Author Topic: My Views on Getting Fitter  (Read 10767 times)

Offline dee

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My Views on Getting Fitter
« on: March 17, 2011, 12:16:04 PM »
EDIT: I've been putting more thought into this, and it turns out that this cannot be right.  I'm dumb. :(

First post.

Also, I agree with Todd about almost everything else, except Fitness. By request (he didn't actually ask me to rant, more like post a one-liner), I'd like to share what I think so people can either agree or disagree. I'll do my best to make it as referenced as possible so that others who aren't familiar with the concepts can take part in the discussion as well. Here are my thoughts:

First some summaries in more or less my own words:

Hormesis:
The adaptive response from controlled stress. The five parts of this are stimulation, intensity, constraint, gradualism, and recovery.

Opponent-process theory:
When your body responds to stimulus, whether beneficial or not, in an effort to retain homeostasis, your body responds to inhibit or counteract the initial response (let's call this respond the opponent process). The opponent process is strengthened with increase of the intensity of the stimulus, increase of the duration of the stimulus, or decrease of the time between stimulus exposure.

Getting Fitter:
I will define this as gaining strength or muscle. Usually one follows the other, and both are generally considered good.

Now first argument that I'd like to make is that getting fitter is a "communication" response (through hormones, proteins, and the like; I'm not arguing that any specific substance improves fitness, but rather a combination that tells your body that it's time to grow) rather than the popular view that you gain muscle through tearing and rebuilding muscle fibers. In one study (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11782267), training only the legs produced just as much arm strength (and significantly more half way through the study) as training the arm. Also training both resulted in the most strength gains. In another study (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199607043350101), men being supplemented with testosterone gained more muscle without exercising than those who have been exercising. Likewise, those that did both had the most gains. I believe this is sufficient evidence to show that the actual muscle effort doesn't have to be there as long as the "communication" response is. This also explains the effectiveness of compound exercises (ones that exercise multiple muscle groups) as opposed to isolation exercises (ones that focus on one muscle group at a time).

Since we know that exercise does something that stimulates fitness. We can make a little diagram like this:

Something that occurs with exercise > "communication" response > getting fitter

My next arguments will be based on what I hope to be intelligent guess work. They aren't necessary for the conclusions that I draw, but they help me and hopefully you attempt to understand why things would work instead of just what works. Unfortunately though, guess work is necessary with the research I've read since they measure markers (eg. muscle activation, certain proteins, or hormone ratios) that don't necessarily result in getting fitter, but they do provide stepping stones for theories on such matters.

When looking at what exactly muscles do, they simply contract. It would make sense then to assume that muscle activation level. By the size principle (of which I believe there are exceptions, but not that many), smaller motor units are stimulated before larger motor units. Muscle activation level basically measures how far along the scale of no motor units to all motor units are engaged. I hope that you agree with me that it makes sense to assume (take note that this is only an assumption) that muscle activation is that something, since it's what muscles do. Our diagram then becomes:

Muscle activation > "communication" response > getting fitter

Not too controversial, I hope. One thing that results from this assumption is that the actual amount of weight lighted (assuming we are weightlifting, which is commonly used in studies to get fitter) is irrelevant to muscle activation (http://www.scsepf.org/doc/291208/Paper1.pdf). The paper contains an analysis of 21 different resistance training studies, where 20 show no significant difference in strength gains compared with only 1 that did (take note that "significant" generally means that their result is 95% not by chance; since the odds appear to be 1 in 21 for a difference in strength gains, it does appear that this "significant" difference occurred by chance). This paper claims that weight doesn't matter, as long as the effort is the same. Another paper (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2369907) that supports this shows size gains with weights that, by common belief (many people think that 60% of 1 Rep Max, the maximum weight they can lift for 1 repetition, is the threshold for hypertrophy), should not result in muscular hypertrophy. And another study (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0012033) showed that training at 30% of 1 Rep Max to muscular failure (when you can no longer lift) is equally or more beneficial than training at 90% of 1 Rep Max (this study doesn't actually measure getting fitter, simply certain markers that they believe are part of the "communication" response). So from this, we can say that effort results in muscle activation.

Effort > Muscle Activation > "Communication" Response > Getting Fitter

Now, I'd like to talk more about the link between effort and muscle activation. The first paper in the last paragraph (http://www.scsepf.org/doc/291208/Paper1.pdf) doesn't include weights lower than their 20 Rep Max. To quote the author of the paper "Very high RMs (e.g., loads lighter than 20 RM) or an extensive time under load (e.g., longer than 2–3 minutes) may involve mechanisms of fatigue that are not conducive to stimulate optimal increases in muscular strength." The reasoning for is best said in Body by Science (page 49): “If you use a weight that is too light, the load will not be meaningful enough. You will recruit the slow-twitch fibers into service, but because they fatigue so slowly, by the time you have started to recruit the intermediate fibers, some of the same slow-twitch motor units will have started to recover. They will then recycle back into the contraction process, thus preventing you from ever engaging the higher-order muscle fibers.” This is consistent with the paper as well, where they found that it was always the last rep which resulted in the most activation. I find the fatiguing and recovery of motor units a very crucial point to my theory of getting fitter.

Enough of the why. Onto the details.

Now exercise is a stress on the body (hopefully a controlled one). It appears from anecdotal evidence that strength gain is an opponent process of exercise. The ways to strengthen the strength gain response would be increasing intensity, increasing volume, and decreasing intervals between exercise. With this knowledge of muscle activation, we could imagine the activation for the muscle or group of muscles as stairs tilted back. Every time we exert that muscle or group, we go up the stairs, when we don't, we fall down a certain amount. For training to be fruitful, obviously we'd have to rise more than we fell. Every chance of rest between reps would move it back ever so slightly, and in between sets, we'd drop by a substantial amount.

Because of this fatigue and recovery issue, I believe that performing any more than 1 set is a waste of time and could possibly hinder the process of getting fitter (little to no benefit, but over double the effort, time, and chance of injury since you do twice as much exercise). Adding sets doesn't provide intensity, and perhaps increases the interval between stimulus because of the necessary recovery. Studies even indicate that the added volume doesn't necessarily help. This study (http://physiotherapy.curtin.edu.au/resources/educational-resources/exphys/00/muscle_strength.cfm) analyzes many different studies and shows that most show no significant benefit with multiple sets. Only one of the 14 mentioned showed a significant difference, which could be more easily attributed to chance than not. Other studies (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9777681 and http://faculty.css.edu/tboone2/asep/OttoV2.pdf) mention the same.

Another application of this knowledge on fatigue and recovery would be to produce more force in less time. Using the same stairs idea, you would need at least as much force to lift the resistance a certain distance (assuming we are weightlifting for example), thus in the image that I talked about for the stairs, you would go up by the same amount, but since the rest time is lower, you would go down less, and thus reach the necessary intensity in less time (the top of the stairs). Studies on slow vs fast lifting are, from what I've seen, either poorly designed (the one study I saw that stated lifting slow was better didn't even measure strength with the same type of exercise) or inconclusive. Based on anecdotal evidence, slow lifting appears better for joints, and fast lifting for athletic performance. Because of these points, I prefer lifting as fast as possible (effort >>> getting fitter).

One idea, that I have no evidence of but seems to be a conclusion of effort >>> getting fitter, is that once you reach the final intensity, you can apply a reverse pyramid set-up, to continue doing the set with either less resistance, or a smaller range of motion, possibly even leading to an isometric hold before absolute failure (meaning you absolutely cannot lift). I personally lean towards less resistance, because training at your strongest range of motion would probably only increase the imbalance. This seems advantageous because the fatigue would activate larger muscle fibers that normal with the less resistance, and if you can in fact lift more, then you can exert more effort and hopefully make it higher in the figurative stairs.

You might think that reducing resistance would require rest in between repetitions. Because of this, I'm actually a big fan of bodyweight training. Most people believe that bodyweight training is mostly for endurance after a certain amount of strength. And if you do the same exercise all the time and don't gain weight, then it is (look at the quote about using excessively light weights). An amazing book combining the principles of progressive overload (or the gradualism part of hormesis) is Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade. You increase resistance by doing progressively harder bodyweight exercises. Of course there is a limit to what you can do, but honestly, neither you nor I will probably reach that. Or you could buy a weighted vest when you can do 20 one-arm handstand pushups. With bodyweight training, it takes practically no time at all to shift to a version with less resistance (eg. from clap pushups to pushups to girl/knee pushups or from jump squats with knees to chest to jump squats to squats to assisted squats), plus you save money and time on the gym.

Here is the most controversial part of my fitness thoughts: occlusion training, or kaatsu as they call it in Japan. The summary: partially restrict blood flow to your peripheries, do almost any exercise, get fitter. Studies show that, using this technique, you can gain muscle by just walking (http://jap.physiology.org/content/100/5/1460.short), gain more strength (http://www.springerlink.com/content/1014223x4r820702/), get bigger muscles (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16015131), gain more strength and get bigger muscles (http://jap.physiology.org/content/88/6/2097.abstract), and get larger muscles even if they aren't all restricted (aka chest muscles grow with occluded arms) (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-097X.2010.00949.x/abstract). It even works on highly trained athletes (they were elite rugby players supposedly) (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11990743). Oh and according to this survey (http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ijktr/2/1/2_5/_article) of people who use kaatsu (in Japan), the risks are minimal and it's safer than weightlifting (assuming you gradually start occlusion training, the same way you wouldn't attempt to lift huge weights when starting weightlifting). I know that you may think that this is dangerous, your limbs will have to be amputated, and that your time is too valuable to read the safety survey that I linked. Compare this with the medical use of a tourniquet though, which is said to be safe from 10 minutes (anecdotal evidence) to 3 hours (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7439813). Also a properly applied tourniquet results in total blood flow restriction, which sounds more dangerous than partial. The amazing use of this is that 1) you can use light weight (meshing perfectly with bodyweight training), 2) the safety concern makes faster exercise better (fitting with the idea that a fast workout of one set is at the very least more time efficient), 3) less weight = less muscle damage (this can result in training more often, or simply enjoying your non training time more).

I do have theories on how occlusion training works, but I don't feel that making assumptions about that could lead to any useful hypothesis for training.

As for training frequency, I think the most important factor is convenience. You will get stronger training once or twice a week. Or you could train like Bulgarians twice a day. I personally like doing a bit of both, by splitting my workout by exercise and training 5-10 minutes a day. So it's like a total of 2 workouts per week, but once or twice a day.

Summary:
-use occlusion training (optional)
-do bodyweight exercises
-train fast
-switch to an easier version when you reach failure
-keep doing that till you can't
-don't do more than one set
-go do something else
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 06:01:17 AM by dee »

Offline dee

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 12:26:55 PM »
As for results, I've also been experimenting with different diets, so I definitely can't attribute my results solely on my exercise program. I've been training this was for 2 months, with a very low carb diet and intermittent fasting (as well as some other things like exercising before eating, cold exposure, and certain other dietary supplements like green tea and cinnamon, for reasons contained in the 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss). I've gained about 20 lbs and lost 8-10% body fat (this is mostly nutrition though).

As for strength, one of the main reasons I started the research that I've done and bodyweight training is that I went to a pretty crappy gym (barely any free weights) and there aren't enough weights to actually test a 1RM now.

Offline aelephant

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2011, 04:45:04 AM »
Interesting info. I follow you for the most part.

Part of it reminded me of the Arthur Jones/Casey Viator Colorado Experiment:

http://www.musclenet.com/coloradoexperiment.htm

My understanding is that Tim Ferris used some of the info from this as an inspiration for his book The 4-Hour Body.

My current approach is that less is largely more. I've gone from multiple sets with multiple exercises to 3 sets of 3 main exercises. This is the basis of the "Starting Strength" routine detailed here:

http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=998224

The variation I'm following alternates between A and B workouts every 2-3 days.

A: Squat, Bench, Deadlift
B: Squat, Military Press, Row

I've gone from a 185 lbs squat to a 290 lbs squat, bench from 145 to 205, deadlift from 185 to 315, etc.

I think you are right in your assertion that strength =/= size and vice versa, but I think that strength can be useful in gaining size. Many natural body builders, including Layne Norton (look him up if you aren't familiar, he is a beast), utilise both "powerlifting" (i.e. strength based) and "body building" (i.e. hypertrophy or size based) workouts. My personal goal is to achieve an "intermediate" level of strength in some of the basic compound exercises, then put this strength to work with hypertrophy based workouts down the line to build a more full physique. There are benefits to being strong as well as well-built too, especially if you engage in any kind of athletics.

Offline dee

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2011, 09:08:47 AM »
Interesting link on the Colorado experiment. I disagree with the author's third contention (that the eccentric portion of the exercise is necessary), but the mass gains are pretty amazing. 63 lbs in 28 days... I can barely eat that much.

Your training work looks a lot like Stronglifts 5x5 (same exercises, but 3x3 instead of 5x5). It actually looks more like Stronglifts than Rippletoe's Starting Strength, since you replaced the power clean with rows. Look at the similarity: http://stronglifts.com/stronglifts-5x5-beginner-strength-training-program/

I used to do Stronglifts 'til I read "Convict Conditioning". What really sold me was that the author placed 3rd in a powerlifting competition without even powerlifting. You can't expect powerlifters to do what gymnasts, bodyweight trainees, or even traceurs do, but if those gymnasts, bodyweight trainees, and traceurs can lift a barbell, then who really is stronger?

About Layne Norton, his post actually got me started with occlusion training. Check it out: http://www.ironmanmagazine.com/index.cfm?page=article&go2=1489

A curious thing about your post though. What is a strength based workout and what is a size based one? I've heard the usual "low reps for strength, high reps for size", but I honestly don't believe it at all. I feel that it's more like any lifting (with sufficient effort) develops both, nutrition dictates size, and bodybuilders get bigger by taking steroids. I feel the high-rep thing got popular because high reps produce the pump that makes muscles temporarily bigger. For example, Layne Norton (a natural bodybuilder) doesn't seem that much more muscular than Martin Berkhan.

Finally, nice gains. I don't miss squatting or benching, but I definitely miss deadlifting.

Offline aelephant

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2011, 04:38:44 PM »
The Colorado Experiment was "designed" to be awe inspiring, so I think it is important to keep some points in mind. The Viator character was a show winning body builder who got sick and came close to death before beginning training again. A lot of his gains could be water weight. He is definitely a "genetic freak". He also had "muscle memory" working for him, so his muscle would return much faster than say, someone who had never trained at all.

RE: Stronglifts vs. Starting Strength, yeah I have never done power cleans, don't have much room in my current gym and don't have anyone to tutor me on them. With all of those factors working against me, I figured it would be easier just to substitute and so far it seems to be working well.

RE: Strength vs. Size Workouts, a purely strength based workout would focus on very small sets, if not purely on 1 rep sets. Strength is primarily a phenomenon of the central nervous system. It is possible to become incredibly strong while gaining almost no mass. I believe a sized based workout necessarily must include increases in strength (the principle of Progressive Overload is inviolable) but must also include more volume. On the other hand, I believe volume reaches a point of diminishing returns, wherein you sacrifice intensity for the vanity of "the pump" and seeing your biceps swell up with blood that'll pass out within a day or two. This vanity is what I think keeps a lot of teens and younger guys going to the gym every day. I also think frequency of training reaches a point of diminishing returns unless you are "assisted" by "modern medicine" like Arnold in his prime. Giving your body time to recover between exposures to the stress of lifting is paramount for progress.

Offline dee

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2011, 08:33:50 AM »
That is true about the Colorado Experiment. Tim did make a post about how to lose huge amounts before weighings through dehydration, but it could be impressive, and I'd like to believe it's possible.

I know what most people think is a size or strength workout. I don't know why people think that, and based on the research that I've done, there is no reason. You supposedly need to apply the principle of progressive overload for both size and strength. You also supposedly need to gain strength to gain size, and vice-versa, at least minimally (not counting nervous system adaption that beginners usually get). And I don't believe any of that (I know that it is sacrilege for the gym rats all over).

I do believe that strength has a lot to do with the nervous system, but not only the nervous system. As Pavel Tsatsouline says, everyone is strong enough to lift a car, their muscles just don't know it yet (I can't remember which book he mentioned it in, but I doubt it matters). So, let's assume that strength can't be gained from merely changing the configuration of muscle cells or "joint strength" (the old strongmen of the early 1900s believed that joint strength was the source of strength). If this assumption is false, then clearly we can gain strength without size.

Now for size, there are two types of hypertrophy, sacroplasmic hypertrophy (more of fluid gain) and myofibrillar hypertrophy (for more power). You can gain size with either but strength with only one. Likewise, you could gain strength without gaining size with myofibrillar hypertrophy and sacroplasmic hypotrophy (I'm not even sure if this is possible to happen from one exercise, but a bulk-and-cut, like what many bodybuilders do for fat and muscle, could be caused by lifestyle factors).

Now finally about progressive overload, the study that I linked to on testosterone supplementation and gaining size (and I assume strength as well) would be a counterpoint to this. Same for all the research on occlusion training. They gain size and strength without any overload. They even got both those results by walking. Assuming that you believe what I say about getting fitter (Effort > Muscle Activation > "Communication" Response > Getting Fitter), if you get the "communication" response, then the effort doesn't matter, because that response is sufficient to get fitter, both for size and strength.

Offline aelephant

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2011, 04:50:35 PM »
Now finally about progressive overload, the study that I linked to on testosterone supplementation and gaining size (and I assume strength as well) would be a counterpoint to this. Same for all the research on occlusion training. They gain size and strength without any overload. They even got both those results by walking. Assuming that you believe what I say about getting fitter (Effort > Muscle Activation > "Communication" Response > Getting Fitter), if you get the "communication" response, then the effort doesn't matter, because that response is sufficient to get fitter, both for size and strength.

I see, that does make sense. The study also does show that those actually lifting weights had greater strength and size gains than those just receiving testosterone. This suggests that testosterone is only one part of the communication response and can be amplified by other factors, such as damage to muscle tissue. Perhaps we could say that progressive overload can enhance the communication response and yield greater results. Your original post included a portion about increasing resistance by doing progressively more difficult bodyweight exercises. Looked at in light of your hypothesis, we could say that progressive overload is one method by which to increase the amount of effort expended. Even someone doing a hundred sets with a 30% RM weight will begin to experience diminishing returns if he doesn't at some point (the next day, the next week, the month) increase the weight, wouldn't you think?

Offline dee

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2011, 12:22:12 AM »
I'm not saying that exercise or progressive overload is not sufficient for improved fitness. I'm saying they aren't necessary. The examples of occlusion training illustrate the point. You can get fitter lifting 50% 1RM, and you can get fitter walking. It seems safe to assume the same would result with any resistance in between.

Offline aelephant

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2011, 04:29:55 AM »
I'm not saying that exercise or progressive overload is not sufficient for improved fitness. I'm saying they aren't necessary. The examples of occlusion training illustrate the point. You can get fitter lifting 50% 1RM, and you can get fitter walking. It seems safe to assume the same would result with any resistance in between.

I'm going to read up on occlusion training. It sounds interesting.

I agree you will be fitter walking than not walking, but I'm more interested in what is the most efficient way to get fitter faster. Are you saying that effort can be taken out of the equation entirely and replaced by things that stimulate the communication response (so far the example given are testosterone injections [not an option for me] and occlusion training [which I'll be looking into])? Is that accurate, am I missing something or are we just totally misunderstanding one another?

Offline dee

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2011, 07:54:21 AM »
Re the effort thing, yes and no. Theoretically, you can definitely replace all the signals the body creates to stimulate growth. Practically, it would be much easier and more affordable to do it naturally (with effort). Regarding that, one of the reasons occlusion training might be so effective, is that it hurts so bad but you can keep going. As in, because of the constraint, you can put more than 100% of normal effort.

I don't think we misunderstand each other at all, I was just talking theoretical. I too practice progressive overload and the like.

The most efficient way to get fitter faster would be to maximize intensity and volume (occlusion training kind of does this), while minimizing interstimulus interval. I've actually looked into this on how to get fittest fastest (probably not the most efficient way). Bulgarians train 2-3 times per day 7 days a week (and just once on Sunday). They can do this because they only perform the concentric portion of lifts (the actually lifting part) and don't perform the eccentric portion (the lowering part) by dropping the weight. They also perform low reps and lots and lots of sets of at least 95% 1RM (not counting warm-ups), while limiting the exercise sessions to less than 45 minutes for optimal hormone response (testosterone drops after that amount of time). I read somewhere that muscles take 5 hours to recover (assuming they aren't damaged). So, the way to get fittest fastest would be to lift heavy, lift enough, and lift often.

I personally would do occlusion training 2-3 times a day (2 times a day is actually used quite a bit in Japan) if I wanted maximum results. I'm not going all-out yet with my training (saving it for the winter for next spring season).

If you want to do occlusion training, all you need to read is Layne Norton's guide. After that you just find a way to occluded yourself (this was the hardest part for me, I found it hard to occlude my legs), and feel the burn.

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2011, 10:28:57 AM »
Ok, this is very interesting.  I do Olympic-Style weightlifting so I am used to doing low reps (1 rep, 2 reps, 3 reps).  I have to say that I am skeptical about 1 set training (although I admit that that is probably prejudice).  Although it must be said that Olympic-style training is a bit different than your usual strength training, since technique is just as important as pure strength, hence the need to practice lifts (more sets) to perfect technique.

Also when you are talking about 1 set, are you referring to a "working set" (one at a stressful weight).  In other words, do you think that warm-up sets (less stressful ones) are required, if for no other reason than to warm-up the muscles?

Dee, what do you have to say about "periodization" then?  As you probably know, Powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters' progression will not progress linearly.  They will go through a cycle, of increasing weight, so as to max before, say, an important meet and then after that cycle, back off, and begin again at lower weights, building up again (don't know if that's clear to people unfamiliar with the term).

One of the most famous examples that highlights your theory is that of 20-rep "breathing" squats, which Randall Strossen is a big proponent of.

It would be interesting to compare testosterone increase for people using something like a bulgarian method and others using 2-3x per week training.  I trained for a while with a coach
who had us train 5-6 days a week.  I got hurt.  Of course, that was different from what you are doing.  We trained for 1-2 hours every day.

I have that book Convict Conditioning by the way, and it's a good one.  In addition to my weight-training, I also do a couple of the exercises in there.  I HIGHLY recommend this book to people who prefer to do bodyweight exercises or those who would like to throw something else in to the mix.  I am a big opponent of the bench press.  It's the only lift that even if you use proper technique will hurt you sooner or later.  The push-up varieties in that book are awesome for the chest and an excellent substitute.

Offline dee

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2011, 02:11:30 PM »
I don't do Olympic-style lifting, but I've read a lot about it when searching for optimal recovery time (because of those crazy Bulgarians). Based on what I've read, you need a lot more reps to train skill. Also, I feel like high-intensity interval training doesn't mesh with it. It just sounds dangerous. But I know next to nothing about it.

As I said in the first post, any weight can be a stressful weight. Anyway, when I say when set, I mean reaching the effort threshold to stimulate growth. You could warm up for as long as you want to get pumped or pre-fatigued or whatever your goal, but only that effort should matter in the end.

Periodization is psychological in my opinion. If you train hard all the time, you'll be too tired to make PRs, but you will still improve (Bulgarians don't do periodization). If you cycle though, you'll also improve. I think it helps, and it's more of a path of least resistance to gains rather than the "rule". Of course, recovering before a meet would be a good idea too. The way they train though, I think they adapt to the stress and can go 100% twice a day (after a 2 year incredibly adaptation stage called "the dark times"). Check out Pat Mendes on youtube for the monsters that Bulgarian-style methods produce. (800 lbs squat raw as a teenager)

Based on what I've read on the coaching techniques of John Broz and Glenn Pendlay and other many times per day training coaches, their testosterone:cortisol ratios are incredibly low (scientists think a high ration leads to strength gains), so yeah, I wouldn't expect too much.

Convict Conditioning is really an amazing book. I'm still working on the back bridge progressions though. Sorely lack the mobility.

Offline dee

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2011, 06:02:46 AM »
I put more thought into this, and it my views just do not make sense. I threw a note on top. I won't delete it cause some people may be interested in the links, but the reasoning that I used is wrong, thus the conclusions as well.

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2011, 12:12:47 PM »
dee,

Actually, I was quite intrigued by your ideas on this thread.  Before throwing in the towel on your hypothesis, can you briefly summarize what lead you to this idea in the first place, and which assumptions or arguments you now believe to be incorrect.  I think it would be instructive to the rest of us to better understand the thought process you went through here.  Perhaps there is still here the kernel of an ideal that could prove to be productive for gaining strength and fitness.

Offline dee

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Re: My Views on Getting Fitter
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2011, 05:22:14 AM »
Uh, I've been a bit busy lately, so this isn't quite as polished as I would like it. As always, tell me when I'm not making sense and/or crazy.


I just read Body by Science this weekend. I didn't think it was 100% right, but I definitely learned a lot (I want to give a copy to pretty much everyone I know). But it got me to rethink my views of fitness. Here was my train of thought:

1) I was wondering why he suggests such long recovery times; I didn't believe it took that long for muscle fibers to un-fatigue.
2) He mentioned that more recovery time is necessary with more work (hence some being capable of less recovery).
3) This doesn't make sense from a muscle fiber fatiguing point of view, because from my understanding of muscle fibers, they can recover in parallel (hence me thinking recovery time should be constant with proper nutrition).*
4) Then I realized this idea came through because he believes in that microtrauma theory. (Makes sense because bigger muscle = bigger microtrauma = longer recovery necessary).

When thinking about my old effort hypothesis, it didn't really make sense. A correct hypothesis should be able to explain all the cases, and it didn't for occluded walking. Same thing for Doug McGuff's inroad theory. Occluded walking can't be enough to stimulate fitness by that theory, because that definitely doesn't tire the higher order muscle fibers. By pretty much the definition of the inroad theory, any exercise that stimulates muscle growth can't be maintained indefinitely (because your muscle fibers would all be too fatigued to continue), while occluded walking pretty much can be. The muscle fiber type used and fatigue can't matter, at least as a necessary condition. It may help, but why do as much as possible, when you can do as little as necessary? Doug I'm sure would agree with me.

So, I begin rethinking what exactly is the secret to exercise. Then it hit me while reading a paper from 1971 about isometric training. They said that the cutoff point for gaining strength was approximately 60% of the maximum weight. Similarly, 60% of the maximum weight was also the cutoff point for the blood flow occlusion (when muscles contract, blood flow is restricted):

"During a maximal isometric contraction the blood flow to the muscle is occluded temporarily. The flow of blood remains occluded until the maximal force is reduced approximately 60 per cent; beyond this point circulation is re-established, resulting in an increased amount of oxygen to the muscle fibre."

Occlusion may be the rule rather than the exception.

This leads me to 2 possible hypotheses:
1) Anaerobic exercise causes muscle growth.
2) Excess muscle by-product accumulation lead to muscle growth.

Now, anaerobic exercise causes excess muscle by-product accumulation. Using Occam's razor, I'm led to believe that hypothesis 2 is the right one.

So this goes back to the purpose of muscle. All animals have it. It's purpose isn't to lift objects. It's purpose is to move efficiently (there are obviously exceptions when maximal effort is necessary, but I imagine those would be incredibly rare). Wouldn't it make sense for muscle to grow (stronger muscles are more efficient) when the body senses that it is moving inefficiently? Wouldn't muscle by-product accumulation be the body's signal that it is moving efficiently? Pain is meant to be a signal.

This explains why lifting heavy works, why lifting light doesn't, why training your legs builds your arms as well, why training all the exercises on the same day beats training separately, and why even walking occluded does.

So back to an example Doug McGuff gave (not sure if it's from the book or a seminar that I watched). He said you won't get stronger doing exercise if that exercise is washing dishes. I say, you will if you are doing the dishes inefficiently!

No pain, no gain.

Imagine a future when you can retain or even build muscle on a cast because of muscle by-product injections. Or what of all the people too sick to exercise? What if instead of 12 minutes a week, everyone can get the amazing benefits of exercise with one injection every week or two? What about the astronauts? Will this be the new steroids? I think that this is definitely a topic worth researching.


* The one problem that I've had with this train of thought is distinguishing muscle fatigue and microtrauma. Some people say it's the same thing. I don't think this can be true, because microtrauma, based on what we know about it, does take longer to recover for larger muscles (think of it like a scar; scars take longer to recover from because they have to be healed outside to in**), while muscles can recover from fatigue if sets take too long (think of it like your arms and legs recovering at the same time after exercise; both can recover in parallel because both have the built in capability to recover as well as circulation). They are just 2 different mechanisms.

** I'm not a doctor. I know nothing about scars, so I have no idea how valid the analogy is.