View Full Version : The most overlooked aspect of weight training

02-01-2012, 07:01 PM
The most overlooked aspect of weight training:

Thread continued from here:

I'd like to see tempo added to exercise recorder. Most of us ignore this important component of periodization.
90% of us don't realize the bulk of hypertrophy occurs on the eccentric movement!

See Charles Poliquin for details.

02-01-2012, 07:03 PM
Femaveeick wrote:

I'm not going to pretend to know how to improve hypertrophy beyond what rep ranges I need to target. Hypertrophy is not my goal, yet the app is a pretty good tool for me. I get your feature request, as it works for your style of training. That's fine. I personally won't be using it, because my training style is different.

Now, this much we know: exercise is specific. That means if I train for volume I can do volume. If I train for intensity I can do intensity. If I train both, I can do both. It really is about how you decide to program things. I can also say that I would take what magazines say with a grain of salt.

Both volume and intensity are tools I need in order to perform that work. In fact, in some ways I can see how Flex Lewis' trainer came to that conclusion. When you look at volume based programs like Smolov, they come with a big jump in your ability to do intensity. For example, the Smolov squat routine has been known to add between 50 and 100 lbs on to your 1RM--tested. The range depends on your size, gender, and other factors. Smolov is all about volume squatting (and some assistance exercises).

02-01-2012, 07:05 PM
Jlcampi wrote;

Hi femaveeick,

Volume and intensity are inversely related.

Intensity refers to the maximal recruitment of motor units. For example if you lift at your 1 rep max, then you are at maximum intensity. Your nervous system has stimulated the greatest number of units. You can do this one time at your max weight. Dropping the weight 25% will allow you to complete about 10 reps at 75% of your 1 rep max. You can't lift at 100% intensity at high volume. If that were possible then you you could lift your 1 rep max 10 times.

I will throw out a few more principles that you are welcome to comment on:

Reps in the range of
1-5 increase strength through enhanced neural drive (little hypertrophy)
6-8 best compromise between strength and hypertrophy
9-12 highest hypertrophy leading to increased strength
13-20 increased endurance and lower hypertrophy

Training in the 1-5 rep range results in little increase in size. However we must incorporate some of this occasionally as part of a periodization routine.

Sets and Reps are inversely related. Doing a large number of sets at high reps is counter productive.

The number of sets performed on a muscle group is inversely related to the muscle group size. For example biceps can handle more sets than quadriceps. The larger the muscle group the longer the recovery period.

Rest period between sets is inversely related to volume. If you are doing high reps then the rest period is shorter than low rep sets. This assumes that low rep sets are completed at high intensity. The longer rest period is required for recovery of the nervous system.

This is something that you may not be familiar with:
For maximum hypertrophy the "time under tension" should be between 20 and 70 seconds. For relative strength it should be less than 20 seconds.

The time under tension is the total time the muscle is contracting.
For max hypertrophy you might complete an exercise with this tempo 4010 for a total of 5 seconds per rep (see the top post for a description of this). 9 reps would mean the total time under tension is 45 seconds. This is between 20 and 70 seconds as noted above for max muscle hypertrophy.

If you have followed this thread it now circles back to tempo being critically important.

I am interested in any comments you may have.....

02-01-2012, 07:05 PM
Femaveeick wrote:

Rep ranges I'm used to are:
1-3 increase strength
4-6 compromise between strength and hypertrophy (best for beginners)
8-12 hypertrophy range
16+ endurance

So the what the ranges mean are essentially the same, as are the rep ranges.

Volume, as I understand it, is sets times reps. It's one thing to lift a weight for 5 reps. It's quite another to do that for 5 sets. (note I'm not advocating 5x5 sets across for everyone here). Programs like Texas Method, or Bill Starr's Madcow use these volume days to really force the adaptations that build new muscle. When you get to intensity day, you are in the 1-3 rep range and should be able to lift the new max.

In a strength focused program, volume and intensity are very important. Intensity alone isn't enough to spur the adaptations necessary to get stronger. You need a certain amount of volume, and you just can't get that volume at your 90-95% intensity. This is where backoff sets, etc. come to play.

In many ways, we may use some of the same tools, but for different purposes. For example, timing between sets is less critical for building strength--particularly at beginner and intermediate levels. What's more important is getting the prescribed sets/reps in. It's not uncommon to have 2-5 minutes rest between sets. However, there are different methods of training that play with the level of fatigue you currently have. For example, Dave Tate's dynamic effort training has you going for a prescribed number of sets/reps for a certain amount of time. Example would be a total of 25 reps, and every 5 reps you rest for 20s. The goal is to maintain a quick, explosive speed, and remain consistent in time across all the reps.

Since I'm not focusing on hypertrophy, I'll defer to your experience with that. I'll just say anecdotally, that with my squat up at an estimated 1RM of over 400lbs and deadlift at an estimated 1RM of 450lbs (both untested), I have plenty of size. More than I really want, but that's neither here nor there. I'm sure my proportions are all wrong for bodybuilding purposes (and I have too much body fat at the moment). Some of that has to do with my assistance exercises living in the 10 rep range.

02-01-2012, 07:07 PM
Jlcampi wrote:


I think we are in agreement. Our differances may only be in definition.

The point I was trying to make is that as intensity increases volume decreases. I hear you loud and clear that a minimum volume is required. For building lean mass and increasing strength, alternating between Volume and Intensity maximizes growth.

Here is an example using only one exercise from each routine (I do a Volume routine for 3 weeks, then go to Intensity for 3 weeks).

Volume (or accumulation) 60-82% 1RM
Back Squat, 4 Sets, Reps (10,12,15,20) Tempo 2010 (3 seconds per rep) Rest 90s
Total time to complete last set 60 seconds

Intensity 80-90% 1RM
Front Squat, 5 Sets, Reps (4-6) Tempo 50x0 (5 seconds per rep) Rest 120s
Total time to complete last set 20-30 seconds

You can see that with volume at 60 to 82% of the 1 RM up to 20 reps can be squeezed out. On the other hand it's not possible to complete 20 reps at 80-90% of the 1RM. So, as intensity increases the total volume decreases. You could also look at volume on the basis of time under tension. With Volume the total set time is 60 seconds. When we switch to intensity the total time to complete the last set is 20-30 seconds. It works any way you look at it.

I can send you the loading parameters for strength if you are interested.

The point of all this is that these methods work so well I hope everyone benefits from them. I have been training for more than 25 years with average gains at best. When I started using these techniques I realized how much misinformation is out there. I have lower back issues and haven't been able to do heavy squats. I found that part of this was associated with using heavy weight with a fast tempo. It destroys your joints. Slowing down and following proper form I am now hitting a new 1 RM almost once per week, sometimes each training day. Yesterday I was able to complete free weight back squats for a calculated 1RM of 462 lbs (385x6).

Something else I didn't realize:
If you aren't going up 2% in weight each training day, then you are either training to much or to little. Most people train too much. I was. 70% of the population should train no more than 4 days per week and never more than 2 days in a row.

There is much, much more to this.

If you are interested check out:

The Poliquin Principles. The book is about $15 at CharlesPoliquin.com

By the way, I have no affiliation with Charles...

02-01-2012, 07:07 PM
Femaveeick wrote:

I've heard about that book. I'm coming from the Practical Programming for Strength Training (Dr. Kilgore and Rippetoe) perspective, with a bit of Jim Wendler thrown in for good measure.

It looks like there are many ways that get you to the same point.

If I were to venture a guess as to why I think your squat started skyrocketing, it would be that the time under tension was strengthening your core (function of the core is to provide stabilization). A weak core is something that prevents many people from squatting heavy. The back issues is the thing that cued me in to that. Another great core exercise is squat walkouts. Add another 90lbs on the bar over your work set, and hold it there for 10-15s.

I just started lifting last year, and have slowed down to making improvements once a week. But, my lifts pretty much match what you would expect from an intermediate lifter. My personal view, is that the 2% increases every training session only works for so long. Eventually, it slows down to every week, then every month. However, by that time your squat/deadlift/bench/press will be very impressive. That's not to say your 385x6 isn't.

02-01-2012, 07:08 PM
Jlcampi wrote:

Advanced lifters are classified as those that can bench 2.2 times their body weight.
Everyone should be increasing their lifts by 2% each training session unless they are advanced. In that case you increase by 1% per session.

Charles makes a big deal about this point.

20% of the public can train 3 days per week and have poor recovery

70% of the public can train 4 days per week and have average recovery

10% of the public can train 5 days per week and have exceptional recovery

The loading parameters in your routine also change based on which group you fall into.

So, all of us should be making making gains at 2% per workout unless we are advanced and then 1% per training day is expected. If you go into the gym and can't lift more than last time then something is wrong.

02-01-2012, 08:28 PM
Holy cow, too much REPOSTING.

I personally don't buy into all that is being said about rep ranges decide if you will increase strength or hypertrophy. When I first started lifting I did but not now. You need to train how you want to react. Lifting and lowering slower will create one effect. Lifting explosively will create another effect. While how many reps you do plays a small part they are not the deciding factor. When lifting for power, strength, endurance, etc., you lift differently to get the outcome you want. I could lift 5 reps slow up and slow down; I could lift 5 reps explosively; both will have different effects. Again, lift how you want to react.

I think the app works well. I personally don't care about tempo but obviously that is a concern for others. Does it need to be in the app; probably not. This is a personal thing and if you are a person that does this you don't really need to put it in the app as you are used to doing it yourself. If the designers stick it in the app than so be it; others may use it but for the overall useability it is not a game breaker.

04-17-2012, 11:55 PM

I just saw your last post.

I agree that it's difficult to reach the advanced lifter's level. I don't think it's unreasonable to make 2% gains when your lifts are less than that of the advanced level. Based on the criteria you referenced above I would be just about at the Elite level and I can make 2% gains. So from that perspective it's seems correct.

In terms of recovery as you note in your last paragraph I have a few comments. Training should be designed so that adequate recovery is reached between every training session. If you are not recovered, then there is no purpose in training (with the exception of a few protocols that specifically require this).

I know that some of what I have been saying seems counter intuitive or incorrect (just look at decu68's post). My suggestion is to prove that it's incorrect or try the protocols and and watch the results. I think you will be very surprised.

04-18-2012, 12:12 AM

What do you mean by "I personally don't buy into all that is being said about rep ranges decide if you will increase strength or hypertrophy."

Have you looked at the evidence? Why would strength coaches at the highest levels follow those prescriptions if they don't work?

04-18-2012, 03:02 PM
Okay having read the thread I think you guys are talking about how you perform a rep and there are different ways to perform rep which achieve different things

Sorry If I am way of the mark here, if I understand correctly then I am interested in learning more. Please can you send me a link to an article that explains the variations in layman's terms.

04-20-2012, 08:33 AM
^ Thanks for the explanation.

04-27-2012, 03:26 AM
I definitely hear what you are saying about age. I'm 42 and have been training since early high school. What I found is than most of what I was taught - friends, coaches, college etc is essentially incorrect.

I make the greatest gains when I alternate between an accumulation and intensification phase. Going back to a previous discussion, volume and intensity (strength) are inversely related. During an accumulation (mass) phase I use something like 4 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise at 60-82% of 1RM, 5-6 exercises. We adapt to a routine in 6 sessions, so after 3 weeks I move to an intensification routine. This is about 5 sets of 2-6 reps 85%+ 1RM, 5-6 exercises. After 6 sessions go back to an all new accumulation routine.

Practically you don't go up 2% every training session - primarily because I'm not a robot and I have a life. Nutrition, rest, motivation etc all need to be per plan. When those are followed and gains aren't made I know something is wrong. For me it's usually over training or not eating properly. I take an extra day or so off and things fall back in line.

Lifting in an over trained state sets us up for illness and increases the probability of injury. Some lifters make great progress on your schedule. Others may have a different frequency for each muscle group. The point is that recovery time should be programmed and is individualized. Find your optimal recovery period for each muscle group and you will increase faster. The only way to make this determination is to analyze training logs, rest, nutrition etc...

04-27-2012, 06:24 AM
I take issue with you on adaption. Adaption occurs in approximately 6 training sessions when a proper periodized program is followed. As soon as adaption occurs, progress stops. It can occur more quickly with with the correct loading parameters and trained athletes.

Using your criteria above for Beginner and Elite, a beginner using the same program for more than a day or so will adapt and growth with stop. We know that's not true. Beginners usually show impressive gains for the first 6 weeks or so, even with moderately sophisticated programs. Using your criteria for elite class, the athlete would be able to use the same program for months on end (same weight, reps, rest, tempo) and continue to make gains.

Training exposes the muscular-nervous system to additional stress. We respond by attempting to adapt the the additional loading. Once adaptation occurs, there is no need to make additional progress. To deal with adaptation, we can change reps, sets, rest, tempo, frequency of training - even hand position. For example, on a dumbel offset bicep curl, using an offset grip (thumb touching the inside plate) is enough to deal with adaption (for six sessions).

One more point - during a lift there is an agonist and antagonist working simultaneously. If you are working the bench press and your external rotators are not capable of lifting approximately 10% of the bench weight, then then you will hit a plateau, even if your pecs and triceps are appropriately strong. Working the agonist/antagonist in a super set helps.

I usually super set

04-27-2012, 06:25 AM