Tweaking HST: Why Do People Modify and Change HST?

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Hypertrophy-Specific Training

IFBB pro bodybuilder Melvin Anthony - squats

I frequently hear comments both for and against tweaking or personalizing HST on an individual basis. This is to be expected among people who are real enthusiasts of weight training. You also find this irresistible urge to tweak among other enthusiasts such as audiophiles. An audiophile will go out and spend obscene amounts of money on the highest end exotic equipment they can find. But this isn’t good enough! They must find some way to “tweak” it, some way to make it their own delectable creation. Anything from placing the turntable on a 3 inch marble slab, putting sand bags on and/or in the speakers, or using speaker wire that cost as much as the car you used to drive to the store. Whenever you find people who are really into what they are doing, they will try to find ways not only to squeeze out the last bit of performance, but also make it their own creation. [Read more…]

Are Chin-Ups the Best Exercise for Lat Development?

Q: My favorite author said in a magazine that chin-ups were the best lat exercise, hands down. Do you think this is true,? and can I benefit from this exercise if I can only perform three or four repetitions per set? [Read more…]

How Much Time Should Bodybuilders Spend in the Gym?

Q: I’ve read that you believe that trainers shouldn’t spend more than 4-5 hours in a gym per week. Can you explain why? I love the gym. I love going to the gym. I know that the body needs rest but only 4-5 hours a week? I go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week spending about 2hrs in there each time (although a good 1/2hr is devoted to abs). Every 8-10 weeks of training I take a a good 7-10 days off. This cycle has worked well for me for I have yet hit a plateau (20yrs old, training real seriously for 6 months). Do you think I should cut down? [Read more…]

The “Twist” Double-Split – Partial Recovery and Advanced Training Techniques

Common wisdom has it that once a muscle was exercised intensely using resistance training, it should not be exercised again until it has completely recovered. This is considered especially true when a muscle was exercised to failure for several sets, or when eccentric movements were used for added intensity. What I am about to suggest in this article goes against this commonly held dogma. I suggest that advanced trainers only use, on an occasional, infrequent basis, a technique whereby they will exercise relatively small muscles, such as the biceps or triceps, twice a day, both times in an intense manner. I call this technique a “twist” double-split. It takes advantage of the fact that muscles partially recover after a few hours even when worked very heavily, as is the case with advanced training. This technique has worked very effectively for me, where I have reached plateaus in the training of these muscles. In this article I will attempt to explain its raison d’etre and explore its mechanisms of action. [Read more…]

Women and Iron

Valentina Chepiga

Photo credit: Muscletime

Too often and much to my dismay, I hear women protest against using any appreciable weight in their weight training program. Moreover, many young women completely refrain from resistance training; instead spending countless hours on the cardio deck in a fruitless effort to attain an ideal physique. What is the ideal physique and why are women so afraid of lifting a dumbbell that isn’t pink or red? The answer to the first question lies in a complex paradox of social and cultural influences. In answer to the second question, many women believe lifting weights will make them explode with bulging muscles. Another reason is women believe they cannot lift anything heavier than their makeup case. These are unfortunate idiosyncratic fallacies amongst women. Generally speaking, women fear muscles. A sociological and cultural discourse on women and self-perception would entail much more time and space than allowed here. However, several recent books and articles address those issues and will thoroughly engage those interested in pursuing them. Nonetheless, I will address physical issues of why women should embrace developing muscle. [Read more…]

Recovery from Eccentric Training

Q: I’m on a split routine, working out each body part twice a week. My partner and I are trying a new exercise tempo, really emphasizing the the negative. When our second pec day came around, we were both too sore to get anything done. Do you need more rest after negatives? [Read more…]

Understanding the Difficulty Women Have in Losing Lower Body Fat

Photo credit: Millard Baker / Muscletime

Having worked with many different female clients, I can attest to the difficulty of getting their lower body as lean as their upper body. Over the years I have tried many different strategies to get them to lose lower body fat like men. One thing I have learned is that patience and commitment make all the difference. If you have those two with you, science can help with the rest. [Read more…]

Training Alone and Home Gyms

Q: I always (or usually, anyway) train alone in my home. For chest, I always bench inside my smith machine for safety because I don’t have a spotter. I’m well aware that top body builders don’t get big using machines, so could you recommend any changes that could increase the effectiveness of my pec workouts while keeping them safe? [Read more…]

Misconceptions of the Effects of Resistance Training

Q: I just joined a gym to lose weight and tone up (I feel very cliche saying that, but it’s true!). After filling out the paperwork, the sales guy introduced me to a trainer who showed me how to use aerobic and circuit training equipment. It’s not my intention to look like the female bodybuilders I see on TV, so should I keep the reps high on the machines, or just stick to the aerobics to slim down? [Read more…]

Muscle Memory: Scientists May Have Unwittingly Uncovered Its Mystery

Anyone who has lifted weights, on and off, for several years is familiar with the concept of “muscle memory”. Muscle memory in this context refers to the observation that when a person begins lifting weights after a prolonged lay off, it is much easier to return to their previous levels of size and strength than it was to get there the first time around. Even when significant atrophy (muscle shrinking) has taken place during the layoff, previously hypertrophied muscle returns to its previous size more quickly than usual.

A recent study looking at fiber type conversions during muscle hypertrophy may have uncovered a possible mechanism for this phenomenon. [Read more…]