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Thread: Load doesn't matter...or does it?

  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Load doesn't matter...or does it?

    Here is a recently published study.

    1. J Appl Physiol. 2012 Apr 19. [Epub ahead of print]

    Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains
    in young men.

    Mitchell CJ, Churchward-Venne TA, West DD, Burd NA, Breen L, Baker SK, Phillips
    SM.

    1McMaster University.

    We have reported that the acute post-exercise increases in muscle protein
    synthesis rates, with differing nutritional support, are predictive of
    longer-term training-induced muscle hypertrophy. Here, we aimed to test whether
    the same was true with acute exercise-mediated changes in muscle protein
    synthesis. Eighteen men (21±1 yr, 22.6±2.1 kg•m(-2) means±SE) had their legs
    randomly assigned to two of three training conditions that differed in
    contraction intensity (% of maximal strength [1RM]) or contraction volume (1 or 3
    sets of repetitions): 30%-3, 80%-1 and, 80%-3. Subjects trained each leg with
    their assigned regime for a period of 10wk, 3 times/wk. We made pre- and
    post-training measures of strength, muscle volume by magnetic resonance (MR)
    scans, as well as pre- and post-training biopsies of the vastus lateralis, and a
    single post-exercise (1h) biopsy following the first bout of exercise, to measure
    signalling proteins. Training-induced increases in MR-measured muscle volume were
    significant (P<0.01), with no difference between groups: 30%-3 = 6.8±1.8%, 80%-1
    = 3.2±0.8%, and 80%-3= 7.2±1.9%, P=0.18. Isotonic maximal strength gains were not
    different between 80%-1 and 80%-3, but were greater than 30% -3 (P=0.04), whereas
    training-induced isometric strength gains were significant but not different
    between conditions (P =0.92). Biopsies taken 1h following the initial resistance
    exercise bout showed increased phosphorylation (P<0.05) of p70S6K only in the
    80%-1 and 80%-3 conditions. There was no correlation between phosphorylation of
    any signalling protein and hypertrophy. In accordance with our previous acute
    measurements of muscle protein synthetic rates a lower load lifted to failure
    resulted in similar hypertrophy as a heavy load lifted to failure.

    PMID: 22518835 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

    Of course you have to read the full text to see that these are untrained individuals...i.e. they do not lift weights. The authors make note however, that everybody prescribing weight lifting protocols for muscle hypertrophy are simply ignorant of the growing body of evidence showing that load doesn't matter as long as you train to failure. They use occlusion studies as their examples.

    I try not to spout HST this and HST that all the time, but in this case it is surprising to me that academia is not recognizing the existence of a "threshold" for a loading stimulus to be effective. In addition, this threshold is a moving target. One HST principle I have repeated over the years is that the effectiveness of any load is dependent on the condition of the tissue at the time the load is applied. As the muscle tissue adapts to the previous loading sessions it pushes the threshold higher. Repeated training sessions cause the effective weight threshold to go up and reduces the effectiveness of any previous load.

    So no, you don’t see a linear dose-response by simply increasing the weight load. The seemingly equivalent results from widely varying weight loads demonstrate a “threshold” effect. As with other threshold-type models, once the threshold is crossed you see diminishing returns as you push things higher. The same is true for weight; heavier doesn’t necessarily mean more effective. The only time heavier equals better is when you haven’t reached the effective weight threshold for your specific situation (i.e. level of conditioning).

    Ok, I'm done with my rant now. I just hate to see data being interpreted by academics who apparently have no experience with weight lifting and hypertrophy. Sure, I might be going a little overboard with that but still, to say that weight doesn't matter as long as you try really hard (my flippant paraphrasing of this study's conclusions) is to ignore the repeated bout effect, progressive load, and a mountain of data showing that once a lifter has adapted to lifting, his/her muscle changes genotypically in such a way as to make further growth very difficult, necessitating an increase in the intensity of the stimulus (i.e. weight/volume).

    Ok, now I'm done for real.
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  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan Haycock View Post
    Here is a recently published study.

    1. J Appl Physiol. 2012 Apr 19. [Epub ahead of print]

    Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains
    in young men.

    Mitchell CJ, Churchward-Venne TA, West DD, Burd NA, Breen L, Baker SK, Phillips
    SM.

    1McMaster University.

    We have reported that the acute post-exercise increases in muscle protein
    synthesis rates, with differing nutritional support, are predictive of
    longer-term training-induced muscle hypertrophy. Here, we aimed to test whether
    the same was true with acute exercise-mediated changes in muscle protein
    synthesis. Eighteen men (21±1 yr, 22.6±2.1 kg•m(-2) means±SE) had their legs
    randomly assigned to two of three training conditions that differed in
    contraction intensity (% of maximal strength [1RM]) or contraction volume (1 or 3
    sets of repetitions): 30%-3, 80%-1 and, 80%-3. Subjects trained each leg with
    their assigned regime for a period of 10wk, 3 times/wk. We made pre- and
    post-training measures of strength, muscle volume by magnetic resonance (MR)
    scans, as well as pre- and post-training biopsies of the vastus lateralis, and a
    single post-exercise (1h) biopsy following the first bout of exercise, to measure
    signalling proteins. Training-induced increases in MR-measured muscle volume were
    significant (P<0.01), with no difference between groups: 30%-3 = 6.8±1.8%, 80%-1
    = 3.2±0.8%, and 80%-3= 7.2±1.9%, P=0.18. Isotonic maximal strength gains were not
    different between 80%-1 and 80%-3, but were greater than 30% -3 (P=0.04), whereas
    training-induced isometric strength gains were significant but not different
    between conditions (P =0.92). Biopsies taken 1h following the initial resistance
    exercise bout showed increased phosphorylation (P<0.05) of p70S6K only in the
    80%-1 and 80%-3 conditions. There was no correlation between phosphorylation of
    any signalling protein and hypertrophy. In accordance with our previous acute
    measurements of muscle protein synthetic rates a lower load lifted to failure
    resulted in similar hypertrophy as a heavy load lifted to failure.

    PMID: 22518835 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

    Of course you have to read the full text to see that these are untrained individuals...i.e. they do not lift weights. The authors make note however, that everybody prescribing weight lifting protocols for muscle hypertrophy are simply ignorant of the growing body of evidence showing that load doesn't matter as long as you train to failure. They use occlusion studies as their examples.

    I try not to spout HST this and HST that all the time, but in this case it is surprising to me that academia is not recognizing the existence of a "threshold" for a loading stimulus to be effective. In addition, this threshold is a moving target. One HST principle I have repeated over the years is that the effectiveness of any load is dependent on the condition of the tissue at the time the load is applied. As the muscle tissue adapts to the previous loading sessions it pushes the threshold higher. Repeated training sessions cause the effective weight threshold to go up and reduces the effectiveness of any previous load.

    So no, you don’t see a linear dose-response by simply increasing the weight load. The seemingly equivalent results from widely varying weight loads demonstrate a “threshold” effect. As with other threshold-type models, once the threshold is crossed you see diminishing returns as you push things higher. The same is true for weight; heavier doesn’t necessarily mean more effective. The only time heavier equals better is when you haven’t reached the effective weight threshold for your specific situation (i.e. level of conditioning).

    Ok, I'm done with my rant now. I just hate to see data being interpreted by academics who apparently have no experience with weight lifting and hypertrophy. Sure, I might be going a little overboard with that but still, to say that weight doesn't matter as long as you try really hard (my flippant paraphrasing of this study's conclusions) is to ignore the repeated bout effect, progressive load, and a mountain of data showing that once a lifter has adapted to lifting, his/her muscle changes genotypically in such a way as to make further growth very difficult, necessitating an increase in the intensity of the stimulus (i.e. weight/volume).

    Ok, now I'm done for real.
    Where were you when we discussed the same thing with the author Phillip on Facebook?

    He just couldn't admit that in trained it may be different. And recruitment is only part of the story as you very well know. Good post, Bryan.
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  3. #3
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    Bryan, does the science still recommend training a MG 3 times a week for optimum growth? Or maybe now it's 2? Borge Fagerli (Blade) does it. Lyle McDonald does it.
    Last edited by HST_Rihad; 07-08-2012 at 10:34 AM.
    Incline bench 72kg/158lb x 2, Rack pulls (from 1 inch above kneecaps) 202kg/445lb x 10 @BW 64kg/141lb @171cm/5'7" (Mar'14)
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    Quote Originally Posted by HST_Rihad View Post
    Bryan, does the science still recommend training a MG 3 times a week for optimum growth? Or maybe now it's 2? Borge Fagerli (Blade) does it. Lyle McDonald does it.
    Most studies show more or less equal results from 2 or 3 times per week frequency. What this tells me is that two times per week is the minimum and 3 times per week (under normal circumstances) is the maximum for traditional weight training methods. Occlusion training studies often have them train everyday and get good results...but the load-stress is removed in favor of metabolic stress so recovery is slightly different.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan Haycock View Post
    Most studies show more or less equal results from 2 or 3 times per week frequency. What this tells me is that two times per week is the minimum and 3 times per week (under normal circumstances) is the maximum for traditional weight training methods. Occlusion training studies often have them train everyday and get good results...but the load-stress is removed in favor of metabolic stress so recovery is slightly different.
    Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I kinda started noticing diminishing returns for the last 3-4 cycles, even at my relatively average loads, doing HST 3 times a week. So how should I change my program (it's the default one offered for HST) to accommodate hitting a MG twice a week? Simply do 4 workouts instead of 6 each microcycle, and simply increase volume accordingly each workout?
    Incline bench 72kg/158lb x 2, Rack pulls (from 1 inch above kneecaps) 202kg/445lb x 10 @BW 64kg/141lb @171cm/5'7" (Mar'14)
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    I don't know that dropping to 2x/week is necessarily going to be the answer. Rather, I would keep the 3x/week frequency during the 15s & 10s and then drop to twice per week for the 5s and increase the volume accordingly. This is assuming that that training frequency is your weak link. I'm not sure that it is but that's one way to alter your frequency in a logical way.

    You may actually see better results by going to a 6 day split, upper/lower or push/pull. That way you can increase the volume and or exercises as desired without dragging out the workout too much. Upper/lower is my preferred split.
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  7. #7
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    I still think your diminishing returns were diet related and not due to the layout of HST.
    PRs:

    Squat - 485 lbs
    Bench - 315 lbs
    Deadlift - 635 lbs
    Total - 1435 lbs
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  8. #8
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    Thanks, guys. Bryan, I'm still having a hard time grasping why you're still suggesting 3 times a week, when research has clearly demonstrated it to not be superior to loading a muscle twice a week in terms of resultant growth? Please don't get me wrong. Up until very recently I've trained HST 3 times a week for 2.5 years with this program:
    Squats
    Bench
    RDL
    One-armed DB OH press (each arm)
    Seated rows / pull-ups (switch each 6-week cycle)
    Calves
    Biceps curls

    at first I made some strength+mass gains, but clearly speaking, for the last year or so, my strength gains have come to a crawling stop, because during heavy 5's, I've been finding it very difficult to keep doing even 1 heavy set of each. Strength would drop and there was nothing I could do about it. I would even do only 2-3 reps a weight I would otherwise do 5 reps with, and go home feeling like a squeezed lemon, screwing the workout.



    Totentanz, I didn't always eat small like that. I used to eat a lot, and gained enough "bad" weight for people to start saying I'm fat (no, I wasn't _that_ fat). This is my first cycle using the default HST routine. Together with that, I've decided to cut back on foods, and did well, as I'm now way down to 69 kg (152 lbs).
    But my training problems arose long before that. I actually changed the training exercises to get rid of Squats+DL 3 times a week, as I think they were the problem of the overreaching symptoms I had.
    Last edited by HST_Rihad; 07-19-2012 at 01:47 AM.
    Incline bench 72kg/158lb x 2, Rack pulls (from 1 inch above kneecaps) 202kg/445lb x 10 @BW 64kg/141lb @171cm/5'7" (Mar'14)
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  9. #9
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    From the time I switched to the default example HST routine my strength levels in Squats & BP began decreasing. I used to squat 260 lbs x5 and now all I can do is 225x3... Coincidentally those are the exercises meant to be alternated with Leg Press & Dips, respectively, every other workout. So, if we speak in terms of strength gains, squats or BP 3 times a week is definitely a better suit. I don't think this is diet related because in all other exercises (done 3 times a week) I'm experiencing new strength gains.
    Incline bench 72kg/158lb x 2, Rack pulls (from 1 inch above kneecaps) 202kg/445lb x 10 @BW 64kg/141lb @171cm/5'7" (Mar'14)
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  10. #10
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    Higher frequency is definitely the way to go. If you're familiar with olympic weightlifting, then you know that the Bulgarian system of training (lifting every day to the max) has produced some exceptional athletes.
    If you're not professional then every day is obviously too much. But you should aim for the highest frequency at which you won't overtrain.
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