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  • Maximize Muscle Protein Synthesis

    If anyone's in a mood to comment on this article - feel free to do so...

    by Paul Cribb, B.H.Sci HMS
    AST Director of Research

    In the previous article I reported that exercise science research has now confirmed some important breakthroughs in obtaining the most from all of those jaw-clenched, teeth-grinding hours spent in the gym.

    That is, the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is the critical regulatory event that leads to muscle growth [1,2,]. Without a high stimulation of MPS, muscle gains just won’t happen. It is also clear that the degree of overload (amount of weight used) determines the magnitude of stimulation of MPS and subsequent gains in muscle mass [7]. In this article we'll deal specifically with the research that leads us to the most effective weight lifting program that stimulates MPS and accelerates muscle mass gains.

    If we look to the classical prescription for gaining muscle mass, that is, muscle size is directly proportional to the magnitude of functional overload [8,9]. This fundamental aspect of building muscle has been around for over 20 years but its been buried in the hype and bullshit that is the bodybuilding magazine industry. I mean, imagine trying to sell 12 magazines every year with just that piece of information? It's not the most stylish, sexy scoop is it? But if you're really serious about quality gains from every workout then you'd be getting excited by now. This information leads us to rule number three in our Building Muscle Mass 101 course.

    It's a question of strength

    If research has confirmed that the stimulation of MPS comes down to the amount of overload placed on muscle, then obviously, strength will determine the amount of overload used. A person’s strength becomes the limiting factor in their potential to build muscle. More particularly, improvements in strength will enable greater overload to be placed on muscle. In turn, this provides a consistently greater stimulus for MPS and muscle growth.

    Previously, you may have thought you understood the importance of building strength for gaining muscle, but now you know the science-based reason why!

    The relationship between muscle size and strength is clear. Exercise scientists have known for a long time that maximum voluntary strength is closely associated with muscle size [10]. Texts books on resistance training tell us that muscle fibers in general, show a linear relationship between their cross-sectional area (size) and the amount of force they can generate. It is true that a number of factors may influence the expression of strength. However, I previously explained two universal rules that do not change. The first was that stimulating a high rate of MPS is the only way to stimulate muscle gains. The second was that load determines the degree of stimulation of MPS [6].



    Rule number three; improvements in strength enable greater overload. Greater overload means a higher stimulation of MPS and more muscle mass. A clear focus on building strength ensures that mass will follow.

    In terms of exercise prescription for gaining muscle mass, all the science-based information on this topic basically suggests that if a weight lifting program focuses on increasing strength, it will ultimately result in an increase in muscle mass. New improvements in strength enable greater overload to be placed on the muscle(s) and therefore, provide further potential for hypertrophy. It’s a pretty straight forward concept that a lot more gym buffs would do well to take on board. I mean in all my years visiting gyms, I’ve never seen a skinny guy bench press 400 pounds!

    Training to become physically stronger enhances your potential for hypertrophy. Conversely, its extremely difficult to pack on muscle mass without significant gains in strength.

    However, many bodybuilders are confused about this basic relationship. Its no wonder when you take a look at the recommendations made by many of the organizations that we look to for resistance training accreditation and resource information.

    A mass of confusion about building muscle mass!

    Organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) have attempted to distinguish differences between weight lifting for strength as opposed to building muscle (hypertrophy-specific training). Yet as I have shown you, a science-based distinction between the two is very difficult. The principles of one are intertwined within the other. As a consequence, in an effort to provide clear distinctions in their exercise recommendations for strength training as opposed to hypertrophy-specific training, these organizations have drawn on some rather flimsy evidence to justify their recommendations.

    For example, the guidelines for strength and hypertrophy development recommended by ACSM are very similar in most respects such as exercise selection and training frequency. However, things get a little confusing when it comes to the recommendations for loading (RMs) and training volume. For strength development, the ACSM recommends the use of maximum loads (1-6RM), a lower number of total work sets and long rest intervals (3 to 5 minutes) between working sets. However, when it comes to “hypertrophy-specific” training they recommend the incorporation of lighter loads (8-12RM), more volume and shorter rest intervals. In light of the fundamental principles I’ve presented to you thus far, I fail to see how this recommendation could be more effective for building muscle than the recommendations made for building strength?

    The justification the ACSM provides for these hypertrophy-specific training recommendations is that a higher increase of some anabolic hormone concentrations (in the blood) have been observed by this type of training [12]. This isn’t totally correct. Other studies [11] have shown a higher increase in circulating anabolic hormone concentrations with a low volume, high overload, traditional strength training approach. Above all, at the time these recommendations were published (three years ago), the authors knew that the significance of any minor differences in acute hormone responses was a moot point. No physiological consequences (such as improvements strength or muscle mass) had been documented. The recommendations for bodybuilding training made by the NSCA are even worse. In their accreditation text, the NSCA recommend the use of up to 20 working sets per muscle group! The use of moderate loads (as opposed to heavy loads) and one minute rest intervals between sets [13]. That’s not bodybuilding training, that’s circuit training!

    No longitudinal studies are provided that may substantiate these rather definitive recommendations. However, things get really confusing when in a different chapter of the very same text, the author states It would appear from recent studies that heavy loads, in the 3-5RM range, are most effective in stimulating growth of all muscle fibers because all types are recruited.[14] Confused? Me too!

    The aspect of rest intervals between sets is a particularly contentious issue with me. Any aspect of training that limits the amount of overload you place on muscle is going to short-circuit the potential for muscle growth. If we look to the research on the topic of rest intervals, it is crystal clear that short rest intervals (one minute or less) between sets reduce workout performance and reduce the ability to overload the muscle.

    Weight lifting workout performance is defined as the total number of repetitions completed in a predetermined amount of sets with a designated load. Workout performance is shown to be compromised with short rest periods (30-60 seconds) and improved by longer rest intervals (such as two three minutes), particularly when complex exercises are involved; squats, bench presses, deadlifts, rows etc [15,16]. In fact, some longitudinal resistance training studies have shown greater strength gains with longer versus shorter rest intervals between sets (two-three minutes vs. 30-40 seconds) [17, 18].

    The results of a recent study smash these hypertrophy-specific training recommendations completely.

    A recent 6 month long training study has confirmed that the use of lighter weight, more reps and shorter rest intervals was no more effective than a traditional strength training program in terms of anabolic hormone responses, strength or muscle mass gains [19]. In fact, in this cross-over study, when the bodybuilders followed the high overload approach that utilized longer rest intervals (up to 5 minutes between heavy sets), they experienced better strength gains. The traditional strength training program stimulated just as much muscle growth as the hypertrophy-specific program.

    I’ve worked in the fitness industry for a long time, and my concern has always been the lack of credibility that inaccurate/unfounded training recommendations create within the industry. For example, where do these “hypetrophy specific” recommendations leave the average gym instructor or personal trainer who needs to know the best way to train their clients? Where does this leave the average Joe who listens to these professionals to gain the best advice for building muscle? Do you think both groups would be confused or frustrated? You bet.

    Now, for the record, I am a proud member of both the NSCA and the ACSM. The points I’ve made are not derogatory toward these excellent organizations. In many ways they have bought the science of weight lifting out of the dark ages and into a highly professional realm. My point is that building muscle has become an important issue. Sarcopenia (muscle loss in aging) costs the United States health care system $18 billion dollars a year. We need clear, uniform guidelines based on the latest research available to combat a problem that is going to reach epidemic proportions in an ageing population. The “hypertrophy-specific training recommendations made by the NSCA, ACSM and other organizations must be up dated to comply with the research that is most relevant to this topic. It’s as simple as that.

    The research-based exercise prescription for gaining muscle mass.

    If we can step back into the real world for a moment, back to what science can really tells us about an effective way to train to build muscle. It all comes down to overload and the stimulation of MPS; the critical regulatory event that leads to muscle growth. However, it may interest you to know that less than a handful of weight training studies have actually assessed the effects of different training protocols on muscle hypertrophy. Of these, not one has shown that the use of “moderate” loads is more effective than the use of heavy loads to build muscle. Not one has shown that shorter rest intervals build more muscle than taking longer rest intervals. In term of training volume and frequency, there is no data on hypertrophy responses other than the old “3 working sets are better than one” finding. While it is clear that performing more than one working set on a muscle group is required, no studies have determine how many sets, per workout maybe optimal for muscle growth.

    The lack of research data on a dose-response relationship for training and muscle hypertrophy is about as clear as Charlie Sheen’s ability to be monogamous. (Yeah, it’s that bad). The only research-based, quantifiable prescription for training volume can be found in recent meta-analyses on strength development (Rhea et al., 2003; Peterson et al., 2004). Meta-analyses research can be very useful as it groups all the results from relevant studies on a particular topic and statistically, provides the conclusions of all this research. The reports on a dose-response relationship between training volume and optimum strength development provide some interesting results.

    These studies report that trained or advanced individuals (as opposed to novices) obtain the best strength gains by using a high overload approach; 80 to 85% of the one-rep max (which would equate to a maximal rep range of around 3-6 RM). Each muscle group should be trained twice a week with a total of only 4 to 8 working (non-warm up) sets per muscle group each workout [20,21]. Remember, optimum strength development is important; strength improvements clearly increase the potential for muscle mass gains.

    Many bodybuilders and strength athletes fail to understand that it’s impossible to isolate muscles during training. Anyone that performs a training day that involves the chest muscles and another day devoted to the arm and/or shoulder muscles automatically ensures that these muscle groups receive two workouts a week. If you’re a bodybuilder that typically performs a “chest day”, a “back day” and an “arm day” each week then your shoulder muscles, (traps and delts) are worked at least three times a week no matter what exercises you perform. Same can be said for legs and back muscles. That is, the deadlifts you perform on “back day” will always involve the hip and leg muscles. The variety of squats you perform on “leg day” also recruit the back muscles heavily. Therefore, with regard to the current research-based prescription for optimum training volume for strength development, hopefully you can see how easy it is to over train.

    To summarize what research can tell us about an optimum training prescription for muscle growth; overload appears to be the fundamental aspect. In particular, the amount of overload placed on muscle determines the magnitude of stimulation of MPS and any subsequent gain in muscle mass.

    Therefore, weight training programs designed to maximize muscle growth must use protocols that ensure maximum overload and focus on strength development. That means selecting only those exercises, repetition ranges and rest intervals that enable maximum overload. In terms of volume and frequency, the research on optimizing strength development reveals that less is more beneficial than many “experts” will have you believe. Train muscle groups no more than twice a week with a total of only 4 to 8 working sets each workout.

    ----------

    References
    1. Rennie MJ, Wackerhage H, Spangenburg EE, Booth FW. Annu Rev Physiol. 66:799-828, 2004.
    2. Cuthbertson D, Smith K, Babraj J, Leese G, Waddell T, Atherton P, Wackerhage H, Taylor PM, Rennie MJ. FASEB J. 19:422-4, 2005.
    3. Phillips SM, Hartman JW, Wilkinson SB. J Am Coll Nutr. 24:134S-139S, 2005.
    4. Curi R, Lagranha CJ, Doi SQ. J Cell Physiol 28; 2005.
    5. Ploutz LL, Tesch PA, Biro RL, Dudley GA. J Appl Physiol 76:1675-81 1994.
    6. Phillips, SM, G Parise, BD Roy, et al., Can J Physiol Pharmacol 80:1045-53, 2002.
    7. Baar K and Esser K. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 276: C120-C127, 1999.
    8. Atha J. Exerc & Sports Sci Rev 17, 1-73, 1981.
    9. Saltin B & Gollnick PD. In Handbook of Physiology, Skeletal Muscle. Peachy L, Adrian R & Gerzer SR. Eds. Am Physiol Soc, 1983.
    10. Brechue WF, Abe T. Eur J Appl Physiol. 86:327-36, 2002.
    11. Raastad T, Bjoro T, Hallen J. Eur J Appl Physiol. 82:121-8,2000.
    12. Kraemer WJ, Adams K, Cafarelli E, Dudley GA et al., Med Sci Sports Exerc. 34:364-80, 2002.
    13. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning: NSCA. 2nd Ed. Human Kinetics: Champaign IL, Ch4:P65, Ch18: 419, 2000.
    14. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning: NSCA. 2nd Ed. Human Kinetics: Champaign IL, Ch8:P151, 2000.
    15. Willardson JM, Burkett LN. J Strength Cond Res. 19:23-6 2005.
    16. Richmond SR, Godard MP. J Strength Cond Res 18:846-9, 2004.
    17. Pincivero DM, Lephart SM, Karunakara RG. Br J Sports Med. 31:229-34, 1997.
    18. Robinson JM, Stone MH, Johnson RL, Penland CM, Warren BJ, Lewis RD. J Strength Cond Res 9: 216–221, 1995.
    19. Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Hakkinen K. J Strength Cond Res. 19:572-82, 2005.
    20. Rhea MR, Alvar BA, Burkett LN, Ball SD. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 35:456-64, 2003.
    21. Peterson MD, Rhea MR, Alvar BA. J Strength Cond Res.18(2):377-82, 2004.
    homonunculus
    Super Moderator/Round Table Expert
    Last edited by homonunculus; 12-15-2012, 02:12 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by homonunculus
    That's not necessary. Just copy and paste it into your post.

    Thanks.

    -S
    The article is from the AST Sport Science website.
    Here are the references listed at the bottom of the page:

    References
    1. Rennie MJ, Wackerhage H, Spangenburg EE, Booth FW. Annu Rev Physiol. 66:799-828, 2004.
    2. Cuthbertson D, Smith K, Babraj J, Leese G, Waddell T, Atherton P, Wackerhage H, Taylor PM, Rennie MJ. FASEB J. 19:422-4, 2005.
    3. Phillips SM, Hartman JW, Wilkinson SB. J Am Coll Nutr. 24:134S-139S, 2005.
    4. Curi R, Lagranha CJ, Doi SQ. J Cell Physiol 28; 2005.
    5. Ploutz LL, Tesch PA, Biro RL, Dudley GA. J Appl Physiol 76:1675-81 1994.
    6. Phillips, SM, G Parise, BD Roy, et al., Can J Physiol Pharmacol 80:1045-53, 2002.
    7. Baar K and Esser K. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 276: C120-C127, 1999.
    8. Atha J. Exerc & Sports Sci Rev 17, 1-73, 1981.
    9. Saltin B & Gollnick PD. In Handbook of Physiology, Skeletal Muscle. Peachy L, Adrian R & Gerzer SR. Eds. Am Physiol Soc, 1983.
    10. Brechue WF, Abe T. Eur J Appl Physiol. 86:327-36, 2002.
    11. Raastad T, Bjoro T, Hallen J. Eur J Appl Physiol. 82:121-8,2000.
    12. Kraemer WJ, Adams K, Cafarelli E, Dudley GA et al., Med Sci Sports Exerc. 34:364-80, 2002.
    13. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning: NSCA. 2nd Ed. Human Kinetics: Champaign IL, Ch4:P65, Ch18: 419, 2000.
    14. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning: NSCA. 2nd Ed. Human Kinetics: Champaign IL, Ch8:P151, 2000.
    15. Willardson JM, Burkett LN. J Strength Cond Res. 19:23-6 2005.
    16. Richmond SR, Godard MP. J Strength Cond Res 18:846-9, 2004.
    17. Pincivero DM, Lephart SM, Karunakara RG. Br J Sports Med. 31:229-34, 1997.
    18. Robinson JM, Stone MH, Johnson RL, Penland CM, Warren BJ, Lewis RD. J Strength Cond Res 9: 216–221, 1995.
    19. Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Hakkinen K. J Strength Cond Res. 19:572-82, 2005.
    20. Rhea MR, Alvar BA, Burkett LN, Ball SD. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 35:456-64, 2003.
    21. Peterson MD, Rhea MR, Alvar BA. J Strength Cond Res.18(2):377-82, 2004.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by titanium_spine View Post
      The article is from the AST Sport Science website.
      Here are the references listed at the bottom of the page:

      Link?...

      -S
      The Book Has Arrived!
      The Book Has Arrived!

      Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a pristine, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, used up, worn out, and shouting, "Holy #$&^%$^... What a ride!!!"


      www.TrueNutrition.com

      2012 NPC Master's Nationals HW 5th. Mid-USA HW & Overall
      2010 NPC Jr. USA HW 4th, Pacific USA Heavy 2nd
      2009 NPC Mr. Arizona HW & Overall, Jr. Nationals HW 16th, Smoked at USA's

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by homonunculus View Post
        Link?...

        -S
        Sorry, I can't find it. I just have the page saved on my PC. All the links that are on it lead to this site:

        http://www.astss.co.uk/max-ot.asp

        This one should work:
        http://www.astss.co.uk/Scripts/default.asp
        titanium_spine
        Lightweight Member
        Last edited by titanium_spine; 12-15-2012, 02:33 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by titanium_spine View Post
          Sorry, I can't find it. I just have the page saved on my PC. All the links that are on it lead to this site:

          http://www.astss.co.uk/max-ot.asp

          This one should work:
          http://www.astss.co.uk/Scripts/default.asp
          That'll work!

          Now, to take a look at the article!

          -S
          The Book Has Arrived!
          The Book Has Arrived!

          Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a pristine, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, used up, worn out, and shouting, "Holy #$&^%$^... What a ride!!!"


          www.TrueNutrition.com

          2012 NPC Master's Nationals HW 5th. Mid-USA HW & Overall
          2010 NPC Jr. USA HW 4th, Pacific USA Heavy 2nd
          2009 NPC Mr. Arizona HW & Overall, Jr. Nationals HW 16th, Smoked at USA's

          Comment


          • #6
            Here is another article (but with the same topic) written by the same author where he is challenging the recommendations for hypertophy training given by the NSCA. (This link is active)

            http://ast-ss.com/information/?p=1108

            The statements that the author gives sound logical to me, yet seldomly do you see bodybuilders executing such low rep ranges (4-6 RM). If the NSCA recommendations are so flawed (as being suggested in both articles), then why is the majority using them succesfully?

            Comment


            • #7
              Before the discussion get rolling (which I hope it does) I wanted to add something that I observed, which Scott and I have discussed (still digging through research on these BTW), that the author does not seem to address, that being the effect of exercise induced muscle muscle damage (EIMB) on hypertrophic development. The author seems to be focusing more on the training volume and number repetitions performed, and states that overload is needed for hypertrophy, but does not look at the mechanical advantage that eccentric contractions have in creating overload and EIMB, which would lead to greater hypertrophy.

              So basically, I think EIMB is a point that needs to be addressed in these articles due to the effect it has on muscle hypertrophy and protein synthesis.
              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!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mentalflex View Post
                I wanted to add something that I observed, which Scott and I have discussed (still digging through research on these BTW), that the author does not seem to address, that being the effect of exercise induced muscle muscle damage (EIMB) on hypertrophic development.
                Yes, this author only mentions "overload" (I suppose he's thinking of mechanical tension) as the main stimulance for inducing muscular growth.

                There are other authors that suggest that although mechanical tension might be the most important factor for triggering hypertophy, there are also contributing others, like metabolic stress and muscle damage that come into the picture...

                (For instance Brad Shoenfeld in this interview while answering the question listed under number 2).

                http://bretcontreras.com/2012/10/an-...hy-specialist/

                Comment


                • #9
                  This appears to be part 2 of a a two part article. The first part sets up his argument for this one in some way, I presume. Otherwise...

                  -S
                  The Book Has Arrived!
                  The Book Has Arrived!

                  Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a pristine, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, used up, worn out, and shouting, "Holy #$&^%$^... What a ride!!!"


                  www.TrueNutrition.com

                  2012 NPC Master's Nationals HW 5th. Mid-USA HW & Overall
                  2010 NPC Jr. USA HW 4th, Pacific USA Heavy 2nd
                  2009 NPC Mr. Arizona HW & Overall, Jr. Nationals HW 16th, Smoked at USA's

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    First off, I'm not as educated as those of you who have posted in this thread, so please forgive me.

                    What I had always read was that longer rest periods between sets are geared towards strength building while shorter rest periods between sets are geared more towards hypertrophy.

                    It seems that the OP's article is possibly debunking this? How does the rest period affect hypertrophy? I guess I'm taking this to an illogical end, but if the rest period is not as important as some believe, why not do a set every 10 minutes, or 20? Or why not do one set every two hours and train a muscle all day? (I know that most don't have time for this, but I'm asking more in theory than anything else)

                    Or am I totally missing the point of all of this? (And I most definitely could be...)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think that the message the author is trying to deliver is that overload triggers hypertrophy, and not fatigue. So, if you want the most overload (heavier weights), you have to rest longer (up to 3 minutes) for your strength to recover...

                      Here's the authors response to this question:

                      http://ast-ss.com/information/?p=2349

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I read the study and this still doesn't really make sense to me. We will leave out the fact that 17 people is hardly a scientific study.

                        It seems too simplistic to me. There is more to this than simply the amount of weight I move, although that is certainly a factor. Based on what this guy is saying, doing a 1 RM, resting 3 minutes, doing another 1 RM, resting 3 minutes and then doing 1 more 1 RM would be the secret to hypertrophy? Of all the programs I have used, I have had the most success with DC. This seems to be flying in the face of this. Sounds a lot like what Mentzer was saying to me.

                        I'm not being argumentative, I'm just not totally buying into what he is saying here. There are more factors involved in hypertrophy and that is a discussion I would love to read about with the experts in here chiming in...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pearlharbor1207 View Post
                          I'm not being argumentative, I'm just not totally buying into what he is saying here. There are more factors involved in hypertrophy and that is a discussion I would love to read about with the experts in here chiming in...
                          That's the reason I've started this thread...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            But is there even a "one size fits all" answer to this? Don't different people react differently to different types of stimuli?

                            For instance, I know a few people who had success building large calves with heavy weight, low rep schemes. However, the majority of the people I know with great calf development swear by higher reps and lower weights.

                            This is just an example, but how universal are all these studies anyway?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pearlharbor1207 View Post
                              But is there even a "one size fits all" answer to this? Don't different people react differently to different types of stimuli?

                              For instance, I know a few people who had success building large calves with heavy weight, low rep schemes. However, the majority of the people I know with great calf development swear by higher reps and lower weights.

                              This is just an example, but how universal are all these studies anyway?
                              I think what you really have to do is not look at the studies as absolutes, but in the sense of, "How can I apply this research to my own training?"

                              If the study shows that with increasing musclular overload, one can generate a greater hypertrophic response and increased EIMD through muscular overload leads to greater hypertrophy (up to a point), then building a training program that includes progressive overload and protocols that generate more EIMD but allow for sufficient frequency of training would seem to make sense (to me at least) to produce greater hypertrophy.

                              There is a balancing act and individual's are going to have different muscle fiber composition with higher or lower potential for hypertrophy, which means there is goign to be a degree of variability in the application. This is where experience, coaching and continuing to increase one's knowledge is become keys to finding the right approach to meet your goals.
                              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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