BIG MUSCLES, BIG WEIGHTS, LOW REPS
An interview of Pavel Tsatsouline
Okay, now that i got your attention,
I'll start with a quote from the Austrian Oak :
"The greatest feeling you can get in a gym or the most satisfying
feeling you can get in a gym is THE PUMP. Lets say you train your
biceps ó blood is rushing into your muscles and that is what we call
THE PUMP. Your muscles get a really tight feeling like your skin is
going to explode any minute and it's really tight. It's like someone
is blowing air into it ó into your muscle. It just blows up and it
feels different. It feels fantastic."
Ok, I think the energetic theory of muscle hypertrophy is summed up
with these words; if you get a pump with big weights you'll grow.
(Arnie was known for lifting BIG)
But tell me, how will this pump being used to the max? Well, you need
the volume to really deplete the muscle, but you need the tension to
increase the amino acid uptake. Now, let's illustrate this with two
If you train like a powerlifter, and you rest like 4 to 5 minutes between
the sets, you'll have the tension but not the fatigue.
But if you start using the little color coded dumbbells and do a hundred
reps, you have the fatigue and the pump, but not the tension. You may
build some "virtual" muscles, but nothing else.
But if you set it up like this, if you use a heavy weight and do reps
of five (not taken to failure) with only one or two minutes of rest (or
even less for the real bad-asses) for up to twenty sets, youíre going to
be able to use a heavy weight and get a great pump!
"But... but... Mr. Mentzer said... what?? Low reps??? Why the hell low
reps??? Think about failure man!! the only way!! Aarrrg!!!" (the guy
freaks out and runs, screaming like a lunatic)
Ow yeah... HIT... the so-called High Intensity Training *gets a bucket
and blows some chunks* and their jedis, claiming their way is the only
way. Well, let me be Darth Sidious and give you a little introduction
to the Dark Side...
If you look at the training of the strongest people in the world, be it
weightlifters, powerlifters, strongmen, whatever, thereís one universal
truth. They always lift heavy, in terms of percentage of one rep max, they
always keep their repetitions low, and they never, ever train to failure. T
he exceptions you can count on your fingers without taking your shoes off.
Take Ed Coan for example. ha can squat 875 for three reps. now he could
have done five, but no. He does three and calls it a day. Now, if he had
to listen to these "jedis", he would have taken a lighter weight - let's
say 660 pounds - and done like 12 reps to failure. Then you could call
his family and friends, because he would have blown out a hamstring and
he would have been crushed by the weight, his spine ripped out of his body
and his face smacked to the ground like a water balloon. Oh my, and there
goes one of the strongest man alive.
Now, before you come back with your laserswords with 'intensity' written all
over it, let me tell you this. The mainstream definition of intensity ó a
percentage of momentary ability ó is very ephemeral. Itís a feeling, therefore
meaningless. Dmitri Mendeleyev, Russian chemist and the author of the periodic
table of elements, said that science does not start until you start measuring.
The only way you can measure intensity is through the percentage of your one
rep max, period.
There's only one variable that counts, and that's the absolute tension. Not
the relative, like how hard it feels, but how much force the muscle is exerting
and the time the muscle spends under tension. Failure does not factor in.
Moreover, when you train to failure, because of the Hebbian mechanisms, you
train yourself to fail. And as we all know, Don't train to fail, train to SUCCEED.
Now why the low reps? it's simple. S-A-F-E-T-Y. Itís the tension of the
supporting muscles that protect you. Low reps are generally much safer even
if youíre using a heavy weight. How's that for news flash?
Why are lower weights and high reps less safe? well let me illustrate this
again : People squat heavy with no problem, then blow out their backs loading
a 45 pound plate. Why? They donít respect the weight.
You just canít have the focus with so many reps. You donít respect the weight
and you get hurt. Itís hard to respect something light. When you learn to keep
your whole body tight ó and you can only do it when the reps stay low ó thatís
when you can really achieve maximum safety.
So, Next time see one of you training, i wanna see lot's of weights, low reps,
and no failure.
Article based on an interview with Pavel Tsatsouline.
Source : http://www.testosterone.net/articles/152russ.html
PS : this is an interview that i have rewritten. so it's not from my own mind, even though i completely share Mr. Tsatsouline's ideas.
06-17-2002, 03:37 PM #1
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06-19-2002, 09:50 PM #2
This being a bodybuilding forum, not one of strength & condition, how can we apply Pavel's techniques for the "big muscles" that he so much despises? He keeps comparing russian strength athletes to the Americans, but which country is continually producing over 700 bench press & 1000+ squatters and deadlifter powerlifters ? Which country is producing a majority of the top 10 professional bodybuilders ? Well, its not russia.
If strength is his game, fine... but his training program (that he can't even explain himself -- and admits to it) can't be accepted as the great new program that must be adopted to throw training to failure out the window. We Americans are doing just fine developing hypertrophy with intense failure sessions, Arnold as well had no problems doing it, but he doesn't seem to want to acknowledge that fact. None of those 1970's bodybuilders stopped 2 reps before failure... once again... its strength vs. size, and he makes his points very clear. Whether or not we can combine periods of his heavy-weight strength programs with a hardcore bodybuilding bulking diet to produce "big muscles"... well... I guess that needs to be tried out individually.