Day 7 – Off Day
HRV once again… DO NOT TRAIN. This is crazy! My waking HR over the last few days has been 68, 72, 76, and 80. I hope that goes back down. I have to train tomorrow.
Other than the exponential heart rate increase, I feel really good today. First time in a week that I have felt mentally sharp as well. That left me to get some really good thinking in this morning.
As the Director of Strength and Conditioning the question I get asked by students most frequently is who should I be reading? My go to right now is Greg Nuckols. Coincidentally, right as I am starting this new work out, Greg drops this great article about hypertrophy.
(Click here to read it)
Hypertrophy is what got me started as a lifter. As long as I can remember I have wanted to turn into the Incredible Hulk. Iron was the answer. As I grew into a more scholarly role, it really seemed that research could not agree on the most effect way to grow muscle. I continued to ask more and more professionals, but kept getting different answers. I felt like a Spartan cheerleader trying to find Bobby Fischer.
Other than invoking a chromothripsis event, it seemed like turning into the hulk was never going to happen. Hulk Sad…
Then I got into the real meat and potatoes of my undergrad curriculum. My mentors really helped me shift my thinking towards a conceptual idea that works much better than the practical application we have today.
Practical application revolves around sets, reps, and percentages. In Greg’s closing remarks he states “there is quite a bit of variability in optimal loading zone and rep range person-to-person and lift-to-lift.” Which is so true. When we try to break down metabolic and mechanical factors that elicit hypertrophy, you could come up with endless prescriptions. It makes my head spin.
So what are these concepts that have helped me write better programs?
First, time under tension.
Second, metabolic stress.
*** The key variable is TIME
From a mechanical standpoint instead of thinking about 5 reps, start thinking about 15 seconds. Let me explain. For this example let’s say a rep takes 3 seconds. That means a set takes 15 seconds. 15 seconds is now your mechanical stress at a prescribe intensity. Now, what if we wanted to perform 3 reps instead of 5 at the same intensity but get the same stress. You would have to change your time under tension. So now instead of a rep taking 3 seconds it would take 5. This could be accomplished by having a 4 second lowering phase followed by a 1 second ascending phase.
Still with me?
Now we have to tackle metabolic stress. This is simple. Either make the set last longer, more time under tension, or manipulate the rest. The more you shorten the rest, the more you increase the metabolic stress.
Got it? Good.
Lastly, let’s put this into application. If I want to increase the mechanical stress of a lifter I would try to increase the load lifted or time under tension week to week and keep rest constant. This is what I would consider a more functional hypertrophy. If I was looking to get more of a structural response, think size, I would want to manipulate time under tension or rest, or both. Structural hypertrophy comes down to how much you can stress the system.
I have over simplified a very complex and important part of effective program design. That being said, I find this approach much easier to conceptualize rather than trying to argue the perfect set, rep, and percentage prescription.
To further expand your knowledge on hypertrophy and get an all-encompassing view, I strongly recommend (pun intended) Brad Schoenfeild’s review of hypertrophy.
That was a lot. Back to training tomorrow and hopefully a lot less thinking.
Thought of the day:
With enough capital, I could be Batman.