one guy lifts 350 pounds per week for 40 reps and the other guy lifts 400 pounds for 26 reps I’d put my money onthe 2nd guy. But enough nonsense. A good general recommendation is to always keep the reps per workout approximately the same while you add bar weight over time as you get stronger.Here is an example of how you might do that over the course of a 9 week mesocycle:Week 1-3 – Sets of 8-10 (ex: 3 x 8-10)Week 4-6 – Sets of 6-8 (ex: 4 x 6-8)Week 7-9 – Sets of 4-6 (ex: 5 x 5)Week 9 (unload - 2 sets of 12-15 easy)Week 10-12 Start over with sets of 8-10See how the number of reps stays around 25 while the rep range decreases?6a.What is the ideal repetition range?Sets with as few as 1 reps per set and as many as 20 reps per set can both be effective. Keep inmind the total number of reps per workout is also key. With total reps being equal, the heavier loads will tend to stimulate more growth yet also require more sets. (8 sets of 3 vs 3 sets of 8).Quadriceps in particular seem to respond better to higher reps. (8-20 reps per set)7. Tension vs FatigueResults that come from tension take place over a long period of time and tend to stick around for a long period of time. Results that come from “fatigue” (a.k.a. – the “pump”), occur muchquicker and dissipate just as quickly.8. Different adaptations to tension vs fatigueIt could be said that a muscle will adapt to tension by adding more protein to it’s structures todeal with that tension. The muscle adapts to fatigue by storing more “energy” (aka – glycogen.)to better deal with the fatigue induced. The amount of extra glycogen storage that can bestimulated with even very brief bouts of fatigue training (a triple drop set for example), is veryimpressive, nearly rivaling that of specific short-term endurance protocols designed to doubleglycogen storage increases.9.Fatigue makes muscles swole
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