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Old 10-06-2009, 11:42 AM   #1
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Default Carpinelli on Training

An interesting article I thought I would post:

Master Trainer: Bodybuilding, Weightlifting and Lifetime Fitness

Here's the Clifs Notes:

Quote:
Over the last several years, Carpinelli's incisive critical analyses1,2 of resistance training studies have shown that there is very little evidence to support the complex, higher volume training advocated by professional and commercial organizations. And, Carpinelli has shown that there is little evidence that the many variations of resistance training variables such as number of repetitions and percent of maximum (1RM) used for an exercise, also advocated by these same organizations to produce very specific outcomes, in fact, do produce such specific outcomes. Instead, Carpinelli has shown that simple, brief, resistance training with muscle groups trained twice per week produces good outcomes regardless of trainee status. Outcomes are largely attributable to genetic factors and far less to variations of routines.

Performing higher volume, complex routines will not particularly harm trainees. Such training, however, may become daunting and frustrating over time and perhaps lead people to lapse in their training or stop altogether.

"In his critical analysis, Carpinelli reviewed 21 resistance training studies that compared within the same study training with lighter or moderate resistance typically performed with higher repetitions per set to training with heavy resistance with typically lower repetitions per set. In 20 of the 21 studies, there were no differences in strength outcomes."

Bottom-line:

If maximizing motor unit recruitment and strength depended upon the amount of resistance used in an exercise, then overwhelmingly the studies comparing training with different loads would show much better outcomes when heavy resistance was used. Instead, about 95% of such studies showed no difference in outcomes favoring the use of heavy resistance.

Proper interpretation of the size principle points toward the use of any reasonable, self-chosen resistance and time under tension for producing optimal outcomes when sets conclude with a maximal or near maximal effort. The use of more moderate resistance and somewhat longer time (60-90 seconds) under tension may also reduce the risk of injuries associated with heavy resistance.

This also makes resistance training more acceptable and a lot safer for many people, from top athletes, bodybuilders of all ages, and to a wide spectrum of the general public. Conversely, the belief and promotion of the use of heavy resistance by professional organizations and commercial concerns represent a weightlifting framework that may have discouraged many people maybe even you - from engaging in resistance training and possibly resulted in many unnecessary injuries.

To read more about how to effectively use more moderate resistance based on a proper interpretation of the size principle, see our new training primer, Optimal Training.

Bottom-line:

If maximizing motor unit recruitment and strength depended upon the amount of resistance used in an exercise, then overwhelmingly the studies comparing training with different loads would show much better outcomes when heavy resistance was used. Instead, about 95% of such studies showed no difference in outcomes favoring the use of heavy resistance.

Proper interpretation of the size principle points toward the use of any reasonable, self-chosen resistance and time under tension for producing optimal outcomes when sets conclude with a maximal or near maximal effort. The use of more moderate resistance and somewhat longer time (60-90 seconds) under tension may also reduce the risk of injuries associated with heavy resistance.

This also makes resistance training more acceptable and a lot safer for many people, from top athletes, bodybuilders of all ages, and to a wide spectrum of the general public. Conversely, the belief and promotion of the use of heavy resistance by professional organizations and commercial concerns represent a weightlifting framework that may have discouraged many people maybe even you - from engaging in resistance training and possibly resulted in many unnecessary injuries.




References

1. Carpinelli RN, Otto RM, Winett RA. A critical analysis of the ACSM position stand on resistance training: insufficient evidence to support recommended training protocols. JEPonline. 2004; 7:1-64.
2. Otto RM, Carpinelli RN. A critical analysis of the single versus multiple set debate. JEPonline. 2006; 9:32-48.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:58 AM   #2
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Basically, Carpinelli studied the studies on resistance training and found:

NOTE: When I state "no benefit" it means that there is no evidence found in the 21 Carpinelli studies

--There is no benefit to high volume training
--There is no benefit to training complexity
--Strength training can be performed with virtually any rep range, as long as progression is the foundation
--Percentage of weight used has little impact on strength training results
--Training routine style and techniques have little impact on training outcomes

--High volume, complex routines are not particularly harmful, and can be used, but they increase risk of injury
--High percentage (to 1RM), heavy weight is the most harmful form of training due to heightened injury risk

But, with that said, does training with heavy weight yield better strength gains for the average trainee?

Quote:
In his critical analysis, Carpinelli reviewed 21 resistance training studies that compared within the same study training with lighter or moderate resistance typically performed with higher repetitions per set to training with heavy resistance with typically lower repetitions per set. In 20 of the 21 studies, there were no differences in strength outcomes.
--High intensity in this context is weight at 90% 1RM
--Moderate intensity in this context is weight at 70% 1RM
--Light intensity in this context is weight under 70% 1RM
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Old 10-26-2012, 11:31 PM   #3
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Bump because it is interesting.
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Old 10-27-2012, 02:56 AM   #4
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The problem is that almost all studies of rep ranges etc are performed on newbies. The vast majority of the studies begin with something like,

24 previously-untrained college-aged adult males were -

There are good reasons for this. They're all previously-untrained since if some of them were trained and some untrained then their previous training might affect the results, so you don't know whether it was your tested protocol or something else that gave the results.

They're college-aged because the research centres are mostly in universities, and students are offered extra credit if they participate. It's harder to get 40 year olds to sign up.

They're male because it's hard to get females to sign up for resistance training studies.

If you take a young adult male who's previously untrained, ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING you do will make them stronger. Even just stretching one leg's muscles will make them 29% stronger, and the muscles in the other unstretched leg will get 11% stronger. [Source1. If even just stretching the muscle makes a newbie stronger, is it really going to matter if they do 3-5 or 15-20 reps in a set, rest 30" or 240" or do things with a 1-0-1 or 4-4-4 tempo?

Now, do some studies on a bunch of guys with at least a 3-plate squat, and we might learn something.
Quote:
Proper interpretation of the size principle points toward the use of any reasonable, self-chosen resistance
No, not self-chosen. Left to themselves, people - male or female - consistently choose around half their 1RM as their work sets. That is, they choose a lower weight than will actually produce any effect. [Source2]. This intensity level is lower than Carpinelli's minimum of 70% 1RM. What he assumes can't be assumed.

Not all studies have found that people training on their own get no results. But generally they find that supervised trainees do better. [Source3, Source4, Source5].

My own experience as a trainee and trainer both tell me, as I've written here, that sets and reps don't matter much at all for beginners - that is, for people who can be stronger from one workout to the next. I address myself to beginners because that is 99.9% of the training population. For them, the key thing is to lay the foundations for future training: to have enough sets and reps to practice the movement well, but not so many that they'll get fatigued and form will break down.
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Old 10-27-2012, 08:36 AM   #5
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I don't really look at this is terms of rep ranges. For me the message is clear...to gain strength as rapidly as possible you need to be pushing sets with greater relative intensity. This involves pushing sets for as many reps as possible. The outcome of this practice is progression of weight. You hit a high number of reps, you have to add weight at some point.

This for me is the gem in the meta-analysis. A not so obvious one, considering the fact that 90% of workouts in this industry simply list sets and reps, but never detail how hard to push a set. And considering when you look in on most lifting posts, young guys have very little clue how to progress, how hard to work sets, etc. It's not addressed, and not as important as "buffet" picking their exercises and rep ranges.

The "pushing" of the set is critical.

Most natural bodybuilders I know are nearly as strong as the natural powerlifters I know. They use higher rep ranges. So I feel comfortable extending this premise that rep range doesn't matter as much as we wished it did on up to intermediate, and perhaps some advanced intermediate lifters.

At some point there is certainly a value in low rep training, particularly if powerlifting is a goal, but since 99% of us are not powerlifters...

Anyway, just tossing out some general thoughts. Feel free to pick them apart.
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Old 10-27-2012, 09:41 AM   #6
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Aaron brings out some interesting points. It would be interesting to see some tests done on 1.) either more experienced lifters or 2.) older lifters. That is a personal bias, but still would be interesting.

I need to get my head around some of the numbers. One problem I see in trainees is that many do not know, and do not really want to know, what their 1rm is so figuring 90% and 70% is nearly impossible.
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Old 10-27-2012, 09:54 AM   #7
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I would love studies on experienced lifters, but it would need to be done by a group of individuals that understood the natural versus unnatural gains curve, the slowing of gains, beginner gains, etc. Problem is we can't get most lifters in our own niche to care about these things, study them, or even admit some of these concepts might have truth to them.

We have white coats studying muscle building when they don't understand a lot of the fundamental variables.

Do I sound like Debbie Downer?

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Old 10-28-2012, 03:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamazav View Post
I need to get my head around some of the numbers. One problem I see in trainees is that many do not know, and do not really want to know, what their 1rm is so figuring 90% and 70% is nearly impossible.
Those who don't know their 1RMs - or even have rough guesses of them - are invariably beginners. In this context, a "beginner" is as I've said above, someone who can get stronger from one workout to the next, and who in fact may get stronger in a movement doing things other than that exercise.

Thus, simply testing a beginner's 1RM will provide enough stimulus to force an adaptive response. That is, take someone learning to squat today, test their 1RM - and their 1RM will be greater in the next session!

For beginners, the whole thing of 1RMs and percentages is meaningless. It's enough to say, "in every session, do more weight than you did before; if you can't do more weight, do more reps; if you can't do more reps do more sets."

At some point they come up against a genuine stall (not a single session's being stuck, but a true stall of a couple of weeks) and now their 1RM has some meaning. This is where sets and reps and percentages and rest between sets and all that stuff may important.

Very very few people ever get that far. Keeping the company we do in our strength gyms or on forums we forget that in most gyms work sets in a 2-plate squat for men or 1-plate for women is unusual. Add a plate a side to each of those and people would stop to look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar View Post
I don't really look at this is terms of rep ranges. For me the message is clear...to gain strength as rapidly as possible you need to be pushing sets with greater relative intensity. This involves pushing sets for as many reps as possible. The outcome of this practice is progression of weight. You hit a high number of reps, you have to add weight at some point.
For beginners, I agree. Intermediates and advanced, well I don't train them much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar
when you look in on most lifting posts, young guys have very little clue how to progress, how hard to work sets, etc. It's not addressed, and not as important as "buffet" picking their exercises and rep ranges.
Most genuine routines and competent trainers/coaches do address this, if only to say for example, "do 6-10 reps, when you can do 10 reps, add 5lbs and go back to 6 reps, building up again."

Quote:
Originally Posted by BendtheBar
At some point there is certainly a value in low rep training, particularly if powerlifting is a goal, but since 99% of us are not powerlifters...
You might be interested in Easy Strength. It's a long ramble between Pavel Tstatsouline and Dan John, but once you get past the "nostalgia ain't what it used to be!" you get two basic programmes for people.

For the general health trainee,
  • pick some kind of squat, some kind of push, some kind of pull, some kind of hip hinge
  • find 40-80% 1RM in each of those exercises
  • using that 40-80%, do squats 15-25 reps in all, and about 10 reps in the rest; only the total reps matter, just get them out however you like; on good days go heavy, on bad days go light
  • do this as often as you can - even every day if you can - for six weeks
  • retest 1RMs, choose new exercises
For the athlete trainee, it's pretty much the same except that they go 80-95% 1RM and the total reps are lower, while the workout frequency is less.

There are all sorts of tweaks and so on, but that's about it. Basically, instead of trying to push up your 100% 1RM, you're pushing up your 60 or 80% 1RM, which you do by doing it fairly often.

This approach is something I've tried with myself and my PT clients, and it does work - on beginners at least. For example, never using more than 40-45kg and 5 reps on squat, squat 1RM went from 60 to 75kg in eight weeks. This approach leaves you pretty refreshed, you can do it on little sleep, etc.

Pushing yourself as in Starting Strength or whatever definitely does work. But consistent workouts with a moderate effort work, too. You do need to test yourself every now and then to reset that moderate effort, though.
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:35 PM   #9
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The biggest problem with studies like this is that people controlling training experience is problem. Even if they are around the same training experience they might have a diet that is not up to par with the rest of their training.
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