For hypertrophy, utilise both high and low repetition work
This silly debate has caused many gym scientisits and bodybuilders to pull their hair out for decades now. Which builds muscle best - high or low repetition work? Surely the answer, and the majority of anecdotal evidence suggest to simply utilise both in your training!
You only need to look at all top-level competitive bodybuilders to find your answer. And whilst they aren't necessarily always the best examples for these sort of things as there are many external factors influencing what makes them grow, it's safe to say that when over 95% of the most successful bodybuilders have used both high and low rep work in their training to maximise muscle mass and physique development, it's a pretty safe bet to follow suit and find a way of incorporating both in your training programmes. For a way how, see the previous edition where I outlined the concept of reverse pyramiding and how effective that can be at utilising both rep ranges.
Variety stimulates muscle growth
I've always danced tentatively around this issue as I believed there were potentially a lot of variables that decided whether variety actually is a stimulator or muscle growth and significant hypertrophy. As a lot of you know, I'm more of a fan of progressively hittign a movement on a consistent basis and making huge gains in poundage as the key stimulus for hypertrophy. That's all well and good, but the following quote form Joe De Franco (a world class strength and conditioning coach), on his experiences with the wrestler Triple H and other athletes he trains really consolidated my perspective that variety also plays an integral role. Like rep ranges, integrate both components for a successful programme:
"Variety. Although the training system and philosophy I've been utilizing with Triple H has remained pretty consistent during the past two years; I'm constantly adding variety 'within the system'. In other words, I design Triple H's yearly plan in 2-3 week "mini-cycles". This means, every 2-3 weeks, I change his workouts based on his progress, feedback, strengths, weaknesses, goals, etc. Triple H has expressed that the "variety" is probably the thing he enjoys the most about my programming. I'm proud of the fact that the variety of my workouts keep him motivated and fresh. In fact, during the past two years, I have incorporated over 75 exercises that Triple H hadn't previously seen or performed during his 30 years in the gym! NOTE: In my opinion, variety is the #1 training factor affecting hypertrophy. I feel that - even though Triple H is now training like an "athlete" - his physique has also improved due to all the exercise variety within this training system. When your body has to constantly adapt to different angles, resistances, set/rep schemes and tempos...you're bound to respond by "growing"!"
Integrate Box Squats into your training programme
I'm a huge fan of box squats but no many people truly know how valuable they can be for both regular gym rats and the average joe. Box Squats are a phenomenal movement that provide the following benefits;
- Less stress on the knees than conventional squats
- Overloading the key muscles utilised during the squat
- Enhanced recovery allowing you to train more frequently
- Hitting depth on every rep so it's not an issue
- Increasing your deadlift substantially without even having to perform the movement!
I'd encourage you all to check out this article by my colleague Paul O'Brien on box squatting to get the full lowdown on just why they're such a great movement and how you can incorporate them into your training programmes. Trust me, this will be insightful!
That's all for this week. I hope you enjoyed the tips.