Ah Ha, Think I Caught On To Something....

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by NWlifter, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Ah yep, not too sure what I asking myself haha!

    That makes sense, that the rep ranges just happen but aren't the focus, that they're dictated by the load and not the other way around. As mechanical tension is the focus, and it's addressed by progressive load.

    I guess I'm referring to just the mechanisms of hypertrophy in general, and whether they need exclusive focus within dedicated phases or all within the one week. Not so much fatigue-focused as such, but higher reps and higher volume for metabolic stress, and then mechanical tension stuff (either another day or same day). Have seen a few programs here and there which does this, just don't know whether it's a valid approach or if it's missing the point.

    Just unsure as there are different hypertrophy pathways (as per Schoenfeld's paper), how that would be practically applied, or whether it needs addressing in any way.

    I'm sure there have been threads on this before. And it's possible I may be misunderstanding them anyway.
  2. Blade

    Blade Super Moderator Staff Member

    The basic principle is one of progressive loading, where you gradually transition from a more metabolic focus into a mechanical focus - then deload to reset the tissue sensitivity - and restart the whole process. There is no need to overthink this, and other than rereading Bryan’s posts the last year or so - the FAQ is always a great resource :)
    _Simon_ likes this.
  3. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Awesome, thanks for that and understood, and yep you should see the ways I've totally overcomplicated it in the past haha... metabolic stress on crack workouts! But I did it mainly for fun at the times and wasn't really serious, am welcoming the simplicity :)
  4. Bryan Haycock

    Bryan Haycock Administrator Staff Member

    Short answer: All of the known mechanisms by which lifting induces muscle growth are present in a routine that has both high and low reps/relative loads regularly taken to near muscle failure. There is not yet evidence to show that simple progression schemes are inferior to DUP schedules, and vice versa. This is because all the mechanisms have tremendous overlap.

    Long and somewhat rambling answer:
    Rep Ranges

    Unlike strength, which is measured/determined in terms of reps successfully completed with a given load, the effectiveness of a set to stimulate muscle growth cannot be determined solely on the numbers of reps successfully completed with a given load.

    A contracting muscle experiences a sudden and dramatic shift in its internal chemical (and genetic) environment. It also experiences significant distortion/stretch of its cytoskeleton (i.e. the protein structures that give the cell its shape and provide rigidity for contractile proteins to anchor themselves.) This shifting and distortion is a dynamic process, meaning that both are temporary and constantly changing while the muscle is performing reps. Subsequent anabolic signaling within the cell is in response to these sudden and dramatic changes.

    Time under tension

    This important principle is referred to in different ways, but it simply implies that there is a threshold for time under tension that must be reached for anabolic signaling to be meaningful. With respect to reps, the more reps you perform the longer the time under tension. This can mean the time of one set or the time added together from multiple sets. One important thing to know about time under tension is that there is not a set minimum amount of time that must be reached. In general, the lower the load, the longer the time required to stimulate growth. Likewise, the heavier the load the less time is required. This relationship has limits however, for example, doing singles with your 1RM has not been shown to be effective for stimulating growth. Likewise too little weight will not stimulate growth no matter how many reps you perform. So, goal is to lift enough weight for enough reps at any given point in your cycle.

    For a working muscle, a set of reps with a relatively low load, and relatively few reps, will cause minimal/negligible change to the internal environment and cytoskeleton. As a result, the anabolic signaling will also be minimal/negligible. Conversely, a set of reps with a relatively heavy load, and relatively high reps, will cause maximal change to the internal environment and cytoskeleton. As a result, the anabolic signaling will also be maximal.

    If that were the end of the story, we would all be using the same routine. A routine called “go big or go home”, by others it’s called, “shut up and lift”. You get the picture. All you would have to do is go to the gym, lift as heavy and as long as you can, and repeat. But it’s not the end of the story. The story includes one very important caveat; over time the same weight lifted for the same number of reps does not cause the same amount of change and anabolic response in the muscle tissue!

    A moving target

    The muscle will respond differently to the same combination of weight and reps over time. This change in how the muscle responds is caused by the following factors; 1) the “resulting” condition (due to previous bout) of the muscle at the time load was applied, 2) how much time has passed since the previous time the muscle was trained, 3) the ability of the tissue to respond anabolically to the current bout (due to genetics, age, nutrition, hormones, rest, stress, etc), and 4) the extent of adaptation (both metabolic and structural) since the previous bout (i.e. RBE). These variables or “unknowns” can be described in other ways, but you get the point. These variables are like electrons, you can’t know exactly where they are at any given time, but you can have a good idea of where they should be.

    The strategy with HST is to increase the accuracy of our answers to the unknowns at the start of a training cycle. This means decondition the tissue before you start a cycle. This at least allows you to begin on a specific date with less than maximal loads. You then know that each subsequent workout will be slightly less anabolic than the one before, so your goal is to increase either metabolic stress or mechanical stress compared to the previous workout. The emphasis at the beginning of an HST cycle is metabolic stress. This not only acts as a stimulus for growth but also prepares you for heavier loads. The weight progresses steadily over the course of at least 6 weeks in order to stay ahead of the adaptation. Kind of like the way a surfer must stay ahead of the crest of the wave to keep moving forward. The changing rep scheme in HST is simply a reflection of the increasing load, not the other way around.
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  5. adpowah

    adpowah Active Member

    Thanks Bryan, I feel like that helped me focus my own understanding.
  6. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Nice post Bryan!

    Hey question if I can?
    Some people seem to be able to just do the 'lift, add weight when they can' and the grow for quite a while, other's can't. Some research shows that 'easy gainers' have more satellite cells for donation, research also shows that when people hit a plateau, it could very well be a lack of available nuclei from satellite cell donation. You've also pointed to ribosomes too. So, the question is, could the 'wall' where applied stimulus no longer is significant maybe be due to those areas? It 'seems' like if some tension and work stimulates (say 8RM x 5 sets), an equivalent one (load increased so still using 8RM) 'should' also, but maybe 'step 2' (usage of that stimulus, with nuclei and ribosomes) is where the stall occurs? And strategies that get us past that, are doing so via satellite cells and ribosomes? maybe RBE is blocking the mechanical avenues that 'call for donation'?
    Did that make sense?
    Blade likes this.
  7. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Loved the short answer AND the long answer haha.

    Seriously that was a great post, thanks so much for clarifying that.

    Was wondering if you had any thoughts on the "muscle damage" mechanism of hypertrophy (eccentrics) as per Schoenfeld's paper, and whether it's actually a mechanism or just a byproduct of the others?

    I just don't know if that's something that elicits hypertrophy on it's own (as a cause) like the others, and can be lumped as an actual mechanism/separate pathway, or something which furthers the effects of metabolic stress/mechanical tension... confuses me haha.
  8. Blade

    Blade Super Moderator Staff Member

    Related to NWlifters comment (I also asked Bryan this privately, but posting it here as food for thought):

    If the muscle gets conditioned to a certain load and set/rep combination, how is it that more advanced lifters exposed to 5-8RM loads for an extended period of time still respond with a pretty robust increase in MPS from occlusion training or just high reps with lighter loads? Wernbom saw this with powerlifters from the national team in Norway - they displayed almost zero response to their usual workouts, but a huge response in both MPS and SC activity after a 30-15-15 rep protocol with occlusion cuffs. Is this simply due to the introduction of metabolic stress?
  9. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Pretty sure occlusion is a form of sorcery.
    _Simon_ likes this.
  10. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member




    Not that I'm qualified to answer but that would make sense to me. If their sole focus and training was heavy weight and tension, metabolic stress would go gangbusters in their muscles when introduced to it.

    Sort of supports what you said elsewhere about when you move into heavier weights in HST, to maybe leave drop sets out of it so that you have a sort of SD from metabolic stress, so that when you go back to them in the next cycle they respond quite err.. responsively to it :)
  11. Bryan Haycock

    Bryan Haycock Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, in my opinion, it is because of the sudden shock of significant metabolic stress. In my dissertation I argue that they are separate stimuli, and that metabolic stress in and of itself is anabolic. Not everybody agrees. Some feel that metabolic stress is simply away of increasing fatigue, which is the actual stimulus for growth. Others argue metabolic stress increases muscle activation which is the real stimulus for growth. I've posted elsewhere (here) recently some of the evidence for metabolic stress being anabolic...
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  12. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    That's similar to what I've wondered also, I think I posted this experience of mine on here before, but goes along the same lines.
    A year ago I had been training heavy, using about 80% of 1RM, I had been kinda plateaued so for a change last summer, I decided to do lighter high fatigue training, a kind of 'gironda' protocol. I started with about 40% of 1RM and did 3x8 with 30 seconds rest for everything, I recorded growth every few weeks for the whole summer. I added a little weight every time I could and my strength 'for that protocol' increased by about 30% and I gained a decent amount of size for that time period.

    I think your right, even just some reading last night on studies I saw some info. in one that just very high intra-cellular calcium concentrations and hypoxia can stimulate satellite cells. A couple studies said that long term hypertrophy pretty much 'is' about satellite cells with the post workout MPS changes being much less relevant.
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  13. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Yeah it's interesting the reasons why metabolic stress seems to work, some say its related to fatigue, others due to slower twitch fibres losing steam and fast twitch now kicking in and being worked, another is that slow twitch fibres have more potential for growth than previously realised, another is hypoxia related I think..

    I guess an important point is to not chase fatigue for fatigues sake (as this can lead to some wacky, unsafe and draining practices!), but that's more of a byproduct of what you're trying to do... and all these things may all be contributing and occurring anyway rather than one specific thing...

    So knowing all these different viewpoints, what WOULD be the goal or focus in metabolic stress training? As in, what is the practical way of ensuring the success of metabolic work? I would probably say using light enough weight to create that internal environment, in which you can recognise by burning, a deep aching feeling, a 'pump', skin bursting... can be done with higher rep sets with short rest between sets, myoreps, dropsets...

    Sounds very subjective for sure, but I'm curious. And also knowing that higher reps have a quicker RBE that sets in, ways to keep the stimulus of growth occurring, or perhaps the only way is to progress in load and progress to mechanical tension based stuff?
  14. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    I'm not sure on that... I've chased fatigue and had great results... strength training has been the least 'size per strength' gains for me at least. There is more fatigue than I think we think!
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  15. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    My guess would be it was the volume and load causing the fatigue that resulted in the gains, rather than achieving a state of fatigue.

    And if you ran that same volume over sets of RPE 8ish, rather than RPE 10, that you’d see more or less the same results.
  16. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Wait... lost me?
    It was volume and load causing fatigue, but not fatigue??
  17. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    I don’t think ‘fatigue’ is causing the response, I think it is the volume and load that is doing it.

    Being fatigued is, in my mind, another symptom/effect of the work done, and is not a growth stimulus.

    The volume, load and metabolic stress is what is causing is. Whether you needed RPE10 to achieve the metabolic stress in the muscle is of interest to me.

    But fatigue, as is commonly described, is neural rather than intramuscular.
  18. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    OK, I know some feel that way. I've seen enough of the research that I agree with Bryan, that fatigue can be it's own stimulus (high intracellular calcium, hypoxia, etc.) those all can set things into motion. And look at occlusion, pretty much negligible tension. I know tension has some effects for sure, but on an acute basis, it's more a means to and end, the end being activation and fatigue. Now remember, fatigue is general, not just metabolic (mechanical, and all the chemical changes). Volume isn't a stimulus without fatigue, it only works as an accumulative effect, and look at how hypertrophy is based, it's not signaled until repeated fatiguing efforts are performed.
  19. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    I don’t classify the calcium, hypoxia (including from occlusion) as fatigue - that’s metabolic stress.

    Fatigue (at least as I’ve seen it used) describes the neural effect - at the time, and DOMS.

    I’ll put it another way; if a power lifter misjudged their second squat attempt, and then failed the third due to ‘fatifue’, I see that as a neural failure due to fatigue (assuming they didn’t over-judge beyond their strength in a stupid way). It’s not due to fatigue of the muscles/their intercellular state.

    This is also why, for example, the Bulgarian method is so difficult to optimise without exogenous assistance. 1 or 2 misjudged lifts and your neural fatigue levels are just too high without the recovery time in the program.

    Whereas bro splits are exhausting both metabolically, and in terms of fatigue (for instance).
  20. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Ah ok, and I thought I had read that local neural fatigue is 'from' fatigue, we know the neural input stays strong.

    "Neuromechanics of Human Movement" 3rd edition, Roger M. Enoka
    P. 374-375
    Central Drive
    The excitation provided by spraspinal centers is not impaired during high-force fatiguing contractions, but it can be during prolonged contractions. This limitation is expressed as an increase in the effor associated with the task, the appearance of tremor in the involved muscles, and the spread of activation to accessory muscles (Duchateau & Hainaut, 1993; Gandevia, 1998)
    The maximality of the activation provided by the nervous system to muscle is typically assessed through comparison of the force exerted during an MVC with the force that can be elicited artificially by electrical stimulation (Allen, McKenzie, & Gandevia, 1998). This appreach involves applying single shocks or a brief train of shocks to the nerve during a fatiguing contraction. The test has been applied to both sustained and intermittent contractions performed at both maximal and submaximal intensities. For example, when subjects perfromred a sustained 60 second MVC with a thumb muscle (adductor pollicis) the force declined by 30% to 50%, but this decrease in voluntary force could not be supplemented by an electric shock (Bigland-Ritchie et al., 1982). Similarly, the maximal voluntary and electrically elicited force declined in parallel when subjects performed an intermittent (6-s contraction, 4-s rest) submxaimal contraction (target force was 50% of maximum) with the quadriceps femoris (Bigland-Ritch, Furbush, & Woods, 1986). In this expermiment, the maximum voluntary and electrically elicited forces were elicited periodically during the submaximal contracion. The parallel decline in the voluntary and evoked forces suggests that the central drive remained maximal during these tasks.

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