Load doesn't matter...or does it?

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy Research' started by Bryan Haycock, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    I managed to make gains during 2012 while following a basic 3 day a week fullbody HST cycle.
  2. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    That awesome Tot.

    I think we all understand the studies and principals who have been around a while. What a lot of guys are asking is using the Wernbom Research a lot of the guys took that research and decided that a more middle of the row program for hypertrophy tended to be twice a week per muscle group for growth. I.E. Lyle macdonald routine , Blade routine...etc.

    The interesting thing is Bryan is an ADVANCED lifter by all definintions and he is still a fan of 3 times a week training so given the study of Wernberm report which basically says you need to hit 40-60 reps twice a week...if you applied that study and research to a full body routine it gets to be a very long routine.

    I am just surprised he doesn't favor twice a week training especially at the advanced stages of lifting and I would love to hear his opinion on the subject.

    I myself still train full body 3 times a week and will continue to not because I think its the most optimal but b/c it works best for my and my life / career.

    Hopefully Bryan or Dan can comment.
  3. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    Have you ever read Lyles review of HST over at his forum? He says it better than I can say it...but basically he really likes HST and its principals but still thinks full body 3 times a week is a routine that gets outgrown sometimes by the lifter getting advanced. Check out his site and read his article on hypertrophy routines if you haven't already.
  4. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    I used to agree with Lyle's opinion on that, which was why I started using splits where I was only hitting full body twice a week (DC, etc.) and I did make gains doing that but the fact that I can now make gains on regular HST style full body done 3 times a week with significantly less volume per session than I was doing with the split routines when I am now at the largest I have ever been says to me that three times a week still works for advanced trainees as well. Just for illustration purposes, going by the strength guidelines on exrx (http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/StrengthStandards.htm) I am in the the advanced category for every lift except deadlift where I am in the elite category. So someone at my level can indeed make gains on 3 times a week when gains are much harder to come by than a beginner.
  5. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    It is worth keeping in mind that with the example routines that Bryan sets forth in the articles, you are most likely getting close to the same weekly rep count as what you are quoting.
  6. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    Thats awesome!

    Casey Butt who has a great website believes and advocates what you are saying as well Tot.

    And justs for the record I think you are 100% correct...many classic bodybuilders back in the 50s and 60s made great gains on basic full body workouts!

    Congrats on your accomplishments!
  7. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Wernbom's study probably doesn't take muscle's level of conditioning into consideration. When muscle is highly conditioned to max loads, then yes, it maybe takes 30-60 reps to work it out effectively. But in HST there's another way: take some time off (SD) and start training it with lighter effective loads. But there's another issue: RBE, or tissue's ability to sustain stress. Here's what Bryan said about all this:

  8. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    My main problem with the splits was as you said, I just do not have enough time to spend all that time in the gym, so I went back the basics and what do you know... I continued to grow. I think we tend to psyche ourselves out, I convinced myself that I was not making as good of gains, and of course I was no longer a newbie, so of course I wasn't. Gains slow down after you hit the intermediate stage. But when I finally got my head out of my ass, I realized that all my greatest gains were made with HST and so when I went back to the basics, back to my roots with HST, I started growing again.

    Funny because that was Bryan's tagline for HST - "Start growing again"
  9. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    My best, most rapid hypertrophy gains came from 3x/week full body training. (5x5, Korte, HST, Old school HIT). It seems that when frequency drops, so does the speed of adaptation. Of course I have never been 'advanced' so i can't say from experience if lower frequency is helpful for advanced trainees. For strength gains also, nothing like benching or squatting 3x/week to make rapid progress.

    I tried low frequency training when I first started and got very poor results. 2x/ week works, but for me 3x/week is superior. 1x/week is the bare minimum to "maintain".
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2012
  10. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    Thanks for sharing...very good post by Bryan!
  11. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    Quoting Bryan from HST FAQ, Ch. 28.2. Simple technique to avoid failure
    How is this meant to be understood? When I'm on my 5's I sometimes cannot do required reps for 2nd set of an exercise, e.g. on bench I might do 5, then after rest, do 3-4. Does Bryan mean it's nfg to repeat that load on future workouts, waiting till I'm able to do 5 reps on 2nd set, and ONLY then increase the load further?
  12. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Bryan is obviously stating that you should not construct an entire routine around only increasing the weight once you are able to get a target number of reps. He is stressing that you need to build your routine around the load progressing, not progression based on reps.

    But yes, in your example, it would be stupid to keep using that load until you can get all reps on both sets. Nobody cares if you get all the reps on the second set straight without rest. Just cluster reps after the first set or do whatever. Who cares. Load progression is kind. As Bryan says in the part that you did not bold "number of reps in no way should dictate how much weight they should use"
  13. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    In my case, I did 170 lbs (77.5 kg) inclined bench 5 reps on first set, 2 on the second (rest around 3-4 minutes until feeling ready). Then, without waiting for second set reps to catch up, I immediately increased load to 176 lbs (80 kg) on my next w/o and could only do 2 reps x 2 sets on Mon & Wed, and 3 reps, 2 reps on Fri. Had I first taken the time to get to 170 x 5 in two sets, my CNS would have been readier for the weight increase, and would have been able to work in greater volume.

    As to the effects of set clustering, true, it's easy to do, but that says nothing of its effectiveness. You may want to consider this research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15758847
    True, it measured strength increase and not that of muscle size.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  14. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    I think the above research isn't relevant to muscle growth. HST FAQ, Ch. 28:
    So clustered sets seem to be the right thing for hypertrophy, because first rep in a set isn't worse than the last one tension-wise for heavy enough weights (4-5RM) which employ full fiber activation from the start.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2013
  15. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    When you are dealing with loads in the 5 RM range, pretty much every rep is at full activation, so clustering vs reps/sets won't matter.
  16. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    HST_Rihad, here's my take:

    If the people used in the quoted pubmed study weren't very well conditioned to benching (which I guess they weren't) then their initial 6RM test would be pretty useless. (Why a 6RM anyway? Everyone knows 5s are better for everything! :) ) They should have been able to get used to benching for a couple of weeks prior to the test so that they would have substantially improved their motor control for the movement. Then a test of their 6RM would be more representative of their actual strength levels at that time. Any recorded improvements in strength over the next six weeks would then be more meaningfully related to actual muscle fibre CSA changes and other CNS adaptations than to any initial 'neural learning' of the movement. That's a bit wordy. I know what I mean! :)

    However, the biggest problem I have with the pubmed study is that they used a %age of their 6 RM loads in order to enable the tested subjects to manage 4 x 6 reps (ie. sets x repetitions x %6RM). What was that %age? If it was ~90% of their 6RM loads, that would mean they were using around a 9RM or 10RM load. Perform a triple with your 9RM and you aren't going to fire all your fibres from the first rep. In fact you aren't likely to induce full MF recruitment during any of the reps. By building so little fatigue, you are unlikely to be involving all the muscles fibres even during the final (8th) triple! Not very effective!

    Another thing mentioned in the study is that:
    That suggests that the final three reps in each set of six were taking longer per rep, due to some fatigue setting in during the first three reps So, that had the effect of increasing time-under-tension for the sets of six reps compared to the triples, with the same load. Any increase in TUT with the same loading should produce an improved PS response, all other things being equal.

    Also, we aren't told what kind of load progression was used (if any) over the course of the six-week study. We have no clue what the trainees' nutrition was like either?

    And, like you said, it was a study to test strength changes and not MF CSA, so not very relevant to HST and load progression in any case.

    If you performed 5 x 170 in one session and then you could only manage 2 x 176 in your next session (a 3.5% load increase), that implies that your estimated 1RM has dropped from about 190 to about 180, a 5% drop (and that's if I assume 170 is your 5RM)! Also, the fact that you are working towards a known 5RM means that 170 should be below your previous 5RM!

    Was 176 your previous 5RM? If it wasn't then there must be other factors involved here. Have you been getting enough calories from a well-balanced diet? Have you been getting enough sleep between sessions? Do you feel generally well or might you have picked up a virus? There are so many things that can affect lifting that, when you can't make your pre-calculated loads, it points to something being 'off' and there's usually a good reason.
  17. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    I'm normally working towards my new 5RM (penultimate 2 weeks) and then attempt to go beyond that. Both 77,5 kg (170 lb) and 80 kg (176 lb) were done on my last 2 weeks of 5RM's, so those where essentially new weights. Yes, 170x5 lb was apparently my truest 5RM as I could only do it 4 reps right before that w/o (no failure, just stopping when speed slows down greatly). Nothing to complain about, I liked the progress (from 75x4 to 80x3 in 7 weeks (including SD)), it's just that had I allowed for more volume by not jumping prematurely at 80 kg (176 lb), my muscles could have shown better growth. Theoretically :)

    No obvious sickness/sleeping/diet disorders one could notice.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  18. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ah, ok. So, if these were loads higher than your previous 5RM then that might explain it. Theoretically, if you managed 170 for a max-effort (ME) set of 5, you should have been able to manage 176 for a ME set of four reps, 185 for a ME double or 180 for a ME triple. However, with ME lifts, sometimes our brains get in the way and if our form is not perfectly drilled, even a slight deviation from the correct bar-path can spoil a set.

    The other problem is that with ME lifts our CNS takes much longer to recover for any subsequent sets we might want to do. This is why it's going to be less taxing neurologically to do five triples (or 7 doubles) with your 5RM than it is to try to do all ME sets—eg. a set of 5, then 2 sets of 4, then a double.

    With HST we are not focussing on the neurological aspect of training as much as we are on loading the actual muscle tissue. However, adding weight to the bar over time is essential to progress in both strength and hypertrophy training. I actually find it quite fun to spend a few weeks at the end of a regular HST cycle pushing my limits with more ME training. After that I really need SD for my CNS as well as my aching joints!
  19. HST_Rihad

    HST_Rihad Active Member

    That's probably the specificity principle kicking in. If you normally work with 5RM loads, your body will get better at just that. Working true 2RM or even 4RM might take some learning, despite calculators telling you the contrary. That's why I don't terribly trust those calculators when laying out my weight progression.

    Is it really (evidenced by research) as effective as a normal set for the purposes of inducing muscle growth?
  20. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    What do you mean by 'a normal set'?

    You can worry about all this till the cows come home but if you 'suck it and see' you will find out if it's true in your case or not. It's definitely true in my case. Also, if you have ever done the Smolov squat routine, base mesocycle, you will know that it is possible to do a lot more work than you ever imagined without getting overtrained.

    A little anecdotal, I know, but the great Paul Anderson used to do programs of lifting where he would do heavy singles all day with great gobs of rest between attempts. He got pretty big on that even though he was primarily after strength.

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