November 30, 2014

The Soviet Lifting Cycle, And How You Can Modify It To Increase Your Strength And Size!


Week 1
80% (6x2)
80% (6x3)
80% (6x2)
Week 2
80% (6x4)
80% (6x2)
80% (6x5)
Week 3
80% (6x2)
80% (6x6)
80% (6x2)
Week 4
85% (5x5)
80% (6x2)
90% (4x4)
Week 5
80% (6x2)
95% (3x3)
80% (6x2)
Week 6
100% (2x2)
80% (6x2)
102-105% (new max)

The table above is a copy of an old Soviet cycle which was originally used to gradually build raw strength in the Olympic lifts, and also the squat – depending on the lifter’s needs.

November 23, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About Training To Failure

Is it necessary to train to failure for optimal growth?
While training to failure can be dangerous (especially with heavy weights), as well as lead to neural fatigue, cause an excessive amount of muscle damage, and contribute to localized overtraining, there are significant benefits as well, but it really depends on what it is that caused failure in the first place.

What is ‘muscle’ failure?
Failure in this context refers to the incapacity to sustain the required amount of force output for a specific task. In other words, the task of performing more and more repetitions will become more daunting until it’s no longer physically possible to continue to produce the required amount of force to complete a repetition – this is failure.

What causes failure?
The concept of training to failure is easy to understand, but the reasons underlying its occurrence are more complex because there's not always a single isolated cause of failure – they are (but are not limited to):

November 16, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About How To Activate mTOR During Your Workout

Eccentrics, And Their Connection To mTOR

Activation of the mTOR pathway is the switch that triggers protein synthesis, and as far as mechanical tension is concerned, this switch is activated almost exclusively during muscle lengthening (eccentric) actions.

It was once thought that because eccentric loading inflicts the greatest micro-tearing to the muscles, muscle damage must be the main stimulus for growth, but this isn’t the case. In fact, excessive micro-trauma to the muscle fibers might even retard the growth process (partly because eccentrics reduce muscle insulin sensitivity).

It’s the cell signaling, via several pathways (ex. EPK and PKB pathways), as well as the activation of mTOR and the production of local growth factors (like IGF-1) in response to eccentrics which is the main stimulus for muscle growth. The micro-tears to the muscle are just a consequence of training, and are not necessary for growth to occur.

The external resistance needed to optimally activate mTOR is only 60% of maximum (a weight allows for roughly 20 reps to be performed), as it's the act of stretching the muscle under load which is responsible for the effect (and this effect is further magnified if the muscle being stretched is ‘pumped’, because performing a loaded stretch on a pumped muscle stretches the surrounding fascia, and increases the sensitivity of the IGF-1 receptors). Eccentrics performed in this manner, with such loads, aren't damaging and won't impair recovery, but will activate one of the main pathways involved in muscle growth.

Along with the cell signaling effect that low load, slow eccentrics have, is the occlusion effect (depriving the muscle of oxygen while it's doing mechanical work) that they can create, as long as constant tension is maintained – when a muscle is contracted, blood can't enter the muscle so oxygen isn't delivered, and if a muscle never relaxes during a set, blood will remain outside the muscle, and the muscle will go into an hypoxic state, increases the release of IGF-1. All of this positively affects both protein synthesis, and muscle growth.