I just stumbled upon this muscle growth study/article over @ Elite. It was orginally posted by SSAlexSS and I was wondering what you all thought of it.
Here's where the info came from..
It is about research on muscle building... and it is shocking!!!
Examples (if you dont want to read entire article):
- 3 sets are the best
- Movement should be fast (real shocker for me)
- include 10rep max atleast once (10 rep range supposedly builds lots of muscle).
- Train muscle up to 3 times per week (novices can train one muscle 5x per week... I did that and gained 20 pounds!!!)
- training when muscles are 'sore' may help speed recovery and is recommended - however you should not train to the point of causing 'pain' (or if you are already in 'pain')
THE BEST WAY TO TRAIN FOR SIZE
by Walter Eddy
Many bodybuilders know less about 'weight training' than Medical rehab personal and Professional Sport Coaches. Ironic? - yes, after all - bodybuilding is weightlifting. Yet bodybuilders tend to seek out information from anyone who promises to make them big, tell them the secret on how to get big like the Pro bodybuilders - when the only secret is that steroids are the ONLY way to get that kinda big.
So what do Pro Sport Coaches and Med. rehab people know that you may not - that's what is about to be covered, so pay attention if you want to know the truth - go elsewhere if you're looking for a bunch of golden promises.
Very little money has been spent on 'bodybuilding' research. On the other hand millions have been spent on ways to improve the performance of Pro and 'Olympic' athletes. Not to mention the years of research put into studying muscle rehabilitation for medical purposes. It is from these sources that the real information on getting 'big' (as big as is possible with or without steroids), can be found. The information is out there, you just have to look for it - the important facts to you, the bodybuilder, will be covered in this article.
Training/growth facts - what the studies prove.
The goal of every bodybuilder is to get bigger muscles. With this goal in mind lets cover what research has taught us - and how to put it to use.
FIRST: Muscle strength in the adult human is relative to cross section area (size). An equal cross-sectional area of muscle from any average trained women or man has about the same 'strength' (i.e.: can generate the same amount of force, 6 kg - cm2), there is very little variation. To put it another way, generally speaking - all human muscle tissue has (about)
the same amount of strength, or is able to generate the same amount of force. So the greater the size, cross-sectional, the greater the strength. However, it is important to point out that bone structure, muscle attachments, neural factors, etc., play a very important part in performing 'feats of strength', so two people with equal cross section areas of muscle may still perform very differently -- not due to stronger muscle tissue, but due to other factors.
What does this mean to the bodybuilder - it means that if you wish to increase muscle mass you must train the muscle to be able to generate more force - which in turn means the muscle must grow. Don't confuse increasing muscle size with increasing performance strength - performance strength - for example the amount of weight a person can bench press - depends on a number of factors - neural factors being very important.
Increasing muscle size will help increase performance strength -- but increasing performance strength does not necessarily mean that you will increase muscle size. That may sound confusing - re-read the paragraph before this one again if you still do not understand.
Putting this information to use. To increase muscle size (or mass), you must increase the cross sectional area. Because there is a limit to the amount of force (strength) a set cross-sectional area of muscle can generate -muscle tissue must increase in size (cross-sectional area) to be able to handle a greater force (to become 'stronger') - the result: bigger muscles. So the best way to make your muscle bigger - - train in such a way as to increase the amount of force you can generate - and, of course, to make the muscle grow as fast as possible. This last statement 'as fast
as possible' is another key term - most types of resistance training will cause your muscles to grow, the question you should be asking is, is this the fastest way? You will find the best answers research has to offer here.
Applying this information to your training.
This is where powerlifters, bodybuilders and endurance athletes part ways. The goal of an endurance athlete is not to increase muscle mass - the goal of a powerlifter is to be able to generate as much power as possible - the goal of a bodybuilder is to increase muscle size as much as possible. Some training principals apply to all three, but there are also some significant differences. What will be covered here is the best way to get 'big'.
SIDE NOTE: The untrained muscle responds much better than the trained muscle. This simply means that the untrained person will experience much faster gains in strength and growth than the person who has several months of GOOD training under there belt. This is a well known fact - not someone's opinion.
TRAINING FOR GROWTH
First - be sure NOT to skip the above material - the above facts play an important part in understanding how to train correctly for growth.
Different types of exercises will not be covered here - why? - the type ofexercise you do (i.e.: push-ups, sit-ups, presses, curls, etc.) have nothing to do with growth - - they determine which muscle(s) receive the stimulation. The 'method' you use is what will cause your muscle to become bigger, stronger, faster, etc.. Let's make sure this is clear, as many people do not understand this, and it is an important point - it is HOW you train - NOT the exercise itself - - that cause muscles to grow.
Research on muscle recovery for medical reasons has been done for hundreds of years now - that's correct - 100's. Research was greatly stepped up after World War 2 - it was at this time that the benefits of resistance training began to be understood. Over the last 20 years the benefits of resistance training have been greatly accepted and researched. Over the last few years new types of testing methods - and computers - have come a
long way in finding the best - and fastest - way to 'build' muscle. Why is this important to people other than bodybuilders? - in the Medical community the information is considered important so that patients in rehabilitation may recover as quickly as possible. In sports it is important because it is now known that resistance training can enhance all types of performance. This is where the research is being done - and why. Bodybuilders are still on the bottom of the list - but are still included in some studies - not to help 'bodybuilders' - but to gain more understanding of muscle growth.
So what does research tell us - some of this you may know - some may surprise you. PRE - or Progressive Resistance training - is considered the best method of training for size. Before you say 'big deal' read on - PRE has changed much over the years. It was first started by DeLorme, T.L. who did the research on it (Restoration of muscle power by heavy-resistance exercise. J. Bone Joint Surg. 27:645,1945). Many of the principles still hold true - but many refinements have been made as well.
THE BEST WAY TO TRAIN FOR SIZE - WHAT RESEARCH HAS SHOWN
2 sets (of maximum effort), are far more effective that 1 (fastest
increases in growth and strength), and it appears that 3 sets are slightly more beneficial than doing 2. There is no evidence that doing more that 3 sets will help - or hurt. Rest between sets should be at least 1 min. and no more than 5 min. - no difference has been shown between taking a 1 min. or 5 min. rest - in terms of growth and strength increases - the choice is yours. All sets should be done to the point where another rep is not
possible. (Warm up sets should be done first).
Reps ranging from 3 to 12 are all considered good variations - this is not news to anyone - however this may be - it appears to be important to do at least one set of 10 RM each session. (I'm not going to go into details on this - this is what studies have concluded - take it or leave it). For those who do not understand - this means that you should do one set with enough weight so that you are only capable of doing 10 reps. You may mix
up the sequence any way you like, examples: 3-6-10; 12-11-10; 3-10-12; 10-10-10. Any combination is acceptable - just do 1 set of 10 RM each time. (Side note: I myself am not exactly clear on the point of doing one set of 10 each session but shall continue to research this point - I believe that it may be important as a 'control' as much as any other factor.)
The progressive part of PRE means that it is very important to increase your 'load' on a weekly basis. Your 10 RM is the control. You must increase the amount of weight you use for your 10 RM each week by at least a small amount
Shocker number two - it has been shown that fast movements (contractions), produce the greatest increases in strength and growth. This really should not come as a surprise. The speed of movement when lifting a weight that you are only capable of doing 10 reps with, even performing the reps as fast as possible with good form, is still very slow compared to many sports movements - such as swinging a bat, throwing a ball, running - etc. The concentric part of the movement should be done as fast as possible - however this does not mean to 'jerk' the weight - it is also very important that the movement be done in a 'smooth' manner. This is important - 'jerking' the weight may cause an increase in strength due to neural factors - but it is not the best way to increase muscle size.
Benefits from PRE can be achieved by training a muscle(s) as little as once a week. The best results for the TRAINED individual APPEAR to be training a muscle no more than 3 times a week, HOWEVER THIS IS NOT CONCLUSIVE - it is possible that training more or less may have a SMALL advantage - the new trainer can get best results training a muscle up to 5 times a week.. Another possible shocker - training when muscles are 'sore' may help speed recovery and is recommended - however you should not
train to the point of causing 'pain' (or if you are already in 'pain').
Working a muscle that is sore - even one that has been injured - will cause the muscle to recover much more rapidly that resting the muscle - you must know the difference between pain and soreness however - and should not do anything that will cause pain. (If you are recovering from an injury please be sure to follow your Doctors instructions.)
NUTRITION and SUPPLEMENTS
Nutrition is a very important part of getting 'big'. This should be very simple to understand but still many people don't. If you want to build a house there is one thing YOU HAVE TO HAVE - materials. If you want to build muscle you have to feed them - plain and simple. To gain mass you have to eat more than your body needs - or at least the exact amount that it needs for energy, repair, etc. (because there is no way of knowing your exact needs it is wise to eat a bit more than you feel you
need). If you don't YOUR MUSCLES WILL NOT GROW.
Supplements are another story. Research has shown that only drugs will make your muscles grow beyond 'normal'. Other supplements do have their place. It is important that your body has all the nutrients it needs - any less will slow your progress. There may be a very slight advantage to getting a little more of some things than your body needs - but there is little doubt that if your body is not getting enough of something it will hurt your progress. For example, most people are known to be deficient in
Zinc (there is not enough of it in our diets), in which case it has been proven that supplemental Zinc will increase the testosterone levels (in men). It has also been shown that taking twice as much as you need will not be of benefit - and may even have adverse effects on your health.
This training information is the result of over 50 years of research on PRE - - by hundreds of researchers. They know what their talking about. There are two important last points to make , researchers will be the first to tell you that everything is not known about the best way to train - but any improvements made on what is currently known - about training methods - will be very slight. Every possible combination of training methods (within reason), have been studied. If big improvements are to be
made in 'muscle building', it will be in areas other than training.
Now the bad news - if you train correctly you will 'level off'. The
training methods covered here have been shown to be better (produce faster and better results), than any other researched training methods. (Again, it is possible that slight variations will be found to have some slight benefit). Here's what to expect - if your train correctly for maximum growth you will make very fast gains for the first 3 to 6 months. At this point you will gradually start to taper off - after two years of training you can expect the gains to come very slowly - at some point, to be totally honest, further 'overall' gains will be almost impossible unless you take anabolic steroids or other types of anabolic drugs. (Which I do
not recommend). This does not mean that you can't continue to improve your appearance. It is at this time that you should start paying more attention to your weak areas, your diet, etc. - you can always improve - and hope - that more can be learned on how to increase muscle size through natural methods - without the use of steroids.
LAST NOTE: SHORT ON TIME?
A 1 rep max (1 RM), done once a week, (after warm up) - has been shown to be very effective in increasing strength and size during 6 week studies.
McArdle, W.D., and Katch, F.I., and Katch, V.L., Exercise Physiology, fourth edition, Williams and Wilkins, 1996. (includes 178 source referencences pertaining to the above subject).
Guyton, A.C., Function of the Human Body, fourth edition, Saunders, 1974. Nobel, B.J., Physiology of Exercise and Sport, Times Mirror/Mosby, 1986. Hendler, S.S., The Doctors' Vitamin and Mineral Encyclopedia, Simon and Schuster, 1990.
Hatfield, F.C., Bodybuilding a Scientific Approach, Contemporary, 1984.