Why Everyone Should Strength Train

Our bodies can lie to us. For example, when you first start serious strength training, almost any program will produce dramatic results. It is possible to gain 10-20 pounds of pure muscle during your first year of training, depending on your genetics. Continue reading “Why Everyone Should Strength Train”

Advertisements

Optimal Training Volume Made Simple

“Exercise to stimulate, not to annihilate. The world wasn’t formed in a day, and neither were we. Set small goals and build upon them.” Lee Haney

Determining optimal training volume is not a straight forward proposition. There is no one size fits all solution. I will simplify the process and provide some parameters, but you will have to discover what is optimal for YOU. Scientific studies should guide our training, but ultimately, we must decide what works best for us through trial and error. The primary factor to consider is your ability to recover.

Continue reading “Optimal Training Volume Made Simple”

Strength Training Intensity – How Much is Optimal

The latest issue of Muscle & Fiction and all the High-Intensity zealots would have you believe that if you don’t take a set to absolute muscular failure, you are wasting your time. That just isn’t true. On an effective strength training program for the natural lifter, most sets should stop 1 or 2 repetitions short of failure. We should avoid going to failure on all but the last set of each exercise. A simple, yet effective way to evaluate your rating of perceived exertion (RPE), is using this table developed by respected strength coach and competitive powerlifter Mike Tuchscherer.

RPE Scale (lifting)

Continue reading “Strength Training Intensity – How Much is Optimal”

Rest Between Set – What You Need to Know

Forget those 1-minute rest intervals in the muscle magazines. Your performance from set to set will decline quickly. Short rest intervals and training to failure repeatedly will increase human growth hormone levels, but I have not found any studies that correlate it with long-term increases in muscle mass. I have found studies that have concluded just the opposite. [i] [ii]Countless studies have demonstrated that progressive overload is the key to muscle and strength gains.

If you want to build strength and muscle, it is best done naturally by resting 3 to 5 minutes between working sets. The only time I recommend one-minute rest intervals are between low-intensity warm-up sets.  A study conducted by the Kennesaw State University found that subjects that rested 2.5 minutes between sets made substantially greater gains in muscle mass than the subject that only rested 1-minute between sets.[iii]

Continue reading “Rest Between Set – What You Need to Know”

Why Your Calves are Not Growing

 

Calves are the most difficult muscle to grow, but they are capable of growth. The most common mistakes I see in the gym are:

1) Improper form; bouncing the weight at the bottom of the movement.

2) Poor mind-muscle connection.

3) Training too light.

4) Not performing enough volume.

1) Improper form; bouncing the weight at the bottom of the movement.

The most common mistake people make is bouncing the weight, which puts the load on your tendons and ligaments instead of the calf muscle. You will achieve a pump, but you are not working the muscle in a meaningful way. You want to work the calf, not your tendons. You want to go all the way down, get a strong stretch in the muscle, pause for a second or two, then use the calf to lift your heel as high as it will go, then hold the contraction a second before descending under control.

Continue reading “Why Your Calves are Not Growing”