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  1. #1
    Lifelong Nattie N@tural1's Avatar
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    Momentary muscular failure - THE stimulus?

    Is there any magic switch that turns on at failure telling the body to force a hypertrophy adaption?

    Is failure necessary or even optimal for everyone to achieve strength/hypertrophy?

    This is not a anti failure post by any means, I use it myself at times. However there are some that think that taking a set to the point of momentary muscular failure is necessary to force the muscle to adapt through hypertrophy. Is this belief accurate?

    Muscle doesn't know 'failure'

    Muscle doesn't know 'a set'

    It's only us in our minds that realize failure and plan out bio-mechanical work (muscle contractions) into organized structures called 'sets'

    All muscle is capable of is:

    1/ Producing bio-mechanical force.
    2/ Inducing metabolic fatigue.
    3/ Work induced micro trauma.

    It doesn't matter if a lifter performs one set to failure or multi sets not to failure, so long there is enough bio-mechanical work to cause enough micro trauma to the muscle fibers, and metabolic fatigue to produce sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, then there will be increase in both size and strength.

    Failure is merely an event not a stimulus for hypertrophy, it simply means that within that set you've reached a point of fatigue where the muscle is no longer able to produce a force greater than that of the load on the bar.

    Some overly dogmatic advocates on failure training would say then at the point of failure you've done ALL you can to stimulate hypertrophy, this is inaccurate, lighten the load and you'll perform a few more reps, rest/pause 20 seconds and you'll get more reps, allow someone to spot you and you'll get a few more reps. These techniques allows you to perform even more bio-mechanical work than just stopping at failure, so clearly failure is not the point where you have done all you can possibly can within a set.

    However there can be a problem with using these extra intensity set extending techniques. You are essentially redlining your CNS (central nervous system) and causing neural fatigue and likely for many progress comes to a quick and abrupt halt.

    Solution, well as we've established, there is no 'magic switch' that turns on at failure, and failure is merely an event due to fatigue and not a magic hypertrophy stimulus or switch, therefore it makes sense to induce more bio-mechanical work, fatigue and micro trauma through muscle fiber contraction using a multiple set approach while staying 1-2 reps shy of failure.

    That's not to say that failure should always be avoided, for some, low volume failure-rest/pause training works great, these are usually advanced lifters that have built up the CNS capacity to be able to generate great intensity and to be able to recover, but even then such training is usually periodized and deloads used to allow accumulated fatigue to dissipate. For most lifters in my opinion failure should be used as a tool, not the rule.

    There is one point I must not over look regarding failure, failure can be an effective tool for enhancing neural strength adaptions due to the fact that at failure, similar to a 1 rep max, you are exerting maximum available force. So failure is a useful tool for enhancing neural efficiency.

    The point here is that failure is not the only, or even optimal stimulus... So what is?

    I'd like to repeat/highlight an important point:

    So long there is enough bio-mechanical work to cause enough micro trauma, and metabolic fatigue to produce sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, then there will be increase in both size and strength provided that volume, intensity and frequency are effectively managed.

    This is best served by either an increase in volume with the same load, an increase in load with the same volume, or a combination of volume/load increase. These equal THE answer for the stimulus of continued strength and hypertrophy - Simple and basic progression!

    Some claim that workload is not the stimulus for strength/hypertrophy, this is also not quite accurate, the only reason that ANY program works is because there must be SOME workload, failure can be avoided and progression made, however no workload equals no progression.

    Summary

    1/ Failure is an event not a magic switch or THE hypertrophy stimulus.
    2/ Failure increases neural strength and efficiency.
    3/ In my opinion failure should be used as a tool not a rule (unless following a program specifically based on failure)
    4/ There's no magic in failure, muscle doesn't know failure, only we do.
    5/ Simply keep progressing and increasing workload (add weight and/or reps)


    Manipulating the various set/rep schemes that are commonly used is useful in putting together a program based on our goals and I shall write some information on this soon.
    Last edited by Natural2; 12-19-2008 at 06:07 AM.
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  2. #2
    The Raid ThickAsABrick's Avatar
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    good post m8
    What the f*ck, I'm a mack truck. Are you gonna give up like a b*tch, or jump da f*ck up!
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  3. #3
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    x2.

    Well said, Nat2...

    .....although I expect the Jedis to come storming through any moment.
    "Don't call me Miss Kitty. Just...don't."--Catnip

    "Chivalry isn't dead. It just wears a skirt."--Twisted

    "Love doesn't always come around, and when it does, it isn't always from around here." --Lindsay Versus the Marauders

    Check out my links to Catnip and Death Bytes at DevineDestinies.com/Amazon.com and The Tower at Untreedreads.com/Amazon.com. Twisted and Lindsay Versus the Marauders are available from RegalCrest.biz/Amazon.com.
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    Hellwishin' Crew momofo's Avatar
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    GREAT post Natural2!
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    Originally Posted by Natural2 View Post
    Is there any magic switch that turns on at failure telling the body to force a hypertrophy adaption?

    Is failure necessary or even optimal for everyone to achieve strength/hypertrophy?

    This is not a anti failure post by any means, I use it myself at times. However there are some that think that taking a set to the point of momentary muscular failure is necessary to force the muscle to adapt through hypertrophy. Is this belief accurate?

    Muscle doesn't know 'failure'

    Muscle doesn't know 'a set'

    It's only us in our minds that realize failure and plan out bio-mechanical work (muscle contractions) into organized structures called 'sets'

    All muscle is capable of is:

    1/ Producing bio-mechanical force.
    2/ Inducing metabolic fatigue.
    3/ Work induced micro trauma.

    It doesn't matter if a lifter performs one set to failure or multi sets not to failure, so long there is enough bio-mechanical work to cause enough micro trauma to the muscle fibers, and metabolic fatigue to produce sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, then there will be increase in both size and strength.

    Failure is merely an event not a stimulus for hypertrophy, it simply means that within that set you've reached a point of fatigue where the muscle is no longer able to produce a force greater than that of the load on the bar.

    Some overly dogmatic advocates on failure training would say then at the point of failure you've done ALL you can to stimulate hypertrophy, this is inaccurate, lighten the load and you'll perform a few more reps, rest/pause 20 seconds and you'll get more reps, allow someone to spot you and you'll get a few more reps. These techniques allows you to perform even more bio-mechanical work than just stopping at failure, so clearly failure is not the point where you have done all you can possibly can within a set.

    However there can be a problem with using these extra intensity set extending techniques. You are essentially redlining your CNS (central nervous system) and causing neural fatigue and likely for many progress comes to a quick and abrupt halt.

    Solution, well as we've established, there is no 'magic switch' that turns on at failure, and failure is merely an event due to fatigue and not a magic hypertrophy stimulus or switch, therefore it makes sense to induce more bio-mechanical work, fatigue and micro trauma through muscle fiber contraction using a multiple set approach while staying 1-2 reps shy of failure.

    That's not to say that failure should always be avoided, for some, low volume failure-rest/pause training works great, these are usually advanced lifters that have built up the CNS capacity to be able to generate great intensity and to be able to recover, but even then such training is usually periodized and deloads used to allow accumulated fatigue to dissipate. For most lifters in my opinion failure should be used as a tool, not the rule.

    There is one point I must not over look regarding failure, failure can be an effective tool for enhancing neural strength adaptions due to the fact that at failure, similar to a 1 rep max, you are exerting maximum available force. So failure is a useful tool for enhancing neural efficiency.

    The point here is that failure is not the only, or even optimal stimulus... So what is?

    I'd like to repeat/highlight an important point:

    So long there is enough bio-mechanical work to cause enough micro trauma, and metabolic fatigue to produce sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, then there will be increase in both size and strength provided that volume, intensity and frequency are effectively managed.

    This is best served by either an increase in volume with the same load, an increase in load with the same volume, or a combination of volume/load increase. These equal THE answer for the stimulus of continued strength and hypertrophy - Simple and basic progression!

    Some claim that workload is not the stimulus for strength/hypertrophy, this is also not quite accurate, the only reason that ANY program works is because there must be SOME workload, failure can be avoided and progression made, however no workload equals no progression.

    Summary

    1/ Failure is an event not a magic switch or THE hypertrophy stimulus.
    2/ Failure increases neural strength and efficiency.
    3/ In my opinion failure should be used as a tool not a rule (unless following a program specifically based on failure)
    4/ There's no magic in failure, muscle doesn't know failure, only we do.
    5/ Simply keep progressing and increasing workload (add weight and/or reps)


    Manipulating the various set/rep schemes that are commonly used is useful in putting together a program based on our goals and I shall write some information on this soon.
    The way I understand why it is useful to take your sets to failure; is as it was explained by Mike Mentzer.

    Mike did not teach that the failure rep, tripped the growth response necessarily. He taught it was possible that the growth response might well happen a rep or 2 before failure, but that there was no way to know for sure it had happened. What taking a set to failure does is INSURES you have induced the growth response by taking the set as far as possible which is failure. To stop short of failure by 1 or 2 reps means there is a possibility the growth response will not have been reached, thus producing a wasted effort, complete with an inroad into recovery with no reward.
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  6. #6
    Lifelong Nattie N@tural1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by J_Smith View Post
    Mike did not teach that the failure rep, tripped the growth response necessarily.
    Correct.

    Originally Posted by J_Smith View Post
    He taught it was possible that the growth response might well happen a rep or 2 before failure, but that there was no way to know for sure it had happened.
    This would imply that there is some "switch" that needs to be turned on for a stimulus to occur, we know this to be wrong, there is no switch rather a planned progression of over load is the stimulus required.

    Remember, muscle doesn't know failure, WE only know failure, the muscle doesn't care if it failed or not.

    Originally Posted by J_Smith View Post
    What taking a set to failure does is INSURES you have induced the growth response by taking the set as far as possible which is failure.
    Again this implies that there is a certain magical point in a set where adaption has occurred, if failure occurs at rep 10 are reps 8 and 9 a wasted effort? No of course not. Why would reps 9 and 10 suddenly tell the muscle to grow? Stopping just short help prevent the neural fatigue associated with failure.

    And as I mentioned in the original post, failure is not all you can do within one set, it just means fatigued prevents you from moving the load on the bar, there is no magic here.

    Originally Posted by J_Smith View Post
    To stop short of failure by 1 or 2 reps means there is a possibility the growth response will not have been reached, thus producing a wasted effort, complete with an inroad into recovery with no reward.
    1/ Stopping 1-2 reps shy of failure as Mentzer has stated is sufficient and avoids the CNS fatigue associated with failure.

    2/ If something has made a, what you term "inroad" into recovery then surely this is a signal that the body/muscle needs to adapt.

    Also Gerry you need to be a bit more specific when claiming that failure ensures a stimulus, what type of growth response (hypertrophy) are you referring to?
    Last edited by Natural2; 12-19-2008 at 08:46 AM.
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  7. #7
    Registered User l337g0g0's Avatar
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    Great thread

    I was just going to start a thread on this subject.
    Keep this going.
    I want to know what is the best way to grow muscle.
    As i understand it lifting weights where you fail at 8 9 10 reps is the target weight and reps.
    I want to know if i should go to failure all the time or stop one or 2 reps short.


    Ohh.....
    And what is the recovery time for a muscle?
    I want to know how many days it takes before you can/should work that muscle again?
    When it is repaired and ready to go again.

    Thanks all, keep this thread going with info its a great subject.
    Last edited by l337g0g0; 12-19-2008 at 01:20 PM.
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  8. #8
    Lifelong Nattie N@tural1's Avatar
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    l337g0g0

    That was a loaded post and would require a lot of typing to answer everything fully.

    1/ There is no single best way to hypertrophy a muscle.
    2/ There is no need for failure and for some it can be counter productive.
    3/ Various rep ranges offer their own advantages so there is no single best rep range, however an average of 6-12 works well a lot of the time.
    4/ Frequency of training the same muscle depends on volume and intensity but commonly muscle are hit from 1-3 times a week.
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  9. #9
    Registered User l337g0g0's Avatar
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    Should you hurt the next day after working a muscle?
    My first day i went to the gym with a friend and he was showing me how to work the muscles.
    We did bis tris and shoulders, i know i should have not did them in one day but he was showing me how to lift the weights to target the muscles.
    So i did like 12 reps 2 to three times on 3 moves for each muscle group. LOL
    And i went to fail each time plus i raised the weights each set if i could.
    I did this friday and my muscles where jacked the whole weekend.
    I couldnt even Straighten my arms, and i couldnt reach the back of my neck.

    I will target one muscle at a time from the bis tris and shoulders now on any given day, i will split them up to different days now.

    So what kind of discomfort should i feel starting out and as time goes on?
    Is there pain involed the day after or more after working that muscle?
    Or will the pain go away as i get into doing this Regularly?

    Thanks all, i was looking to get this info...
    Last edited by l337g0g0; 12-19-2008 at 01:18 PM.
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  10. #10
    Lifelong Nattie N@tural1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by l337g0g0 View Post
    Should you hurt the next day after working a muscle?
    You may you may not, you don't have to get sore to have had a good workout.

    Originally Posted by l337g0g0 View Post
    We did bis tris and shoulders, i know i should have not did them in one day but he was showing me how to lift the weights to target the muscles.
    There's nothing wrong with an arm/shoulder session if the routine is structured properly.

    Originally Posted by l337g0g0 View Post
    So i did like 12 reps 2 to three times on 3 moves for each muscle group. LOL
    And i went to fail each time plus i raised the weights each set if i could.
    When performing a mutli-set routine its advisable to avoid failure except for maybe the last set of an exercise.

    Originally Posted by l337g0g0 View Post
    I will target one muscle at a time from the bis tris and shoulders now on any given day, i will split them up to different days now.
    I gather you are a beginner? Please have a read of the first post here:

    My advice for all beginners and first time readers.
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  11. #11
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    Part 1

    The WeighTrainer
    Training To Failure: A Look Inside
    by Casey Butt, Ph.D.
    Way back in the early 1970s Arthur Jones popularized the notion of training to failure with his series of articles in Iron Man magazine. Training to the point of muscular failure, Jones explained, was the necessary stimulus for maximum muscular growth. Mike Mentzer, a former Mr. Universe and founder of "Heavy Duty" training, was absolutely adament about it, repeatedly stating that if the muscle isn't pushed to the point of momentary concentric failure then no growth will be stimulated. Five-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl, on the other hand, holds the conviction that one should NOT train to the point of failure. To Pearl's thinking, training to failure is not only unnecessary, it's counterproductive. Top Powerlifters seldom train to failure. Olympic Lifters rarely ever take sets to the point of failure. (Note: By failure here I mean momentary concentric failure, i.e. the inability to complete another full repetition of the concentric phase of the lift - you could, however, continue to do static holds and negatives). Some people have even advocated doing negative-only sets to the point of momentary eccentric failure (the inability to complete another full repetition of the eccentric phase of the lift - you are unable to stop the bar from crashing down on you).

    With all of these experts disagreeing with each other, and many of them having very impressive credentials, how can one know who or what to believe? That's what I'm going to attempt to calrify here. If you haven't read the Neuromuscular System series and the article entitled Muscular Fatigue During Weight Training on the 'Physiology Related Articles' page, then I suggest that now would be a good time to have a look at them. A great deal of the knowledge that you need to analyze many weight training approaches, including the practice of training to failure, is there. Let's have a look at those approaches with both neuromuscular physiology and experience in mind.

    Training to Failure: Necessary or Not?
    As already mentioned, some high intensity training advocates have stated, unequivocally, that if you don't train to momentary concentric muscular failure then you will not grow. That's a pretty bold statement. The logic goes like this:

    Your body responds to demands that you place upon it. If you don't take your sets to failure, then the message your body gets is that it is already strong enough to perform the tasks being required of it (lifting that particular weight for the number of sets and reps that you performed). Similarly, in order for your body to respond by getting stronger and bigger, you must attempt the momentarily impossible and perform your reps until you are unable to lift the bar (or dumbbell or machine, etc) any further. This will send a clear signal to your body that it is presently insufficiently equipped to do the tasks that it is being presented with and your muscles will, therefore, adapt and grow/get stronger.
    The logic seems bullet-proof. But you really don't have to look very far to dispell it. Top powerlifters, Olympic-style weightlifters and many bodybuilders rarely, if ever, train to momentary concentric muscular failure, yet I probably don't have to tell you that they haven't had a problem with realizing muscular growth and/or strength increases. I recall reading an interview with Powerlifting legend Ed Coan from about fifteen years ago in which he stated that he never went to failure on any of his sets. Bill Pearl says the same thing about his own training. "But they were on steroids", some of you will say. Well, of course they were. But most pre-steroid era bodybuilders didn't train to failure and they never had a problem with muscular growth either. "But they weren't that big," some more of you will say. That's precisely because they weren't on steroids. As most people can appreciate, the drug-created monsters that now call themselves bodybuilders have raised people's definition of 'heavily-muscled' to the point where any man less than 250 pounds with 4% bodyfat is small and fat. If you really think that men such as George Eiferman, Reg Park, John Grimek and Steve Reeves weren't that big, maybe you should see them standing next to 'normal' men, or in more normal circumstances than oiled up on a posing dias. Take a look. If that doesn't convince you, compare your own overhead lifts to what the Olympic lifters were doing years before the introduction of anabolic steroids. 180 pound weightlifters were routinely pressing well over 300 pounds overhead in the early 1950s! The level of strength that these men posessed was developed without steroids and without training to failure. The success of these people in building muscle, power and strength while not training to failure proves that such training is not necessary (at least for some) to realize muscular conditioning and growth.

    Incidently, the pre-steroid era bodybuilders, statistically, carried just as much muscle as modern drug-free champions - sometimes even more - though they usually did not compete at such low body fat levels (see Your Muscular Potential: How to Predict your Maximum Muscular Bodyweight and Measurements). So if training to failure is now in vogue amongst drug-free bodybuilders, then the practice does not appear to be succeeding at building significantly bigger muscles than the pre-steroid era bodybuilders who rarely trained to failure.

    But what works best for one person might not work best for all. Perhaps if Reg Park had routinely trained to concentric failure he would have been even bigger. Perhaps Jon Harris (the 2006 WNBF World Champion) wouldn't be nearly as big if he didn't train to failure. Perhaps it's the other way around. So the question is clearly not whether training to momentary concentric failure is absolutely necessary, but rather is it the most effective way for you to weight train.

    Training To Failure: The Most Effective Way To Weight Train?
    Physiologically, we need to consider what happens when a weight training movement is taken to failure. Muscles fail because they're firing patterns can no longer produce enough force to continue the activity. Taking a segment from the article The Neuromuscular System Part I: What A Weight Trainer Needs To Know About Muscle:

    Muscle Fibers have two recruitment patterns. In the first pattern, units that innervate the same types of fibers are recruited at different times, so that some units are resting (recovering) while others are firing. Obviously, at high loads this pattern isn't possible because all available motor units will have to be fired at the same time to lift the load. In the second pattern, motor units that are more fatigue resistant are recruited before fibers that are more rapidly fatigued.
    Since productive (not rehabilitative) weight training involves lifting weights that require the firing of the type I, IIA and type IIB fibers, failure will occur when the highest threshold fibers fatigue. When a heavy load is lifted, first the lower threshold fibers are recruited, then the higher threshold fibers are recuited in increasing numbers until the weight is lifted. If all available fibers are recruited yet the resistance not overcome, then force production can be increased by increased rate coding frequency (the fibers twitch faster to develop more force) up until the point of maximum rate coding, at which failure occurs. Since the highest threshold fibers have the poorest endurance characteristics, failure will occur when these fibers fatigue (because the weight could not be lifted without them). Even if the weight isn't initially heavy enough to recruit the highest threshold fibers, as the lower threshold fibers fatigue the higher threshold ones are gradually recruited to compensate for the fatiguing lower threshold fibers. It is the high threshold fibers that have the most potential for growth.

    This simple examination of muscle fiber recruitment and fatigue patterns shows that by taking sets to failure you are exhausting more muscle fibers than if you stopped the set short of failure. This is strong support for the practice of training to the point of momentary concentric failure - assuming that fiber fatigue is indeed the stimulus for growth.
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

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    Bridgeport Ct.
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    Part 2

    The WeighTrainer
    Training To Failure: A Look Inside
    by Casey Butt, Ph.D.
    Muscle Fiber Considerations
    So, what exactly is muscle fiber fatigue? The contributing factors to fiber fatigue were covered extensively in the Muscular Fatigue During Weight Training article and somewhat in the Neuromuscular System series on the 'Physiology Related Articles' page. Reviewing some information from those sources we have:

    From the phosphagen system:

    Declining intramuscular ATP is thought to be a major cause of fatigue during high intensity exercise.
    and...

    Creatine phosphate (CP) concentrations quickly decrease within the first few seconds of exercise and eventually decreasing to 5-10% of the pre-exercise concentration within 30 seconds. When this happens there is insufficient CP levels to adequately support ATP replenishment.
    and...

    As contraction continues, there is not adequate CP left to continue fueling the necessary ADP -> ATP conversion, leading to the depletion of ATP stores also. This contributes to fatigue of the fiber.
    And during the anaerobic glycolysis mechanism:

    Lactic acid build-up in the muscle cells make the interior of the muscle more acidic. This acidic environment interferes with the chemical processes that expose actin cross-bridging sites and permit cross-bridging. It also interferes with ATP formation. So, these factors, along with depleted energy stores, contribute to muscle fiber fatigue.
    and...

    ...during muscle contraction, calcium ions (Ca++) are released from the sarcoplasmic reticulum by way of the T System and then returned to that organelle by way of the Ca-Pump.
    Studies on isolated muscle fibers have, indeed, linked reduced sarcoplasmic Ca++ concentrations to fatigue. Specifically, repetitive 'tetanic' contractions of isolated muscles caused a gradual decline of force that was closely associated with a decline in sarcoplasmic Ca++ concentrations (Westerblad & Allen, 1991). After only 10-20 such contractions, sarcoplasmic calcium concentrations became insufficient for forceful contraction (Westerblad et al., 1991). The reason for this is simply because decreased Ca++ release for binding to troponin reduces the number of actin/myosin cross-bridges that can be formed.
    Forceful contraction could be reestablished with extremely high doses of caffeine (which stimulates greater Ca++ release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum), but this required caffeine doses at physiologically dangerous levels. This does show, however, that the problem appears not to be with the Ca++ concentrations in the sarcoplasmic reticulum, or their release channels, but probably as a consequence of impaired T-tubule signaling. During repeated contractions of a muscle fiber, K+ begins 'pooling' in the T-tubules. This results from an inability of the Na+/K+ ATPase Pump to maintain the proper Na+/K+ balance on the sarcolemma (at the T-tubules). This disturbance of the membrane potential in the T-tubules inhibits the conduction of the action potential to the sarcoplasmic reticulum and Ca++ is not optimally released - and, thus, forceful contraction is not achieved.
    In addition, lactic acid build-up factors in here also. Increased intracellular H+ concentrations (caused by lactic acid accumulation) slows the uptake of Ca++ by the sarcoplasmic reticulum. This occurs because H+ interferes with the operation of the Ca++/ATPase Pump. This reduces muscle contraction force by interfering with intracellular and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca++ concentrations.
    and...

    As ATP is broken down to provide energy for muscular contraction inorganic phosphate (Pi) accumulates in the cell. On the one hand this is 'good' because phosphate (Pi) is known to be an important stimulator of glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose to produce ATP) and glycogenolysis (the breakdown of glycogen to produce ATP) - thus stimulating the production of more ATP by these pathways. But the increased Pi levels also inhibit further cross-bridges from being formed between actin and myosin filaments. When ATP is used to fuel contraction Pi must be released from the myosin head. Elevated intracellular Pi concentrations impairs this process, resulting in reduced tension development - meaning that as Pi builds up, muscular force production goes down. This may be another contributing factor to muscle fatigue.
    As explained in the Muscle Growth series, the stimulus for muscle growth is complex and multi-faceted. A major contributing factor, however, is believed to be myofibrillar damage done as a result of insufficient cycling of actin-myosin cross-bridges. When cross-bridges cannot be released and formed in a sufficiently timely manner and sequence, trauma is experienced at some of the cross-bridge sites which cannot release properly and are 'torn' under the tension being produced by the fiber. This is thought to be a major stimulus for the growth process. All of the above factors of fatigue result in cross-bridge cycling impairment and, therefore, result in growth stimulus via the same mechanism.

    Training to failure results in more fiber fatigue and, therefore, more micro-trauma within the fiber than stopping sets short of failure. Logically, this could be extended to conclude that training to failure also results in a greater growth stimulus.

    However, consider some research involving heavy eccentric contractions that has shown that negatives (eccentrics) produce more microtrauma to muscle fibers than concentrics or isometrics. This occurs because fewer total fibers are recruited during the eccentric portion of a lift than during the concentric phase. Fewer fibers doing the job mean more tension is developed in each fiber and, therefore, more damage is sustained by each individual fiber. Research has indicated that this does not necessarily translate into accelerated growth, however, as programs consisting of negative repetitions have failed to produce more muscle growth than other types of training programs. As was covered in the Muscle Growth series, muscle damage and muscle recovery and supercompensation, though intertwined, are different processes. High levels of microtrauma (as caused by strong eccentric contractions) are known to interfere with glycogen replenishment and other metabolic processes in muscle after training - this may blunt the growth process. Clearly, greater microtrauma does not necessarily equate to greater growth.

    Before you decide to try to minimize the negative portions of your lifts, however, bear in mind that many other studies have indicated that the negative phase is, in fact, the most important phase of the lift for stimulating hypertrophy (growth). The lesson to be learned is that negative-accentuated training will stimulate growth (perhaps moreso than any other type of training) but the degradative processes may outweigh the growth processes and because of the level of damage they do, negative-emphasis reps may, very likely, impose a longer recovery period.

    Finally, within the fibers themselves there is point at which maximum tension and work occurs. This is not at the failure point - where maximum rate coding occurs - but rather at the point of about 90% rate coding. Since weights above 80% of 1-rep maximum (1RM) recruit practically all available muscle fibers in most muscle groups, and strength decreases by roughly 3% per rep with weights above 80% of 1RM (for most individuals), then we can estimate that this point of maximum tension and work occurs at roughly the third rep away from failure. In other words, if you did a set of 8 reps to failure, maximum tension and work would occur somewhere around the fifth rep. The question then begs to be asked, are the extra 3 reps until failure necessary - particularly if maximum strength increase is the goal? Or is it sufficient to stop sets with one to three possible reps able to be performed? Alternatively, if one could perform a certain number of reps (to failure) with a certain weight, is it sufficient to use only 90% of that weight for the same number of reps? Because strength gains are largely a result of increased rate coding "efficiency", neuromuscular physiology hints that this may, in fact, be true. It is also in accordance with the majority of Olympic Weightlifting programs which traditionally avoid haphazard training to failure, and also recent research into strength training and periodization. Very few, if any, of the strongest drug-free Powerlifters and Weightlifters in history have advocated regular training to failure.

    Other Factors Involved in the Growth Process
    As was covered in the Muscle Growth series, the anabolic process relies on several major hormones and prostaglandins. Resistance training has been shown to have a profound effect on these substances. Several studies have indicated, rather conclusively, that one-set-to-failure training programs do not result in as great a training induced increase in anabolic hormones (testosterone, growth hormone and IGF-1) as do programs consisting of several sets of each exercise. Regular training to failure with multiple sets per exercise does appear, however, to increase resting cortisol levels, whereas training shy of failure appears to decrease it.

    With this evidence it can be concluded that the optimal approach is certainly to perform several sets of each exercise. The remaining question is whether any, or all, of those sets should be taken to the point of failure.

    In any case, many studies have shown that the growth process inside trained muscle is completed within 36-48 hours of even very intense, high volume bodybuilding style training. This means that if longer rest periods are necessary between body part training sessions, then it is most likely not the muscles that require the additional recovery time...
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

    R.I.P.
    Lynn Larsen
    5/17/86 - 9/14/06
    Bridgeport Ct.
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    Part 3

    The WeighTrainer
    Training To Failure: A Look Inside
    by Casey Butt, Ph.D.
    Peripheral Nervous System Considerations
    It was covered in the Neuromuscular System series that contracting a muscle involves more than just what occurs in the muscle itself. The nervous system is intimately involved in the process. Taking another few lines from that series:

    ...as effort fractionally increases, so does the frequency of firing of each motor unit. A sudden increase in force requirement is met by the recruitment of more motor units.
    So, extending this, as the muscle fibers fatigue, and you reach the point of failure, the nervous system will recruit all available motor units and fire them as frequently as is possible at that moment (maximum rate coding). It is a well-established fact, though, that as a maximum muscular contraction continues, the frequency of motor units firing decreases. In fact, one study showed that by the end of a 30 second maximum voluntary contraction the firing frequency decreased by 80%. Eventually the frequency of twitching of the high threshold fibers becomes insufficient to sustain the effort.

    We know that each neuron must release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) every time that it fires (or 'twitches') a motor unit. We also know that the neurons transmit impulses down the length of their axons by way of Sodium/Potassium transport and the Sodium/Potassium ATPase Pump. The signal is carried across the membrane of the muscle cell in the same manner. Inside the cell, calcium is released via the T system to facilitate contraction. (For my purposes I am including the T system as part of the peripheral nervous system.) The process relies heavily on optimum calcium levels and transport, and enzymes that are involved in the synthesis and breakdown of acetylcholine and numerous other substances. The frequency of motor unit firing decreases, therefore, as these substrates are inadequately cycled - yet as failure approaches we continue our maximal effort to lift the weight. The effect that such an effort has on the neuromuscular system must be considered.

    During the 1960s Dr. John Ziegler (York weightlifting team physician and co-developer of the steroid Dianabol) designed a machine that he used to monitor overtraining by sending electric currents through muscle. The 'Isotron', as he called it (cheesy '60s name), would be used to induce a muscular contraction by supplying a small electrical impulse to the muscle being tested. It was found that an overtrained or recently trained muscle would require a higher current than a rested muscle for 'strong' contraction to be achieved. He used this to determine when a lifter was ready to train again. What does this tell us? It tells us that for a period after training a higher than normal activation threshold is needed to produce contraction.

    Incidently, ~75 mA was the 'normal' current required to produce 'strong' contraction. Anything over ~100 mA was considered indicative of overtraining. You may also be wondering how accurate this is given the fact that type II fibers naturally have higher activation thresholds than type Is. Well, when it comes to external stimulation (such as the kind the Isotron applied) the type II fibers are actually easier to induce a contraction in than the type Is because of their closer proximity to the surface of the muscle.

    Regardless of all this, and whether signal transmission at the neuron, sarcolemma or T-tubules is responsible for the effects, this clearly illustrates that the peripheral nervous system (PNS) requires its own recovery period after training. And logically, training to failure would impose greater stresses on the peripheral nervous system and extend its recovery period longer than training short of failure.

    Central Nervous System Considerations
    Our nervous system arguments up to now have focused on the peripheral nervous system. But, as any experienced coach can tell you, the central nervous system has a large bearing on the failure point and the overtraining phenomenon. Taking another segment from the Muscular Fatigue During Weight Training article:

    In order for a muscle fiber to twitch the central nervous system (CNS) must send a nerve impulse to the controlling motor unit. The innervating nerve cannot maintain its capacity to transmit this signal, with optimum frequency, speed and power for extended periods of time. Eventually concentrations of substrates such as sodium, potassium, calcium, neurotransmitters, enzymes, etc. may decrease to the point where muscle contraction becomes markedly slower and weaker. If high discharge rates are continued the nerve cell will assume a state of inhibition to protect itself from further stimuli. The force of contraction, therefore, is directly related to the frequency, speed and power of the electrical 'signal' sent by the CNS.

    This is reflected in the fact that a trainee's motivation and emotional state can profoundly affect the discharge characteristics of the central nervous system ...though it is far from understood on a physiological basis. It is clear, however, that the central nervous system can play a pivotal role in the perception and reality of fatigue.

    Furthermore, it must be considered that as the signalling of the PNS becomes impaired as muscular effort continues, increasing stress is imposed on the CNS in order to maintain the rate coding necessary to maintain sufficient muscle force production. As the PNS 'fatigues' the CNS burden increases, leading to accelerated CNS fatigue as well.

    After training, during the recovery period of the muscles and PNS, intense muscular contraction imposes an increased burden on the CNS to overcome the impairment of muscle contraction caused by these insufficiently recuperated systems.

    If these concepts seem vague, think of a lifter "psyching up" for a big lift, or remember some time when you thought that you couldn't possibly get another rep, but somehow managed to "dig deep" and force another one out. Both of those situations illustrate the manipulation of the central nervous system in order to allow the lifter to be stronger. Any experienced coach will tell you, however, that you shouldn't "psyche up" all the time or you'll "burn yourself out". The "old-timers" referred to this as using up too much "nervous energy". However you want to look at it, training too intensely, too often, will certainly lead to nervous system inhibition. When that happens you can forget about making good progress until you take enough of a break to allow for nervous system recovery.

    NOTE: From extensive empirical evidence it can be concluded that training to failure with low reps and heavy weights is much more taxing on the central nervous system than training to failure with high reps and lighter weights. This is, most likely, due to the fact that heavy weights require the simultaneous recruitment and maximal rate coding of all available motor units (the muscle fiber and its innervating neuron). In addition, heavy loads tend to stress and deform connective tissues and joint capsules. Proprioceptors in the joint capsules relay information about joint positioning to the central nervous system. If the integrity of the joint is compromised, even slightly, the central nervous system will not allow the muscles acting on and around that joint to be recruited at full force. Maximal contractions in these muscle groups will not be "permitted" again until full joint recovery is achieved. Heavy, low-rep training therefore requires recovery periods for both the central nervous system (especially if training is taken to the failure point) and the joint structures. It has been shown that the muscles of the lower back may need up to one month of recovery time after maximum efforts before full force contractions can be achieved again. Keep this in mind when designing training programs.

    Special Considerations For The Olympic Lifts (and closely related lifts)
    As anyone who practices these lifts knows, they are extremely complex, high-skill movements. Muscular and neuromuscular fatigue quickly causes a deterioration of form on these complex lifts, so sets of the Weightlifting-style lifts should not be deliberately trained to failure. In fact, it is very rare for Olympic weightlifters to train the Olympic lifts to failure unless, of course, they miss a lift attempt. Also, because fatigue causes a deterioration of technique with these lifts, reps are kept low - typically 3 or less.

    For someone who wishes to practice these lifts (or, more likely, their "power" versions) for strength development or athletic improvement, it still doesn't make sense to practice higher reps, as the very nature of these lifts require activation of the fastest of the fast twitch fibers. These fibers are, by nature, quickly fatigued. Don't forget that even the simpler "power" versions of these lifts (the Power Clean, Power Jerk, Power Snatch), or even High Pulls, still qualify as high-skill movements and, therefore, are susceptible to form deterioration with fatigue. Slightly higher reps than with the full Olympic lifts may be employed though - up to 5 reps - but they should not be trained to failure.

    Summary
    Training to failure results in more muscle fiber microtrauma. This may result in a greater growth stimulus than stopping sets shy of failure. However, excessive microtrauma and degradation may partially offset the growth stimulus and blunt the anabolic response, not producing a net anabolic effect any greater than stopping sets short of failure.
    Several set protocols produce greater anabolic hormone release than single set protocols, but repeated failure efforts appear to increase levels of catabolic hormones such as cortisol. Repeated sets shy of the failure point appear to lower resting cortisol levels.
    Training to failure imposes greater stress on the peripheral nervous system and may lead to an extended period of inhibition and recovery as compared to stopping sets short of failure. This may have the side effect of further stressing the central nervous system.
    Training to failure, especially with heavy loads (roughly 85% of one-rep max and above), imposes greater stress on the central nervous system, connective tissues and joint capsules. This may lead to an extended period of central nervous system mediated inhibition.
    Clearly, training to failure imposes a longer recovery period than an otherwise identical routine but with sets stopped short of failure. Therefore, if a person choses to train to failure then training must be done less frequently than if the person did not train to failure. The question to be answered is whether it is more productive, from a muscle growth perspective, to train to failure infrequently, or to train short of failure but more often. Herein lies the difference between the two approaches.

    In my experience, how a trainee reacts to specific training protocols is strongly influenced by body type:
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

    R.I.P.
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    Bridgeport Ct.
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    part 4

    Ectomorphs and small-boned endomorphs do not respond well to high intensity, infrequent training routines that involve regular training to failure. For them, the failure effort imposes an extended period of neuromuscular system inhibition and recovery. In addition, the muscle growth stimulus that they receive from such training is either insufficient to produce significant growth during the extended recovery period or it is offset by other factors such as excessive muscle damage and consequent degradation, and higher resting cortisol levels. (Prolonged excessive training to failure often causes adrenal insufficiency in these types of trainees.) Additionally, the less robust joint structures of small-boned individuals do not tolerate heavy loading as well as larger boned individuals. Small-boned trainees may gain strength, initially, with such training routines, but do not typically gain much muscle size. For these individuals, training to failure must be used sparingly, on higher rep sets only, or on sets of less stressful exercises (i.e. isolation exercises).


    Mesomorphs and large-boned endomorphs, on the other hand, often react well to heavy training to failure. For them, training to failure produces a sufficient growth stimulus to "carry" them through the recovery periods of both the nervous system and the connective tissues/joint capsules, and to overcome any increases in catabolic hormone levels. And for mesomorphs who possess above average nervous system recovery abilities and particularly robust joint structures, these recovery periods may not be signifcantly extended. For these people, training to failure regularly may be the optimal choice. It should be noted however, that such individuals are typically those considered to be very gifted for bodybuilding.

    Clearly, the effects of training to failure and personal recovery patterns have to be considered and monitored when a training approach is adopted.
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

    R.I.P.
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    5/17/86 - 9/14/06
    Bridgeport Ct.
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    Originally Posted by J_Smith View Post
    The way I understand why it is useful to take your sets to failure; is as it was explained by Mike Mentzer.

    Mike did not teach that the failure rep, tripped the growth response necessarily. He taught it was possible that the growth response might well happen a rep or 2 before failure, but that there was no way to know for sure it had happened. What taking a set to failure does is INSURES you have induced the growth response by taking the set as far as possible which is failure. To stop short of failure by 1 or 2 reps means there is a possibility the growth response will not have been reached, thus producing a wasted effort, complete with an inroad into recovery with no reward.
    Word of advice, admire Mike's physique, forget Mike's understanding of science and physiology - you might as well get your science from Wyle E. Coyote and ACME Bodybuilding Co. I realize his absolute certainty and use of logical common sense analogies are compelling but unfortunately if they aren't based in reality and don't stand up to empirical evidence they are best discarded and replaced by a more robust understanding (albeit slightly less simplistic).
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    Originally Posted by Natural2 View Post
    This is best served by either an increase in volume with the same load, an increase in load with the same volume, or a combination of volume/load increase. These equal THE answer for the stimulus of continued strength and hypertrophy - Simple and basic progression!
    Negged for telling secrets.
    "Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret."

    Training regularly but no progress?
    You need one or more of these: more food, more weight, more reps or more rest.

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    Talking

    Originally Posted by jdmalm123 View Post
    Negged for telling secrets.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Double negged for negging on the guy who told the secrets!
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    Originally Posted by J_Smith View Post
    The way I understand why it is useful to take your sets to failure; is as it was explained by Mike Mentzer.

    Mike did not teach that the failure rep, tripped the growth response necessarily. He taught it was possible that the growth response might well happen a rep or 2 before failure, but that there was no way to know for sure it had happened. What taking a set to failure does is INSURES you have induced the growth response by taking the set as far as possible which is failure. To stop short of failure by 1 or 2 reps means there is a possibility the growth response will not have been reached, thus producing a wasted effort, complete with an inroad into recovery with no reward.
    You're only allowed to act the Idiot of 1 village at a time. Right now you have the monopoly on Dr. Darden's site. Although, I do have to say there are 1 or 2 that are jockeying for the position. Changing usernames doesn't count As for the "growth mechanism" being turned on....that's a made-up term used by those that read MM's fictional book. There is anabolism and catabolism,and it is dynamic. This statement isn't intended for you J Smith/Gerry. It is way above your comprehension level. Training-to-failure is subjective at best. It is based on a feeling/emotion controlled by neurotransmitters. REAL EXERCISE SCIENCE, like any other science, is based on variables that can be measured. Hence the name....PROGRESSIVE RESISTANCE. You can train-to-failure all you want, but if you are not progressively increasing reps, weights, TUT, volume, etc., then the muscle has no reason to change. So, it is logical that training-to-failure is not the sole stimulis to hypertrophy and strength, although it does enter the equation as Nat2 pointed out. It increases neural adaptation. But used too often, just like performing too much volume for too much time, the MU won't fire as efficient due to accumulated fatigue and a depression of the CNS (neurotransmitters). Reducing frequency results in even less neuromuscular efficiency (use it or lose it). That is why DFT was developed and used by successful weight trainers.
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    fbcoach

    Negged for telling it how it is and blowing the HIT jedi's world wide open!

    You evil man
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    Originally Posted by Natural2 View Post
    Again this implies that there is a certain magical point in a set where adaption has occurred, if failure occurs at rep 10 are reps 8 and 9 a wasted effort? No of course not. Why would reps 9 and 10 suddenly tell the muscle to grow? Stopping just short help prevent the neural fatigue associated with failure.
    Vladmir M. Zatsiorsky, Ph.D.;

    "If the method of repeated efforts is used, the weight must be lifted with sincere
    exertions to failure (maximum number of times). This requirement is very
    important. The popular jokes among coaches are: ?Lift the barbell as many times
    as you can and after that three more times,? and ?no pain, no gain? I reflect the
    demand very well. With this method, only final lifts in which a maximal number of
    MU?s are recruited are actually useful. If an athlete can lift a barbell 12 times but
    lifts only 10, the exercise set is worthless."

    http://www.athleticscoaching.ca/User...20Approach.pdf

    Training to failure in the 1-6 rep range gives a different risk/reward ratio than training to failure in the 8-12 rep range. It's well known that the closer you get to failure in the higher rep range, the more strength benefit you'll incur.

    In the 1-5/6 rep range the benefit of reaching failure is much less, and detriment much greater.

    There's a reason many bodybuilders take multiple sets to failure. They don't train nearly as much in the lower rep ranges and want to still incur adequate strength gains.
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    Originally Posted by all pro View Post
    The WeighTrainer
    Training To Failure: A Look Inside
    by Casey Butt, Ph.D.
    This is same guy that says THIS!

    "The fact of the matter is that most genetically typical trainees, even after many years of serious training will never be able to legitimately Bench Press 300 pounds. How do I know? Because I've known hundreds of serious bodybuilders (i.e. experienced and dedicated) over the past 17 years and of them I can count the number of "normal" guys who went on to Bench Press over 300 pounds on one hand (well, maybe two). Guess what, even though I classified them as "normal", with the exception of maybe a couple, all of them had bigger than average bone structures (meaning 7.25" wrists and greater) and were known for being "big guys" from the start ...none of them did it at under 12% body fat or so."

    http://www.weightrainer.net/training/rules.html
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    Interview with Christian Thibaudeau:

    T-Nation: Okay, we're also told by many experts never to train to failure, but again, most top bodybuilders train to failure. Is this a testament to their great genetics and drug use, or are we normal folks missing something here by avoiding failure training?

    Thibaudeau: I'll take the easy way out with this one! I'm working on a new book that will be called High-Threshold Muscle Building and there's a section on training to failure. I'm gonna draw from it to give the readers a more complete answer... and to get the word out about the book!

    From the upcoming High-Threshold Muscle Building:

    Few concepts in the world of strength training have been more hotly debated than the need (or not) to reach muscle failure during your sets. Is it necessary for muscle growth? No, however I feel that it's necessary for optimal growth.

    Some argue that training to failure is either dangerous or can lead to CNS fatigue. Others argue that training to failure too often will cause an excessive amount of muscle damage and can lead to localized overtraining. I think that some of these misconceptions stem from the fact that muscle failure isn't well understood.

    The biggest proponents of training to failure have defined it as "creating a maximum amount of inroads to the muscle on each set." This is fine and well. However, am I the only one who doesn't understand what they mean by that? So I feel that it's important to correctly describe what muscle failure is and why it happens. This information will allow us to make an objective assessment of the need (or not) of training to failure.

    What is the Point of Failure?

    Failure is actually not complicated to understand. It's simply the incapacity to maintain the required amount of force output for a specific task (Edwards 1981, Davis 1996). In other words, at some point during your set, completing repetitions will become more and more arduous until you're finally unable to produce the required amount of force to complete a repetition. This is muscle failure. Failure isn't the amount of "inroad" to the muscle; it's nothing esoteric as we just saw.



    The Causes of Failure

    If the concept of training to failure is actually quite easy to grasp, the causes underlying this occurrence are a bit more complex. There's no exclusive cause of training failure, rather there are quite a few of them.

    1. Central/Neuromuscular Factors: The nervous system is the boss! It's the CNS that recruits the motor-units involved in the movement, sets their firing rate, and ensures proper intra and intermuscular coordination.

    Central fatigue can contribute to muscle failure, especially the depletion of the neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine. A decrease in acetylcholine levels is associated with a decrease in the efficiency of the neuromuscular transmission. In other words, when acetylcholine levels are low, it's harder for your CNS to recruit motor-units and thus you're unable to produce a high level of force output.

    2. Psychological Factors: The perception of exhaustion or exercise discomfort can lead to the premature ending of a set. This is especially true of beginners who aren't accustomed to the pain of training intensely.

    Subconsciously (or not), the individual will decrease his force production as the set becomes uncomfortable. This is obviously not an "acceptable" cause of failure in the intermediate or advanced trainees, but beginners who are not used to intense training could slowly break into it by gradually increasing their pain tolerance.

    3. Metabolic and Mechanical Factors: It's well known that an increase in blood acidity reduces the magnitude of the neural drive as well as the whole neuromuscular process. Lactic acid and lactate are sometimes thought to be the cause of this acidification of the blood, but this is actually not the case. The real culprit is hydrogen.

    Hydrogen ions can increase blood acidity, inhibits the PFK enzyme (reducing the capacity to produce energy from glucose), interferes with the formation of the actin-myosin cross bridges (necessary for muscle contraction to occur), and decrease the sensitivity of the troponin to calcium ions.

    Potassium ions can also play a role in muscle fatigue during a set. Sejersted (2000) has demonstrated that intense physical activity markedly increases extra-cellular levels of potassium ions. Potassium accumulation outside the muscle cell leads to a dramatic loss of force which obviously makes muscle action more difficult.

    Finally we can include phosphate molecules into the equation. Phosphate is a by-product of the breakdown of ATP to produce energy. An accumulation of phosphate decreases the sensitivity of the sarcoplasmic reticulum to calcium ions. Without going into too much detail, this desensitization reduces the capacity to produce a decent muscle contraction.

    4. Energetic Factors: Muscle contraction requires energy. Strength training relies first and foremost on the use of glucose/glycogen for fuel with the phosphagen system (ATP-CP) also playing a role.

    Intramuscular glycogen levels (glucose reserve in the muscle) is very limited and can become depleted as the training session progresses. The body can compensate by mobilizing glucose stored elsewhere in the body (but this amount is also finite), by transforming amino acids into glucose (which is a less powerful way of producing energy for intense muscle contractions) or turn to free fatty acids and ketone bodies.

    The last two solutions can't provide energy as fast as intramuscular glycogen can. As a result, even though it will be possible to continue exercising with a depleted muscle, it's impossible to maintain the same level of intensity and force production.

    So as you can see, it's impossible to attribute muscle failure to a single phenomenon. Rather, it's a mix of several factors that cause muscle failure. Contrary to popular beliefs, reaching muscle failure in one set doesn't ensure the complete fatigue and stimulation of all the muscle fibers in a muscle. Far from it!

    Failure can occur way before full contractile fatigue has been reached. This means that the "one set per exercise to failure" method isn't ideal for maximal growth. As a part of a more complex training plan it can be beneficial from time to time, but not as a discrete training system.



    At some point it becomes necessary to increase training volume to fully stimulate a larger pool of muscle fibers. Remember that simply recruiting a motor-unit doesn't mean that it's been stimulated. To be stimulated a muscle fiber must be recruited andfatigued (Zatsiorsky 1996).

    If training to failure doesn't ensure full motor-unit stimulation within a muscle, not taking a set to positive muscle failure (the point where a technically correct full repetition can't be completed) is even less effective since it won't fatigue the HTMUs as much. And remember that a muscle fiber that isn't fatigued isn't fully stimulated! In other words, training to failure doesn't guarantee maximal motor-unit stimulation, but not taking a set to failure drastically reduces the efficacy of a set.

    This indicates that high volume of work without going to failure isn't ideal for maximal muscle growth (but it's okay for strength and power oriented training). But at the other end of the spectrum, low-volume training taken to failure isn't ideal either. Failure and volume are both needed for maximal motor-unit stimulation. That's not to say that you should use a huge volume of work, but a moderate volume of sets taken to failure is necessary for maximal muscle growth.

    And what about the so-called CNS drain that can occur when you take your sets to failure? I do agree that for continuous improvements to occur one should avoid CNS burnout/overtraining (also called the Central Fatigue Syndrome). And I understand the theory behind avoiding going to failure: going to failure increases the implication of the nervous system because as fatigue sets in (accumulation of metabolites and energetic depletion) it must work harder to recruit the last HTMUs.

    The argument is that we should minimize training that has a high demand on the nervous system. However, most people who espouse the "don't go to failure" theory are generally proponents of heavy lifting and/or explosive lifting, both of which are just as demanding (if not more) on the nervous system as training to failure. Why are they against one neural intensive method but for another one?

    The fact is that the CNS is an adaptive system just like the rest of our body and it can become more efficient at stimulating muscle contraction when it's trained properly. And while CFS is a real problem, its occurrence in bodybuilders or individuals training for muscle mass gains is minimal, close to nil in fact.

    Key Points

    1. Muscle failure isn't an indication that every muscle fiber within a muscle has been fully stimulated. However, going to failure will make sure that you're getting the most out of that set.

    2. Muscle failure can occur because of neural, psychological, metabolic, or energetic factors.

    3. A moderate amount of work to failure is required for full motor-unit stimulation within a muscle.
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    Originally Posted by Orlando1234977 View Post
    Interview with Christian Thibaudeau:

    T-Nation: Okay, we're also told by many experts never to train to failure, but again, most top bodybuilders train to failure. Is this a testament to their great genetics and drug use, or are we normal folks missing something here by avoiding failure training?

    Thibaudeau: I'll take the easy way out with this one! I'm working on a new book that will be called High-Threshold Muscle Building and there's a section on training to failure. I'm gonna draw from it to give the readers a more complete answer... and to get the word out about the book!

    From the upcoming High-Threshold Muscle Building:


    Failure can occur way before full contractile fatigue has been reached. This means that the "one set per exercise to failure" method isn't ideal for maximal growth. As a part of a more complex training plan it can be beneficial from time to time, but not as a discrete training system.



    At some point it becomes necessary to increase training volume to fully stimulate a larger pool of muscle fibers. Remember that simply recruiting a motor-unit doesn't mean that it's been stimulated. To be stimulated a muscle fiber must be recruited andfatigued (Zatsiorsky 1996).

    If training to failure doesn't ensure full motor-unit stimulation within a muscle, not taking a set to positive muscle failure (the point where a technically correct full repetition can't be completed) is even less effective since it won't fatigue the HTMUs as much. And remember that a muscle fiber that isn't fatigued isn't fully stimulated! In other words, training to failure doesn't guarantee maximal motor-unit stimulation, but not taking a set to failure drastically reduces the efficacy of a set.

    This indicates that high volume of work without going to failure isn't ideal for maximal muscle growth (but it's okay for strength and power oriented training). But at the other end of the spectrum, low-volume training taken to failure isn't ideal either. Failure and volume are both needed for maximal motor-unit stimulation. That's not to say that you should use a huge volume of work, but a moderate volume of sets taken to failure is necessary for maximal muscle growth.

    And what about the so-called CNS drain that can occur when you take your sets to failure? I do agree that for continuous improvements to occur one should avoid CNS burnout/overtraining (also called the Central Fatigue Syndrome). And I understand the theory behind avoiding going to failure: going to failure increases the implication of the nervous system because as fatigue sets in (accumulation of metabolites and energetic depletion) it must work harder to recruit the last HTMUs.

    The argument is that we should minimize training that has a high demand on the nervous system. However, most people who espouse the "don't go to failure" theory are generally proponents of heavy lifting and/or explosive lifting, both of which are just as demanding (if not more) on the nervous system as training to failure. Why are they against one neural intensive method but for another one?

    The fact is that the CNS is an adaptive system just like the rest of our body and it can become more efficient at stimulating muscle contraction when it's trained properly. And while CFS is a real problem, its occurrence in bodybuilders or individuals training for muscle mass gains is minimal, close to nil in fact.

    Key Points

    1. Muscle failure isn't an indication that every muscle fiber within a muscle has been fully stimulated. However, going to failure will make sure that you're getting the most out of that set.

    2. Muscle failure can occur because of neural, psychological, metabolic, or energetic factors.

    3. A moderate amount of work to failure is required for full motor-unit stimulation within a muscle.
    "Failure can occur way before full contractile fatigue has been reached. This means that the "one set per exercise to failure" method isn't ideal for maximal growth. As a part of a more complex training plan it can be beneficial from time to time, but not as a discrete training system. "
    and
    "This indicates that high volume of work without going to failure isn't ideal for maximal muscle growth (but it's okay for strength and power oriented training). But at the other end of the spectrum, low-volume training taken to failure isn't ideal either. Failure and volume are both needed for maximal motor-unit stimulation. That's not to say that you should use a huge volume of work, but a moderate volume of sets taken to failure is necessary for maximal muscle growth."

    In other words training to failure as a mandate IS NOT REQUIRED!!!!
    Reread the article and you'll find that FBcoach and I and a few others have been saying the same thing over and over add nauseum.
    A properly designed dual factor, mixed qualities, periodized program is superior and it will require failure at some point and a deload at some point. It will also cover both low rep and high rep work.
    I'm not against any of that. I'm against the idiotic, dogmatic HIT Jedi.
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    Originally Posted by Orlando1234977 View Post
    Vladmir M. Zatsiorsky, Ph.D.;

    If an athlete can lift a barbell 12 times but
    lifts only 10, the exercise set is worthless."


    .
    And to think Vladmir highly respected for training info by Nat2 and all pro has said this; what now? Hes right about everything except this?

    Way I see it, everyone is right that agrees with your dogmas, regardless who they are.
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    Originally Posted by J_Smith View Post
    And to think Vladmir highly respected for training info by Nat2 and all pro has said this; what now? Hes right about everything except this?

    Way I see it, everyone is right that agrees with your dogmas, regardless who they are.
    NO he is correct. But to be exact he and ALL of the other eastern block coaches require THREE sets of 8-12. Failure should ONLY happen on the LAST set.
    1 set of 8-12 reps to failure is a limp wristed wussy work out.
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
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    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
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    Vladmir M. Zatsiorsky, Ph.D.

    NTENSITY OF STRENGTH
    TRAINING FACTS AND THEORY:
    RUSSIAN AND EASTERN
    EUROPEAN APPROACH
    Vladmir M. Zatsiorsky, Ph.D.
    Biomechanics Lab The Pennsylvania State University, University Park,
    Pennsylvania and Central Institute of Physical Culture-Moscow, Russia
    Re-printed with permission by the author.
    Many attempts have been made to determine which training is more effective,
    lifting maximal or intermediate weights. This is similar to the question of whether
    800-meter runners should train at distances shorter or longer than 800 meters. It
    is advisable to run both. The same holds true for strength training; exercises with
    different resistances must be employed.
    The objective of this paper is to describe and explain the training routine
    employed by elite Russian and Bulgarian weightlifters. Athletes from these
    countries have won almost all of the gold medals at the World and Olympic
    championships over the last 25 years.
    Three main problems exist in strength conditioning of elite athletes:
    1. Selection of exercises used by an athlete;
    2. Training load, in particular training intensity and volume; and
    3. Training timing, i.e. the distribution of the exercises and load over the time
    periods.
    The training intensity of elite athletes is the only problem covered in this article.
    Exercise Intensity Measurement
    Exercise intensity during heavy resistance training can be estimated in four ways:
    1. Magnitude of resistance, i.e., weight lifted, expressed as a percentage of
    the best achievement (FM) in relevant movement. Expressing the weight
    lifted in kg, it is difficult to compare the training load of athletes of various
    skill levels and from different weight classes.
    2. Number of repetitions (lifts) per set (a set is a group of repetitions
    performed consecutively).
    3. Number (or percentage) of repetitions with maximal resistance (weight).
    4. Workout density, i.e. the number of sets per one-hour workout.
    The first three methods are described below:
    1. To characterize the magnitude of resistance (load), use the percentage of
    the weight lifted relative to the best performance. Depending on how the
    best achievement is determined, two main variants of such a measure are
    utilized. The athletic performance attained during an official sport
    competition (competition FM = CFM) is used as a ?best performance? in the
    first case. In the second, a so called maximum training weight (TFM) is
    used for comparison.
    By definition, maximum training weight is the heaviest weight (one
    repetition maximum - 1 RM) which can be lifted by an athete without
    substantial emotional stress. In practice, experienced athletes determine
    TFM by registering heart rate. An increase in heart rate before the lift is a
    sign of emotional anxiety. The weight exceeds TFM in this case. The
    difference between the TFM and the CFM is approximately 12.5 +/- 2.5
    percent for superior weight lifters. The difference is greater among
    athletes in heavy weight classes. In the case of an athlete who lifts 200 kg
    during competition, 180 kg weight is typically above his TFM.
    The difference between CFM and TFM is great. After an important
    competition, weight lifters are extremely tired, although they perform only
    six lifts in comparison to nearly 100 during a regular training session. The
    athletes have a feeling of ?emptiness?and they cannot lift large volumes of
    weight. The athletes need about one week of rest and may compete in the
    next important competition only after one month of rest and training
    (compared with other sports in which athletes compete two to three times
    a week). The reason for this is the great emotional stress while lifting CFM,
    rather than the physical load itself. TFM can be lifted at each training
    session.
    It is more practical to use CFM rather than TFM for the calculation of
    training intensity. In a sport such as weight lifting, the training intensity is
    characterized by an intensity coefficient.
    average weight lifted, kg.
    intensity coefficient =
    athletic performance
    (Snatch plus clean and jerk), kg
    On average, the intensity coefficient for superior Russian athletes is 38 +/-
    2 percent.
    It is recommended to use a CFM value (the average of the two
    performances attained during official contests) immediately before and
    after the studied period of training. For instance, if the performance was
    100 kg during a competition in December and it was 110 kg in May, the
    average CFM for the January - April period was 105 kg.
    There are many misconceptions in sports science literature regarding
    weight loads used in heavy resistance training. One reason is that the
    difference between CFM and TFM is not always completely described. The
    reader must be attentive to this difference.
    Figure 1: The distribution of weights lifted by members of the National Olympic
    team of the USSR during preparation for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games; one
    year of direct observations. (From: ?Preparation of National Olympic team in
    weight lifting to the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.? Technical report #1988-67,
    All-Union Research Institute of Physical Culture, Moscow, 1989)
    2. The number of repetitions per set (repetition maximum - RM) is a popular
    measure of intensity in exercise where maximal force (FM) is difficult or
    even impossible to evaluate, such as sit-ups.
    The magnitude of resistance (weight, load) may be characterized by the
    ultimate number of repetitions possible in one set (to failure). RM
    determination entails utilizing a trial-and-error process to find the greatest
    amount of weight a trainee can lift a designated number of times. RM is a
    very convenient measure of training intensity in heavy resistance training.
    However, there is no fixed relationship between the magnitude of the
    weight lifted (expressed as a percentage of the FM in relevant movement)
    and the number of repetitions to failure (RM). The relationship varies with
    different athletes and motions.
    Thus, 10 RM corresponds to approximately 75 percent of FM. This is valid
    for athletes in sports in which strength and explosive strength are
    predominate qualities (weight lifting, sprinting, jumping, throwing, etc.).
    However, it should be taken into account that a given percent of 1 RM will
    not always elicit the same number of repetitions to failure when performing
    different lifts.
    During training, elite athletes use varying numbers of repetitions in
    different lifts.
    3. The number for repetitions with maximal resistance is used as an
    additional measure of the intensity of strength training. All lifts with a
    barbell above 90 percent of CFM are included in this category. These
    loads are above TFM for most athletes.
    Intensity of training
    The practical training experience of elite athletes is a very useful source of
    information in sports science. This experience, while it does not provide sound
    scientific proof of the optimum results that can be expected from the employed
    training routines, reflects the most efficient training techniques known at the time.
    The distribution of training weights in the conditioning of elite weight lifters is
    shown in Figure 1. Elite athletes use a broad spectrum of different loads. The
    loads below 60 percent of CFM are used mainly for warming up and restitution
    (they account for eight percent of all the lifts). The main portion of weights lifted
    (25 percent) is 70 to 80 percent of the CFM . The loads above 90 percent of CFM
    account for only seven percent of all lifts.
    According to numerous observations, the average training intensity for elite
    Russian athletes is 75 +/- 2 percent of the CFM. Athletes from other countries
    often use higher or lower training weights. For instance, Finnish weight lifting
    champions exercise (1987) at an average intensity of 80 +/- 2.5 percent.
    The number of repetitions per, set varies by exercise. In both the snatch and
    clean and jerk lifts (Figure 2), the major parts of all sets are performed with 1-3
    repetitions. In the snatch, only 1.8 percent of the sets are done with three four
    repetitions; in the clean, the percentage of sets with four through six lifts is not
    more than 5.4 percent. The majority of sets, roughly from 55 to 60 percent,
    comprise two repetitions.
    In auxiliary strength exercises, such as squatting with a barbell, in which motor
    coordination only partially resembles the coordination in the snatch squats, the
    range is from two to seven lifts per set (more than 93 percent of all sets are
    performed in this range, Figure 3).
    Generally, as the intermuscular coordination in an exercise becomes more
    simple, and as the technique of the exercise deviates from the technique of the
    main event (in this example, from the technique of both the snatch and clean and
    jerk), the greater the number of repetitions. In the clean and jerk, it is one to three
    (54.4 percent of sets were with two lifts only); the typical number of reps in
    squatting is three to five, and in the inverse curl the average number of lifts is five
    to seven per set (Figure 4).
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

    R.I.P.
    Lynn Larsen
    5/17/86 - 9/14/06
    Bridgeport Ct.
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    The numbers of repetitions with maximal resistance (CFM) are relatively low.
    During the 1984 -1988 Olympic training cycle, elite Russian athletes lifted a
    barbell of maximal weight in main exercises (snatch, clean, and jerk) 300 to 600
    times a year. This amount comprised 1.5 - 3.0 percent of all their lifts. These
    weights were distributed as follows:
    Weight of Barbell Number of lifts
    (Percent of CFM) (Percent)
    90 - 92.5 65
    92.6 - 97.5 20
    97.6 - 100 15
    Total 100
    In a one-month period before important competitions, weights above 90 percent
    of CFM are lifted in the snatch and / or clean and jerk 40 to 60 times.
    During the 1980s, Russian and Bulgarian weight lifting teams won almost all of
    the gold medals at World and Olympic competitions. It has been reported many
    times that Bulgarian athletes lift barbells of maximal weight more than 4,000
    times a year. The training intensity of Bulgarian athletes is actually higher than it
    is for Russian athletes. However, the real source of such a huge discrepancy
    (600 versus 4,000 lifts a year) is not the training itself, but the method of
    determining maximal weight. Russian athletes use CFM in their plans and logs,
    while Bulgarians stick to TFM (1 RM in a given training session).
    The aforementioned integers should not be mechanically copied. Rather, the
    underlying concept of such training must be understood and practiced.
    The concept was formulated in 1970 and has since been used as a theoretical
    background for strength conditioning of elite athletes. Though the concept is not
    scientifically validated in detail (it should be considered as a hypothesis rather
    than a scientific theory), it is useful from a practical standpoint. When training
    elite athletes, it is impossible to wait until scientific research provides all of the
    necessary knowledge.
    The training concept is based on the idea that strength manifestation is
    determined by two latent factors:
    1. Peripheral muscles and
    2. Central coordination.
    These factors should be trained in different ways. It is assumed that there is no
    optimal exercise intensity to develop maximal strength, however, it is possible to
    choose an exercise intensity which is optimal for the improvement of either
    peripheral or central factors.
    Causes and Effects in Strength Manifestation
    The following briefly explains biological mechanisms which form the basis of
    training:
    Peripheral Factors-Muscles
    The capacity of a muscle to produce force depends on its physiological crosssectional
    area, and in particular on the number of muscle fibers. Muscle size
    increases primarily as a result of increases in individual fiber size and not by fiber
    gain (through fiber splitting).
    Two types of muscle fiber hypertrophy can be schematically discerned,
    sarcoplasmic and myofibril (Figure 5).
    1. Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy of muscle fibers is characterized by the growth
    of sarcoplasmic (semi-fluid interfibrillar substance) and non-contractile
    protein which do not contribute directly to the production of muscle force.
    Specifically, filament area density in the muscle fibers decreases, while
    the cross-sectional area of the muscle fibers increases without an
    accompanying increase in muscle strength.
    2. Myofibrillar Hypertrophy is defined as an enlargement of the muscle fiber
    size by gaining more myofibrils and, at the same time, more actin and
    myosin filaments. Furthermore, contractile proteins are synthesized and
    filament density increases. This type of fiber hypertrophy leads to
    increased muscle force production.
    Except for very special cases, when the aim of heavy resistance training is to
    achieve body weight gains, athletes are interested myofibrillar hypertrophy.
    Training must be organized in a manner to stimulate synthesis of contractile
    protein and to increase filament muscle density.
    It is assumed that exercise activates protein catabolism (break down of muscle
    proteins) creatine conditions for the enhanced synthesis of contractile proteins
    during the rest period (break down and build up theory). During the strength
    exercise, muscle proteins are forcefully converted into more simple substances
    (breaking down); during restitution (anabolic phase) the synthesis of muscle
    proteins is vitalized. Fiber hypertrophy is considered to be a supercompensation
    of muscle proteins.
    The mechanisms involved in muscle protein synthesis, including the initial stimuli
    triggering the increased synthesis of contractile proteins, have not been well
    established.
    A few hypotheses, popular among coaches 20 to 30 years ago but completely
    disregarded today, include:
    1. The blood over-circulation hypothesis suggests that increased blood
    circulation in working muses is the triggering stimulus for muscle growth.
    One of the most popular methods of body building training, called flushing,
    is based on this assumption. It has been shown, however, that active
    muscle hyperemization (i.e. increase in the quantity of blood flowing
    through a muscle) caused by physical therapeutic means does not, in
    itself, lead to the activation of protein synthesis.
    2. The muscle hypoxia hypothesis, contrary to the theory described above,
    stipulates that deficiency, not abundance, of blood and oxygen in muscle
    tissue during strength exercises triggers protein synthesis. Muscle
    arterioles and capillaries are compressed during resistive exercise and
    blood supply to an active muscle is restricted. Blood is not conveyed to
    muscle tissue if the tension exceeds approximately 60 percent of maximal
    muscle force.
    However, by inducing a hypoxic state in muscles it has been shown that
    oxygen shortage does not stimulate an increase in muscle size.
    Professional pearl divers, synchronized swimmers and others who
    regularly perform low intensity movements in oxygen-deficient conditions
    do not have hypertrophied muscles.
    3. The ATP-debt theory is based on the assumption that ATP concentration
    is decreased after heavy resistive exercise (about 15 repetitions in 20
    seconds per set were recommended for training). However, recent
    findings indicate that even in a completely exhausted muscle, the ATP
    level does not change.
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

    R.I.P.
    Lynn Larsen
    5/17/86 - 9/14/06
    Bridgeport Ct.
    Reply With Quote

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    Energetical Theory
    Finally, the energetical theory of muscle hypertrophy appears more realistic and
    appropriate for practical training, despite the fact that it is not validated in detail.
    According to this theory, the crucial factor for increasing protein catabolism is a
    shortage of energy in the muscle cell that is available for protein synthesis during
    heavy strength exercise. Synthesis of muscle proteins requires a substantial
    amount of energy. The synthesis of one peptide bond, for instance, requires
    energy liberated during hydrolysis of ATP molecules. For each instant in time,
    only a given amount of energy is available in a muscle cell. This energy is spent
    for anabolism of muscle proteins and muscular work. Normally, the amount of
    energy available in a muscle cell satisfies these two requirements. During heavy
    resistive exercise, however, almost all of the available energy is conveyed to the
    contractile elements of muscle and spent for muscular work (Figure 6).
    Since the energy supply for the synthesis of proteins decreases, protein
    degradation increases. The uptake of amino acids from the blood into muscles is
    depressed during exercise, while the mass of proteins catabolized during heavy
    resistive exercise exceeds the mass of protein that is newly synthesized. As a
    result, the amount of muscle protein decreases somewhat after a strength
    workout and the amount of protein catabolized (estimated, for instance, by the
    concentration of non-protein nitrogen in the blood) rises above its resting value.
    Between training sessions, protein synthesis is then increased. The uptake of
    amino acids from the blood into muscles is above resting values. This repeated
    process of enhanced degradation and synthesis of contractile proteins may result
    in super-compensation of protein (Figure 7). This principle is similar to the
    overcompensation of muscle glycogen that occurs in response to endurance
    training.
    Whatever the mechanism for stimulating muscle hypertrophy, the vital
    parameters of a training routine that induce such results are exercise intensity -
    the exerted muscular force - and exercise volume - the total number of
    repetitions, performed mechanical work, etc.
    Intra-muscular Coordination
    The nervous system uses three options for varying muscle force production:
    1. Recruitment ? gradation of total muscle force by addition and subtraction
    of active motor units;
    2. Rate coding ? changing the firing rate of motor units; and
    3. Synchronization ? activation of motor units in a more or less
    synchronized way. Motor units (MU) can be classified as fast or slow on
    the basis of contractile properties.
    Slow MU, or slow twitch (ST) motor units, are specialized for prolonged usage at
    relatively slow velocities. They consist of small, low threshold motoneurons with
    low discharge frequencies, axons with relatively low conduction velocities and
    motor fibers highly adapted to lengthy aerobic activities.
    Fast MU, or fast twitch (FT) motor units, are specialized for relatively brief
    periods of activity characterized by large power outputs, high velocities and high
    rates of force development. They consist of large high threshold motoneurons
    with high discharge frequencies, axons with high conduction velocities and motor
    fibers adapted to explosive or anaerobic activities.
    MU?s are activated in accordance with the all-or-none law: at any point in time,
    the MU is either active, or it is inactive. There is no gradation in the level of
    motoneuron excitation. The gradation of force of one MU occurs through
    changes in its firing rate (rate coding).
    In humans, contraction times vary from 90 to 110 milliseconds for ST motor units
    and from 40 to 84 milliseconds for FT motor units. The maximal shortening
    velocity (VM) of FT fibers is almost four times greater than the VM of ST motor
    fibers. The force per unit area of fast and slow motor fibers is similar; however
    the FT motor units typically possess larger cross-sectional areas and produce
    greater force per motor unit.
    Almost all human muscles contain both ST and FT motor units, but the proportion
    of fast and slow MU?s in mixed muscles varies among athletes. Endurance
    athletes have a high percentage of ST motor units, while FT motor units are
    predominant among strength and power athletes.
    Recruitment. It is accepted in strength training, that during voluntary contraction,
    the orderly pattern of recruitment is controlled by the size of motoneurons (socalled
    size principle). Small motoneurons with the lowest threshold are recruited
    first and demands for larger forces are met by the recruitment of an increasingly
    forceful MU. The MU?swith the largest motoneurons, those which possess the
    largest and fastest twitch contractions, have the highest threshold and are
    recruited last. This implies, in mixed muscles containing both ST and FT motor
    units, that the involvement of motor units is forced, regardless of the magnitude
    of muscle tension and velocity being developed. On the contrary, full FT motor
    unit activation is difficult to achieve. Untrained people cannot recruit all of their FT
    motor units. Increased motor unit activation is observed in athletes engaged in
    strength and power training.
    The recruitment order of MU?s is relatively fixed for a muscle involved in a
    specific motion, even if the movement velocity or rate of force development is
    altered. However, the recruitment order can be changed if the multifunction
    muscles operate in different motions. Different sets of MU?s within one muscle
    might have a low threshold for one motion and a higher threshold for another.
    The variation in recruitment order is partially responsible for the specificity of
    training effect in heavy resistance exercise. If the object of interest in training is
    full development of a muscle (not high athletic performance), one must exercise
    this muscle in all its possible ranges of motion. This situation is typical for
    bodybuilders and novice athletes, but not elite athletes.
    Rate Coding. This is a considered the primary mechanism for the gradation of
    muscle force. The discharge frequency of motoneurons can vary over a
    considerable range. However, generally the firing rate increases with increased
    force and power production.
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

    R.I.P.
    Lynn Larsen
    5/17/86 - 9/14/06
    Bridgeport Ct.
    Reply With Quote

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    The relative contribution of recruitment versus rate coding in grading the force of
    voluntary contractions is different in small and large muscles. In small muscles,
    most MU?s are recruited at the level of force less than 50 percent of FM;
    thereafter, rate coding plays the major role in further development of force up to
    FM. In large proximal muscles, such as the deltoid and biceps, the recruitment of
    additional MU?s appears to be the main mechanism for increasing force
    development up to 80 percent of FM and even higher. In the force range between
    90 and 100 percent of FM, force is increased almost exclusively by intensifying
    the firing rate of MU.
    Synchronization. Normally MU?s work asynchronously to produce smooth,
    accurate movement. However, there is some evidence that in elite power and
    strength athletes MU?s are activated synchronously during maximal voluntary
    efforts.
    In conclusion, maximal muscular force is achieved when the maximal number of
    both ST and FT MU?s are recruited, rate coding is optimal to produce a fused
    tetanus in each of the motor fibers and MU?s work synchronously over the short
    period of maximum voluntary effort.
    The psychological factors are also of primary importance. Under extreme
    circumstances, i.e. in a ?life-or-death? situation, people may develop
    extraordinary strength. When untrained subjects (not superior athletes!) are given
    hypnotic suggestions of increased strength, strength increases are found,
    whereas strength decrements are shown both by athletes and untrained people
    after hypnotic suggestion of decreased strength. Such a strength enhancement is
    interpreted to mean that the central nervous system, in extraordinary situations
    (extreme fear, hypnosis, etc.), either increases the flow of excitatory stimuli or
    decreases the inhibitory influence to the motoneurons.
    It may be speculated that the activity of motor neurons of the spinal cord is
    normally inhibited by the central nervous system and it is not possible to activate
    all of the motor units within a muscle group. Under the influence of strength
    training and under exceptional circumstances, important sport competitions
    included, a reduction in neural inhibition occurs with the accompanied expansion
    of the recruitable motoneuron pool and increase in strength.
    Exercising With Different Resistance
    When exercising with varying levels of resistance (weights), differences exist in
    both metabolic reactions and neural coordination.
    Metabolic Reactions. According to the ?energetic hypothesis? of muscle cell
    hypertrophy described above, the crucial factor determining the balance between
    protein catabolism and anabolism is the amount of energy available for protein
    synthesis during exercise. If the resistance is relatively small, the energy
    available in the muscle cell is conveyed for muscle action and at the same time
    for anabolism of muscle proteins. Thus, the energy supply satisfies both
    requirements. During heavy weight lifting, a greater amount of energy is provided
    to the contractile muscle elements and spent on muscular work. Energy transfer
    for the synthesis of proteins decreases, while the rate of protein breakdown (the
    amount of degraded protein per one lift) increases. The rate of protein
    degradation is a function of the weight lifted; the heavier the weight, the higher
    the rate of protein degradation.
    The total amount of degradated protein is, however, the function of both the rate
    of protein catabolism and the mechanical work performed or the total weight
    lifted. The mechanical work is greater if resistance is moderate and if several
    consecutive lifts are performed in one set. For instance, if an athlete presses a
    100 kg barbell one time (it is his 1 RM), the total weight lifted is also 100 kg.
    However, if he lifts a 75 kg barbell to failure, and he can lift it about 10 times, the
    total weight lifted equals, in this case, 750 kg.
    The mass of protein catabolized during heavy resistive exercise can be
    presented as a product of the rate of protein breakdown and the number of lifts. If
    the resistance is very large, such as 1 RM, the rate of the protein breakdown is
    high but the number of repetitions is small. At the other extreme, if the resistance
    is small (50 RM), the number of lifts and mechanical work are great, but the rate
    of protein degradation is very small. So the total amount of the degradated
    protein is small in both cases but for different reasons. The optimal (for inducing
    maximal changes in protein metabolism) solution is somewhere in the range of
    five and six through 10-12 RM (Table 1).
    An additional feature of such training, which is important from a practical
    standpoint, is that a very high training volume (or the total amount of weight lifted
    during a workout), is five to six times greater than during a conventional training
    routine. Athletes who train over a certain period of time in this manner (to gain
    body weight and induce muscle cell hypertrophy in order to compete in a heavier
    weight class) amass a training volume in one workout over 20-30 tons and in
    some cases above 50 tons per day. Such a training volume hinders the athlete?s
    capacity to perform other exercises during this period of training.
    Coordination. When lifting maximal weight, the maximum number of MU?s are
    activated, the fastest MU?s are recruited, the discharge frequency of
    motoneurons is at its highest and MU activity is synchronous.
    However, MU?s exist that many athletes cannot recruit or raise to the optimal
    firing rate intensity to develop maximal force.
    The ?hidden potential? of a human muscle to develop higher force can also be
    demonstrated by electro-stimulation. In experiments during maximum voluntary
    contraction, the muscle is stimulated with electrical current that induces an
    increase in the force production. This indicates that human muscles typically
    have hidden reserves for maximal force production that have not been used
    during voluntary efforts.
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

    R.I.P.
    Lynn Larsen
    5/17/86 - 9/14/06
    Bridgeport Ct.
    Reply With Quote

  30. #30
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    One objective of heavy resistance training is to teach an athlete to recruit all the
    necessary MU?s at a firing rate that is optimal for producing a fused tetanus in
    each motor fuser.
    When lifting sub-maximal weight, an intermediate number of MU?s are activated,
    the fastest MU?s are not recruited, the discharge frequency of the motoneurons is
    submaximal; and MU activity is asynchronous. The difference in intramuscular
    coordination between exercises with maximal versus sub-maximal weight lifting,
    are evident. Accordingly, exercises with moderate resistance are not an effective
    training means for strength development, particularly when improvement of
    intramuscular coordination is desired.
    In the preparation of elite weight lifters, the optimal intramuscular coordination is
    realized when weights equal to or above TFM are used in workouts. It is not
    mandatory from this standpoint to lift CFM during training sessions. Differences in
    the best performance attained during training sessions (i.e. TFM) and during
    important competition (i.e. CFM) are explained by psychological factors, such as
    the level of arousal and by increased rest before a contest. Differences in
    coordination (intra and intermuscular), however, do not affect performance.
    Weights above TFM are only used sporadically in training (four to seven percent
    of all the lifts).
    The differences in underlying physiological mechanisms, while exercising with
    various loads, explain why muscular strength only increases when exercises
    requiring high forces are used in training. In principle, workloads must be above
    those normally encountered. The resistance must continually be increased as
    gains in strength are made (the principle of progressive-resistance exercises).
    In untrained people, the strength levels fall when resistance is below 20 percent
    of their FM. In athletes who are used to great muscular efforts, reduced strength
    may result even if they use relatively heavy loads, although lower than their
    usual level. For instance, if qualified weight lifters train with weights of 60 to 85
    percent TFM and not lift these loads in one set to failure (to fatigue), the strength
    level is kept constant over the first month of such training and drops five to
    seven percent during the second month. Athletes in seasonal or winter sports,
    such as rowing, lose the strength level previously attained in the preparation
    period if they do not use high resistance training during a competition period,
    regardless of intense specific workouts.
    Only muscle size, not muscular strength, may be retrained with moderate (nonmaximal)
    resistances and moderate (non-maximal) repetition in qualified athletes
    over a period of several months.
    Methods of Strength Training
    Strength training is classified according to methods of attaining maximal
    muscular tension which can be attained in one of three ways:
    1. Method of maximum efforts. Lifting a maximum load (exercising against
    maximal resistance).
    2. Method of repeated efforts. Lifting a non-maximal load to failure; during
    the latest repetitions the muscles develop the maximum force possible in
    the fatiguing state.
    3. Method of dynamic efforts. Lifting, throwing, etc. a non-maximal load with
    the highest attainable speed.
    In addition, the lifting of non-maximal loads an intermediate number of times (not
    to failure) is used as a supplementary training method (method of sub-maximal
    efforts).
    Bodybuilder, n. A weight lifter too weak to be a powerlifter.
    Powerlifter, n. A weight lifter too fat to be a bodybuilder.
    HIT Jedi, n. The fitness equivalent to Al Qaeda, except
    rather than fly planes into buildings, devotees fly
    steaming piles of dogmatic horse**** into your ears
    and down your throat.

    Every thing works..........for about 6 weeks.
    Hard gainer = under eater
    _____________________________________________

    R.I.P.
    Lynn Larsen
    5/17/86 - 9/14/06
    Bridgeport Ct.
    Reply With Quote

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