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Old 10-26-2011, 10:40 AM   #21
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While the end goals are different, the journeys are not as different as we like to paint them.
That's a great quote.
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:53 AM   #22
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Let's look at an advanced bodybuilder for a second...

He is quite strong, but prefers to use 315 on squats instead of 405, and focus more on quality reps targeting the quads. He decides on the following approach:

Squats - 315 for 5 x 10 reps, 120 seconds of rest between sets.

After X amount of weeks he has adapted and needs to challenge himself. He could:

1) Add sets.
2) Add reps.
3) Decrease rest periods.
4) Use something like pre-exhaustion.
5) Increase weight.

The addition of reps and sets is fairly finite. He could possibly increase by several sets, perhaps even taking his reps up to 20 rep set. That would be brutal, but certainly a viable manner of progression and taxing a muscle.

He could decrease rest periods over the coming years. This again is finite, but in concert with the addition of sets and reps would certainly be brutal.

Add in a possible pre-exhaustion and I think it's fair to say that this advanced lift "could" progress for years without adding weight.

Now, let's look at a novice...

A novice starts with 135 pound squats. Possibly:

Squats - 135 pounds for 3 x 5 reps, 120 seconds rest between sets.

The question becomes...what is the best approach for this novice to build quad size over the next 2 to 4 years? Adding sets? Adding reps? Reducing rest? Adding weight?

The best approach is to add weight.

It is certainly beneficial to evolve his quad training to possibly higher rep sets, or to reduce rest periods, but for this lifter weight progression is the core driving mechanism.

My point is this...98% of people are recreational lifters. If they train properly most (90%) of their size will be added during the first 3-5 years of lifting. During these years progression of weight is the primary driving mechanism for growth. Therefore, weight progression is the primary driving mechanism non-advanced recreational lifters need to worry about.

Once they have a few years in, it makes sense to periodize and tinker around as long as realistic muscle building expectations are kept.
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:59 AM   #23
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To a point, yes, that's what I mean, but I also agree with the other guys in that if someone CAN squat 400 instead of 300 they PROBABLY will be able to build bigger muscles in the long run.

However, if someone can use 300lb to build huge legs through volume (or NOT through volume, maybe he's just genetically gifted), then in a bodybuilding comp he's going to kill a guy who can squat 600 but isn't able to use it to build massive and cut legs. Will the heavy squatter probably have bigger legs? Yup, but in the end it only makes a difference if it leads to bigger legs and bettter looks.
Awesome Post!
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:08 AM   #24
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Awesome Post!
Thanks man.

BTB, I really do agree completely with everything you're saying. If it ever came across that I was saying that volume could be an excuse to not move heavier weights, I didn't mean it that way at all.
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:15 AM   #25
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I think there's actually quite a simple reason that volume is generally preferred in Bodybuilding:

If you're training with maximal or near maximal weight, something close to your 1RM, your points of failure may well be not be muscular. They may be neuromuscular, you may have exhausted your short-term energy supplies or you may just slip out of the groove. There are a multitude of reasons why on any particular set of maximal weight training you might be forced to stop, and that could and does happen before your muscles have been exhausted.

If you're training with a higher level of volume, ergo a lower percentage of your 1RM, it's less likely you'll stop for neuromuscular reasons, less likely you'll stop for structural reasons or for slipping out of the groove or any of the multitude of reasons that you may stop with a maximal weight. The muscles really are the main determinant of whether you fail or not if the weight is lower, once the muscle has been exhausted you'll fail. Because of the nature of muscles themselves they will probably be under tension for considerably longer as well.

So there you go, I don't think it needs to be as complicated as muscle fibers and sarcoplasmic whatevers, or as head-in-the-cloud as talking about finesse and sculpting. It's really quite simply a matter of what fatigues first.
This is an awesome post. I never thought about it that way.

I guess it could also be argued that one important reason to progress to heavier weights is to prime the CNS to lift as much weight as possible, thereby negating the nature of the CNS or bad form from limiting the amount of weight one can move which would of course limit stimulation of the muscle.

I know personally that I've set most of my rep PR's with lighter weights right after I set a PR for max weight. When I go back down it just feels crazy light.
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:50 AM   #26
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I guess it could also be argued that one important reason to progress to heavier weights is to prime the CNS to lift as much weight as possible, thereby negating the nature of the CNS or bad form from limiting the amount of weight one can move which would of course limit stimulation of the muscle.
Exactly. This is one of the reasons H/L/M works so well and was so popular back when Bodybuilding was natural. You know this has all been done and hashed out before, we're better off looking back than looking forward.

I expect that to reach your muscular potential it won't be as simple as higher and higher workload, at certain points there will be a need to mix things up. As long as the end-goal is the same (i.e strength for the sake of size) I can only see benefits in mixing reps/sets to allow continual progress.
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Old 10-26-2011, 12:00 PM   #27
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Because of the demands of heavy weight, it makes sense to periodize in some fashion. I know quite a few top bodybuilders that utilize non-linear progression, or have integrated 531 style periodization into their workouts.

I guess my point is that mixing it up, HLM, periodization, etc., all amount to about the same thing for an advanced lifter. Different terms to achieve the same goal...if that makes sense.
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Old 10-26-2011, 12:36 PM   #28
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back when Bodybuilding was natural..
I'm sure this was a comment regarding the IFBB bodybuilders. Not the tested and proven drug free bodybuilders.
I know in the UK things are legal that aren't here.
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Old 10-26-2011, 12:38 PM   #29
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I'm sure this was a comment regarding the IFBB bodybuilders. Not the tested and proven drug free bodybuilders.
Hehe, good catch. My phrasing was poor, I was referring to the 50-60's era specifically and the types of training routines which were prevalent then; rather than making a judgement about todays BBers.
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Old 10-26-2011, 12:40 PM   #30
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Back to the topic of volume, is it safe to say that high volume workouts are best saved for advanced bodybuilders? I guess what would be the down side for a beginner who used a volume system?
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