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  • Training Variables of sucessful hypertrophy programs

    I've been training for 25+ years. I have tried almost every program at one time or another. I've noticed several factors that seem to link successful advanced hypertrophy programs. First, progression (more weight, more volume, or more reps) is necessary to see results. This is also true of beginner programs. The difference may be that for a beginner less factors may be changed and the changes that happen are more linear, whereas an advanced program may have variables changing at different times during the program. Beyond progression I've also noticed that the programs that I felt worked the best had a component where the maximum amount of blood was pumped into the muscle. The three that I am most familiar with are FST-7, DC training, and Mountain Dog training. They all use blood volumization, albeit in different ways. They also utilize stretching to different extents to help stretch the muscle fascia. Finally, each of these programs has a deload period to give the body a break. Now I was wondering if there was any observations you have had about any links you have noticed between programs that you deemed as successful. Now, this goes with out saying, but I'll say it none of these programs do jack if you don't have your nutrition in place.
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  • #2
    Overall, I'd say that most good programs allow for the nervous system to recover, either through deload periods or cruises. However, in terms of training variables, I think that individual/personal variables come into play that allow for the program to be effective. Basically, a good training program has to be specific to the individual in several ways. For example, the program has to match the individual's physical development and mentality towards training. There are some that might find they do better with a progressive overload based, high intensity style program with less volume and higher frequency whereas others can bomb away with volume and train a little less frequent.

    Additionally, i tend to think that body type also comes into play. Will someone who is more endomorfic respond the same way to the same program and an ectomorph? Hypothetically, an endomorph might be better off with higher training volume whereas an ectomorph, might be better suited towards an condensed training style really focused on gaining strength and the size that comes with it. Both methods can be effective, it i just a matter of which one "fits."

    Another variable that I think plays a role is some form of variety, specialization and periodization. In this I mean that the program allows for the individual to tailor it to their weaknesses and will match the individual's recovery ability in terms of volume, frequency and intensity. When you look at individual characteristics, training goals, and the variables of each of the programs you can see which one is effective based on where that person stands physically and genetically.
    Last edited by mentalflex; 07-27-2012, 02:13 AM.
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    • #3
      Great answer. I completely agree. This is why an advanced trainee that knows their body and how they respond to exercise can make a good program great by modifiying based on their needs. In retrospect my title on this should have been "what do good hypertrophy programs have in common?"
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      • #4
        Very good topic, looking forward to this thread expanding.

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        • #5
          I probably should have started this thread by giving some examples of what bad programs have in common. The thing is, different programs can be good or bad depending on how or when they are implemented. For instance DC can be a great program if you have reached a certain level of training experience, but if your fairly new to training you will not be able to reach the level of intensity necessary for it to work. So maybe the question should be what are the traits of good trainees and what are the traits of bad trainees.

          For instance:
          BAD TRAINEE
          Rushing into advanced programs before ready
          Using too much volume with out cycling training or backing off (ie. deload)
          Using too much intensity too often without cycling training or backing off
          Using too little volume or too little intensity (not usually a problem)
          Not paying attention to nutrition
          Jumping from "miracle program" to "miracle program"

          The list could go on and on and the list of good trainees would probably be just the opposite.

          Now with all of this in mind let's say you have taken things in the proper order. You have spent a few years developing a strong strength base, you have balanced stress and recovery, and you have your nutrition in place. In other words you are a good trainee. What's the next step? Now this is probably where the thread should have started. To make things easy you can just look towards what others before you have done. What programs have worked for the masses before me? Of maybe you can look at these different programs, consider your own situation (recovery rate, past injuries, age, etc.), look at what has worked for you in the past and put together something unique that works for you.

          I know many on the site have done just that. I'd like to hear what you've done, how this has worked for you and what you've come up with. Overall, I'm most curious with your thought process that got you from point A to point B.
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          • #6
            A while ago I read the results of a study that I never really see discussed... And no I last the article on it and can't find where I saved the study so it was probably on my old computer... The study was like this... They studied the fiber recruitment of subjects that performed barbell curls 3Xs a week from the first work out to the last and over ten weeks the results were that the subject recruited 20% less fibers at the end then they did in the begining. This is such a logical response by the body that it ain't funny. I have always felt that all anyone ever has to understand about wt training is that all the body cares about is self defense....self preservation.... It just wants to make the demands placed on it as easy as possible. It wants to conserve as much energy as it can. It doesn't WANT to add muscle but if the only logical response to the demands placed on it is to increase its muscle fibers ability to exert force then it will add the muscle. The study was logical because the body does what it can to conserve energy and make semands easier. From learning to relax opposing muscle groups to varying reps speed even a hair to have the tinniest bit of momentum to get thru the hardest part of an ex. This is why when you start a new ex you can progress quickly in the begining....its not cause you are learning to use more fibers but in reality its cause your body is just learning the easiest way to perform the demands required of it. Same as why a powerlifter can get "stronger" sometimes without getting bigger...they are just getting better at a skill. If the fibers developed the ability to exert more force then the fibers will be bigger but repetition breeds efficiency so if you perform a skill enough your body will do its best to get better and make that "skill" less demanding.

            So anyway.... Outside of the basics the next most important facet to me is variation. I have always believed this is why some people are "great trainers" by accident. Louie uses a wide variety of exs for his athletes and I think that is a huge help even if I think he doesn't understand WHY it works. Many trainers do the same thing. Guys use bands and chains and whatever .... Though I think they often have the "why" it works wrong.... It will still work. This is also the only reason why I think volume works for some....its just the variety of exs.
            I have always had and always seen best results when I keep one basic movement and actually try to be skilled at it just to overload the BODY the same each workout and then just change everything else all the time. To me the best part about DC is the volume and the rotation of exs.

            Anyway....enough rambling.... Variation and overload are what matter most to me.

            Oh if anyone can find that study feel free. It was 10 weeks of BB curls....something like "effects on fiber recruitment of BB curls for 10 weeks" or whatever. Bernardi was involved but I don't remember who else was.

            Peace.
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            • #7
              Great post Dun. I agree with you. I think this can explain why Mountain Dog seems to work well for me. I also believe the way John cycles the training is important as well. Keeping the body guessing, but also keeping it from breaking down.
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              • #8
                I recently did a Q and A with Scott (who is the MAN by the way) and have a question for you guys on this topic.

                What do you think of this progression-

                Starting Trainee- Overtrains easily
                Intermediate- Needs more volume to compensate for less intensity gained
                Advanced- Needs less volume because of higher intensity produced
                Very Advanced (Dusty, etc)-Needs more volume in specific areas


                The conclusion that Scott and I sort of came to (most me, on my own) is that I wasn't progressing enough on DC because quite frankly, I didn't have the capactiy for intensity that I thought I did (In addition to not following program guidelines to the LETTER). So therefore, (This was more my realization that his, though he helped me figure it out)-- Though I take sets to complete failure and beyond (forced reps, etc) I still need more volume than someone a few more years into the game would.

                Tangent there, but only to elaborate more on the above.

                Your thoughts?
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                • #9
                  Very interesting thought. I'm somewhat in the same boat at least for upoperbody. Oddly enough I don't seem to have the same issue with legs.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Doberman View Post
                    Very interesting thought. I'm somewhat in the same boat at least for upoperbody. Oddly enough I don't seem to have the same issue with legs.
                    I wonder what your rep speed is with both upper and lower body exs. What I mean is that many people tend to be more "explosive" on upper body exs... Most people I have seen perform benches for example probably have a rep time of about 1 second and that will cover the pos and neg portion of the rep.... I see probably 95% of people take between 1 second and MAYBE 2 seconds total time for upper body reps. Now I see more people be more deliberate on legs...not all but more people.... Even if they are only hitting 3-4 total seconds a rep.
                    Now why do I ask? Well does hour upper body REALLY need more volume (sets, reps and exs) OR does it need more TUL ((time under load)?? As in just the same TUL that your legs are currently getting?
                    Speaking now only of people I have seen in person and witnessed the results of....it has been without fail that EVERY (Yup, every single one I HAVE SEEN in person)...every person that tells me "I do better and grow better from higher volume" has had a fast rep speed...often a jerk to lift a wt and almost dropping the negative. Their TUL per rep is often really in the .25-.50 range. Now do they need more total sets and reps or do they just need to slow down??

                    Just saying, and I don't know your rep speed, when people say they need more volume. I always want to see their rep speed and TUL.

                    Peace.
                    Follow my NEW journal if you please:


                    http://www.intensemuscle.com/showthread.php?t=48304

                    "They say I'm no good...cause I'm so hood, rich folks do not want me around" 50

                    "You are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."
                    Dr. Seuss


                    I would like to thank all the stupid people of the world. Without you guys I would only be average.


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                    • #11
                      Health; A few of my friends were bigger, stronger etc but not smarter. Fast forward to our mid to late thirties and they all tell their kids they used to be as big as me. Many have injuries from being stupid in the weights room, god I saw a few injuries at the uni gym, and one has health concerns from being stupid with the supps (animal supps).

                      This is why I focus on health and most people I listen to, namely the mods on here and a few others, aren't 20 something and are health and longevity orientated.

                      You may get big but won't stay big unless your program has a heavy focus on health including stretching, safe exercises, good form, rest, nutrition and perspective.
                      "Be gentle in what you do, firm in how you do it."
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by thedunhill225 View Post
                        I wonder what your rep speed is with both upper and lower body exs. What I mean is that many people tend to be more "explosive" on upper body exs... Most people I have seen perform benches for example probably have a rep time of about 1 second and that will cover the pos and neg portion of the rep.... I see probably 95% of people take between 1 second and MAYBE 2 seconds total time for upper body reps. Now I see more people be more deliberate on legs...not all but more people.... Even if they are only hitting 3-4 total seconds a rep.
                        Now why do I ask? Well does hour upper body REALLY need more volume (sets, reps and exs) OR does it need more TUL ((time under load)?? As in just the same TUL that your legs are currently getting?
                        Speaking now only of people I have seen in person and witnessed the results of....it has been without fail that EVERY (Yup, every single one I HAVE SEEN in person)...every person that tells me "I do better and grow better from higher volume" has had a fast rep speed...often a jerk to lift a wt and almost dropping the negative. Their TUL per rep is often really in the .25-.50 range. Now do they need more total sets and reps or do they just need to slow down??

                        Just saying, and I don't know your rep speed, when people say they need more volume. I always want to see their rep speed and TUL.

                        Peace.
                        Good observation. I would guess I have always had a pretty controlled TUL with legs as I've always been very concerned about form. Upper body, at least in the past I can't say that as much. Now, since I've been doing MD I do what ever TUL John has in my plan. It varies all the time. So, it might be interesting to go back to a DC program to see how I'd do with more experience.
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                        2011 Northern Kentucky 4th place
                        2012 Kentucky Grand Prix 1st place
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                        2015 Francois Classic 2nd Place

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SAHD View Post
                          Health; A few of my friends were bigger, stronger etc but not smarter. Fast forward to our mid to late thirties and they all tell their kids they used to be as big as me. Many have injuries from being stupid in the weights room, god I saw a few injuries at the uni gym, and one has health concerns from being stupid with the supps (animal supps).

                          This is why I focus on health and most people I listen to, namely the mods on here and a few others, aren't 20 something and are health and longevity orientated.

                          You may get big but won't stay big unless your program has a heavy focus on health including stretching, safe exercises, good form, rest, nutrition and perspective.
                          Can't get big if your hurt, burnt out or sick! Smart comments.
                          1994 Ohio Gran Prix 4th place
                          2010 Kentucky State Championships 1st place
                          2011 Northern Kentucky 4th place
                          2012 Kentucky Grand Prix 1st place
                          2014 Francois Classic 3rd place
                          2015 Francois Classic 2nd Place

                          Truenutrition.com
                          Use Discount Code AMJ

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SAHD View Post
                            Health; A few of my friends were bigger, stronger etc but not smarter. Fast forward to our mid to late thirties and they all tell their kids they used to be as big as me. Many have injuries from being stupid in the weights room, god I saw a few injuries at the uni gym, and one has health concerns from being stupid with the supps (animal supps).

                            This is why I focus on health and most people I listen to, namely the mods on here and a few others, aren't 20 something and are health and longevity orientated.

                            You may get big but won't stay big unless your program has a heavy focus on health including stretching, safe exercises, good form, rest, nutrition and perspective.

                            Excellent point. I think this also ties in with the deload aspect. In one way or another the program has to have feature to allow for a period of mental and physical recovery. Without it, your joints, CNS, and overall fatigue will set in. Plus, not taking planned recovery time can just lead to some stagnation.

                            Something I've learned in working with Scott is as baddass as it sounds to grunt it out through an injury, if you don't take care of it, the problem just becomes amplified and rather than changing up exercises and going easy on certain exercises for a week or so, you end up putting yourself out of commission for serval weeks completely.
                            Be true to yourself and fuel your body with nothing less the highest quality supplements. Only available at TrueNutrition.com Use discount code: KSP945 to save 5% on your order!

                            Stickies...just read the damn stickies...

                            2014 Xcalibur Cup Bantam Open - 1st
                            2014 Tracey Greenwood Classic Bantam Open - 1st
                            2015 Beat Cancer!

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                            • #15
                              Great points from everyone. I'm also curious when you take into consideration total poundage used if many successful programs are that different when it comes to volume. For instance with DC if you multiplied the reps by the amount of weight lifted how that would compare with another program.

                              Another thing I don't think people take into consideration is warm up sets. For instance if you looked at Dorian Yates workout its hard to see where the work sets start. DC training is often described as HIT, but if you add up the total amount of sets over a week including warm ups it's not as low volume as it may look on the onset. If you include those warm up sets into the total volume are many programs closer in volume than they look like from a quick glance?
                              1994 Ohio Gran Prix 4th place
                              2010 Kentucky State Championships 1st place
                              2011 Northern Kentucky 4th place
                              2012 Kentucky Grand Prix 1st place
                              2014 Francois Classic 3rd place
                              2015 Francois Classic 2nd Place

                              Truenutrition.com
                              Use Discount Code AMJ

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