Is Load Progression Necessary For Hypertrophy?

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by mikeynov, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Howdy guys, not sure how active this forum is anymore but this seemed like the right place to share this article. I feel like Bryan, Blade et al were always sort of my lodestar(s) when it came to interpreting hypertrophy research.

    So, in playing catch up and looking at more recent hypertrophy research, I came across this rather compelling video by Menno Henselmans:

    Note that Blade is in the audience :) Menno gives a pretty strong argument that amongst the 3 usual candidates for muscle growth, i.e. muscle damage, mechanical tension and metabolic stress, mechanical tension seems the most dominant, with damage being correlated to growth mostly by its relationship to mechanical tension, and metabolic stress helping drive growth mainly in situations where it improves recruitment-->mechanical tension (e.g. Kaatsu stuff). I link this video because it provides a good background to then examine this article:

    Here Brian Minor lays out a case that load progression per se is not actually necessary to induce hypertrophy, i.e. progressive loading of the weight itself isn't the stimulus per se, but rather a natural consequence of having produced hypertrophy. To quote Brian:

    This is an interesting way of putting it and I think I've had variations of this discussion many, may times in the past here, at Lyle's old forum etc. Basically the idea that, on an acute, this session basis, you need to do enough *now* to grow, and getting stronger, i.e. the performance increase, would be a natural consequence of doing that over longer periods of time. In Bryan's original rationale for HST he actually emphasized this logic, describing the catch 22 he encountered in his own training where, to get stronger past a point, he had to get bigger, so he had to find a way to grow again without just adding more weight to the bar, as he was already running into his strength limits. Hence the logic of strategically deconditioning-->reintroduce adequate mechanical overload-->stay ahead of the adaptive curve until you run into your strength limits over some period of time-->do it all again as the HST model, more or less.

    The one thing I see missing in Brian Minor's article here, that I kind of see missing in general amongst the modern hypertrophy crowd, is treating hypertrophy as a sort of contextless pursuit where, if you simply accrue enough tension-time at full fiber recruitment/mechanical loading, you'll just grow. Rather than being an interrelationship between the conditioning of the tissue and the magnitude of that loading ala what Bryan originally proposed with HST.

    Which, as an aside, I noticed a change of terminology - the repeated bout effect seems to be addressing muscle damage *specifically*, and resistance to that, at least the way that most of these guys are using the term. As per Menno's talk above, since muscle damage per se may not be a primary determinant of hypertrophy, a more accurate term for describing our inability to keep growing with a set weight/performance might be something like "anabolic resistance," i.e. your resistance to the anabolic cascade initiated by exposure to sufficient mechanical loading. If Bryan or anyone else could clear up whether these are similar or separate concepts, I'd appreciate it.

    But yah, just wanted to share this and hoping there are still a few people around who could offer their thoughts on the subject. In trying to catch up again on the latest happenings in the hypertrophy research world, I have found some of my previous beliefs somewhat challenged and am attempting to modify them where appropriate.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
    _Simon_ likes this.
  2. Jak1537

    Jak1537 Member


    Great thinking. This has been going around for a while in the evidence based community. I’ve heard on a number of occasions that mechanical tension is of great importance for muscle growth. I suppose one way to increase
    that mechanical tension is to add weight to the bar, however, that is just one way to go about it. I’ve only recently jumped into HST and applying the principles to my own routine. Just from my personal experience, the basic principles have worked for me. I know that in my next round of HST due to the growth that’s occurred I technically *should* be able to lift slightly heavier loads for the same amount of reps. Whether or not that’s whats led to muscle hypertrophy, we could debate until the end of time haha.

    On another note, I believe the strategic deconditioning phase allows lifters to use the same load to induce hypertrophy. I recall Brian saying that somewhere, just can’t remeber where! It would be impossible to always increase the load. If that was the case, people would be lifting ridiculous amounts!
  3. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Hi Jak,

    So this is part of the tricky thing to understand. I used to talk to NWLifter eons ago about this subject, and I've always been puzzled whether load scales with per-fiber tension or not. Or stated simply, does heavier weight on the bar mean our muscle fibers necessarily experience more mechanical tension?

    On a macro level it would seem like it would have to, but as NWLifter used to point out, the "tension" we're talking about is actually being generated by the actual muscle fibers themselves. By the time you're at full fiber recruitment with all your fibers producing force to perform the movement, that's as much tension as they're going to experience, and adding weight doesn't actually make them experience higher tension past full recruitment.

    What this means is that, for example, if you compare the mechanical tension experienced by your muscle fibers in either a lighter set of 20 or a heavier set of 8, with both performed to failure, we can't definitely say that the fibers experience more mechanical tension per se for the heavier set of 8, despite the fact that the actual external load is higher.

    This is kind of the thrust of the article I sent, because if the mechanical tension experienced per fiber just scaled linearly with external load, then heavier weight WOULD be a prerequisite for "progressive tension overload." However, if all that's required is full fiber recruitment (for adequate tension-time), then lighter loads under conditions of fatigue would still accomplish the same thing.

    That said, NWLifter lays out a case here that he actually does think the per-fiber tension increases with increasing load:

    So, to be totally honest, I'm still not sure what to make of this. Brian Minor, Menno Henselmans, Eric Helms et. al appear to be on the side that per-fiber mechanical tension does NOT relate directly to external load, that it's primarily just about recruitment. If that is the case, then it would probably affect our training decisions.

    Yah, there's a certain simplicity to this model. Do enough to grow, do enough next time, and stack up enough of those wins over time and you grow. As a consequence of growing, you should also get stronger/perform better. So we lift more weight and/or reps to continue to stimulate our muscles not because it's the prerequisite to achieve mechanical tension overload, but because it's the product of already having done so.

    To me this gets to the heart of what the differences are between strength and hypertrophy training, where they overlap and where they do not. I admit to still being somewhat confused, despite having sunk a whole lot of time the past nearly 20 years into the subject.

    Bryan did indicate that during the original inception of HST. Using Brian Minor's argument above, if our sets were performed close enough to failure, this would likely be true. As we'd naturally get stronger over time, one of the consequences of this line of reasoning is that, instead of just adding weight, we could also add reps. This would be necessary at some point since the relative intensity (how close we are to failure) affects fiber recruitment, so to ensure full recruitment, we'd have to perform more reps over time.

    This lends credence to double progression type schemes where we could add either weight or reps. The impractical part would be that, past a point, a lot of exercises are some combination of impractical and suicidally terrible to perform at extremely high reps. Like you could probably turn a beginner's 10 rep max in a barbell squat into a 50 rep max over time, but past maybe ~20 reps they'd kind of want to be dead every time they did it. Not to mention safety concerns about exercises where there are obvious weak links in the kinetic chain (low back in the case of squats), so trying to perform more *good* reps past a point becomes incredibly difficult.

    So in a lot of ways this comes down to a compromise of design. It's tricky, obviously, but still interesting to think about.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  4. Jak1537

    Jak1537 Member

    There is just so much information these days. Teasing out every last thing someone said online would lead to neurotic tendencies! I’ve definitely had success with a double progression model in the past- add reps then weight. At some point though I either can’t do one or the other, have to taper back/change exercise, rinse and repeat.
    Just follow the basics of what work, lift with timeless form, control the weight, eat, recover, sleep and enjoy your life :)
  5. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    I appreciate the practical end of things. Lifting is as much an art or form of meditation for me as it is a science.

    That said, I think discussing the science at a place like this is reasonable. For some of us, understanding the nitty gritty is interesting and satisfying as an intellectual pursuit in and of itself, even outside the actual practice of lifting weights. I've long enjoyed exercise science so much that I wound up getting a graduate degree in Exercise Physiology years ago. So while the practical end of "lift heavier shit over time in good form with some semblance of reasonable volume/frequency/intensity and eat adequately to support your goals" is certainly sage advice, I also think there needs to be a place for us nerds that enjoy discussing the overly complicated aspects of this all, and this forum has long been a place for us :)
  6. Jak1537

    Jak1537 Member

    Absolutely I too love discussing the science! I just have to remind myself not to get too into over thinking my current routine which I often do lol! In the past I’ve found it hard to stick to a routine in search for optimal so I just have to be careful!
    That’s awesome about your graduate degree! I know it was a while ago but did you learn anything during the degree that you still apply today?
  7. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Hey Mike!
    Great discussion!
    I just noticed this thread,... man , this takes me back to the good old days when we fried our brains thinking on this stuff... miss those days!

    I have found specific fiber information in papers and such that show a 'fresh non fatigued' fiber in tetany does produce more force than a 'fatigued fiber' in tetany. So I'm sure a fiber , if fully activated with more load, so sooner at tetany, would produce more tension.
    So rather than load, it's how fresh or fatigued a fiber is when the neural systems are attempting to fully activate it. It just so happens that a heavy load starts out with higher activation levels so many of the later recruited fibers hit tetany when fresh instead of after a few reps of lower activation, thus pre-fatiguing them, so when they are in tetany they have a bit less force. Of course, any fiber that is fully activated on the first rep for example, puts out it's max force no matter what the load is. So it's really in the middle of the two schools of thought, not one extreme or the other with regard to load and fiber tension.

    IMO though, we know time is just as important, whether it's some type of fatigue, force loss, etc. and that tension isn't a stimulus as a sole entity. Let's say a 1RM is for sure more tension 'per fiber' than an 8RM, still a 1Rm doesn't stimulate more hypertrophy than 8 with 8RM, in fact, it produces less. It's like the time is so much shorter that it outweighs the tension increases maybe?
    Also, 2 sets stimulate more than 1 set with the same load, so 'time with load' is a huge factor.

    Me, I'm totally sold on the idea that we raise the load to compensate for previous adaptations. BUT we can raise the load and keep the time the same for an increase. But more load less time would be the same stimulus. It's just raising one side of the equation while lowering the other .
    All equal 4
    3+2 equals 5
    If that makes sense
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  8. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    I still advocate progressing load but after personal success with myoreps, I'm sure there is something to what you're talking about. I've seen growth after having scaled load back significantly from what I was using for months/years prior.
    I'm sure you're already aware of how a regular myoreps setup works, but i went from 5 to 10 RM loads to using 20 to 25 RM range loads. Myoreps also incorporates double progression where we progress the reps on myosets until you're getting the full 25×5,5,5,5,5 and then progressing the load. And that works great.
    However, it is all built around a fairly standard HST style template so there is still that component going along with it.

    Tldr; I experienced some rather profound gains with myoreps.
    Old and Grey likes this.
  9. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    I posted this yesterday on fB in a discussion, it's kinda what the general idea of adaptations seem like over all...

    It seems most cellular adaptations are related to 'stress', stress causing performance inadequacies. Cells seem to adapt to prevent the possibility of that stress, if occurs again in the future, as to not cause a high level, possibly damaging level of stress. And specific to that stress too (heat, energy, physical, etc.) Why would a fiber need to adapt if 'what it did' was 'good enough', it seems it would have to falter, experience stress from not being able to meet the needs, just like all other cellular adptations in the body.
    I bet also, that might be somehow a stimulus for nuclear donation too, if the current number are running 'hot' all the time, they are probably signaling for 'help', adding more nuclei takes some of the work load off the current number, they can ramp down a bit and have less stress. More fibrils take the load of the current ones in the muscle cell, more sarcomeres in parallel divides the actual 'tension per fibril' between more, taking the load off the current ones. Even a normal (non diabetic) human pancreas works the same, if the beta cells are stressed to create and release high levels of insulin, that stress signals for an increase in beta cell number. It seems 'stress/fatigue' from a task, (fatigue in general, not just or not only metabolic byproducts) is like a root core stimulus for cellular adaptations.

    In this respect, actual fiber tension wouldn't matter in and of itself, but only the relative loss of tension during the task, and, of course, that can only be seen once the fiber is running full out and then loses force in that state. When no more neural compensation can maintain force, then physical adaptations are the only means left. That would be a 'logical' hypothesis, whether things work logically or not (once in a while things do lol), would have to be observed. But one factor in that scenario is calcineurin, it seems to be a required permissive step for hypertrophy, it's raised in accordance with intra-cellular calcium levels. And calcium levels are proportional with inducing the level of fiber activation.
  10. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    I've experienced similar
    Was using actual 5RM's for a while, for a change, switched to a Gironda style workout (this happened twice), dropped loads a LOT, but used very short rest periods, high fatigue... I grew quite a bit over the course of a whole summer with those lighter loads. The 'work/density/fatigue' was much more a bump up, than the 'bump down' from the lower loads.
  11. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Not to spam this but love these discussions, so rare now a days! (Don't miss my posts above :) )

    But here are a few interesting things....
    think of calcium and calcineurin from above post
    Measurements of the intracellular free concentration of Ca 2+ ([Ca2+]~) were performed during fatiguing stimulation of intact, single muscle fibers, which were dissected from a mouse foot muscle and loaded with fura-2. Fatigue, which was produced by repeated 100-Hz tetani, generally occurred in three phases. Initially, tension declined rapidly to ~ 90% of the original tension (0.9 Po) (fatigue lowered fiber force) and during this period the tetanic [Ca2+]i increased significantly (phase 1). Then followed a lengthy period of almost stable tension production and tetanic [Ca2+]~ (phase 2). (high fatigue , aka continued tetany increases Ca more) Finally, both the tetanic [Ca2+]~ and tension fell relatively fast (phase 3). The resting [CaZ+]i rose continuously throughout the stimulation period.

    Fibers do produce less tension as they fatigue, which makes sense, since the real definition of fatigue is force loss
    Force decline during fatigue is due to both a decrease in the force per individual cross-bridge and the number of cross-bridges
  12. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Man, absolutely, I miss discussing this stuff. It's not even possible to have conversations like this at most places.

    I find this fairly compelling as, if you recall, I was always trying to rationalize how it seemed like, on some level, a higher weight SHOULD translate into more per-fiber tension. That said, I'm still confused how to reconcile this in light of the consistent finding that sets taken to similar relative intensities (nearness to failure) seem to produce similar hypertrophy outcomes.

    For sure, and Brian Minor address this concept and refers to it as "impulse," i.e. tension-time at full recruitment. This seems more or less the same idea as the old TTI stuff, but most people seem to be proposing that it's both the degree of tension and then the duration of that tension applied in the context of maximum recruitment.

    However, as per my thoughts above, I'm not sure how to reconcile this in light of the relative intensity producing similar hypertrophy observation. If heavier weights translate to more per-fiber tension across a set, then the tension overload would seem to be, by definition, higher with heavier weights. If that is the case, then the case for progressive overload being a primary driver of hypertrophy would be back on the table, and you'd be back to how I originally understood HST to be - you apply enough mechanical tension for long enough to induce growth, and then you raise the weight next time to stay ahead of the adaptive curve because, implicitly, that raises the magnitude of tension the fibers experience. Eventually, you run into strength limits and so you strategically decondition to lower the threshold of mechanical tension necessary to induce hypertrophy again. That's kind of the mindset I've had in the back of my mind for a long time, it's just that this newer hypertrophy research seems to kind of contradict that, hence my confusion.

    To me the biggest unanswered aspect of what I read and hear about from people like Brian Minor, Menno Henselmans, Eric Helms etc. is trying to understand the relationship between tissue conditioning, i.e. the "anabolic resistance" concept, and achieving mechanical tension overload. As Bryan did years ago I feel like we still need to understand why you can't just keep growing forever with the same load, though in the case of Brian Minor, he's very literally arguing you could as long as recruitment stays maximal and you accrue enough tension-time there. I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, hence the thread :)
    NWlifter likes this.
  13. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Man I know, most don't 'get it' that this is like a fun side hobby, people say, just lift.. sure, but this is a whole other fun part that even can help with the lifting sometimes.

    To me, I see it as absolute evidence that actual fiber tension isn't a factor, or not 'the' factor. I really see it and think the evidence shows , that more time less tension is the same as more tension less time. So the stimulation is a product of tension and time (and I'm really sure fatigue is the X factor)

    BUT... we can't mix up 'full recruitment' with individual activation of a fiber, if that makes sense. Stimulation is on a per fiber level. So recruitment is 'how many' but has nothing to do with stimulation of a specific fiber, only in that it 'is' recruited. What I mean is, is if a person did 5 sets, all 4 short of failure, some fibers would get more than enough full activation and time, only the last recruited would be neglected.

    Yes but that doesn't increase stimulation right?

    Ok yes, BUT progressive overload isn't a factor with stimulation, stimulation is 'per workout', progressing the load just makes sure the next workout is at least as good as the previous. Whether you grow or not today isn't affected on whether you add load next week or not, if that makes sense.
    Hypertrophy wouldn't be driven by future load increases, it's driven by today's workout. Then next week, if you need to add load, 'that' workout would also be effective.

    I'm sure tissue condition is a factor. It decides if what you did today was 'good enough'. but I think that separate from acute stimulation.
    What I mean is, is I think people are getting sidetracked with 'mechanical' attributes, in the area that hypertrophy is proportional to fiber tension.
    I really really think the research is showing that...
    100 for 30 seconds is equal to 80 for 50 seconds, just for an arbitrary example.
    So why is it that way?

    I think it goes back to my post above, about 'cellular stress'. Obviously any parameter, load, tension, time, etc. isn't 'THE' stimulation factor. And logically, if a cell 'can do' something without stress, it doesn't need to adapt. It 'did it', no worries, no stress, .. no reason to change. BUT, make a cell do something where that task stresses it, threatens it, THEN it needs to adapt.
    So what stresses a cell and what indicates it's stressed?

    Now tissue condition... if 10 with 10RM is the same as 6 with 6RM for hypertrophy, how do we increase stress above either of those?
    10 with 6RM would, 12 with 10RM would, .. more time with same, or more load with same time.
  14. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Indeed. I appreciate wanting to shut up and lift, and I've for sure derailed my training many times as Jak indicated by experimenting too much, but the physiology side of this is fun in its own right.

    I understand what you're saying, but the qualifier here is that you could theoretically accrue a shitload of tension-time with light weights, but unless it's near failure, then we can't equate the hypertrophy with heavier sets in which recruitment is maximal off the bat.

    So being at/near maximal fiber recruitment seems to be a pre-requisite for this sort of comparison, which would, to me, mean that the primary driver of hypertrophy would be tension-time at maximum recruitment. Sort of like Borge's "effective reps" concept - or stated differently, widely varying loads taken near or to failure appear to have similar effective total reps, and thus similar hypertrophy outcomes.

    I agree, but what I'm trying to get to is basically the heart of Brian Minor's article, whether it's accurate. And we need to be able to explain why widely varying loads seem to produce similar hypertrophy outcomes only in the context of being near failure. Does that make sense?

    As per the above, though, if adding weight increases the amount of tension a fiber experiences, and it's still exposed to the same duration of tension-time, then a heavier weight DOES meet the criteria for "progressive tension overload" in and of itself. So I agree with what you're saying, but I'm trying to differentiate the argument Brian Minor is putting forth with what we all seem to believe, that adding weight to the bar is a way of staying ahead of the mechanical tension curve.

    It would be both if we're correct, no? You have to lift heavy enough for enough total effective reps today to grow. And the next time you lift, you have to lift heavy enough again for enough total effective reps to grow. If adding weight increases the tension aspect of tension-time, then it is directly allowing us to stay ahead of the adaptive curve.

    At the risk of beating a dead horse, though, the necessary context appears to be that we can only equate these sorts of comparisons if we're implicitly near/at maximum fiber recruitment. So it might not be as simple as lighter tension for longer duration equals larger tension for shorter duration. We'd have to also be at similar relative intensity for the weights we're using.

    I think the answer is definitely mechanical tension induced disruption, right? As per Menno's talk in my first post (did you see this before?), mechanical tension appears to be THE primary factor in growth, and both muscle damage and metabolic stress can both be thought of as relating to growth only insofar as they relate to mechanical tension.

    And this gets back to the original idea here - would adding reps forever literally work as well as adding load? If part of "anabolic resistance," i.e. the repeated bout effect as we used to call it, is us adapting to the magnitude of tension, then adding more weight will, at some point, ultimately be necessary. So this is getting to the nature of what, exactly, we're adapting to, as you alluded to with your cellular stress post.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  15. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    @mikeynov !!!!! Hey bud great to hear from ya! I'll write some semblance of a reply when I have time, just wanted to welcome ya back, always enjoyed your posts back in the day :)

    Awesome thread topic, can't wait to delve in
  16. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Like Totz, I am a big supporter of Myo Reps. I just turned 74 and my arms grew close to an inch this past year using Myo Reps with similar gains all over. I found it especially good for tris, shoulders and traps...areas that respond to high reps and can tolerate high intensity volume. May be a little off topic from Mikey's original post but worth repeating for advanced lifters who feel they have tapped out.
    NWlifter likes this.
  17. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Yes and theoretical banter many times never even makes it into the gym, it's all fun mind bending talk! Curiosity..

    Wait again... think fiber level, then recruitment is which fibers...
    so it's not full recruitment for hypertrophy, it's activation ..(rate coding, leading to high calcium, relative max tension, leading to force loss IMO).. Then recruitment is how many are involved in this.

    OK, what does going to near failure do?
    It gets all fibers going
    It increases rate coding (activation) in all fibers progressively
    That increases force, and eventually fatigue and force loss

    So, if actual fiber tension matters not, then 'what' is the common denominator between 15RM to failure vs 6RM to failure?
    Fiber tension very different
    Activation same
    Fatigue same

    What does doing 4 sets do over 2 sets?
    More time in that state
    Tension same
    Time at a highly active fatigued state is increased.

    That's where logically is seems 'right' to me.

    OK yes... add weight, the fiber feels more tension. I think I see what your saying....
    So one has 10,000 fibers, they put 200 lbs on the bar.. they get stronger
    Now they put 210 on the bar, those same 10,000 fibers have a bit higher tension right?
    But, I'd say it's due to more fibrils after hypertrophy. Each fibril inside the fiber has a fixed tension. So per fibril is still the same. The fiber feels more, but the fiber is still a population of 'fibrils'.

    OK yes, if Monday was a bit ahead, you grow, now next monday you have to use more load to be that 'same bit ahead'.?

    OK what I'm saying though it it's not recruitment, it's rate coding. To make this simple, pretend you just have one muscle fiber, what stimulates it? (recruitment just happens to increase 'as' rate coding increases).

    Yes they do say that. Me, I think that is wrong. I think tension and metabolic are byproducts or just 'also there' . Ie you cannot activate without creating tension and you cannot run a fiber to fatigue without metabolic fatigue.

    I still stand on that cellular stress is 'the' main root stimulus.

    I mean you get no hypertrophy just making a fiber 'create max tension', that's it's job, if it can do that and not be stressed, why adapt? 70% tension for a long time where force drops and that stresses the cell seems to induce just as much hypertrophy as 95% tension for less time if that also leads to stress from trying to maintain tension.
    (again tension is per fiber, based on rate coding, not whole muscle tension).

    right, I can't imagine just adding reps forever, eventually that load would be such a low RM that neural fatigue and other fatigues would limit the set and ruin the whole process.

    All I know is, they have seen, and it makes sense, that 12 with 12Rm is same as 6 with 6RM.
    1 rep with a 1RM is worse than 8 with 8RM
    So actual fiber tension isn't proportional to stimulation.

    More volume and work increase the stimulation
    Lowering density too much lowers hypertrophy, so force loss and fatigue (actual definition of fatigue) seem to need to happen.

    I say enough load to cause high activation, actual tension matters not
    Do it enough to stress the cell which only happens at high activation levels.
    You can't max rate code the last MU unless your around 'failure'
    then it would be stimulated
    I bet RBE is based more on stress levels than load.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  18. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Hello Simon and O&G, long time no talk :)

    Myo-reps is definitely not off topic, in fact I think the concept is extremely compatible with this perspective of hypertrophy largely being a product of sufficient tension-time at full fiber recruitment. As per my last post to NWLifter, I think we can even express what people like Brian Minor are saying in Borge's terms, i.e. the similar hypertrophy outcomes at widely different weights but similar relative intensity (closeness to failure) might be due to accumulating similar total "effective reps."

    I admit to not having really experimented much with myo-reps, though I have tried Dante's rest/pause training in the past. The one downside for me personally is that I work out at home and depend mostly on free weight exercises where myo-reps would become quite awkward (e.g. myo-reps in squats, deadlifts or even bench). I actually see machine type exercises being really useful here, perhaps an Arthur Jones revival is in order :)
    NWlifter likes this.
  19. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    I know above wasn't to me, but just to chime in, I've had great results with myo reps and way back in the 90s I did something very similar (I called it non failure rest pause back then), now all the studies showing rest pause and drop sets are the same as regular sets, it sure seems like a good way to go.

    Good reps are interesting... good for... which fibers?
    All reps are 'good reps' for the ones recruited from rep 1 on
    Most reps are 'good reps' for many of the middle range fibers
    The last reps are 'good reps' for the last recruited.
  20. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    I'm going to try to simplify this to see if we're actually disagreeing here or not.

    So, using basic muscle physiology, in order to meet the force demands of lifting a weight, we use a combination of recruitment according to size principle and increased rate coding to achieve the force necessary. So we recruit more total motor units (and thus the fibers they innervate) according to the size principle and we also increase the rate at which these motor units and their component fibers fire (rate coding). As both recruitment and rate coding increase, the muscle produces more force, and the "mechanical tension" we're referring to in muscle hypertrophy is the actual tension being generated by all our muscle fibers while producing this force.

    Research shows that fiber recruitment increases up to something like ~80% of 1 RM (depends heavily on the exercise and muscle group I think), and past that, increased force demands are met solely by increased rate coding.

    Similarly, in conditions of fatigue with lighter loads, our body will use a strategy of recruiting successively higher threshold motor units and the fibers they innervate as motor units drop out as well as increased rate coding of those motor units-->fibers to maintain force demands in a way that's analagous to what happens at successively higher weights in the paragraph above.

    Given all that, these hypertrophy dudes appear to be arguing that mechanical tension is the primary determinant of hypertrophy, or maybe more accurately tension-time, particularly under conditions near failure. The effective reps concept, as far as I can tell, though I could be misinterpreting their position.

    What you are saying is that you do not believe it's tension/recruitment per se, but rather the rate coding end of force demands? In the sense that maximal rate coding isn't going to happen normally until after you're already at full recruitment (either with heavy enough weight or close enough to failure), I can see the logic of this. I guess my confusion would be what the difference is here - the point of increased rate coding is to generate more net force to continue to produce movement, and in the same way that increasing weight would increase per-fiber tension as per our previously outlined logic, I would think that increasing rate coding would have the same net effect since the net muscle force is higher. This is where things get really murky to me, though.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019

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