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Pushing a muscle to grow...


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1. Muscles do not need to be trained to exhaustion to induce growth. Some people prefer to train to exhaustion, but I haven't done so in years and have seen my best gains. I tend to recommend near-failure more than going to failure, as in, to where you feel you MIGHT get one more rep, but it's a bit questionable if you'd manage it even if you went for it. If you know that one more would be the most you'd get, you're on the right track for taxing yourself adequately. As far as what level of exhaustion or near exhaustion you can train to for ideal gains, that will vary from one person to the next as there's no specific set/rep scheme that will give good results for all who try it. I train more with lots of sets/reps and have built myself for doing more endurance work, but it's not the same as everyone else will do/be capable of, and the workload I can handle will vary over time. If you're relatively new to weight training, it never hurts to start with a simple 3x8 type scheme for each exercise and see what you get from it over a month or two.

 

2. You won't always feel sore from training, and feeling sore is not an indicator of growth potential for muscles (if that were the case, training for gains would be as easy as working out until you were fried and couldn't lift anything else!) I rarely get sore from training, and again, my best gains for size and strength came from training heavy, but not to complete exhaustion and not in a manner where I'm sore after every session.

 

3. Sometimes, less is more when it comes to training. I've seen guys who have been hitting it hard in the gym every day with marathon sessions that would practically kill most people, yet they don't seem to grow or get stronger over time. If you take some of those people and cut their workouts in half and focus on no-nonsense lifts, there's a good chance some of them would see a big change. But, if you read muscle magazines for information as most people do, you'd honestly believe that we all need to do 20 sets for arm work and 30 sets for chest, which is the absurd kind of volume that too many people incorporate too early on. Again, keep it simple, don't spend all night doing tons of sets for a body part when a few well-executed sets done to near failure or failure could net excellent results in much less time.

 

4. Do NOT underestimate the need for eating enough as well as adequate rest and recovery. If you do not eat enough, you won't grow no matter how great of a program you may be training on. Muscle grows when you rest, not when you train, so if you don't get enough rest, then you reduce the gains you may be capable of. Too many people think that by spending lots of time in the gym means the gains come regardless of how you eat and rest, which is why too many people get bad results even if they're training well.

 

Start basic, focus on compound movements that give the most bang for your buck (squats, deadlifts, standing overhead presses, barbell/dumbbell rows, chins/pull ups) and keep things simple, train HARD but intelligently with a sound program, eat more than you normally need to maintain your weight, and get plenty of rest. Not much more to it than that for getting some decent gains!

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i noticed that too. i used to train at least a couple hours a day and i hardly made any gains. i'm now trying to focus on training in less time, more intensity and volume, and shorter rests in between sets. i was just wondering what you all consider YOUR normal amount of time that you donate for strength training. i cut back from 2 hours to 1 hour.

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Everyone probably already knows this but the muscle soreness you feel right away is just lactic acid buildup. It goes a way pretty quickly. So I would imagine after time a person that weight trains a lot might have less, and therefore be less sore. But I'm not an expert on all this and I could be completely wrong.

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I was just wondering what you all consider YOUR normal amount of time that you donate for strength training. i cut back from 2 hours to 1 hour.

 

I train anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on the program I'm doing and goals I'm looking to reach. If I'm working to build more endurance as I am now, I usually train about 70-90 minutes as I'm doing more volume. When I'm doing simply-designed programs for strength/size gains I usually work out no more than 30-60 minutes. Doing long 2+ hour workouts never did anything to help me much, so I don't spend that much time training as it's of no added benefit to me.

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I agree with VE, for me training longer than 60 min. is a waste.If your training as hard as you should be you'll be spent by then anyway.I would make a routine that lets you finish in an hour.Also keep time between sets minimal.No b.s. between sets. You'll fit alot more lifting in that way.

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I agree with VE, for me training longer than 60 min. is a waste.If your training as hard as you should be you'll be spent by then anyway.I would make a routine that lets you finish in an hour.Also keep time between sets minimal.No b.s. between sets. You'll fit alot more lifting in that way.

 

what is your optimal time for resting between sets? i read in a book by arnold that it should be no more than 60 seconds. i shoot for about 45 seconds? anyone else?

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I agree with VE, for me training longer than 60 min. is a waste.If your training as hard as you should be you'll be spent by then anyway.I would make a routine that lets you finish in an hour.Also keep time between sets minimal.No b.s. between sets. You'll fit alot more lifting in that way.

 

what is your optimal time for resting between sets? i read in a book by arnold that it should be no more than 60 seconds. i shoot for about 45 seconds? anyone else?

 

Optimal time will vary. If you're going to be training hard and heavy with low-rep sets, there's no way that you'll be fully rested for your next working set in 45-60 seconds to be at your peak. If you're training moderately and are looking to build your endurance, then shorter rest periods are a good idea, but again, it will vary depending on your training and goals.

 

For example, when I squatted and did 5x5 @ 380 lbs. last night, I took 3-4 minutes between sets because I wanted to feel properly refreshed to be able to complete each set well enough. If I'd rested 2 minutes or less, there's a chance I may not have made every set because I require more rest when going heavier. If I were doing something like 3x10 @ 275, then I wouldn't need more then 90 sec. to 2 minutes rest between sets because I wouldn't be going all-out and therefore would recover faster.

 

The best way to do it is, if you don't feel ready for your next set, then you probably need more time. It doesn't get much more simple than that

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I agree with VE, for me training longer than 60 min. is a waste.If your training as hard as you should be you'll be spent by then anyway.I would make a routine that lets you finish in an hour.Also keep time between sets minimal.No b.s. between sets. You'll fit alot more lifting in that way.

 

what is your optimal time for resting between sets? i read in a book by arnold that it should be no more than 60 seconds. i shoot for about 45 seconds? anyone else?

 

i normally rest for 2 minutes between sets. i read a study which said that it makes no difference for your strength whether you rest 2 or 4 minutes. that's what i experienced too so i go with two minutes. but like VE said it will be necessary to rest longer than 60 secs if you do your excercises with higher weight and aim for low reps.

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Starting out I can not give advise I guess. I intuitively now know, from many years of working out with this old body of mine, when my muscles feel like they are ready to be used again. When I have done a set, I will walk around the gym (keeping the blood flowing optimally), come back to the machine or exercise, put the touch to the exercise, but if I am still out of breath, my heart rate is still way up, or my body is saying "Wait!!!!", then I will just go walk again, and try to slow my breathing down/heart rate down/try to relax my pumped up muscle.

 

Is lactic acid buildup in the muscle what makes us sore? In my mind I have that lactic acid is what makes us stop lifting. That at the beginning of the exercise we have all the oxygen produced ATP (and in the form of creatine) in our muscle and that as the exercise progresses, we use it up as we go. But there will come a time in the set that the reps get harder and harder to do because we have used up the ATP from the fast oxygen metabolism (Kreb's/TCA cycle) and are now doing anaerobic metabolism with lactic acid as the by product building up in the muscle tissue. And you lift till that buildup is so much that there is no ATP left for the muscle to use. That you will wait the alotted time to get the lactic acid out of the muscle and refill it with more ATP (from the oxygen metabolism) to use for the next set of reps.

 

I thought that true soreness (which I have the day after or two days after) is the little micro tears of cells in the muscle tissue that need to be repaired. Once the cells have been ripped open, cytokines are released that cause the neighboring cells to swell and turn on our immune response and repair systems. That the soreness is the swelling/edema pressing on nerves in the muscle, signalling that repair is not complete yet. Once the swelling has gone down, and there is no more soreness, then the muscle is repaired (and even better to handle the next load of weights) and ready for the next onslaught you give it!

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