Is Load Progression Necessary For Hypertrophy?

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

  1. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Hmm.. something makes sense here, but also it doesn't haha.

    Surely it's not only the prerequisitie that a muscle fibres cannot produce the force that it needs to to be the only requirement for growth and the only thing which causes that strain... (unless you're just describing that mechanism of metabolic stress and force production, ie close to failure 'effective rep' training)

    I think that's what Bryan spoke about in the HST FAQ, and why going to or close to failure is not necessary component for growth. It can be, but it's really about the condition of the tissue at the time. Loss of ability to maintain force I thought was far more a CNS thing as opposed to a muscular thing primarily.. but I'm just firing thoughts that come up haha so if I'm off the mark please feel free to tell me!

    Yes, what you said at the end there NWLifter! Some damage or 'disruption' to the fibres must occur, but not to decimate the muscle. A stimulus that is greater than the current condition of the tissue. Whatever that may be, a moving target and at a different point in time/condition for everyone
  2. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    Yes I think so, with the appropriate volume using that load.

    So the load increase is dependent on the current condition of the tissue, and the volume requirement also is. There's only really been some relatively vague answers from the studies as to how much volume.. as it's just too hard to peg and we can do only give ranges of 'about x reps/sets total', but I guess the answer to how much volume with that load is 'just enough'.

    But like I said earlier, it may be that increasing load potentiates the hypertrophic response, AND that the 'hypertrophied' muscle is the reason to increase load, but I think it is that mishmash of both, and just saying ahead of the adaptive curve. HST does this in a more rapid way than some other methods that keeps the necessity of the muscle to adapt in play.

    It makes it hard to have really concrete, objective measures that are across the board the same for all people. I guess why it's as much an intuitive, individual art that we have to tune into for ourselves :)

    YES I reckon that's super important, as long as that increase in load results in increased tension. I think exercise form doesn't get talked about too much, but I feel it's crucial, as it's very easy to creatively use the body to get the weight up in any manner possible, and that doesn't mean the targeted muscle is undergoing the increased tension :)
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  3. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Active Member

    And yes, sorry here's another comment from me (am enjoying this discussion very much by the way :) ), I think within all this it's safe to say, there is a certain threshold that is relatively different for everyone.

    Surpassing that threshold is what spurs on growth. So hence why HST is a set of principles rather than 'do this and this and this', but it's more 'organise your cycles in this manner according to your current level of conditioning, and progress according to understanding where you are now.'

    ( @Bryan Haycock... @Bryan Haycock... @Bryan Haycock... maybe if I say his name three times something will happen... :eek: )
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
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  4. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Good question...
    I'll put my thoughts from what I see in the research...

    1) Yes, higher load does for sure increase per fiber tension. Let's say the nervous system activates a fiber during a set, it starts out at minimal rate coding, just adding a 'little' tension to help out where the previous fibers are losing force, next rep the rate coding goes up a bit, it helps more, etc. by the time you get to the end of the set, the fiber is at max rate coding but since it's already been working for 8 reps, it has some fatigue so it's max tetanic force is less than it would be if it was called into tetany when fresh and unfatigued. If you use a higher load, it gets ramped up to tetany sooner, so it's less fatigued and would have a little bit more force since it's fresher when fully activated.

    2) But, what does that mean?
    • First, we aren't sure if variations in actual fiber tension actually vary the stimulation. We have no evidence, only speculation, that higher 'per fiber' tension actually generates a higher protein synthesis signal
    • Second, we seem to have evidence that 'tension and time' equalize things. ie high fiber tension for 10 seconds of use is the same as less tension for 15 seconds of use. Probably why studies show things like 15 reps to failure with 15RM is the same as 8 reps to failure with 8RM.

    3) How it works: The tension a fiber creates is exactly proportional to how many strongly bond crossbridges are in parallel. Each crossbridge generates a force. As the fiber fatigues, the studies show that two things happen, less crossbridges 'can bind', even at the same max rate coding, and even 'per crossbridge' force can be lower. So, a fresh non fatigued fiber at say 35HZ frequency generates max tension has all crossbridges working, a fatigued fiber at 35HZ is 'trying' but isn't able to have all crossbridges working and some that are aren't binding as firmly, so the actual fiber force is less at that same frequency of rate coding.

    But my thoughts are that the lower of force from fatigue, IS the stimulus. It's why speed skaters, common labor'ers, construction workers, etc. can have pretty decent hypertrophy, they never hit tetanic contractions even, never run the fibers at 'max all out per fiber force', yet they do cause fatigue.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  5. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    And what bugs me, is twice at least, I had been training heavy, true 6-8RM's, I went straight into Gironda style training, using more like 15-20RM's and grew like crazy, so my tissue wasn't stubborn to load for sure, as way LESS load caused growth.
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  6. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    I guess what I'm saying, are these things....
    1. Logically, just creating tension is what a fiber is for, only if it fails to maintain tension, would an adaptation even be needed, so the fiber 'losing force', logically would be the indicator it needed 'more force' so if force drops, it's starting at a higher level and would still not be that lacking , if that same scenario was repeated.
    2. Cells in the body only seem to be stimulated to adapt, if something in them is 'stressed' from the task.
    3. So, mechanical strain that leads to force loss, and that seems to take 'time'. One quick full out contraction is minimal to even zero for stimulation, just 'creating force' and the fiber 'feeling tension', isn't enough, it has to create and feel the tension for time.
    4. Since we know that less load for longer is about the same as more load for less time, it's a formula. Instead of moving from 15 reps with 15 to 5 reps with 5RM, it seems more logical then that a person might do 15 reps always, and increase the load as they go. So it starts with 15 with 15RM and ends with 15 reps with 5RM, then the tension time formula would increase.
    5. One thing though we know for sure about effort, is that it 'is' supraspinal output which is proportion with activation. And they have measured what it takes for recruitment and activation. So if a muscle fully recruits at 85% max effort, then using below that for sure never even fully recruits all fibers. And at 85% effort, (note that's effort not load) the last motor unit is just 'barely' being used, not enough to put any real work or tension on those fibers.
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  7. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Simon, great to see you contributing! You actually brought up where I was going to eventually go with my line of reasoning, which is basically the external load's role in what we had previously called the "repeated bout effect." The idea that our muscle tissue somehow gets conditioned to some combination of factors that we're using in our attempt to induce growth. It might help to re-look at the basic HST model again.

    We start by strategically deconditioning. Regardless of what we call it (repeated bout effect, anabolic resistance), doing the same thing over and over will eventually result in diminishing returns in terms of hypertrophy. I know there's research showing that ~2 weeks off does seem to upregulate some of the mTOR stuff, and I've long seen SD's as a potential route of helping to get satellite cell donation going again. I'm not actually totally sold on SD being necessary, but let's say for the sake of argument it is working on some level.

    So after our SD, we find an entry point that is a strong enough stimulus to start growing again. Where exactly this is is hard to say, but at higher reps and conventional sets/reps (more on this in a minute), something like ~60% of 1 RM seems reasonable, and where lots of HST type cycles begin. So let's use 12's at ~60% 1 RM as our thought experiment. We could pretty easily do 3 sets of 12, though after a break, this wouldn't be that easy. For the sake of argument, say this is our context, 3 working sets of 12 for 2-3 weekly sessions for a muscle group. Assuming something tantamount to RBE is happening, and that our hypertrophic stimulus will diminish the next session if we just stick to the same weight/reps/sets, how do we increase the hypertrophic stimulus? This is really the context I had in mind with my thought experiment. If per-fiber tension increases with an increase in external loading, then the original HST model still makes sense. Or stated differently, would 3 sets of 12 with, say, 62% of 1 RM, be a stronger stimulus than 3 sets of 12 with 60% 1 RM if we had already just done a session of 3 sets of 12 with 60% 1 RM? If the per-fiber tension increases by bumping up to 62% and something like RBE diminishes our returns from repeating 60%, I think you can make a case that it is. So this is the basic pattern in HST, with intentionally submaximal training, the stimulus every training session in theory raises just a little to make sure that we're getting the most bang for our buck as possible.

    However, context matters a lot, and this is where I'll try to tie in Ron's thoughts. We definitely don't know that higher per-fiber tension actually results in more muscle protein synthesis out of context. But, the HST argument isn't that heavier is better out of context, otherwise we might just start with 80% 1 RM. This is a relative thing, and this is where the concept of tissue conditioning is really important. It's not that 80% is "better" than 60% if both are taken near failure. It's that 60% was good enough, and in a given context of sets/reps, increasing the load might represent an increase in stimulus, which is really what we're after. If we started at 80% 1 RM, we don't have much room to keep increasing the load and having things stay practical. So it's not about heavier = better, it's about finding a way to structure our training such that we have a strong enough stimulus to start a mesocycle, and we find a way to consistently raise that stimiulus.

    As Ron noted, as well as Totentanz, with something like Gironda or myoreps, a lot of people see new growth again despite using much heavier loads previously. We also saw that in one of the Kaatsu studies if I recall, powerlifters who habitually used fairly large workloads at heavy weight saw a strong increase in satellite cell activity etc. doing a shitload of high rep kaatsu training. I believe this and am not arguing against it. The problem is that we've now completely changed our context. You can think of it as volume, total effective reps, or even density (effective reps per unit time), but regardless, it's hard to compare this to more conventional sets/reps as we're changing a lot more than just load. I'll illustrate this even further.

    With conventional sets and reps, think of our 3 sets of 12 again. How many "effective" total reps (in myoreps terminology, i.e. reps definitely at full recruitment with high rate coding) did we get? If it's like ~5 per set optimistcally, that's 15 total effective reps. However, with a Gironda 8 x 8 with short rest times, we might have multiples of that. Ditto myoreps, we might have 20 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 or something, probably at least double our conventional sets and reps. So while we lost some load, which might be part of the hypertrophic equation, we may have enormously increased the total effective reps, which might work out to be a much stronger overall stimulus.

    So, the way I'm looking at this, I'm not sure how easy this is to compare to conventional sets/reps. Maybe myoreps or Gironda style training is just a better overall context (effective reps) to really target hypertrophy. So the question isn't whether 3 sets of 12 at heavier weight is better than Gironda or myoreps at a lighter weight, to me the question is, if we did a cycle of Gironda style or myoreps, would increasing the load in that context once again raise the hypertrophic stimulus? If it does, then HST logic is still back on the table. Because HST logic isn't about absolute loading being superior to lighter loading out of context, it's more about finding a sufficient stimulus relative to our tissue conditioning (which we intentionally lower via SD) to start a training mesocycle, and then finding a way to consistently add to that stimulus in a way that assures we're growing as fast as possible.

    That all make sense?
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
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  8. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Interesting Mike....

    Here are my thoughts on that...(I posted some of this above too)...

    If the studies are right and 15 reps to failure with a 15RM is equal to 8 reps to failure with an 8RM, then to me, just moving load up, if that means 'less time with that load' is the same stimulus. Then it's not just 'load' that 'beats tissue condition', it's more like 'work' or some combo. Like 15 with 8Rm is better than 15 reps with 10RM.

    What I'd like to see a study test....
    use a load above recruitment level, say 85% of 1RM.
    Left arm 10 reps, separated by 1 minute between reps vs 10 reps in a row.
    Same load, same total work, but one has more fatigue and force loss. See which upregulates PS more. That would answer the force loss fatigue idea.
    (PS there is a similar study out there already from long ago)
  9. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    I agree with this, but this is why I keep trying to repeatedly qualify what I'm saying. That 15 RM to failure might equal 8 RM to failure isn't really addressing the idea here (whether external load increases are a viable strategy of increasing hypertrophic stimulus all else constant), because, as you said, 8 RM increased the load/tension but simultaneously decreased the time part of tension-time. So we're no longer "all else constant."

    So with the 15 RM vs 8 RM to failure example, while we increased tension going to 8 RM, we decreased time. We all seem to agree that the hypertrophy stimulus is some combination of both tension and time, so to know whether external load = more hypertrophic stimulus, we have to keep the time part constant. This is why, in my example above, I stuck to a single repetition range at static sets/reps, e.g. 3 sets of 12. In that case, the time part stays the same, and we're only (potentially) changing tension by increasing the external load. If we can say that, after doing 3 sets of 12 at 60% of 1 RM, that bumping up to 3 sets of 12 at 62% of 1 RM is an increase in stimulus relative to repeating 3 sets of 12 at 60% 1 RM, I think we have a good case that an HST-ish structure is at least a viable way of planning our training.

    I would also be curious to see the result of your thought experiment. I still have other ideas I want to share, but so far I'm trying to stick to just a couple of issues (tissue conditioning/RBE and the role of load in and of itself in the hypetrophy stimulus) to make this more straightforward. Because my next question if we resolve this is going to be differentiating strength vs. hypertrophy adaptations, and what the implications of that would actually be. As a sneak peak of my logic here, one of the most baffling things to me about Brian Minor and a lot of people's reasoning is the idea of applying an overload in terms of hypertrophy in a single session, so the next session we are able to perform better due to that overload. If that's in the context of hypertrophy, this makes almost no sense to me - outside of a true novice, there is just no way in my mind that we could possibly add enough muscle tissue to perform an extra rep or be able to repeat the same reps at a heavier weight in the span of a few days or week. Growing even a lb of muscle in a month over our entire body would be difficult if we're intermediates+, then consider how little we'd add to the specific prime movers of a single exercise after a single session.

    Or, in other words, strength adaptations seem to occur much more rapidly than hypertrophy adaptations. So using strength indicators as evidence that we've grown seems...short-sighted. People typically qualify this by saying "well after beginner gains after X number of weeks, then strength gains are more about hypertrophy." But I'm not sure that's actually true, or more accurately, true when looking at short term performance increases like session to session changes. Over much longer time periods, sure.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  10. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    OK true... but I'd say also that going from 3x12 with say 150 lbs can be beat with 3x13 with the same 150lbs. Seems to be an either or thing...
    If I could go from heavy 3x5 with long rests, to light short rest with 3x8 Gironda and grow, somehow that beat the condition right?

    I think load is a part of the equation, not a 'thing' in and of itself, I can't think how to word that better....?
    It's a 'work' thing... load works with time, it's like a recipe, what's better cooking at 250 or cooking at 350? Well 20 minutes at 250 matches 13 minutes at 350. does that make sense?

    Like this... lets say tissue is conditioned to 2x10 with 8rm, what if you do 4x10? that beats it right?

    I really think RBE is purely about damage... so RBE studies might not fit this, but there still probably is a tissue condition, which makes sense, we adapt to things... do we have to beat it or just keep inducing the same level of fatigue, albeit with a load increase to keep up with the strength gains?

    I agree on strength big time on that...
    I read a study where people using the same exercise, for a year still had some neural gains a year later, so it's not as quick as some say, then we have some other info. about how super alertness for lack of a better term can increase even a competitive powerlifters 1Rm by 20%...
  11. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    For sure. But this was just the load aspect of the stimulus. So I think? we're in agreement that HST style cycles still make some sense on paper. Whether that be conventional sets/reps or myoreps, higher density stuff.

    Indeed, and this is the other question. I do think it's simultaneously clear there are ways besides just load to increase the stimulus. Increasing volume or training density, for example. It would then become a question of what aspect of the stimulus is the most potent (load vs. volume vs. density), or what combination winds up most practical. Load increases at a static total reps was a popular early HST idea, and that always made a lot of intuitive sense. But you could certainly add reps to the sets, add sets, or even maybe complete the total work in less time. Which all sounds nice, but of course we also need to figure out a practical way to tackle this. Fixed sets/reps and load increases or dual progression seem like, through trial and error, the most common ways to program this. But we could be more creative, too.

    The other thought I had in mind is due to paying a lot of attention to the strength world. The Starting Strength guys, Tuscherer and his trainees, and Barbell Medicine, whose philosophies are similar on using higher volume/frequency while managing RPE (relative intensity, intentionally staying away from failure). One of the repeated themes you'll see is that to drive strength increases in a particular exercise, almost all of these people perform a lift more than once per week. Squatting often 2-3 times per week, which from personal experience worked really well.

    But then we're back to strength vs. hypertrophy. Like in my mind, there is no way that barbell squatting once, leg pressing once, and bulgarian split squatting once is a worse stimulus for the leg muscles than barbell squatting three times per week. But I'm also inclined to say that barbell squatting three times a week will almost definitely lead to more rapid strength increases in the barbell squat. So we could, for example, push work sets from 225 to 275 in some fraction of the time we could in the 3 different exercises setup.

    On paper, then, we have a more rapid increase in working weights at a fixed sets/reps. So if load on the bar actually matters, there's a certain logic to this being superior for hypertrophy. But then we do the common sense check, and I'd re-conclude that I don't think this is actually better. That, despite handling heavier loads in the barbell squat itself, I really, really doubt you'd actually grow your leg muscles faster.

    To me this is an important question/distinction because it has a lot of practical implications. I'd phrase it like this - hypertrophy-specific training should probably try to aim to grow as much as possible while minimizing risk to the greatest extent possible. Like, if you had the option of growing a certain amount by using either lighter weights or heavier weights, the former would almost definitely be safer, and if it's our primary goal, we should definitely use lighter weights. Having more exercise variety, then, while it'd be suboptimal to drive up any particular lift, might be allowing us to grow just as well while exposing us to comparatively lighter loads, which one could argue might be safer in the long run.

    That sort of thing.
  12. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    OK really good thoughts.....

    So to summarize, mixed with my thoughts...
    Going from 2 sets of 15 with 16RM to 2 sets of 10 with 11Rm, is probably not an increase. But some kind of increase might be superior to plugging slowly away (HST model vs slow and steady).

    I see what you mean, and I"ve wondered that too with strength, run neural high and you ARE using more loads so that should increase hypertrophy, same reps, more load is 'more' work, more load, more stimulation. I think the issue is this though...
    A muscle of some size can display a range of strength based on neural means. If we run it high and keep it high, (like with HIT training) eventually we will get to a high neural level, now we are back to the 'have to get bigger to get stronger' deal, but since we are running neural super hot all the time, it will prolong recovery. That to me might be one of the best things with the HST model, not that each workout gives maximum stimulation but that we run through the 'effort' levels each period, load goes up , and work goes up each block and neural output increases each time to a max, then a reset and it starts over. Instead of always being on 'high output' where burnout can occur. Some methods that are more in the middle seem to work, like DC training, they have the blast and cruise to deal with that, just don't have the larger stimulation increases per workout like HST, but the idea is similar I guess.

    What's interesting, is except for the freuqency, things like hardgainer programs (Stuart McRobert) is kinda similar to HST, you start a cycle lighter, less effort, you make sure to add load every week, you get to the point where your really using max loads and high neural output, then you terminate, reset and start a bit higher again. only difference is frequency, oh and the RMs are fixed, so OK two differences :) But kinda similar in the loading thing.

    yes agree, less load is safer and if a person can grow to some level with less, then they still have 'room' to increase later for more growth. But people who go for max strength can end up having a 'little' size but be super strong and just cannot get stronger, now that method has them stuck.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  13. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Uh oh, we're agreeing too much!

    I think that's the idea, yah. You can have a super slow linear progression in which loads are dictated by strength increases, and that is probably the most intuitive way that a lot of people run programs. What Bryan did was suggest an alternative model where you take some time off to try to lower the threshold necessary to grow again, then have comparatively rapid, programmed load increases over a mesocycle that aren't dependent on slow strength gains. I'd be very interested to see this tested in research at some point.

    I'm kind of curious of the role of novelty here, too. Like, increasing the loading rapidly at fixed sets/reps could be seen as a way of having a fairly novel stimulus over and over. Perhaps something about that novelty is advantageous.

    The flipside, of course, is that going from conventional sets/reps to something like myoreps or Gironda style is also very novel. I've sometimes wondered if the reverse would also be true after you got used to myoreps/Gironda - could you go back to heavier weights at conventional sets/reps and get some form of advantageous novelty effect, too?

    Indeed, and in my own training I kind of went down that path for years to mixed results. In hindsight I probably would have trained more like a bro, if I could go back in time.

    Great point. Insofar as frequency is some part of optimizing the hypertrophic stimulus, pushing limit sets too often is kind of self-defeating. The trend in research is definitely to increase frequency and workload by managing relative intensity/effort/RPE. But of course, you can also slippery slope this back to something that looks a lot more like strength training, as per our frequency discussion above.

    They are similar in a way, but I think Hardgainer suffered from excessive minimalism. One of the things I liked about the original HST is that it was kind of volume agnostic, whereas Hardgainer had strong HIT tendencies that poopoo'd higher volume or more frequency. It obviously can work to a point but, like the Starting Strength guys, it seems to me that people too often depend on drastically overeating to continue to drive strength increases such that you get entire communities of fat and kind of strong guys that don't really look anything like bodybuilders. I used to jokingly call this the Power & Bulk phenomenon, named after that old forum, as people would crank up their squat strength by ballooning up to like 25%+ bodyfat, eventually try to diet that off, panic as their squat strength plummeted, and then repeat the entire process.

    Yep. I think this is the problem with HIT-y programs and Hardgainer in a nutshell. Your only tools are some combination of even higher effort, or even heavier loads. You rarely see them try to manipulate volume, RPE, or training density.

    As an aside, one of the things I've long been curious about Arthur Jones' original HIT iterations was the fact that he seemed to understand on some level that the degree of stimulus for a muscle was proportionate to total workload. Meaning he'd have leg specialization routines where he'd have people squat, then leg press, then leg extensions for quads, for instance. So while he insisted on one (sometimes 2 or 3 in Nautilus Bulletin 1 era) working set per exercise, he also seemed to recognize that having multiple exercises per body part worked better than just one. And if he recognized that, I've wondered what he thought about that was actually working. Even more "inroad," I guess, but it's pretty clear that some combination of volume and density were higher with those sort of specialization routines.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  14. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    LOL that is troubling lol

    I wonder too about novelty...
    I know a while back, we saw higher post workout PS with novel stimulus, it sounded like 'the answer', then more recently, studies are showing that the 'extra PS' is about repair, so the PS directed at growth is still really the same, since hypertrophy ends up the same. There is one or two studies where post workout PS is really high for a few weeks, but it's not correlated with hypertrophy, but weeks later, PS is lower but matches measured hypertrophy. The author(s) conclude that the higher at first was about 'repair' then later, PS is only lower since RBE is protecting from damage so PS 'is' hypertrophy at that point. This makes me wonder if pursuing novelty or 'exceeding thresholds' too much would merely give us some extra repair work to do but still end up the same hypertrophy?

    I know for sure, with me, if volume drops, then going back to heavy didn't work, in fact, I regained strength as I lost size. Twice.. what happened...
    Strength program all spring
    Switched to lighter Gironda, gained size all summer
    Went back to lower volume, lower frequency strength, started out weaker of course,
    Took 2 months to get strength back, slowly lost size that whole time
    When strength was back up to where it was before Gironda, size was also back down to that exact level
    A few months later it bugged me, so repeated that whole process a second time and all that happened again.
    So for sure, higher loads are only better if all else is equalized. Less load more volume for me, beats heavier with less volume and frequency. The higher loads didn't increase the stimulation in and of themselves.

    Yes, true, too much minimalism, for the sake of minimalism, isn't going to be that great for hypertrophy. I think the idea and philosophy gets twisted, people should get stronger because they grew, not think they are going to grow because they got stronger (long term). Although, 90% of my training has always been 1x per week per muscle, even with my version of hardgainer type programs and had some great gains that way.

    see that's the thing I think Arthur Jone's had right, or close to right... the inroad thing... that's really a measurement of force loss/fatigue. I think that 'is' the closest attribute we can measure that might predict stimulation. Like my post above, love to see them compared equal load and total work , in another way besides those older studies, with fatigue vs non fatigue.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
  15. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    To add, this study is troubling with respect to load

    however, MYO remained elevated (199%) above rest at 24 h only in 30FAIL.
    4E-BP1Thr37/46 phosphorylation was greater 24 h after exercise than at rest in both 90FAIL (237%) and 30FAIL (312%)
    The mRNA expression of MyoD and myogenin were consistently elevated in the 30FAIL condition.

    And this paper is really interesting as an over-all

  16. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    To tangent on this for just a second, I've periodically liked the idea of inroad, too. One of my early thoughts on this was whether volume/workload was valuable in and of itself, or rather was it valuable because of what it's doing. The most obvious manifestation of what it might be doing would be a loss of strength/performance. We have systems like Yates, DC Training, and maybe even Martin Berkhan's reverse pyramid training stuff where total volume isn't very high but they do seem to produce legitimately good results. One thing they have in common would be something tantamount to high "inroad," i.e. they fatigue the shit out of your muscles very quickly and you suffer a marked performance loss in your movements after their completion.

    When you brought up your idea on rate coding and loss of force production at the level of motor units/muscle fibers I was actually reminded of the concept of inroad as there would be an obvious relationship there.

    The fact that training near failure seems necessary to maximize hypertrophy would lend some weight towards the idea of inroad. However, I see two reasons to doubt it:

    1) Studies on failure vs. not to failure were relatively work/volume equated, no? And these seemed to consistently fail to find an advantage for pushing to failure vs. holding back slightly. Training to failure would clearly have more "inroad" than not to failure.

    2) Studies on rest times seemingly showing that longer is actually better for strength and growth. I suppose these weren't work equated as people literally did fewer total reps by limiting rest times on sets after the first. But they were "hard work sets" equated, I think, meaning they still did X number of sets, just that the sets performed in the low rest groups had poorer performance due to the shorter rest times.

    So while I find the idea of inroad fascinating, I'm not sure how it holds up in light of those two lines of evidence. Any thoughts?
  17. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Also, not seeing how this is troubling with respect to load. As I've been trying to illustrate, if we're going to talk about the value of load as an isolated variable, we can't vary the rest of the hypertrophic equation (where duration of that tension being applied also clearly matters as per your baking analogy). We'd have to test the value of load where only load is changing, right?

    In this case, I guess the concern is that 90 fail did 4 sets to failure, and 30 fail did 4 sets to failure, and the 30 fail was better? The problem here is that, as per table 2, volume load and time under load (both sort of capturing the idea of duration of load applied) is way, way higher in 30 fail vs. 90 fail or the work-matched 30 groups. So we're certainly not testing load in isolation, but rather two different methods of baking where we're cooking at a lower temperature for waaaay longer than the higher temperature.

    The usual rule that Greg Nuckols and a lot of these modern hypertrophy research guys use is something like ~5-6+ reps per set being relatively equal to higher reps when comparing "hard working sets," but 90% of 1 RM has to be flirting with the bottom end there. Like, doing 5 singles at near 100% 1 RM is clearly vastly inferior to 5 sets near failure at ~70-80% 1 RM, right? At some point, you're doing little enough work where that hard working sets rule of thumb no longer applies, and I'd be inclined to think it starts in the ballpark of where this study is.

    Do you know of any research comparing, say, 70% or 80% fail vs 30%? If it were better under those conditions, that'd be interesting.
  18. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    Yes it's weird... there are studies where they did equalize 'work' and then rest periods didn't matter, the conclusion was longer rests allow for more reps so that's why they work better. Which sounds logical and right with all the other research. Even one with rest pause, 20 seconds rest, if total reps were equalized, it was the same as doing regular sets with long rests.

    OK sure , maybe inroad as AJ described it isn't quite right, as that's like momentary strength deficit. it's probably more like 'time with fatigue' or something...
    some studies have shown fatigue does nothing, some show it does a lot towards stimulation... it's really hard to get at those individual factors, you can't have a muscle produce max tension without fatigue and visa versa, no way to know which did what...

    If tension itself is a prime driver of the actual molecular signals, then they must only turn 'on' during the tension, then start turning back off, so more time is higher PS levels. But then it sure seems BFR would be horrible for hypertrophy, it's all metabolic with super low tension.
  19. NWlifter

    NWlifter Active Member

    And I was looking at it this way. If more load relative to starting condition increases the stimulation. Then 90% of 1Rm would for sure be more load, gross and relative both, over 30%, so I can't see how 30% could have HIGHER hypertrophy.

    Wait.. are you saying compare 8 reps with 50% to 8 reps with 80%? But that doesn't compare load, that massively skews the lighter one by never even reaching high activation levels. We need equal activation with different loads. That way all fibers got to 'feel' that load as they only can when rate coding is maxed.

    Right, exactly... but the tension the fibers created was much lower with the 30fail condition. Yet it not even just matched, it was better than the heavier. Which means, 15 with 15RM might be more hypertrophic than 6 with 6RM.

    But to me, it's the actual tension that matters on that. we have to do the 'failure' thing so all fibers 'get to play'. So this goes back to my thoughts from many posts ago...
    Keeping set volume equal, more load probably won't help increase the stimulation over time. We need more 'work' (same load more reps or same reps more load) to increase stimulation.

    No haven't seen that scenario, just one kaatsu with low load BFR vs 80% regular training, but not light 'non kaatsu'. Although, I'd venture to say, almost 100% positive that 30% for 10 BFR reps to failure vs 30% non BFR high reps to failure would be equal for hypertrophy. Ok.. 99% sure ;)
  20. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Imo it's because you keep looking at load out of context. I don't think I've seen anyone put forward the idea that load out of context is better. The only suggestion I've made so far is that greater load might be better in the same context (same volume/duration), e.g. bumping up our weights to 62% of 1 RM from 60% 1 RM for 3 sets of 12 after we've already done that 60% 1 RM for 3 sets of 12 the session prior.

    And the reason the 30% fail group would have higher hypertrophy is simply because the duration of load applied is so much higher, enough to override any advantages that load might have since load is just part of the equation. Much longer spent cooking. I feel like even people suggesting load is part of the hypertrophy stimulus would concede this point, that you can make up for higher load with much longer durations. The old TTI logic.

    I see what you're saying, because we're comparing load in two different contexts. Good point. But how about this...why not work/duration match the 30% fail group with another 90% group? That to me gets at the idea better of the role of load. Didn't that old Campos study basically do that?

    Maybe. I'd be very curious to see where this "hard working sets near failure" rule stops applying. 6 RM is probably in the ~85% of 1 RM neighborhood on a lot of movements, so I'd guess that's very near the cutoff.

    I see what you're saying. But my confusion is the "more load probably won't help increase the stimulation over time" part. If we increase the load with set volume equal, we are increasing the work. If we're trying to treat load as an isolated variable, isn't that a necessary consequence?

    I guess your reply, then, would be that the load part wouldn't necessarily be the driver, it'd be work. It's confusing I guess - if we're calling "tension-time spent at/near max recruitment and rate coding" the fundamental stimulus, which I think we are, that gives us a sort of equation where we have a particular context and then a tension-time formula, which is tantamount to work. But I think it'd still be accurate to call the tension part of tension-time part of the fundamental stimulus, no?

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