Time to Grow Without Plateau
by Eric Broser
For those of you out there that have been training for more than a couple of years, I?d like you to take a little trip down memory lane with me...Remember back in the beginning, when you first started training, when new muscle and more power came almost every week? When the main goal at every training session was simply to add more weight to the bar and get it from point A to B in any way possible. When every night you would hop on the scale after the last meal of the night (of course when you would be at your heaviest for the day) and be thrilled to see that you weighed ? a lb more than the night before. When all you had to do to gain muscle was to eat more, train more, sleep more, and abracadabra, alacazam, presto...there was more, of YOU!!
Ahhh, those were good times, weren?t they? But as all intermediate to advanced bodybuilders know...all good things come to an end. After about the first year of training, gains begin to slow down, weights don?t climb quite as easily, and the scale doesn?t budge like it once did. Despite your best efforts in the gym, pounding away on the same exercises for the same range of reps on the same days, nothing seems to be happening anymore. What?s the deal?
The fist thing you must understand is that muscles are not just a lumps of tissue. Muscles are extremely complex structures, that like onions, have many layers that need to be peeled before reaching the core. So, without turning this into a class in anatomy and physiology, let?s just take a quick and basic look inside these molehills we all wish to turn into mountains...our muscles.
Muscle is composed of bundles of muscle fibers also known as myofibers. Each fiber contains myofibrils, which themselves are composed of small bundles of myofilaments. The myofilaments are made up of two proteins, known as actin and myosin, and are the elements of muscle that actually shorten upon contraction.. The actin and myosin function within the sarcomere to produce these contractions. The sarcomere is the smallest functional unit within muscle.
In general there are three distinct fiber types found in skeletal muscle. These three include: Type I, also known as slow-twitch or red fibers; Type IIA, and IIB, also known collectively as fast-twitch or white fibers.Type I are the slowest, smallest, and have the highest level of endurance of all the fibers. They are most active in slow movements and long-term aerobic activities, and take a long time to fatigue. Next come the Type IIA and the Type IIB fibers, which are the fastest, largest, and least endurance oriented in the group. They are most active in short-term quick-burst or power activities. They are powered entirely through the anaerobic (without oxygen) system, and contract nearly twice as fast as slow twitch fibers, but fatigue much more rapidly. It is important to remember, however, that within our muscles there also lies ?intermediate? fiber types that show both high oxidative and fast-twitch characteristics.
As you contract a muscle, each fiber type is recruited in a specific order. The smallest (lowest threshold) fibers, the Type I, are recruited first. As the speed or force of contraction is increased, you will sequentially recruit the intermediate fibers, and then the Type IIA and IIB muscle fibers. However, to recruit the Type IIB fibers it may take over 90% of a maximal contraction!
All people are born with these muscle fiber types. Most muscles contain almost an even split of these basic slow (Type I) and fast (Type II) fibers, with of course intermediate fibers that lie along the continuum between them. There is of course some genetic variation between different muscles, and from individual to individual. Some people are ?born? to run marathons (slow-twitch dominant), while others are born to run sprints (fast-twitch dominant...and very lucky if they want to be a bodybuilder).
Although it is the Type II fibers that have the greatest potential for hypertrophy, in order to obtain maximal muscle size, it is imperative that we regularly train ALL of our muscle fibers. Why limit ourselves to only maximizing the potential of a portion of our fibers? Doesn?t it make sense that in order to come as close as possible to our genetic limits that we strive to ?get at? every last fiber in each of our muscles? Of course! In addition, muscles also become larger due to other adaptions to training aside from actual fiber hypertrophy. Enhanced muscle size also occurs by way of increases in mitochondrial enzymes, increases in stored ATP and phosphocreatine, increases in stored glycogen and triglyceride, and also from the laying down of additional capillary beds.
So now the question is... ?How do we go about successfully working all of our muscle fibers as well as stimulating all of the other pathways associated with maximum muscle hypertrophy?? The answer can be summed up in one simple word...VARIATION! After you have laid a foundation in your first couple of years of lifting weights, it is time to start to vary your training. Too many misguided trainees use the same exercises, in the same order, with the same rep tempo, rest between sets, training techniques, and rep ranges...day after day...week after week...and month after month! You must understand that the human body is an incredibly adaptable machine and thus will quickly cease to respond to stimuli that it is exposed to time and again. Do you know what one of the biggest roadblocks to progress, in anything that we do, is? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result! That?s just plain craziness!
Now that I (hopefully) have you convinced that variation is your friend, your question to me probably is, ?Ok hotshot...sounds good, but how do I go about this?? The answer lies in something called P/RR/S, which is short for POWER, REP RANGE, SHOCK. ?Cool name...but what the heck is it?? Another fine question! It is a method of cycling workouts that I developed after lifting weights for more than a dozen years, utilizing every training technique and program I had ever seen, or read about, along the way. In those 12 + years of training I had gone from a 125 lb weakling, who could barely bench press the 45 lb bar, to a 225 lb title winning bodybuilder that could bench press 400 + lbs...all without the aid of drugs. However, although I had done nicely, adding about 100 lbs to my frame, I still wanted more, but was not getting it. I had hit a wall and could not climb over it, or go around it. This forced me to examine everything I was doing in order to come up with a new plan of attack. I felt my diet and supplementation were solid, so I began focusing more on my training. Over the course of several months I slowly developed a program that had me gaining again, and before I knew it, I was up to 250 lbs, and feeling stronger than ever! The reason I named this program POWER, REP RANGE, SHOCK will be apparent in just a moment, but I must tell you that I can honestly say that I have seen more consistent progress using this system than on another other I have ever tried. I have used P/RR/S for four straight years now and I am continually getting bigger and better. Of course, the system has continued to metamorphosize along the way as I continually tweak it in order to make it even more efficient at stimulating hypertrophy. In fact, I have developed several ?hybrid? P/RR/S programs to fit the unique needs of different trainees, based on goals and level of experience. But I am getting ahead of myself. What I would like to present to you at this time is the basic P/RR/S plan, so that you can get an idea what this is all about.
So, ready to grow? Read on...
Eric Broser -- All American EFX: Board Rep/Internet Marketing Manager/Team Natural Freak
Current AAEFX Stack: KA Pro, Cell Rush, LG-5 Pro, Nytric Pro, HBM, Kre-Generator
All American EFX | The Birthplace of Kre-Alkalyn
-Creator/Pioneer of the P/RR/S and FD/FS Training Protocols
-Monthly Columnist for Iron Man, UCW and Planet Muscle magazines
-NGA Pro Bodybuilder/Judge
P/RR/S:"Time to Grow Without Plateau!" (DVD and E-Book now available!!)