The fundamentals of strength/hypertrophy training and how to design an effective, research-based strength training program.
Power: A controlled display of power specific to a task and the person performing it. Hypertrophy: The growth of new muscle tissue that improves our size and ability to function.
To improve strength and hypertrophy, lifters beyond the beginner phase should follow a basic periodized program that allows each muscle group to be trained 2-3 times per week with at least 48 hours of rest between the same muscle stimulation, for a total of 4-6 workouts per session Week. This routine maximizes muscle protein synthesis throughout the week, stimulates muscles with a constant amount of stress/injury needed for growth, and allows for at least 24 hours of CNS rest between workouts.
As far as equipment goes, I recommend that you do your workout primarily with bars, dumbbells, kettlebells, sling machines, and your own body weight. These tools offer a wide variety of movement options and workout styles while remaining consistent in their availability and function from gym to gym. Learning to use these standard pieces of equipment will provide you with the best training foundation to scale your training as your skill advances. .
Within the recommended weekly training frequency listed above, a total of 6-12 sets for a single muscle/movement should be completedper week. 60-70% of these sets should focus on hypertrophy and the remaining 30-40% on strength. This split gives us enough hypertrophy volume to develop new tissue while also allowing for plenty of strength work to improve force production/neuromuscular coordination.
Rest times between sets of 1.5 to 3 minutes should be used for hypertrophy training and 3 to 5 minutes for strength training. More rest allows us to lift more weight, and more weight leads to more progress. Work capacity improvements through smart cardio training can keep rest periods short—do cardio for more gains.
Regarding reps, studies show that strength gains are primarily achieved when lifting weights at 80-85% or more of our 1RM, while hypertrophy can occur at a wide range of loads. These percentages correspond to rep ranges of about 1-6 for strength and 6-12+ for hypertrophy. I suggest limiting your hypertrophy training to 12 reps.
In all rep ranges, a set failure should be avoided if possible; Reserve 1 rep most of the time. Aim for a repetition rate of 1-2 seconds on the concentric phase and 2-3 seconds on the eccentric phase. Control every rep, don't let them control you.
To prevent CNS and PNS fatigue from interfering with exercise productivity, start with strength, move to hypertrophy, and then finish with cardiovascular conditioning. This setup puts the highest volume, fatigue-inducing exercises last and allows us to maximize our strength/hypertrophy training potential before we get too tired. If your workout involves a significant amount of strength work, do that first.
This guide contains much more information than this summary. It would be a great help if you read everything.
Table of Contents
- The Heavy Metal Healer - Introduction
- Resistance training for beginners
- Choice of exercises
- put everything together
- Include it
The Heavy Metal Healer
If you asked 100 different people at random about their favorite exercise methods, you would get a wide range of answers. Yoga, bodybuilding, Pilates, CrossFit, running, weightlifting, and cycling would probably dominate the list, but you'd also see more unconventional activities like Quidditch, free running/parkour, and LARPing, and that's great. The lack of specificity under the general umbrella of fitness allows us to do what we love while improving our health. There's no better way to get fit so you too can enjoy every minute you spend sweaty and out of breath.
However, if you want to get really good at the exercises you choose, things become a lot less open to interpretation - effectivelythe structure of the program is muchmore specific. Whether you're navigating a new bouldering route, trying to perfect your vinyasa alignment, or focusing on a new deadlift PR, strong, well-developed muscles are critical to your success.
From children to the elderly, we all benefit from building muscle and being strong. Provided exercise selection, intensity, and overall program design are implemented correctly, resistance training is a safe and effective way to improve your health, achieve your dream physique, and help you thrive.in the activities you love. If you're a physically active person, you should lift weights: this guide is for you.
Let's talk about how to build muscle and get strong.
This guide covers the basics of strength/hypertrophy training and is written to help anyone develop an effective, research-based strength training program.
Resistance training for beginners
Before we really get started, it's necessary to first state that when you're untrained (with little to no practice experience), you're basically superhuman. As a newbie, you make monster leaps in strength, muscle size, and cardiovascular endurance almost every week, and many of the rules used in popular programs don't apply to you. This period of rapid growth doesn't last forever, however, so the best way to use the time you have is to implement an effective routine and learn the basics right from day one. Before moving on to more traditional programs, let's quickly cover some simple guidelines for new lifters that can help achieve maximum beginner gains.
First, set a goal and a clearly defined reason for training. Are you interested in bodybuilding? Excellent. Do you want to improve your strength so you can kill them with the Pilates reformer? Fantastic. There's no wrong answer here, just make sure you know what you're working for. Every program needs a direction.
This may sound contradictory to what has just been suggested, but whatever your goals, a solid base of strength comes first. Strong muscles improve our running economy, climbing ability, dance coordination, and overall growth potential. Strength training allows us to get better at the activities we love, and luckily it's relatively easy to get better at first.
For many untrained people, weakness isn't just due to a lack of muscle mass. Instead, their inability to lift heavier loads (up to a point) is often more dependent on neuromuscular signals. That means you have the muscle mass to lift heavy weights (sort of), but your brain isn't very good at coordinating with your muscles to work together to make it happen. Similar to playing a musical instrument, strength training is a skill with fundamental fundamentals that need to be practiced before playing with emotions. On your first day you're going to suck at playing guitar, no matter how hard you try this version. It takes hours of learning before you can apply the intensity.
The forced learning phase is deliberately kept very simple. We want to focus on non-periodized total body workouts done 2-3 times a week with 3 work sets per exercise. Each set should be 5-8 reps with a challenging weight, but not heavy enough to cause failure (1-2 reps in reserve). Aim to add a moderate amount of weight (5-10 pounds) to your lifts weekly; It won't always be possible, but that's your goal. These suggestions mean you can do basically the same 2-3 workouts each week and just focus on adding small amounts of weight whenever possible.
losBeginnerThe program follows this outline and the first two weeks of the learning phase are listed above. This sample section contains two different weeks with three workouts each. In total, there are only 8 different primary movement patterns spread over 6 sessions, making it a relatively easy routine to learn. The exercises listed are intended to be performed with a barbell, but the general movement designations allow for a large number of exercises and equipment options (horizontal pressing = barbell bench, push-ups, dumbbell bench, etc.).
For at least the first 2 months, stick to this or a similar strength protocol and limit high-impact/high-rep exercises that emphasize hypertrophy. Regardless, there's a good chance you won't significantly increase muscle size during this 8-week period. Bulking can cause damage (often confused with hypertrophy) and unnecessary fatigue that stunts growth. We'll discuss this in more detail later in the guide.
Finally, early selection of equipment and exercises should reflect the program you will be following. If you decide to work with himBeginneror similar, you will use a bar for many of the exercises. With each use, you will feel more comfortable with this device. So start with the bar on day one or introduce it as soon as possible as you build strength/coordination/confidence. In any fitness environment, learning how to use the equipment is just as important as learning how to move the weight. For help with exercise progression and movement modifications, go toBeginnerProgram - it should contain almost everything you need to get started.
As there is no exact duration for the Novice/Apprentice phase, it is important to closely monitor your weekly progress to determine when you have reached an Intermediate level of experience. Usually this point is defined by a force plateau. When you're comfortable with the key machines in your program and stop improving with the same basic workouts, it's time to move on to bigger and better things. Some can reach this point after two months, while others can continue for up to six months.
Listen to your body, do what is best for you and move on when you are ready, don't rush into anything. An extra month spent solidifying your foundation, with the possibility of minimal returns, is far better than moving 30 days early.
Don't worry if you don't know some of the terms in this opening section. We'll cover them all soon and hopefully clear up any remaining confusion.
Definition of strength and hypertrophy
Strength and hypertrophy can have inconsistent terminology interpretations across different training/exercise domains. To make sure we're all on the same page and working toward a common goal, let's take a moment to define these two facets of resistance training in the context of Fitstra programming.
Strength can be defined as the ability to overcome large opposing forces, resulting incontrolled movement of heavy things. In the weight room, this Herculean trait manifests itself in the form ofrepeatable, low-velocity, high-load concentric contractions related to a specific task: the force is similar but involves high-velocity contractions with lighter loads. Because I do not compete in fitness at Fitstra, a client's individual strength level is measured by measuring their unique personal progress and performance. It doesn't matter how much more or less you can lift than your neighbor: your success doesn't determine your progress. Adding more weight to the bar or dropping a few more reps means you are stronger than you were before and have improved compared to your previous skills. Strength levels relative to your personal starting points and your natural upper limit potential, not absolute strength compared to others, are what count in non-competitive fitness environments and in Fitstra programming. Focus on being a stronger version of yourself.
Your individual strength level may be unique to you, but we are all limited by the same physiological factors. Two of the most important variables to focus on are neuromuscular efficiency/coordination (learning to be strong, as discussed above) and muscle cross-sectional area (the size of a muscle). From this perspective, if we really want to be strong, we must learn to move well and increase our lean body mass through hypertrophy training: build new tissue, teach to be strong, build more tissue, teach to be strong to be etc.
Hypertrophy is the growth of a muscle in both length and thickness (cross-sectional area). Age and gender differences affect our growth rates and overall lean mass capacity, but research shows that almost anyone can build a significant amount of muscle with resistance training. Similar to how I measure strength, hypertrophy progression should be compared to individual starting points and growth potential.There are a few different factors that contribute to muscle size, but my main focus is the addition of new physical structures called sarcomeres.
As can be seen in the image above, our muscles are made up of fascicles, which contain multiple muscle fibers/cells. Each cell is made up of bundles of individual myofibril strands made up of individually connected segments called sarcomeres. Inside each sarcomere is an interlocking assembly of the contractile proteins actin and myosin. Muscle contractions occur when myosin binds to actin and pushes the two structures past each other, bringing each end of the sarcomere closer to the middle of the segment.
When we train hard enough to induce hypertrophy, our muscles lengthen by adding new sarcomeres to the middle and/or ends of the myofibrils (serial sarcomeres) and generally thicken by dividing existing myofibril strands to completely to form new strands.(Sarcomeres parallel).This growth of these new physical structuresIt's called myofibrillar hypertrophy. As we'll see later, this happens through a process called muscle protein synthesis and fuels our growth and training progress. Sarcomeres help with strength production and are the main contributors to muscle mass content and strength production, but they don't just contribute to size.
We can also experience muscle hypertrophy from an enlargement of the sarcoplasm of each muscle fiber, this is called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. The sarcoplasm is a fluid/nutrient/fiber-rich outer membrane and provides structure to the cell by enclosing all of the myofibrils within. However, our muscles can grow through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and this adaptationoffers some great benefits (increased glycogen storage, fuel delivery and blood flow), should not be the focus of our training. A well-designed strength and hypertrophy program will inevitably induce sarcoplasmic growth, but chasing the "pump" with a fluid retention routine that causes swelling and high reps can negatively impact overall exercise progress and limit muscle development, strength, and size.
By prioritizing the addition of new physical structures over total muscle volume, our hypertrophy training results in long-term functional benefits rather than acute aesthetic improvements. It just means that we should be lifting weights to improve our performance, not chasing the pump. By constantly improving our strength output and overall muscle size, we can benefit from all points of the hypertrophy spectrum.
So to summarize each definition, strength is a controlled deployment of force specific to a task and the person performing it, while hypertrophy is an increase in the overall size of our muscle tissue.
Now that we hope we're all speaking the same strength training language, let's talk about how we can improve each attribute and the importance of working together in strength and hypertrophy training.
Recruitment of motor units and mechanical loading
The design of strength and hypertrophy training varies widely, but both modalities base their programming on the same core principles: motor unit recruitment, mechanical loading, and the force-velocity relationship. A basic understanding of these three fundamentals will help you make steady progress and bigger wins.
In order for a muscle to contract and generate force, the brain must first send a signal through the central nervous system to a motor neuron. Once the neuron receives the message, it flips an on/off switch, generating an action potential, and all of the fibers controlled by that nerve cell contract. This interconnected system of neurons and fibers is called the motor unit (MU).
Depending on the load intensity, a corresponding number of MUs are cumulatively recruited in increasing size, with the size being determined by the number of muscle fibers innervated by a single neuron. The smallest MUs activate first and contain mostly slow-twitch/highly oxidative Type 1 fibers, while the largest units consist of fast-twitch/anaerobic Type 2 fibers and are recruited last as peaks of intensity/demand. Due to the innervation properties of motor unit fibers, most of our muscles have significantly more small MUs than large MUs: fewer large MUs, but innervate many more fibers per unit, offsetting the difference in quantity. This progressive increase in mixed muscle fiber activation is one of the methods that allows us to control force production.
All muscles have a mix of fiber types, but Type 2 fibers have by far the greatest potential for growth and strength, which is why activating them is our top priority in resistance training. However, because these fast-twitch fibers are recruited last and only in response to high performance demands, we will miss out on growth if the exercise intensity isn't dialed in properly. We must ensure that we constantly exceed the recruitment threshold for the largest motor units and activate their growth-hungry Type 2 fibers.
The motor unit recruitment threshold (MURT) is the minimum amount of stimulation required to flip the twitch switch from off to on, with the largest MUs having the highest MURT. Because of the ascending and cumulative order of motor unit activation, if we stimulate the largest MU, all the smaller units “below” will also be active. This makes our approach pretty simple from a strength and hypertrophy standpoint: Activate the largest motor units. Fortunately, there are two fairly easy ways to reach high-threshold MEs and the Type 2 fibers they control: fast/explosive movements or heavy lifting. Both options can activate 100% of a muscle's fibers and are incredibly beneficial within our programming, but lead to very different results. (Spoilers: heavy lifting)
The graph above illustrates what is known as the force-velocity relationship and is an important determinant of programming.In both concentric and eccentric contractions, high levels of force produce consistent and predictable speeds of movement.
This principle states that when we contract concentrically (the muscle shortens) against a heavy weight, the movement cannot be rapid, and if we do it rapidly, the resistance must be light. As can be seen in the right half of the diagram, as concentric velocity increases, the total force experienced must decrease.
For example, if you can perform a 2-rep max concentric bicep curl with a 40-pound dumbbell before failure, you're applying incredibly high force to your bicep fibers relative to your overall strength level. The weight must move slowly as the maximum curling power you possess is only slightly greater than the resistance of the weight. If it were stronger you could crimp it much faster, but that would result in less stress on the fibers relative to its maximum power potential. do you see the patternReally heavy weight requires that we move slowly, not choose speed.
Conversely, to generate a high level of force in a muscle during an eccentric contraction (the muscle lengthens), the movement must be rapid. Maybe you can just curl uphoch40 pounds for 2 reps, but you can probably drop 60 pounds for 2 reps at a controlled rate. 70 pounds would drop a little faster and 80 pounds even more. The heavier the weight, the faster a muscle must lengthen.Eccentric contractions can put more force on a muscle, but recruit fewer motor units despite the heavier load.
Why is all this important?
While we can achieve 100% MU activation through explosive concentric exercise, we don't get big or strong just by moving fast. High-velocity concentric movements contract the sarcomeres too quickly for the mechanical stress to act on a single fiber (right side of the force-velocity diagram).
Conversely, heavy weights slow us down, increase rep duration (time under tension), achieve maximum MU recruitment during the concentric phase, and subject each fiber to the mechanical stress needed to stimulate the signaling pathways responsible for hypertrophy. When we're aiming for hypertrophy and strength gains, recruiting all of our motor units is a much less significant accomplishment unless accompanied by high levels of strength. meIt is this application of stress/weight to the fiber over a period of time that stimulates the growth of new structures, not just activation of the fiber.That's why it's important to emphasize heavy lifting.
However, speed/power-based movements are far from useless in strength and hypertrophy training. They don't necessarily contribute directly to growth, but they do have a significant impact on both our size and our performance. By correctly applying strength-based training, we can lower our motor unit recruitment threshold (MURT) and increase the frequency of fiber contractions (frequency encoding). This results in improved strength, higher power output and more work per set (gains). We'll cover this in more detail later because it's super useful and just a really nice training answer.
Before we continue, let's recap.
The key points here are that in order to get big and/or strong, we need to stimulate as many type 2 fibers as possible in a single muscle. These fibers have a high motor unit recruitment threshold and require significant training intensity to become activated. By lifting heavy weights, we stimulate all MUs and put each fiber under tension with enough force and time to develop new bodily structures. These new sarcomeres make us stronger and enlarge our muscles.
We now (hopefully) have a very basic understanding of motor units, mechanical loading, the force-velocity relationship and its application to resistance training. When we combine these general principles with current practice research, we can finally begin the discussion about programming.
To keep all these details organized, we start with macro issues like periodization and then work our way down to micro issues like repetition and rest periods between sets.
Periodization and progressive overload
We can't max out every day or improvise every workout and expect to make progress. We need a plan that shows our workouts at the gym. Luckily, periodization is a great systematic organizer of gains.
Periodization is a method of structuring exercise that helps us achieve specific goals within a set time frame through the use of techniques of progressive overload, predetermined and cyclic variety, and planned rest.
Great... what does that really mean? Basically, periodization is just an exercise plan that adds structure and purpose to our workouts over time, with enough extra rest to properly recover from the demands of the workout. This plan consists of easy-to-follow, skill-specific checkpoints that gradually add intensity and variety as we move toward long-term goals.
'Standard cyclic variety' means that we change variables like volume and stress at regular intervals over time. These mods follow a sequential pattern that is often repeated upon the completion of a series. A single loop can be run multiple times to further enhance one skill, or altered to emphasize another. The details of the exercise may seem chaotic and cover a wide range of intensities from week to week, but they're not random. We want to use predictable changes for a specific purpose that aims to encourage specific skill customization. Diversity is important, but order is key.
When a program increases the weight or increases the number of reps (adding variety), it slowly introduces more stress into the body with the expectation that it will respond to those demands by getting stronger. This incremental increase in training intensity aimed at forcing an adaptation is called progressive overload (PO) and determines our range. Progressive overload is necessary in any periodized resistance training program because as we add new muscles and get stronger, motor unit recruitment decreases when subjected to the same load.
Much like periodization gives us the focus and structure of the entire program, progressive overload lays the foundation for an orderly implementation of diversity and the timing of segment transitions. Like the steps of a ladder, we go through the periodization process and expand our abilities. We load to a certain point, hit a peak, rest, and then change things up by adding a little more weight and/or bulk to the cycle we've just been through. Rinse and repeat.
The two most popular progression styles we're going to look at are linear and wavy. These methods are often referred to as individual periodization options, but I'll refer to them as progressive overload techniques instead. This is mainly due to its function and role in designing the program. Most likely, a "complete" program will use both linear and wave PO as training components, but these pieces of the puzzle cannot stand alone to form a complete program. They are critical parts of the plan, not the whole plan.
Linear PO is the easiest to implement and is simply the increase in one variable while another decreases, both at a constant rate. In the plot over time, the primary variable is an ascending straight line going to infinity. It's important to note that linear progressive overload can be applied to any variable in any training setting, but in resistance training we typically increase the load and decrease the volume.
Ripple PO is the constant rise and fall of two variables that have an inverse relationship. Plotting this type of overload gives you two horizontal waves with opposite peaks that intersect at regular intervals. Similar to linear progression, these two lines are constantly dancing along the X-axis as they move to infinity. Wavy can be applied to any two variables like linear, but is most commonly used with load and volume.
If you look at the charts above and their descriptions, you might notice some potential limitations in each style. The linear progression implies that we'll eventually lift full weight with no reps, and the undulatory motion leaves us stuck in a swinging limbo that does the same thing forever. In these forms, both options suck. If only we had a way to define the beginning and end of these OP techniques so that they could be repeated but not continued for eternity...
Adding time parameters to these progressive overload methods allows us to increase a given stressor for a given duration, reset it, recover from it, and then reapply it later with greater intensity. Segment lead times combined with progressive congestion produce the cyclical improvement pattern discussed above.
Most periodization plans use a macro>meso>micro structure, meaning they have long-term goals, intermediate focuses, and short-term methods (goals for the year/priorities for the quarter/workouts for the week).
Periodization was originally developed for sports that compete around an annual cycle of competition. As a result, recreational fitness has been heavily influenced by popular sports periodization models to follow an annual schedule, but there is no hard and fast rule of time. That means you could have a full periodized program that lasts only 3 months, or one that spans a 4-year Olympic calendar. It all depends on your goals and training experience. However, the longer a mesocycle lasts, the more time you have to level up a skill. So longer is usually better.
Before we move on to some examples, let's make sure we're all together.
The key takeaway from this section (so far) is that our goal-oriented training should follow a long-term plan that includes variety through the use of progressive overload and recovery techniques. Monitor your progress critically and regularly reassess your needs so you can create a simple plan that changes often enough to force growth when you get stuck, but lasts long enough to allow adjustments. There is plenty of scope for experimenting here – have fun.
Now let's mix all this potentially confusing stuff together and look at two examples of periodization with different linear and wavy PO styles. Keep in mind that these are oversimplified one-dimensional routines that only emphasize two approaches to training. They are visual aids to help understand periodization, not complete programs.
In this first example, we have a 5 month long macrocycle made up of 4 mesocycles. Each mesocycle is 5 weeks long with a week off (can be swapped out for a dump) and alternates between strength and hypertrophy for the bench press.
While there are 4 total mesocycles, there are only two distinct programming sections. Month 3 is a copy of month 1 and month 4 is a duplicate of month 2. The workouts in months 1 and 3 can be the same, but the loads used should increase with each cycle: the exercises in month 3 should be heavier than that From Month 1 As the load variable continues to increase, each cycle makes us better at a given skill and allows us to use a higher intensity next time.
If we look at the microcycles for each month, we can see both PO techniques in action. The hypertrophy segments follow a basic linear PO pattern with weekly weight gain and volume loss in response. In contrast, strength portions are constantly changing loads and reps every day. Daily changes in a variable are referred to as daily ripple.
This alternating pattern of segments places equal emphasis on traditional strength and hypertrophy training methods. It's really easy to do and can be incredibly effective for many lifters. Easy and uncomplicated.
The second example mixes things up a bit, but doesn't really deviate too much.
Like the first routine, this ~4 month long macro cycle focuses on both strength and bench press hypertrophy. However, this program puts a greater emphasis on hypertrophy by increasing the maximum load time in the hypertrophy phase to 2 months. Instead of cycling back and forth at a steady pace, we spend one mesocycle doing strength and then try to go hypertrophied two in a row.
As shown in the weekly breakdown, the compulsory fee still follows a daily rolling PO that peaks twice a month, but the specific changes from day to day vary. As long as a variable is changing daily and moving towards a specific goal, the transition need not be linear (daily rolling repeat changes: 8/6/4/2 vs. 8/4/6/2). Both options lead us to the same place, they just follow different routes. More space to experiment.
The changes to hypertrophy mesocycles are really simple: longer skill buff duration for more mass and more growth. We're still moving at one variable (load) with a linear PO style, but now we're extending that transition by 8 weeks instead of 4, doubling the time we spend on a single rep range from 1 week to 2 . This 1:2 strength to hypertrophy ratio is a great example of how we can spread our time across multiple goals during a periodization cycle, but still focus on the attribute that matters most to us.
These two examples barely scratch the surface of programming options, but I hope they've given you enough clarity to learn the basics of periodization and progressive overload to start building your own routine. For more examples of periodization and complete programs, seeSoftwareside - lots of fun stuff on it.
So the big question: What is the best periodization strategy? And the even bigger and disappointing answer: it all depends on the individual.
How you respond to stress and recover from intensity determines how quickly you make progress and how long a given program remains effective. In order to achieve the absolute most effective training strategy for everyone, a program must be incredibly specific. And the more specific a program is, the fewer people it can help. That is, there is no one-size-fits-all scheme that can perfectly maximize results. However, I can give general recommendations that work very well for most people.
In terms of cycle length, I like to build programs with 1 week micro cycles and 3-5 week months, with the macro length depending on how many goals the client wants to work on. For most people in the beginner to advanced stages of weightlifting, 4 to 6 month programs tend to work best. While you have the opportunity to unload and continue working out between mesocycles during your rest week, I would prefer that you spend this recovery week away from the gym. Focus on other aspects of training (hiking, yoga, Pilates, rock climbing, competitive walks, etc.) and just take a break from strength training. Kill him for 4 weeks straight and then enjoy your well-deserved rest.
Linear or wavy? There is a decent amount of research comparing linear vs wavy PO and most data suggests equal performance, with wavy having a slightly larger effect in highly trained individuals interested in strength. So unless you are an elite competitive athlete or have been training intensively for more than 5-10 years, both options will be super effective in your programming. I suggest you use a mix of wavy and linear PO.
Good. We have the basics. Now we will complete it.
Weekly exercise frequency and recovery
Based on the periodization framework established above, we know that our macrocycle should focus on specific long-term goals (strength/hypertrophy) and include some sort of cyclical variety and progressive overload during each mesocycle. But to get through a month of a month effectively and safely, our weekly microcycles must be designed to maximize growth, minimize risk of injury, and allow for adequate recovery.
In this section, we'll briefly cover how muscle protein synthesis, muscle damage, and nervous system fatigue affect our weekly training programs. Then let's look at what the research suggests for exercise frequency. When combined, these factors are expected to provide clear guidance as well as background information that explains the "why" behind the "how".
As mentioned above, heavy weights put a great deal of force on each of our muscle fibers. This mechanical charge is then translated into various chemical signals that tell our bodies to change physically to prepare for future demands. One of these adaptations is the growth of new muscle tissue through a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS), specifically the production of myofibrillar proteins that form new sarcomeres. These new contractile proteins created by MPS are deposited in our muscle fibers and slowly increase sarcomere count and overall muscle size over time. MPS is our way of growing and a training variable that we can easily influence.
Post-workout MPS rates increase dramatically when we eat high-protein meals as our bodies attempt to build new muscle mass and other amino acid-dependent structures/tissues. The mechanical forces we are subjected to during intense weight training make our muscles more sensitive to the presence of amino acids (AAs) in our blood. This increased sensitivity to changes in AA concentrations, particularly leucine, leads to thismuch higherprotein synthesis activity than normal. Muscle protein synthesis occurs to some extent every time we eat protein, but without the catalyst of resistance training to crank it up, "normal" MPS levels are more conducive to lean tissue maintenance than growth. If it isn't already obvious, yoursDietIt's really important to the success of your workout.
For beginners, this significantly elevated MPS state can last for more than 2 days, while highly trained lifters typically find that MPS levels return to pre-workout levels after about 24 hours. That said, most of us passively build new muscle tissue 1-3 days after an effective workout, as long as ours doDietis marked correctly.
On the other end of the spectrum, muscle protein breakdown (MPB) is the breakdown of existing muscle tissue into amino acids for use in various metabolic processes throughout the body. As with MPS, post-exercise muscle protein breakdown rates are increased relative to physical experience (no exercise = higher MPB). Although beginners see massive spikes in new protein formation after heavy lifting, they also have to deal with increased levels of muscle breakdown. Luckily, this lean mass loss is less of a concern than it sounds.
MPB is an unavoidable bodily process, but the changes in MPS are generally much greater than in MPB. We can't completely prevent muscle protein breakdown (and we may not want to), but we can minimize it significantly with agreat nutrition. As long as we're eating regular high-protein meals, incorporating resistance training into our schedule, and staying adequately hydrated, muscle protein synthesis should easily outpace the rate of breakdown, leading to growth. MPB is no small factor in our training, but it's one we shouldn't fret about. Eat smart and maintain the lean tissue you have.
The post-workout anabolic equation shown above combined with MPS activity gives us enough basic information to start creating a rough weekly training plan. The general plan is pretty simple, we want to stimulate MPS with resistance training when synthesis rates start falling near resting levels, but not too soon. This allows us to make optimal use of the entire duration of the synthesis and promote a constant state of growth. Since MPS activity lasts almost twice as long in novices as in trained strength athletes, we can conclude that the fitter someone is, the more often they need to train to increase hypertrophy and improve strength.
While this little bit of general advice does point us in the right direction, saying that someone at a high fitness level needs to lift "more" and a beginner needs to lift "less" doesn't give us any useful details. Using only the MPS data also means that there is no limit to our potential for growth. Eventually, "more" would become grueling, full-body workouts done every day and repeated forever. No thank you. To realistically quantify these frequencies, we need to consider recovery times when looking at muscle damage and fatigue.
First, what exactly is muscle damage?
In the context of fitness, muscle damage can be defined as exertion-induced muscle injury that results in pain, swelling, and loss of function. Symptoms can range from mild to severe but are usually always present after an intense session. The damage is usually caused by unaccustomed physical activity and can be exacerbated by high-impact, high-repetition eccentric contractions (which is why low-volume strength training is emphasized for beginners). When training stops and the body is allowed to recover, most damage is fully repaired in 5 to 7 days.
While muscle damage is far from a one-dimensional process, the ultimate cause of our problems appears to be structural impairment of the sarcomeres. These essential building blocks of muscle can deform, tear at the junctions of their segments, or even tear entirely, depending on the severity of the injury. Damaged sarcomeres produce weaker contractions, experience less force due to tighter exercise tolerances, and can ultimately stunt growth if not given adequate time to recover. It is also very likely that existing damaged tissue will need to be fully repaired before new sarcomeres can form. Research examining the link between MPS and muscle damage suggests that the products of muscle protein synthesis prioritize repairing a damaged foundation over adding new structures when damage is present. That said, you can do a great job of regularly increasing MPS rates, but you'll end up getting nowhere by degrading existing tissues at the same rate.
Muscle damage, however, isn't just an evil gainer conspiring to undermine our strength training progress with every rep. In fact, the potentially destructive power of intense exercise can be controlled and directed to improve us, as demonstrated by the fundamental periodization principle of progressive overload.
One of the most obvious benefits of muscle damage is its ability to reduce recovery time due to the Repeated Combat Effect (RBE). The repeated struggle effect is a concept that basically says that the more often we experience stressors, we adapt to them. As mentioned above, the unfamiliar exercises can be the most damaging and require a week of repair between sessions. But based on what we know about MPS' operations, if we wait that long, we'd be missing out on significant growth opportunities. By injecting appropriate amounts of damage at regular intervals, RBE induces neural and muscular adaptations that help beginners dramatically increase their training frequency and provide consistent gains for more experienced lifters. The success of progressive overload is largely due to the effects of repeated bouts and the way it forces our body to grow when subjected to the demands of intense exercise.
When implemented at manageable levels, muscle damage can also be a catalyst for the addition of new sarcomeres, as well as two structures we have yet to cover: costomeres and satellite cells. Costameres contribute to the forces of contraction and overall structural integrity of a fiber by serving as anchor points connecting the myofibrils to the cell membrane and aiding in the transmission of lateral force through the muscle; Increasing the costamere can improve strength.Satellite cells are stem cells in muscle that help repair and grow new fibers, either by synthesizing new contractile proteins or by fusing with a fiber, increasing the total number of nuclei in that fiber. More satellite cells can mean higher MPS rates and allow us to rebuild muscle more quickly when we've been off for a longer period of time.
Both elements increase after a damaging workout and can have a significant positive impact on our training. But if we are to harness the power of harm and use it for good, we must be able to recognize its presence and severity.
There are a few ways to determine if goods are damaged, but many of them require invasive and specialized techniques that aren't even practical for everyday use. Most people probably have no idea what segmental fiber necrosis is, have never heard of Z-band transmission, are disgusted at the mention of protein leakage, and have absolutely no way of testing any of these markers. But almost all of us have experienced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after a brutal workout. This post-workout soreness is our damage marker.
A pain self-assessment isn't exactly a perfectly accurate measurement, so there's really no reason to overcomplicate things. Just use a simple 10 point scale where 1 means no pain. This method gives us a simple and intuitive way to assess our recovery status. It's subjective and definitely flawed, but its ease of use and reliability make it a great tool to help us tune frequency and intensity.
Good. We now know what damage is, understand its impact on our training progress, and have an easy way to identify it. Let's combine all of this information with what we know about MPS activity to see a little bit more of the bigger picture.
Starting with beginners, we know that MPS can last longer than two days and muscle damage can take up to seven days to heal if nothing is done to speed it up. This 2-7 day rest window can be further reduced by adding the concept of RBE and our DOMS self-assessment. We know that we need to train a muscle more than once to reap the benefits of the effects of repeated seizures. If our time parameters for "attacks" are one-week microcycles, then we can conclude that beginners need to train at least 2 times a week. From there, the pain scale helps us determine how many rest days should separate these two sessions, as well as their estimated intensity levels.
For example, if a beginner completed a total body workout on Monday, they could use the DOMS scale on Wednesday to determine whether their next session should be on Thursday or Friday. If they choose Thursday but are still very sore (7/10 or higher on the DOMS scale), simply reducing the weight and volume would allow them to benefit from the MPS stimulation without the existing one significantly worsening damage. As mentioned in the Training for Beginners section, programming for novice lifters is more about becoming familiar with the movement (neural adaptations) and building strength than hypertrophy. Embrace the power of the heavy metal healer.
Things are a little easier on the experienced lifter side, but the basics still apply. MPS activity wears off after about 24 hours in highly trained individuals, but most non-beginners still need at least 48 hours of rest to adequately recover from intense sessions. So 2 rest days are needed. However, unlike newbies, this 2-day minimum can be leveraged if DOMS is not a limiting factor. That means experienced lifters can safely work up to 4 times a week on a single muscle. It's definitely best to train the same muscle group every other day, but it can be a safe and effective method if our ultimate frequency factor is kept under control.
The final piece of the microcycle frequency puzzle is nervous system fatigue, which can be broken down into two forms: central and peripheral.
Peripheral nervous system (PNS) fatigue is a localized decrease in the force of contraction, primarily due to the depletion of energy sources (ATP and glycogen) and the buildup of metabolites (lactate, ammonia, and hydrogen ions) within a muscle after intense exercise. Basically the muscle failure we all experience at the end of a hard working set. During PNS fatigue, the brain can communicate perfectly with motor neurons, but the muscles are too "tired" to function. Peripheral fatigue is sudden and debilitating, but it's also incredibly short-lived, requiring only a few minutes of downtime to recover.
While peripheral fatigue may sound terrible, it's actually incredibly important for muscle activation. The accumulation of PNS fatigue is primarily why our higher threshold motor units recruit toward the end of a difficult work set. The first rep of an 80% 1RM load will not require full fiber activation, but the sixth rep will likely be required due to the loss of power output from the lower threshold Type 1 fibers.
PNS fatigue limits our ability to work in the pool, but because it's so brief, frequent, and useful, it's not a weekly frequency factor to worry about. Central nervous system (CNS) fatigue, on the other hand, is a key programming component that can really ruin our profits if not properly addressed.
Central nervous system fatigue is the exhaustion of our brain and spinal cord from repeated overstimulation, resulting in altered levels of neurotransmitters and reduced efficiency of neuromuscular signaling. Unlike PNS fatigue, central fatigue can creep in slowly and become a chronic problem if ignored and built up (not to be confused with Overtraining Syndrome, which is a serious condition that requires diagnosis). In this tired state, our muscles are ready to lift all those heavy things, but the motor neurons can't generate the action potentials needed to stimulate high-threshold MUs. Inactive and underused Type 2 fibers result in less mechanical stress, less motor unit recruitment and less gain. Fortunately, this problem can be avoided with a proper restore.
The total neural cost that a single workout imposes on an individual depends on their individual training experience and fitness level. CNS fatigue from some exercise (strength/low-volume strength) can subside within minutes in more fit lifters, while other more demanding activities (high-volume hypertrophy/endurance cardio) can impair performance for up to 48-72 hours. As with MPS activity and muscle damage, there appears to be a correlation between training status and the level of neural fatigue. When the ceiling of the CNS recovery range is 48-72 hours, to be safe, it's best for untrained lifters to rest that long between really grueling sessions to ensure they stay mentally energized.
This basic understanding of nervous system fatigue combined with what we know about MPS activity and muscle damage gives us almost all the pieces needed to build a really strong microcycle. But to wrap it all up and support our conclusions, we need to look at some research trends observed in studies looking specifically at weekly exercise frequency. Most of the data point to the same common conclusions:
- There is a positive dose-response relationship between exercise frequency and strength/hypertrophy gains, but hypertrophy appears to be affected more than strength.
- It's possible that beginner and intermediate strength gains are more dependent on total weekly training volume than frequency. Reaching this volume threshold in one session is possible, but can result in significant CNS fatigue and damage.
- In order to see consistent improvement, trained lifters will likely need more stimulation than beginners.
- There is a point where hypertrophy and strength decrease with increasing frequency. Some data show an upper limit for strength at 3x/week and hypertrophy at 4x/week.
When this research information is incorporated into MPS activity, muscle damage repair, and CNS fatigue, these microcycle rate variables are harmonized to create a clear, unified message. To increase both hypertrophy and strength, I recommend you:
Beginners should do full body workouts 2-3 times a week with at least 48 hours rest between sessions, for a total of 2-3 workouts per week. This routine encourages MPS activity for up to six days, harnesses the effects of repeated seizures to repair muscle damage, and provides plenty of rest time to dissipate CNS fatigue.
Conversely, trained lifters should aim to aimevery muscle group2-3 times per week with at least 48 hours rest between the same muscle stimulation, for a total of 4-6 training sessions per week. This routine maximizes MPS activity throughout the week, stimulating muscles with a constant amount of stress/damage needed for growth, and allowing at least 24 hours of CNS rest between workouts.
Easy and very doable for most people. The hardest part will be assessing your own fitness level on the untrained-trained spectrum: choosing an optimal frequency will likely require a little trial and error. If you're new and unsure of your skills, it's probably best to start on the conservative side (lower beginner level) and gradually increase the number of weekly sessions as you adapt. Hopefully the two examples above give you enough freedom to choose exactly what works best for your training needs. If you need any help please let me know.
Good. We already have the outline of our week. Now let's get into the details of a single workout, starting with the order of the exercises.
Exercise order and simultaneous training
The order of exercises within a single workout is a relatively easy problem to solve compared to other aspects of program design. This sequence is largely controlled by only two factors: fatigue and training goals. By understanding how nervous system fatigue affects our performance and having a clear purpose for our sessions, we will be able to consistently create orderly and effective workouts.
Basically, entire programs designed to improve both strength and hypertrophy must include a combination of strength, hypertrophy, aerobic cardio, anaerobic cardio, and strength. However, 3/5 of these mods are new styles that we have yet to cover. So before we dive into the training sequence, we need to briefly discuss the importance of cardiovascular conditioning and performance-based training within a strength/hypertrophy program. These two modalities are often overlooked when looking for profit, but they can have a major impact on our progress if implemented correctly.
To start, let's take a deep breath and embrace the idea of cardio.
Cardiovascular conditioning is associated with an impressively long list of overall health benefits, making it an essential part of any fitness regimen. In the context of strength training, aerobic and anaerobic cardiovascular exercise gives us a major advantage over those who skip it: increased work capacity. Work capacity is basically the amount of training volume we can complete in a given period of time (per set or per day) and how quickly we can recover from it.
Cardiovascular exercise stimulates protein synthesis in a manner similar to weightlifting, but produces primarily mitochondrial proteins rather than myofibrillar proteins. Increasing mitochondrial muscle density to support various metabolic processes throughout the body means our ability to store, produce and break down energy (ATP, creatine phosphate and glycogen) increases the efficiency of all three energy systems (ATP -CP, glycolytic and aerobic) and recovery times between series/training are shortened. More muscle energy and faster activity reaction times due to improved work capacity result in higher overall workload density.
For example, if you have a very busy schedule and only need to get up for an hour a day, you definitely want that hour to be as productive as possible. Low work capacity can require you to wait 3-4 minutes between sets to perform at your best and can leave you quite exhausted by the end of the session. This fatigue could carry over to the next day and also affect your training. Conversely, a high work capacity could reduce your rest times to 2 minutes between sets, allow you to do an extra rep or two per set, and prevent you from feeling dead when you walk out the door. In the high work capacity scenario, the volume/intensity is increased and accumulated fatigue is essentially eliminated, allowing for maximum productivity in the next session.
Cardiovascular conditioning program design is a complex exercise topic and deserves more attention than the two paragraphs I have here. For a more detailed breakdown of cardio programming and my recommended routine, check out thefat loss programmingto lead. The focus of this article is weight loss, but the methods used also directly improve overall cardiovascular efficiency. You should have almost all the tools and information you need to create a great cardiovascular program and increase work capacity.
It's power time.
As previously mentioned, performance-based training plays an important role in neuromuscular activity. Within Fitstra training programs, high-speed movements are added to lower motor unit recruitment thresholds and increase encoding rate.
We can try to lower MU recruitment thresholds by taking advantage of an acute phenomenon called post-activation potentiation (PAP). PAP is a theory that basically says our muscles remember how much fiber activation was last required and are more likely to recruit at least the same number of motor units in subsequent activities. Post-activation potentiation can lead to increased fiber recruitment at the start of a set, increased power output, and increased volume under heavy loads.
For example, a maximum effort jump squat doesn't put a ton of weight on our muscles, but it does require 100% motor unit recruitment. When performed before a heavy barbell squat, jumps prime our neuromuscular pathways, creating a short-term contraction history and making the motor neurons involved more easily fireable due to their recent activation. Performing an exercise that mimics another's MU recruitment requirements essentially lowers MU thresholds by reducing the stimulation needed to generate action potentials. Studies have shown that this muscle response works at both high speed/low resistance (push with claps to improve bench press) and low speed/high resistance (heavy squats to improve sprint time). The post-activation boost makes the moderate weight feel lighter when done after a much heavier set.
More research is needed on PAP to fully understand it, but there are enough studies pointing to its effectiveness to ignore it entirely.
On the other side of this powerful discussion, we have rate encoding. Rate encoding is a measure of how many times per second motor neurons generate action potentials and is as important in forcing production as it is in MU recruitment. When contracting at slower speeds or against lower opposing forces, the speed code is usually low. Conversely, when moving quickly or lifting heavy weights, the rate encoding is significantly higher. By using high-speed exercise as a complement to strength training, we can increase our rate-encoding base rate, improving our strength and growth potential.
There are endless ways to add additional strength training to your program, but I like it in warm-ups (mainly for PAPs) and mixed in with HIIT circuits at minimal to moderate volumes. To learn more about the implementation of high-speed exercises in these two environments, see thejfat loss programmingFührer
Good. We now have a basic understanding of the role of cardio and power in strength and hypertrophy training. Let's talk about the order of exercises.
As seen in the image above, the order of the style/focus of the exercises is our first and most important determining factor.
Fatigue is half the order equation, but it has the greatest impact on the structure of the day. Because effective resistance training programs require some form of cardio, we need to ensure our sessions support simultaneous training (which targets more than one exercise style: resistance and cardio in most cases) and avoid unnecessary fatigue. To keep CNS and PNS fatigue from interfering with our exercise productivity, we start with strength, progress to hypertrophy, and then finish with cardiovascular conditioning. This setup puts the highest volume, fatigue-inducing exercises last and allows us to maximize our strength/hypertrophy training potential before we get too tired. Untrained lifters will be able to get away with any order for 2-3 months, but this will pale in comparison to the beginner gains - get things right from the start.
Although not pictured, strength training would precede strength training for competitive athletes (soccer, CrossFit, weightlifting, etc.). Fitstra's programs bring strength to warm-up exercises and cardio because most people don't compete in any sport and don't have to prioritize developing explosive exercises. But if movements like snatches, cleans, and jerks are important to you, do them first. They require a lot of neuromuscular coordination and explosive energy, but they also generate very little fatigue if the volume is kept in check.
The second row in the ordering structure addresses the disposition of multi-joint versus single-joint exercise and is also primarily influenced by fatigue. While multi-joint movements can be more strenuous than single-joint movements, isolating individual muscles with single-joint exercises actually leads to higher levels of localized peripheral fatigue. When performed first, single-joint movements can compromise the overall integrity of multi-joint movements. When a muscle in a kinetic chain is weakened, the loading potential for that exercise decreases. While this transition from multiple to single joints is best in most scenarios, there are instances where this order could be reversed (before exhaustion).
The ultimate guideline for ordering exercise is based on personal preference and individual program goals. As your daily parallel structure progresses from resistance training to cardiovascular conditioning, placing multi-joint movements before single-joint movements, any remaining uncertainty in the sequence should be determined based on what is most important to you and your programming/periodization approach. This applies in particular to inexperienced strength athletes.
For example, let's say you're doing a beginner/intermediate focused lower body program that includes barbell squats, barbell deadlifts, hamstring curls, and an easy mile run. The hamstrings and cardio curls would be done last, but the order of the squats and deadlifts would be up to you. If squats are a weak point, it would be best to do them first. If you hate deadlifts and want to get rid of them as soon as possible, go for it. As long as the first two items on the exercise order checklist are checked (simultaneous style and common order), the final settings can be adjusted to suit your needs. That being said, ideally in this hypothetical scenario you should alternate between squatting and deadlifting in our periodization variation to ensure there is equal emphasis on strength and hypertrophy work in both movements.
To maximize your progress with each training style, do them in isolation in the order listed above. Don't mix things up. Circuit training is a great exercise method, but not to directly target maximum strength/hypertrophy gains. Reserve your circuits for HIIT/anaerobic conditioning.
These exercise order guidelines don't cover every possible scenario, but they should give you a useful base to start structuring your daily sessions.When the general order is established, we can proceed to the selection of exercises.
Choice of exercises
With a seemingly endless variety of machines and movement patterns to choose from, exercise selection can be an overwhelming hurdle in any program. Luckily it is easily passable. To solve this problem, I suggest that you stick to the most common and versatile machines and focus on specific movement patterns that emphasize strength, muscular balance, and injury prevention. These factors combine to create a simple list of effective exercises that target both strength and hypertrophy that can be performed at almost any gym.
First, let's look at my recommended minimum gear list. If you follow any of the Fitstra programs these are the only tools you will need.
- bars + washers
- lifting frame
- pull-up bar
- pull sideways
- Hamstring curl
- heart rate monitor + watch
- Power bands
- foam roller
- Parallele Dip-Bars
- sling trainer
- abs matte
Within the Fitstra programs, exercise selection is simplified by encouraging the use of free weights and avoiding most fixed-angle machines. Barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sling trainers and our own bodies make up the majority of the equipment used. These tools offer a wide variety of movement options and workout styles while remaining consistent in their availability and function from gym to gym. Learning to use these standard pieces of equipment will provide you with the best training foundation to scale your training as your skill advances.
I definitely follow a less is more philosophy to train devices to keep things as simple as possible for my clients, but that doesn't mean you have to. If there is a specific tool that you enjoy using in your routine, keep it. For example, kettlebells aren't mentioned in the basic list above because they're not strictly necessary to run my programs, but they add an incredible amount of variety/challenge to any routine - they're an amazing tool for core, power, and training. HIIT. Just because it's not on the list doesn't mean you shouldn't be using it. Feel free to add complementary gear to my list as it enhances your sessions.
Now that we have chosen our tools, we must know how to use them. To tackle this problem simply, let's shift our focus to the selection of movement patterns.
Our bodies are really good at bending, twisting, and twisting in all sorts of ways. A high level of mobility is great for day-to-day functioning, but not all movements require high-impact training. Instead, let's focus on strengthening a few specific compound movements that can improve overall physical performance in a variety of activities. While we all have different hobbies and training goals, we all share the same basic movement patterns. When aligned, these movements should promote joint/postural balance and help minimize the risk of injury due to an even distribution of work between the main movement forces.
As can be seen in the table above, the movement patterns selected fall into three categories: upper body, lower body and core. The upper limb options are pretty straightforward with push and pull in both the horizontal and vertical planes. The lower limb patterns add a bit more variety, but are still fairly simple with an emphasis on squats, hip joints, and single leg. In the main we have rotation, flexion and "hold" which is just a static/isometric contraction. Planks, carries, and anti-rotation exercises are examples of holds.
When we perform these movement patterns with the recommended equipment, exercise selection becomes easy. For example, if we want to press in a horizontal plane, we can choose barbell bench press, push-ups, or dumbbell/kettlebell bench press: enough variety for growth, but no effort to implement. Setting limits on the tools we use and the way we move allows us to keep our routines simple, focus only on the most effective exercises, and practice them often enough to do each one to dominate individuals. If we're relatively strong in every move/equipment combo, we're most likely balanced and have a healthy base of overall power.
To narrow things down further, here is a list of exercises that fit into each category.
From the discussion of training frequency above, we know that activating a muscle at least twice a week is ideal, but we didn't mention how to train it. I recommend that you stimulate each muscle group/movement pattern with at least two different exercises, rather than duplicating the same exercise and using a combination of bilateral (both limbs/sides work at the same time) and unilateral (one limb/side works alone). . or in an alternating pattern) movement styles. For example, bodyweight pull-ups on Monday followed by single lat pull-downs on Thursday would meet our vertical pull frequency and variety goals. The exercise selection table above should give you enough options to make this possible.
One last thing before we continue: It's important to note that while the exercises listed above can be used to create truly effective programs, you'll most likely want to complement them with a few extras depending on your goals, limitations, strengths, and Weaknesses. . You may need to emphasize certain corrective exercises (hamstring curls, shoulder external rotation, etc.) to address joint alignment issues, or you may find that certain body parts (arms, shoulders, etc.) require more volume from a single joint as they become larger. Use the list above as a guide to finding what's best for you.
If you need a second pair of eyes to assess postural deviations or imbalances, please let me know. I would be happy to work with you or refer you to a great local specialist.
Hopefully we all now have a basic understanding of strength and hypertrophy, mechanical loading, periodization, training frequency limitations, concurrent sequencing, and exercise selection based on movement patterns. Let's continue with this party and move on to the next section.
Set volumes, rest times, rep ranges, and weights
Because strength and hypertrophy are two complementary points on the same resistance training spectrum, we need to look at the details of sets and reps from both perspectives to create an effective program. When we understand each end of the weightlifting gradient, it becomes much easier to move the slider on our program and aim for specific goals. In this section, we look at optimal set volume, rest times between sets, number of repetitions, and corresponding loads for strength and hypertrophy.
To start, let's make sure we're all on the same page and take a moment to define reps and sets.
A repetition or repetition is a concentric + eccentric cycle of an exercise and is usually marked as complete when we return to the starting position of a movement. Reps can be short in duration and involve a single joint, or they can be long and require multi-joint coordination to complete a movement sequence. For example, a repetition of a bicep curl would be the combination of elbow flexion and extension and is isolated by one joint, while a repetition of an exercise like the Turkish raise involves almost every joint in the body and uses a variety of exercises. different movements.
A set is an isolated collection of one or more repetitions separated by a specified rest period. The series allows us to attack a specific muscle or movement with structure and intent. Like reps, a single set can be simple and involve just one exercise, or it can be a complex collection of movements and exercises from different styles (circuit training). However, in most cases, a set is just the number of repetitions of an exercise. For example, if we do a total of 30 push-ups divided into 3 sets of 10 repetitions, we have completed 3 sets of push-ups. When reading any of Fitstra's shows, and most others, the series always precedes the reruns. 3x10 would read as 3 sets of 10 reps.
Okay, we're all together now. Let's start by looking at the volume setting.
As we briefly touched on earlier in the section on microcycle training frequency, research shows a positive dose-response relationship between total volume and both strength and hypertrophy gains. However, the optimal number of sets for these two areas of focus varies greatly depending on training style and physical experience. We know that "more" is better for size and strength, but we need to get an idea of what "more" means. By comparing the available studies, we can gather some useful set volume windows that apply to both novice and trained lifters. The table below shows the optimal weekly totals forÖStrengthÖHypertrophy for a single muscle group/movement pattern. Sense,4-8+ games per week is idealif you're only training for strength, while 8-12+ sets per week is better if a program isolates hypertrophy.
As seen above, hypertrophy gains can require almost twice the weekly set volume as strength. This means that improving neuromuscular efficiency generally takes less time than growing new tissue. So if we're building a program that aims to increase both, it's probably best to devote most of our training time to hypertrophy.But why you?The studies used to form the table above were only tested for one of two training styles (strength or hypertrophy).We can't just put the two areas together and be done for the day: the total volume would be too high for beginners and more experienced lifters. Instead, we must work within set volume ranges that allow us to improve both strength and hypertrophy without causingunnecessary amounts of CNS fatigue and muscle damage
I recommend most lifters do a total of 5-10 sets per week for each movement pattern/muscle, with the exact total depending on training status and program goals. Within this range, 60-70% should be focused on hypertrophy and the remaining 30-40% on target strength. This division should encourage steady growth and allow for enough weekly strength training to improve neuromuscular coordination of new tissue as it is added.If you're more on the beginner-to-intermediate side of fitness, start lower with your set totals. See how it responds to a specific volume, then make incremental changes as needed. It's better to be a little underwhelmed for a week or two than to be overly sore and exhausted.
The table below contains some recommended weekly set split options, ranging from beginner to advanced, with set totals and power percentages listed below.
A really easy way to organize this setup within the recommended routine(2-3x per movement pattern per week)is to separate the strength sets from the hypertrophy sets for each muscle/movement and focus them on different days.
Let's look at the pull-up/lat-down example from the Exercise Selection section. If we're doing pull-ups on Monday, all the sets performed for that exercise can focus on strength. On Thursday, each set of pulldowns will emphasize hypertrophy. For a goal of 8 total sets of vertical pulls in a week, 3 sets of pull-ups on Monday will isolate and the remaining 5 sets will focus on hypertrophy with lat pulldowns on Thursday.This strategy is used in both FitstraSuperior inferiorSoftware
To see how strength and hypertrophy can be combined in the same day, check out the Fitstrapress legProgram.
There are many different ways to implement this weekly set breakdown. Most importantly, do what is best for you.
Now that we've established some optimal volume ranges, we need to make sure they work well by resting properly between sets.
Recovery times between sets vary quite a bit from person to person in different training environments, but generally more is better. By giving ourselves more time to rest, we can lift more weight, recover a greater percentage of our basic energy stores (ATP), and use more metabolites (lactate, ammonia and hydrogen ions)that accumulate during exercise, increase MPS more post-exercise (compared to shorter periods of rest), and control fatigue during exercise. Longer periods of rest between sets also make the workout more comfortable due to the lower perceived stress levels. When the overall difficulty of an activity is lower, both emotional satisfaction and program adherence are higher, especially for beginners. But just like with set volume, we need to define "more" to get these benefits.
As seen in my overworked purple and black gradients above, there are a number of rest periods between sets that span the entire endurance spectrum, with longer recovery periods corresponding to higher stress potential and less PNS fatigue. The "best" recovery times, and exactly where each of us falls on that recovery timeline, depends on training experience, age, training intensity, volume, work capacity,Dietand goals, but we can aim for some standard goals based on common training methods.
I recommend rest periods between sets of 1.5-3 minutes for hypertrophy training and 3-5 minutes for strength training. It will take some trial and error to choose exactly what's best for you, but these ranges should work well for most people. If you're not sure where to start, start with longer periods of recovery to establish baseline levels of performance, and then work to gradually reduce the time as your work capacity increases through cardiovascular conditioning. Note the structure of the recovery gradient and consider heavier loadsforeverYou need more rest to perform well. Make sure you recover enough to lift heavy because ultimately, programming for strength and hypertrophy is based on the relationship between reps and weight.
With a general understanding of set volumes and rest times, we can now move on to counting and loading reps. I've talked a lot about strength training and hypertrophy but didn't mention exactly how to do it. Let's fix that by looking at specific rep ranges and how they affect size and strength.
The reps and loads we use in resistance training are based on our one-rep maximum (1RM). A 1RM is the absolute maximum amount of weight we can lift for a full repetition of a single exercise. If we want our program to be effective and tailored to our individual needs, we must first know what our 1RM is for the exercises in our program. However, peak loads can be dangerous for many people. To reduce our risk of injury, we can estimate our 1RM using a multi-rep max with a lighter weight.
Using the table above, we can calculate an approximate 1RM for each exercise. To find this value, divide the amount of weight successfully lifted by the corresponding load percentage (as a decimal) of the repetitions completed.
For example, let's say you can bench press 6 reps with 135 pounds. Based on our 1RM numbers, we know that each weight we can lift 6 reps is about 85% of our one-rep max. Using this information we divide 135 by 85% (135/0.85) to give us an estimated 1RM of around £160. While we can technically calculate a 1RM from any number of reps, I recommend using 4-6 reps max. This method is suitable for both novice and experienced lifters because there is no need to test for a week or change the program to determine strength. With our 1RM data ready to go, we can search for optimal rep ranges and loads for strength and hypertrophy.
Looking back at the 1RM chart and the black/purple gradient transition, we see that strength is strongly associated with heavier loads, but wanes fairly quickly once we hit the 6 rep mark. Conversely, hypertrophy begins to show around the 6 rep mark but spreads throughout the course of the chart. As with many other aspects of fitness, there's no solid line separating strength from hypertrophy, but there are sweet spots. Studies show that strength gains are primarily achieved when lifting weights at 80-85% or more of our 1RM, while hypertrophy can occur at a wide range of loads. These percentages correspond to rep ranges of approximately 1-6 for strength and 6-12+ for hypertrophy. In all Fitstra programs, the reps of any exercise specifically targeting strength or hypertrophy should always be adjusted to the appropriate 1RM percentage.
When we think about what we know about muscle growth and the process of "learning" strength, these areas make sense.
Hypertrophy requires activation and mechanical stress of Type 2 fibers, regular spikes in muscle protein synthesis, and possibly some occasional tissue damage. Because PNS fatigue ultimately leads to recruitment of our largest motor units, all of these hypertrophy requirements can theoretically be met with heavy or light weight. Studies have shown that hypertrophy can occur in rep ranges up to 30, but I don't recommend working that high. Despite the growth potential that lower weights offer, I suggest limiting your hypertrophy zone to 12 due to the fiber type and fiber size paradox.
The fiber type and fiber size paradox is a concept that essentially states that muscle fibers with the highest oxidative capacity have the lowest potential for growth. He also says that trying to simultaneously increase a fiber's oxidative capacity and size will be less effective than training the two areas independently. Lighter weights that tire us with relatively high reps(15-30)rely on highly oxidative Type 1 fibers for a significant part of the game. These high-rep sets don't recruit our largest motor units until the very end of the exercise, resulting in a significant amount of "wasted" muscle energy being expended on smaller MUs. In contrast, a heavier weight performed for 6-12 reps recruits type 2 fibers much earlier and directs our energy expenditure primarily towards growth. High-rep sets can be incredibly beneficial for muscular endurance, but they don't isolate hypertrophy efficiently and can cause too much damage and fatigue to be worth employing.
The paradox of fiber type and fiber size is one of the main reasons Fitstra's programs use an exercise structure that selectively targets specific goals, rather than combining everything. “Different purposes to promote a specific fit” doesn't just apply to our conversation about periodization.
Although hypertrophy can occur under a variety of rep/load conditions, strength improvements tend to be one-dimensional. To be strong, we need a high level of neuromuscular coordination and fiber activation, which combine to result in maximum force production. Both of these aspects of strength are skills that need to be continually practiced and honed under "game day" conditions as new tissues are added through hypertrophy training. That is, if we are to be proficient in maximal force production, we must train both existing and new muscle mass to work together and reach their collective strength potential by lifting heavy weights. The previously discussed strength training benefits (improved MUR and frequency encoding) can help us lift more, but there's no substitute for high 1RM loads. Stick to 1-6 reps, use smart progressive overload patterns, move heavy stuff, and train your body to be strong. Think of strength training as a skill that can be improved indefinitely but lost without practice. Be consistent.
Use these suggestions for set volume, rest time, number of repetitions, and weight as a starting point and make any necessary adjustments to create the best program for your individual needs.
Now that we understand the basics of rep counts and their associated charges, we can move on to the final details: rep count errors and pacing.
Repeat and tempo errors
At this point in our discussion of strength and hypertrophy, we've covered pretty much everything you need to get started creating a simple yet effective program. Now you (hopefully) know some basics about periodization, motor unit recruitment, training frequency, exercise order, and other important muscle building topics. The big picture of effective resistance training is clear, but it's not entirely complete. To wrap up this lengthy guide, we need to address two concluding topics that delve a little deeper into loop style and performance: glitch and tempo.
In the context of resistance training, "failure" is a specific point during a set where no more repetitions can be performed due to increasing PNS fatigue. We fail when we cannot muster enough strength to overcome external resistance. Reaching this level of fatigue is often recommended in training programs to get the most out of every set. Using a spotter, lifters can push their body to failure to ensure all high-threshold motor units are recruited. However, despite its popularity, most of us should avoid failing in our training.
By constantly pushing our sets to failure, we increase CNS and PNS fatigue, muscle damage, and the rest times required between sets. Repeated set failures also increase the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) of our session, which can decrease emotional satisfaction/joy and cause problems with program adherence. Well-trained lifters and elite competitive athletes can derive additional benefits from this type of maximal effort training when used properly, but research suggests that both strength and hypertrophy can be improved without failure. Therefore, I recommend you to avoid mistakes whenever possible.
We don't build massive weapons or double our squat max in a single session - we break our goals by accumulating small incremental gains daily over long periods of time. The key to success is consistency, but it's much more difficult to continue training when you're too sore and injured and generally looking forward to the next session. To make sure we're always having fun and showing up every day, I recommend beginners stay within 1-2 reps of failure, while trained lifters keep a 1-rep gap between themselves and exhaustion. If you're thinking, "IprobablyI could have knocked out another one" while increasing your weights after the last rep, perfect. Flirt with failure, but don't let that distract you from potential growth and training consistency.
Keeping those reps in reserve won't always be easy, but it's much more manageable when we control the pace of our movement.
In all Fitstra programs, and in most resistance training environments, we want our reps to be complete concentric + eccentric motion cycles performed in a controlled manner and throughout the range of motion. Lengthening and shortening a muscle under various loads and exercises helps us maximize our size/strength potential by taking advantage of regional hypertrophy. Regional hypertrophy is the growth of new tissue in specific areas of a muscle. While both types of contraction can produce similar results, studies show that concentric contractions tend to increase a muscle's mean cross-sectional area (parallel proximal sarcomeres), while eccentric contractions can promote overall fiber length (parallel sarcomeres). Series). If we can make a muscle longer and thicker, it will get stronger and faster. But to get the benefits of both contractions, we need to make sure we're doing our reps at the right speed.
For most beginner/intermediate people, I recommend a simple assessment of your own tempo to determine your own "controlled" rep speeds. When you lift a weight, do you feel that you are in charge of the object, or is it imposing its will on you? Are you moving slowly enough to feel muscle tension throughout the range of motion? Does your movement speed allow you to hit all of your target reps with the weight you're using? If the answers to these questions are yes, chances are you're ready to get started. The absolute best rep speed is the one you can consistently perform with great form and confidence. With that in mind, I have a few suggestions.
I recommend that most lifters spend 1-2 seconds on the concentric phase and 1-3 seconds on the eccentric phase. Experienced lifters can see hypertrophic benefits from eccentric times of up to 4 seconds, but the excessive damage of the loaded stretch should be used sparingly. Notice how fast you can lift a weight when you're about 3-4 reps from failure and try to mimic that speed of movement throughout the range of motion.
Like all of the other sections and tips here, use the tempo and glitch guidelines to help you create what's best for you.
Now that all the important points have been addressed, let's end this novel.
put everything together
In contrast to the other manuals, I will not insert any example programs here. This article is long enough and there are too many different possible workout combinations to cover. Instead, I prefer to give you complete programs, backed by hours of planning and thought, with instructions to explain all the details.
go toSoftwarepage and check out all the workouts listed there. They vary in length (2-6 months), focus on a variety of different training styles and are suitable for all levels of experience. meI would appreciate if you try some of these and tell me what you think they all arefrei. go have fun
However, if you would like to focus on a specific area of your training and would like something customized, let me know. Let's work together and create a plan just for you.
Despite all the topics covered here and the length of this article, we're barely scratching the surface of strength and hypertrophy training. Not to mention the mechanics, there's a lot more to touch on, but I hope this guide has been helpful and has given many of you some of the tools you need to start creating or tweaking your own programs.
It should be pretty clear by now that resistance training is a monstrous subject that can be approached from a variety of angles. The science gives us a very useful general direction, but it gives us enough leeway to tinker with the details of the program. Feel free to experiment with my suggestions in different ways to see what works best for you.
Focus on getting the most out of your favorite exercise-based hobbies, but make sure you're lifting weights too.
If you have any questions about what is covered here or would like to talk to me about creating a custom strength/hypertrophy program, please let me know. I would really like to work with you.
Experiment by manipulating different variables. Find out what works best for you. Share what you discover. Have fun.
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