Want muscle? STOP the quessing game

People who engage in very repetitive tasks such as long distance running, labor or swimming show very little or no improvement in the size and strength of their muscles. Long distance events are by nature very low in intensity.

Compare a marathon runner to a 100 meter sprinter. Marathon runners who train for very long periods at a very low intensity are emaciated looking having less than normal muscle mass and carry on average 14 ? 16% body fat. Sprinters, on the other hand, who train for short periods at a high level of intensity are very muscular and have half the body fat levels than marathoners. If cardio is the key to getting lean, as many people presume, why do marathoners have a higher body fat than sprinters? The reason is, a specific stimulus is required for a specific outcome.

The specific stimulus needed to stimulate muscle and strength is high intensity training. This is a universal training principle that affects everyone without exception. This is due to the fact that we are anatomically and physiologically the same. If this were not true doctors could not perform surgery and prescribe medicine. Consequently, the stimulus needed to induce biochemical changes that build muscle and strength in humans is the same.

Intensity, when referring to training, is the percentage of physical exertion that one is capable of. Training with one hundred percent intensity is the best way, the only way, to stimulate muscular size and strength in the shortest amount of time. How does one gauge the intensity of their workouts? By taking your working sets to positive or concentric failure.

Taking a set to the point of failure, where you cannot possibly perform another rep despite your maximum effort is one of, and perhaps the most important of several factors in your success. There are many who disagree and advocate high volume training with 60%, 72%, 95%, or whatever percentage of intensity they decide is the best. Some even claim training all out, with one hundred percent intensity is not only unnecessary, but detrimental. Over the years I’ve seen so called strength coach specialists, and personal trainers with 15 letters after their last names, concoct the most ridiculous routines, using almost every percentage, that have yet to show any effectiveness in real world application.

The main problem with these bogus routines is that there are only two accurate measures of intensity. Zero, when you are at rest; and 100%, when you?re training to the point of failure. How do you measure anything less than 100% intensity? If I can do 10 repetitions to complete failure with 100 pounds on the leg extension machine, where do I go for 80% intensity? Do I perform 10 reps with 80 pounds? Or do I use 100 pounds and only perform 8 reps? Is 80% the optimum percentage, or is it 65%? There is no evidence that suggests, let alone proves, anything less than 100% effort is equally or more effective. Are you starting to see the ridiculousness and inaccuracy of such training prescriptions?

Intensity cannot be measured accurately with reps or weight. While performing a set, intensity increases exponentially with each successive rep. Performing the first 5 reps on the leg extension is not equivalent in intensity to performing the last 5 reps. Hence, 5 reps is not the equivalent of 50% intensity.

The only way to train that is completely accurate is with all out intensity to failure. This will give you a concrete view of how you?re performing. If you train with 100% intensity during every workout and you do not progress, you know you are not recovering. There will never be a question whether you are providing a strong enough stimulus for progress. However, if you follow the percentage of intensity or the percentage of max rep principles, how will you know you are training intensely enough to stimulate muscular size and strength? If you plateau, are you training too hard or too long? Do you lower the percentage or raise it? Do you need more rest, or do you need to train at a higher intensity? There is no need for this guessing game.

Your goal is to bring about the largest, most rapid outcome for your individual genetic potential. In order for this to occur, the body requires 100% intensity every working set of every exercise. This is the only truly accurate way to gauge the efficacy of your training program. Nothing less than 100% will do. The body needs a reason to adapt. Give it!

  

Fitness Myths Busted

Is performing cardio the best way to lose fat?
There are 3 things to keep in mind about cardio when trying to get leaner. One is that it doesn?t build muscle. Two, it doesn?t preserve muscle while losing weight. Both are extremely important if your goal is not only to get leaner, but to stay that way. As we lose weight the body does not discriminate where the weight comes from. We lose muscle along with fat, especially on a low calorie diet. And performing cardio accentuates this phenomenon.

Lastly, unless you enjoy cardiovascular training, it?s just not worth the time. The work to benefit ratio is dismal to say the least. Unless you?re willing to bust your butt and perform 60 ? 90 minutes of cardio a day, which will hinder your muscle building capacity, cardio is not worth it.

Will training your abs using the right exercise our equipment give you washboard abs?

Is reducing your calories the best way to lose weight?

If I’m not sore a couple of days after a workout, did I not train hard enough?

Get the answers to these and other common fitness myths in my Fitness Myths Busters article.

  

Q&A with Mike Furci: Weight Training vs. Cardio

In his latest Q&A session, Bullz-Eye.com Fitness Editor Mike Furci discusses high protein diets, weight training vs. cardio, and chest workouts.

Q: Mike,
I just finished reading your article on Fitness Myth Busters. Although I agree with pretty much everything you said I do have a couple of comments on some things you wrote.

1. “Screw cardio!”

Are you serious? I think it’s a known AND proven fact that a good mix of cardio and weight training will provide a better fat loss program than just weight or cardio training alone. ESPECIALLY if we consider HIT cardio training.

A: It is true, HIT cardio (I assume you’re referring to interval training) is the best way to go if you’re going to put the time in. However, sorry to inform you, it is not a “proven fact” that a mix of cardio and weight training is the best way to go. Show me the evidence of long term success. There is NONE. Visit any gym and you’ll see what I mean. The majority of people who perform cardio regularly don’t make permanent gains. Cardio is vastly overrated as a means of losing body fat. In fact, if a person who is overweight embarks on a cardio program and doesn’t change their eating habits, they are doomed to failure. Adding muscle is the key, combined with a diet lower in refined foods, especially carbs.

  

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