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Resistance Exercise Load Does Not Determine Hypertrophic Muscle Gains
The Phillips group is back at it again with another great muscle paper that just came out about hypertrophy (gaining muscle mass). It is not nutrition oriented this time, but instead discusses the amount of weight necessary to stimulate an increase in muscle size.
Introduction: It has been shown that under an acute exercise bout, using 30% of a person’s 1 rep max (1RM) to the point of muscle fatigue (failure) was equally as effective at stimulating muscle protein synthesis in the muscle fibers as that of loads lifted at 90% of 1RM (also lifted to failure). This was shown previously by this same group. Even more intriguing, they found the 30%-1RM condition resulted in a more prolonged muscle protein synthetic response with a greater rise in muscle protein synthesis than the 90% 1RM group 24 hours post-exercise. Furthermore, other than a relative training load (weight), another important variable for resistance training is volume or the amount of work performed. The Phillips group also showed before that 3 sets at 70% of 1RM to failure led to greater and a more prolonged muscle protein synthetic rate in the fibers as compared to a single set condition. However, as I stated, these are all under short-term conditions. Thus, this new study wishes to see if these hold true under long-term conditions.
Methods: Eighteen healthy young men underwent 10 weeks of one leg knee extension resistance training where each leg was randomly assigned to one of the three training conditions: 1 set performed to voluntary failure at 80% of 1RM (80%-1), 3 sets performed to the point of fatigue at 80% of 1RM (80%-3), or 3 sets performed to the point of fatigue at 30% of 1RM (30%-3).
Results: After 10 weeks of training, quadriceps muscle volume increased significantly in all groups and average type I and type II muscle fiber area increased with training (irrespective of training condition with no significant differences between groups). All three groups also increased their 1RM but it was increased greatest in the 80%-1 & 80%-3 groups. Total work that could be completed with 80% of the subect’s 1RM increased in all groups and the number of reps that could be performed with 80% of their current 1RM increased in all groups.
Discussion: The main outcome from this paper is that there was no difference in the magnitude of quadriceps muscle hypertrophy (determined by MRI and muscle fiber area) between legs trained at 30% or 80% of 1RM after 10 weeks of knee-extensor exercise. Furthermore, there was no statistical difference in the degree of hypertrophy between the 80%-1 and 80%-3 group even though the 3 set group gained a little more volume than the 1 set group. More interestingly, the 80%-3 and 30%-3 showed more than double the average hypertrophy of the 80%-1 condition. This adds to the mounting evidence that lifting lighter loads, so long as fatigue is induced, induces roughly equal hypertrophy gains. It is important to note that both type I and type II fibers increased equally between the heavy and light loads meaning that both fiber types were recruited during the training to an almost equal amount.
My input: I can’t preach it enough or put it in bold enough; fatigue, fatigue, fatigue. Train your muscles till failure. Don’t worry about the weight on the bar or saving yourself for that last all out set. Take every set to muscle failure, even beyond with partial repetitions and forced repetitions (if you have a spotter). I have written it in the past but it needs reemphasized; when training for hypertrophy, the muscle does not “know” the weight on the bar, all it knows is fatigue. Check your ego, men. Women too, who use 5 lb dumbbells and do unlimited numbers of reps (you know who you are), aren’t accomplishing anything. I think it is also important to mention that this study pushes for a volume principle whereas the two groups that completed 3 sets instead of 1 had more muscle volume after the 10 weeks than the group that did only 1 set till failure. The next plausible step is to see if there is in fact a threshold where doing more sets than 3 will lead to an even greater increase in muscle size (future PhD thesis for anyone that wants to take it). I would also like to see this study repeated with subjects that are weight trained to eliminate the possibility of a first-time adaptive response to training (another future PhD thesis for anyone that wants to take it). That could have been the reason why the 1 set to failure condition saw an increase in muscle hypertrophy due to the fact they have not weight trained in over a year. On the strength side, it also lends to credence to specificity of training in that the leg conditions that used 80% of their 1RM increased their strength more than the group that used only 30%. If you want to solely increase your strength, focus on using heavier weight, duh. More long-term studies are needed because a lot of questions can still be asked, but this is already off to a great start when looking at chronic resistance training responses in muscle.
Mitchell et al J Appl Physiol. 2012 Apr 19.
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.”
Aerobic Exercise Alters Skeletal Muscle Molecular Responses to Resistance Exercise
Weight training and some form of aerobic in the same session. Does it hurt or help?
Introduction: Exercise scientists use the term concurrent exercise when referring to resistance training and aerobic exercise being performed in the same session. These two modes of exercise are different in regards to skeletal muscle profiles and therefore may not be compatible with one another on the cellular level. This is noted as an “interference effect” between the different signals occurring in the muscle. The purpose of this study was to see the effects of a short bout of aerobic exercise on the molecular responses that are supposed to control exercise-specific muscle adaptations to resistance exercise.
Methods: The subjects (9 men) underwent one-legged aerobic exercise in the morning followed by four sets of resistance exercise six hours later. One leg received both aerobic and resistance exercise while the other volunteer’s leg served as a control and only received resistance exercise. Standardized meals were given the day before and the day of to each person and muscle biopsies were taken.
Results: The leg that underwent both aerobic and resistance exercise decreased in muscle glycogen more than the leg that just did resistance (makes sense). A well-known marker of mitochondrial biogenesis was higher in the leg that underwent both training modes. Another marker or muscle size regulation (myostatin) was significantly lower in both the resistance trained leg and in the leg that underwent both modes. Finally, a marker of protein synthesis was higher in the leg that underwent aerobic plus resistance training than the other leg.
Discussion/conclusion: From this study, the authors conclude that concurrent exercise may in fact enhance the skeletal muscle anabolic environment although it is important to note that these differences between legs were modest. An interesting finding is that the well-known marker of mitochondrial biogenesis which is usually increased from endurance training also increased from the resistance trained leg as well. Myostatin inhibits muscle hypertrophy and the finding that both legs decreased myostatin levels shows that both training modes could be effective at increasing muscle mass (although both legs did resistance and this very well may be the main reason for that). In conclusion, the authors state that both exercise types can be scheduled on the same day without compromising important molecular signals in the muscle.
My input: I’ve written about this previously on my blog. This study has similar results to the other in that they conclude resistance training after aerobic training may in fact enhance muscle machinery and subsequently help with performance. Although, the two studies are truly hard to compare due to the fact that this current one waited 7 hours later to do the resistance training, while the previous one I wrote about hit the weights immediately after. A great strength of this study was using one leg for aerobic and resistance exercise and using the person’s other leg as the control that just received resistance exercise. As far as a doing weights after cardio on the same day in the gym, there seems to be no immediate inference effect but this can not yet be extrapolated to more long-term sessions.
Lundberg et al Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Sep;44(9):1680-8.
[LOG] of Liam. Practical Programming: Weak as Shit/Absolute Beginner
Here’s a little background about me. When I was 14 years old, I was 200 lbs. It really sucked when people called me Fattie Chan. So around 16, I decided to start running. I managed to go down to a respectable weight, respectable enough to start wearing size small shirts and wear size 28 waist pants (previously large and 34). But I must have done something wrong because while my frame became a lot smaller, there was a still a lot of excess fat on my chest and gut. I looked fine with clothes on but I was embarrassed when I had to take my shirt off for swimming or other things.
So this year, I moved for college. I had to move in with people I found on Craigslist and they were absolutely horrible at keeping the kitchen clean. I could never cook so I had to eat out or eat fast food a lot. Luckily, I’ve moved out. But then I noticed my shirts were getting a lot tighter. So for the past 3 weeks, I’ve been doing cardio again. Then I decided I didn’t want to be this weak little shit anymore. It’s really demoralizing when I’ve worked as a server and large trays make my arm shake. So yeah, I’m a weakling, but I wanna get strong. So I’ve been researching for the past three days, decided to go be a member of a gym, and here I am.
I’m not doing this for girls or building confidence. Those two things are fine. I’m just tired of sitting down and having my gut protrude and just being overall weak.
Starting Weight: 154 lbs
Starting Weights (Really Embarrassing)
Squats: 45 lbs (just the bar)
Bench: 45 lbs (just the bar)
Squats 3x5: 45, 45, 45
Bench/Press/Bench: 45, 45, 55
Chin-Ups: Failure, Failure, Failure
can you feel the excitement?
Did my second run for the week— 31 min total, including warm up and short cool down.
Wanted to do some yoga poses afterward to stretch and relax before diving into the fray but I was out of time. The good news about this is that I will take time for a longer session this evening.
The medicine ball routine from yesterday kicked my
@ss core. I read somewhere that only time most folks really engage their abs is when they get out of bed in the morning. Well, I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning! lol.
Good things: 65 degree temps today! Yoga tonight! Long weekend! Possibility of short day at work!
Finally, I was emailing a good friend that I haven’t seen in ages. We were chatting about the Chicago marathon and I wrote the following:
“Signing up for the marathon was largely based on my succumbing to peer pressure. How funny is it that I never drank or smoked or did drugs b/c my friends tried to get me to do it, but running 26.2 miles—SURE!!!”
So, CAN you feel the excitement?
How Women Benefit from Lifting Weights
Burn More Calories: In comparison to cardio, strength training in the same 30 minutes burns more calories. It takes more energy (calories) to build muscle. Creating more muscle mass well then equal more calories burned, boost in your metabolism and a more efficient body.
Maintain Muscle: After the age of 30 women lose an average 22% of their total muscle. What causes even more problems is that the muscle is usually replaced with fat. One pound of fat takes up 18% more space than one pound of muscle, so even if the number on the scale decreases, your pant size will increase. Strength train 2-3 days a week, with an added 3-4 days of cardio for optimal results.
Bone Strength: Weight lifting helps to fight osteoporosis, a disease that effects approximately 8 million women in the US. The muscles you lift pull on tendons which pull on bones. This added stress creates a stronger set of bones.
Heart Strength: The increase in blood pressure after weight lifting actually creates a stronger, more efficient heart in the long run. The blood is forced back up in to the heart and then forced back out to the muscles, keeping the cardiovascular system in optimal working order. An increase in lean mass allows for more work to be done, creating a stronger heart over time.
Memory: Weight lifting has been known to increase brain capacity and more specifically memory function. The combination of computers and moderate exercise decreases the risk of memory loss more than any other activity by itself.
Decreased Stress: A release of endorphins is more often than not one of the results of strength training. An Australian study found that 3 strength workouts a week caused an 18% drop in depression after 10 weeks. Resistance training also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, relieving anxiety and agitation.
Blood Sugar: Resistance training assists the body in regulating blood sugar, which can help to prevent diabetes. If diabetes is already an issue, strength training can improve blood sugar control in combination with blood sugar drugs.
Balance: Over the course of time, smaller fast twitch muscles responsible for power, speed and balance, decrease in effectiveness. Resistance training helps to maintain these fibers.
That Time: Various studies show that intense training eases menstrual cramps more effectively than prolonged, gentler exercise. Aerobic exercise was found to help with PMS and mood related issues associated with hormonal changes.