Strategic Deconditioning

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by Bryan Haycock, May 7, 2008.

  1. navigator

    navigator New Member

    Well, as I recall Bryan has always said to do the most volume you can without burning out. He uses a lot more volume and frequency than I can handle, for sure.

    What I was trying to convey is that assuming one does SD effectively, I think 1 or 2 sets per exercise ought to be enough, assuming the exercise is done 3 times per week. Now, if the exercise is done less frequently, then of course more sets will probably be required.

    The other issue is: how many exercises are being used that touch on the same body part. For example, if one uses Bench and Dips in the same workout, 3 times per week, then how many sets are required for each exercise? I'd say 1 set each will do it. Everything I am saying here is hinged on the assumption that the SD has been performed and was effective at deconditioning the muscles.

    I remember in the early years there were lots of lifters who used 1 or 2 sets for 3 times per week, and they reported great gains. Seems that lately, there's been a movement away from pure HST toward more strength-oriented programs...
  2. navigator

    navigator New Member

    Okay, one more thought on this ...

    So, why do advanced lifters generally need more sets in order to grow? They must overcome the conditioned resistance of their muscles before they can stimulate a growth response. But it is precisely this conditioned resistance that we seek to reduce by using Stategic Deconditioning. Other programs that don't incorporate SD necessarily rely on more volume.

    I recall Bryan pointing out that lifters will need to add more volume as they become more and more advanced. This may have to do with our ability to effectively decondition during the time alotted for SD. Two weeks is relatively a lot more down-time for a newbie than for an advanced lifter like Bryan.

    Of course, quite a bit of this is conjecture ... I hope Bryan jumps on here, too.
  3. Bulldog

    Bulldog Active Member

    (Bulldog @ May 08 2008,8:09)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">You mention that a new lifter should just keep lifting as long as they are continuing to make gains.  But would it be possible to gain more muscle over the long haul if they were to incorporate SD into their workout even if it isn't really &quot;needed&quot;?  I guess I'm just thinking that if they could continue to grow using lighter weights then wouldn't their ultimate growth level be higher years down the road if they are able to continue to grow using loads that they may have plateaued with earlier had they not incorporated SD?</div>
    No one has answered my question from earlier in the thread (quoted here). It seems to me that pushing each cycle until you stop getting stronger before you SD may not be desirable and could possibly reduce your overall potential for growth. Or would this just slow your growth rate without affecting your total growth potential?
  4. navigator

    navigator New Member

    Hi Bulldog,

    I think from the standpoint of HST, the biggest issue is whether or not it is best for size gains to continue until strenght stops. I recall Bryan saying, somewhere, that he believed that HST, in it's present form, is a faster way to grow than using other routines.

    Boy, I hate to keep quoting Bryan from memory, but he's not here right now...

    Remember how Bryan said he reached a point where he couldn't get any bigger until he got stronger, but he couldn't get any stronger until he got bigger? As I recall, that's the catch 22 that led him to the HST principles--a way to start growing again.

    With that said, I think the SD could potentially speed up one's developement, but I am not sure whether or not long term, total growth potential is impared by not SDing. Now, if you're getting joint issues or injuries due to ponding away, then yeah, total growth potential will be affected.
  5. Bryan Haycock

    Bryan Haycock Administrator Staff Member

    I apologize for being &quot;out&quot; for a couple days.

    1) Thank you navigator for presenting the principles and premises of HST so clearly. I could not have said anything better than what you offered above.

    2) Bulldog: With respect to how much muscle a person can &quot;ultimately&quot; put on over the course of time, research would indicate that regardless of which method of training a person uses, if they do it long enough, with sufficient increases in weight loads, they will eventually end up at the same size plateau.

    In other words, my efforts to make training more hypertrophy &quot;specific&quot; are intended to get you as big as you can become as quickly as possible. The overall scheme is focused on individuals that have already past the &quot;beginner&quot; phase of muscle growth.

    Just to make clear, any method that adheres to the basic principles of muscle growth will get you to your genetic limits eventually. This is why there persists such difference of opinion as to which method is best, especially among those who are already knocking on the door of their genetic limits. They've all arrived there using a variety of methods over fairly long periods of time. Then to have someone say, &quot;you can only get to where you are by this method&quot; sounds ridiculous. They are living proof that any reasonable method will get you there eventually.

    I have always said, focus on the principles. They are tried and true...and unchanging (at least until our genome changes). HST is a method based on these principles, designed for the reasonably experienced lifter, who is in it for the long haul. It will get you to your genetic limits as fast, if not faster, than any other method when applied properly. I know that sounds like a bold statement and even a bit presumptuous, but I have no scientific or anecdotal reason (yet) to believe otherwise.

    3) Load vs Frequency: I am going to try to avoid using any but the most common terms to describe why HST is the way it is. The best weight load to use at any given time depends on condition of the muscle at the time. To little weight and there will be no “net” gain in protein mass. Too much load and there will also be no “net” gain in protein mass because of the disproportionate increase in protein breakdown and immune activity in the tissue (i.e. protein breakdown vs protein synthesis breaks even because of too much trauma to the muscle).

    So we look for the sweet spot. Or at least we should be looking for the sweet spot. Unfortunately, in many instances people get so focused on lifting the heaviest weight they can and impressing other people around them, or trying to emulate the guys they see in magazines, that they overshoot the sweet spot. Will there still be growth? Yes. Will there be injuries? Inevitably. Will this approach work long term? No. Will it work long enough to get them to their genetic limit in one piece? Not likely (though there are some genetic freaks who never seem to get injured, they are RARE). Both Yates and Coleman’s careers were plagued with injuries because of the excessive poundages that they used.

    So, anyone who says HST is not “high intensity” (i.e. involves heavy loads) has never used the method, or, they have misunderstood the requirement of any method to use heavy loads if growth is the goal. Now, if they are equating training to failure as “intensity” (as is most often the case) they are also saying the fatigue is the primary stimulus for muscle hypertrophy. I disagree. Marathon runners do not have huge legs nor do any other athletes who’s primary goal is to use fatigue as the primary training stimulus. Load and time under load is the primary stimulus in exercise induced muscle growth.

    Now about frequency…The more “untrained” you are, the less frequently you have to train. This is because the training stimulus produces a robust and prolonged anabolic response. A heavily conditioned lifter, however, is in a different boat. That same training stimulus will cause only a slight and short lived increase in protein synthesis. (See Resistance training reduces the acute exercise-induced increase in muscle protein turnover. Am J Physiol. 1999 Jan;276(1 Pt 1):E118-24. &amp; Resistance training alters the response of fed state mixed muscle protein synthesis in young men. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008 Jan;294(1):R172-8.)

    So the well conditioned lifter is faced with a choice, they must either lifter heavier and heavier weight, or they must lift more frequently to scrape out a cumulative effect of the reduced anabolic response. Though the upside of heavier and heavier weights is obvious, the self limiting nature of voluntary weight increases is not immediately obvious. The downside is only seen with real world experience. Fibrous tissue formation, injury, and CNS fatigue are the disadvantages of “always heavy-as-possible” lifting strategies.

    Increasing frequency also has its upside and downside. The upside is that by increasing frequency you are now able to keep the tissue in an anabolic state more consistently. The downside is that due to limitations of the CNS, you cannot lift “as-heavy-as-possible” all the time.

    So what do we do? I have attempted, with HST, to offer a reasonable compromise between progressive loading and increased frequency. The goal is always to increase the demands on the tissue as far as load is concerned. The weight MUST get heavier over time. HST, however, attempts to hit the sweet spot rather than the heaviest spot possible. And as anyone who has done both will admit, they really are two different spots a lot of the time.

    As for frequency, HST suggests that most of the time, a muscle can be trained 3 times in a 7 day period while using a load in the sweet spot. As some of you have found, towards the end of a cycle, when the loads get very heavy, a twice/week lifting schedule is not detrimental, and depending on the |absolute| loads used, may be the best option to squeeze out a bit more progress from the cycle.

    Finally, Joe.Muscle has legitimate questions about volume. He wants someone to tell him what the right amount of volume is to get the best outcome. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. You must do “enough” to grow. Do too little, and the anabolic stimulus of the workout will be too small to result in any net growth. Do too much and you cut into your gains due to catabolic activity after the workout, or you get into a 2 steps forward, 2 steps back scenario because of how much time you must take to recover between workouts. It just becomes too difficult to keep the tissue anabolic when not using testosterone or eating prodigious amounts of food.

    Ok, I think this post is already far too long for most of us short-attention-span folks.

  6. Bulldog

    Bulldog Active Member

    That was a very informative post Bryan. Thanks for taking the time to write all of that.
  7. Bryan Haycock

    Bryan Haycock Administrator Staff Member

    Here is an image showing the differences that occur over time as your tissue becomes more conditioned.

    All of us are somewhere on this graph. Those of us who have been training for several years will have an even smaller anabolic response than did these previously untrained subjects who only underwent the equivalent of 1 HST cycle.

    Here was their workout:
    Training was performed 3 d/wk (Mon,Wed,Fri) initially (weeks 1–4) and then only 2 d/wk at the latter stages of the training (weeks 5–8).
    For weeks 1–2, training began with three sets of knee extension exercise performed at a workload equivalent to each subject's 10–12 RM. For weeks 3–4, participants performed four sets at their 8–10 RM. The number of sets was increased to five for weeks 5–6.
    Finally, for weeks 7–8, participants performed six sets at a workload equivalent to their 6–8 RM

    Time course of the elevation in muscle protein synthesis after a single bout of resistance exercise in the UnTrained (UT) and Trained (T) states.
    *Significantly different from rest (P &lt; 0.01).
    Inset: area under the curve for %change in FSR. The 16-h time point (bullet) is taken from Kim et al., (12); this is a fasted measure of FSR that likely represents an underestimate of the fed response at this time point in both the UT and T states.
  8. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    Can someone please explain to me what this graph says?
  9. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Well Joe, it clearly looks like a stick pic of a pelican spearing a box clam to me.
  10. <div>
    (Old and Grey @ May 15 2008,4:57)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Well Joe, it clearly looks like a stick pic of a pelican spearing a box clam to me.</div>
    And somehow I knew hypertrophy was linked to box clam spearing pelicans.
  11. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    (Joe.Muscle @ May 15 2008,3:42)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Can someone please explain to me what this graph says?</div>
    Basically, there is a much better response to training in untrained people compared to trained people.
  12. 9to5lifter

    9to5lifter New Member

    <div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Can someone please explain to me what this graph says?</div>
    In short, it says that being conditioned (trained) sucks. [​IMG]

    It is exactly what Bryan said in his previous post; conditioned subjects only get a short-lived elevation in protein synthesis after a single bout of training (workout). This is the reason why conditioned lifters need to workout more frequently. We cannot expect to gain much from a single bout; it is primarily the cumulative effect of short-lived increases that we are interested in.

    If you take a look at the graph, you'll see that there are two lines of connected dots. One of them rises and returns to baseline (almost 0) much faster than the other; this is the effect of a single workout on trained subjects. On the other hand, untrained subjects get a prolonged anabolic response. This is why they can get away with training less frequently. They have the potential to gain much more from a single workout.

    The x-axis represents the number of hours after a workout. The &quot;anabolic window&quot; is unfortunately much smaller for trained subjects... [​IMG]

  13. Bulldog

    Bulldog Active Member

    (Old and Grey @ May 15 2008,3:57)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Well Joe, it clearly looks like a stick pic of a pelican spearing a box clam to me.</div> I see it! [​IMG]
  14. 9to5lifter

    9to5lifter New Member

    We have to keep in mind that the &quot;trained&quot; subjects would probably be considered pretty much &quot;newbies&quot; by most of us, considering they have only trained for 8 weeks (from a previously untrained state). This means that the anabolic response can be expected to be much worse for an experienced lifter (several years of training). [​IMG]

    On the bright side, though, the 16-h mark comes from another study where the subjects were fasted after the workout, which means that if you do eat after your workout, the drop shouldn't be as steep, at least until that time...

    This thread already gets my vote for becoming a sticky. [​IMG]
  15. quadancer

    quadancer New Member

    I believe it also shows to a good extent the PS window post training. It clearly shows that the time frame of the &quot;window of opportunity&quot; is FOUR hours, not two, as is commonly described. Actually, if you consider &quot;peaks&quot;, it looks like hour 3 to hour 5 for trained subjects, no? But we should assume digestion time, so if using solid proteins, eating an hour post w.o. would do just that.
    Otherwise, drink yer shake, boys!
  16. QuantumPositron

    QuantumPositron New Member


    Your rationale is compelling as always. I am continuously impressed with how much analysis lies below the surface of HST. The post-workout FSR studies definitely suggest higher frequency for more experienced lifters. Is it certain though, that other effects of high frequency training won't offset the apparent advantages of such an approach?

  17. nkl

    nkl Member

    1) Would it be advantageous to workout every 24 hours when more conditioned (trained), since the FSR drops to nearly baseline after 24 hours (as long as we do not go too heavy or have too much volume)?

    2) Also, after deconditioning, using the relatively low load at the beginning of the 15s, would it help if the rep range was increased from 15 to the proper RM for the load, say 19RM (50% of 1RM), i.e., to increase TUT as the load is less effective? Then as the load increases the reps would decrease. This might make it a little more effective. I'm not suggesting this to complicate HST, but aiming to go for the 'sweet spot' of hypertrophy all the way through the cycle.
  18. colby2152

    colby2152 New Member

    (Totentanz @ May 15 2008,4:16)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE"><div>
    (Joe.Muscle @ May 15 2008,3:42)</div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">Can someone please explain to me what this graph says?</div>
    Basically, there is a much better response to training in untrained people compared to trained people.</div>
    I would have never guessed! [​IMG]
  19. faz

    faz Active Member

    <div></div><div id="QUOTEHEAD">QUOTE</div><div id="QUOTE">1) Would it be advantageous to workout every 24 hours when more conditioned (trained), since the FSR drops to nearly baseline after 24 hours (as long as we do not go too heavy or have too much volume)?</div>
    i am thinking of doing something similar at the moment.
    training 5x a wk doing a fullbody workout,i was thinking of doing a heavy day on monday then 4 light days or hevy monday 3 light days and heavy friday and two days of.
  20. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    I just dont see how working your body out with a Full body routine every day can be beneficial at all.

    I believe many other lab-coats would somewhat agree...but I could be wrong.

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