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  1. #1
    Registered User 1stCoachJoe's Avatar
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    Question Frequency, intensity, sets, reps, speed, and rest for optimal hypertrophy?

    I have a great deal of respect for the opinions rendered here in the forum.

    I'm looking to establish a forum-wide consensus opinion on this topic.

    I am not sure if the forum explored this subject at any length in the recent past, but it's been on my mind since starting a bulk phase recently.

    I am seeking opinions from the great forum moderators as well as from those with similar knowledge and personal experience.

    The following are my current views on the topic. I remain open to embracing the opinion of others, hence the very reason for this post.


    --------


    General Protocols for Greatest Hypertrophy:


    1. Frequency

    To the best of my knowledge, optimum hypertrophy is realized training bodyparts 2x per week. A total of approximately 20 sets per week - per muscle group appears to be optimal.



    2. Intensity

    To the best of my knowledge, going to failure is not a prerequisite. Continuous time-under-tension, however, seems to be a component of volume that yields optimal hypertrophy. Resistance used should be near 70% of 1RM.



    3. Reps

    To the best of my knowledge, the 8-12 rep range seems to deliver optimal hypertrophy. As mentioned earlier, 20 total sets per week per muscle group appears to foster optimal muscle growth.



    4. Speed

    The speed at which one performs reps and sets is a topic not often discussed at length. Some believe that continuous tension sets should last at least of 30-seconds or more.

    For an 8-rep set, this equates to roughly 1.5-seconds on the positive and 2.5-seconds on the negative.

    To my knowledge, slow controlled movements fire the slow-twitch fibers, while faster momentum generated reps (which allows using heavier weight) fire the fast-twitch fibers.

    Though I'm uncertain, perhaps splitting the week into a slow rep / faster rep divide (slow twitch/fast-twitch) might be the most advantageous in optimizing hypertrophy.

    What do you guys think about such a split?



    5. Lastly, Rest Between Sets

    Volume and progressive resistance play a critical role in muscle growth.

    As such, I suspect more rest between each set facilitates more quality volume and thereby the ability to progress sooner.

    Proponents of such thought suggest anywhere from 4-6 minutes rest for large compound movements like squats and 2-4 minutes for smaller isolation movements.


    --------


    Well, there you have it. The above is my current understanding of what works best for hypertrophy.

    I very much look forward to the opinions of others to either confirm or negate various aspects of my own.


    Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Registered User Anthony21's Avatar
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    The word "optimal" should just not even be used. I'm tired of seeing that word thrown around constantly. IMO there is no "optimal" when it comes to training.

    There are far too many variables from person to person for anything to be optimal. Person A could respond better to a certain type of training, while person B can respond to something completely different.
    My training log: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=178464441
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  3. #3
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    Sorry Joe, the chances of you developing a forum wide consensus on these topics is pretty unlikely. Even ignoring individual variation - Some things are proven to be effective, some things are proven not to be effective, some things fall between those extremes. But there's almost no agreement which things fall into which category

    I did read some comments from Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline about this, and Dan John stated that more important than debating which is better, Westside or Menzer or .... or whatever, is to pick one method and stick to it to the letter and run it hard. Not to try and pick and mix bits you like, or flip flops between them. Just pick one and do it, was the advice to get the best results
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  4. #4
    Registered User 1stCoachJoe's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Anthony21 View Post
    The word "optimal" should just not even be used. I'm tired of seeing that word thrown around constantly. IMO there is no "optimal" when it comes to training.

    There are far too many variables from person to person for anything to be optimal. Person A could respond better to a certain type of training, while person B can respond to something completely different.
    Ha-ha... Language police aside, I trust that it is obvious that I am speaking in the most general of terms - not a one size fits all.

    Yes, everyone is different. I get that.

    However, there are basic rules of thumb i.e progressive resistance, volume, basic nutrition, etc... All I'm attempting to establish here are some general rules of thumb one might reference with regard to muscle growth.

    It's that simple.
    Without proper diets and effective meal plans dialed in, you might well be spitting in the wind.
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  5. #5
    Registered User 1stCoachJoe's Avatar
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    1stCoachJoe is offline
    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    Sorry Joe, the chances of you developing a forum wide consensus on these topics is pretty unlikely. Even ignoring individual variation - Some things are proven to be effective, some things are proven not to be effective, some things fall between those extremes. But there's almost no agreement which things fall into which category

    I did read some comments from Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline about this, and Dan John stated that more important than debating which is better, Westside or Menzer or .... or whatever, is to pick one method and stick to it to the letter and run it hard. Not to try and pick and mix bits you like, or flip flops between them. Just pick one and do it, was the advice to get the best results
    Good advice, Tom - thanks!

    I suppose I could have worded that better.

    I'm not looking for forum-wide agreement but instead wanted to get people's opinions and experience on the subject.

    From such opinions, one might then be able to recognize a general consensus.

    At the least, there could be plenty of experience and opinions from which to draw from such a wide variety of comments.
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  6. #6
    Rows Could've Saved Jack Camarija's Avatar
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    Camarija is offline
    There are plenty of studies on literally each of the topics you want to look into.

    Frequency: There are some studies keeping weekly volume the same, with the main variable being training days per week. Training more than once per week indicated better hypertrophy results. The weakness of this study, as with many of these studies, is knowing exactly how much each of the test subject trainees are eating calorie and macro wise to make it apples to apples. Some more issues may be that experience / training age may demonstrate different results.

    Intensity: As a % of 1 RM - More or less it depends on the muscle group here. You can look into the divide of muscle fibers between fast twitch and slow twitch, where one prefers higher intensity for growth, whereas the other prefers lower intensity for growth. Most of the muscles are more or less split evenly, or something like 65:35, which is still pretty close. So training in both high and low intensity ranges have benefits for hypertrophy for most muscles. The most notable exception is calves which are heavily slow twitch dominant muscles.

    Reps: Depends on the intensity with which you are training, but generally you want to get at least 7 RPE for hypertrophy training I guess. Again, there are tons of studies on this regarding 'money reps', or the 'reps that count' being the final reps in a set that matter the most for hypertrophy. Some people side with 'volume is volume' and casually pump out pullups with like RPE 1-5, but accumulate volume over the week and still see growth. As for which is preferential, I think RPE matters, and on the higher side would be best for hypertrophy.

    Speed: Again, there are studies on this. Looking at time under tension per rep, time under tensions per set, etc. Bro science suggests time under tension is useful to build the mindmuscle connection stronger. The reality of studies suggests a normal controlled concentric and eccentric, without exaggeration, results in more volume and therefore more hypertrophy.

    Rest Between Sets: Referring to different intensities at play, anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes for major compound exercises. Isolations can be shorter like 1 to 3 minutes depending.

    Each of these topics requires at least 10+ different studies to cross reference conclusions, and recognize the weaknesses that exist amongst themselves.

    I'm just going to copy paste Mrpb signature as a starting point for you to look into studies. Pubmed is a useful resource to pull up studies as well.

    Recommended science based fitness & nutrition information:
    Alan Aragon https://alanaragon.com/
    Brad Schoenfeld http://www.lookgreatnaked.com/
    James Krieger https://weightology.net/
    Jorn Trommelen http://www.nutritiontactics.com/
    Eric Helms & Team3DMJ https://3dmusclejourney.com/
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  7. #7
    Registered User 1stCoachJoe's Avatar
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    1stCoachJoe is offline
    Originally Posted by Camarija View Post
    There are plenty of studies on literally each of the topics you want to look into.

    Frequency: There are some studies keeping weekly volume the same, with the main variable being training days per week. Training more than once per week indicated better hypertrophy results. The weakness of this study, as with many of these studies, is knowing exactly how much each of the test subject trainees are eating calorie and macro wise to make it apples to apples. Some more issues may be that experience / training age may demonstrate different results.

    Intensity: As a % of 1 RM - More or less it depends on the muscle group here. You can look into the divide of muscle fibers between fast twitch and slow twitch, where one prefers higher intensity for growth, whereas the other prefers lower intensity for growth. Most of the muscles are more or less split evenly, or something like 65:35, which is still pretty close. So training in both high and low intensity ranges have benefits for hypertrophy for most muscles. The most notable exception is calves which are heavily slow twitch dominant muscles.

    Reps: Depends on the intensity with which you are training, but generally you want to get at least 7 RPE for hypertrophy training I guess. Again, there are tons of studies on this regarding 'money reps', or the 'reps that count' being the final reps in a set that matter the most for hypertrophy. Some people side with 'volume is volume' and casually pump out pullups with like RPE 1-5, but accumulate volume over the week and still see growth. As for which is preferential, I think RPE matters, and on the higher side would be best for hypertrophy.

    Speed: Again, there are studies on this. Looking at time under tension per rep, time under tensions per set, etc. Bro science suggests time under tension is useful to build the mindmuscle connection stronger. The reality of studies suggests a normal controlled concentric and eccentric, without exaggeration, results in more volume and therefore more hypertrophy.

    Rest Between Sets: Referring to different intensities at play, anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes for major compound exercises. Isolations can be shorter like 1 to 3 minutes depending.

    Each of these topics requires at least 10+ different studies to cross reference conclusions, and recognize the weaknesses that exist amongst themselves.

    I'm just going to copy paste Mrpb signature as a starting point for you to look into studies. Pubmed is a useful resource to pull up studies as well.

    Recommended science based fitness & nutrition information:
    Alan Aragon https://alanaragon.com/
    Brad Schoenfeld http://www.lookgreatnaked.com/
    James Krieger https://weightology.net/
    Jorn Trommelen http://www.nutritiontactics.com/
    Eric Helms & Team3DMJ https://3dmusclejourney.com/
    Brilliant response, brother!

    Thank you for the useful reference links!

    Much appreciated!!!
    Without proper diets and effective meal plans dialed in, you might well be spitting in the wind.
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