Still trying to pack on Muscle, Improve Everything and Train for the CrossFit Open?
In an earlier article we concluded that muscles must be worked to failure if an adequate hypertrophic (growth) response is to occur. Whether this involves one or more sets is irrelevant as in either scenario the muscles must be worked to failure and beyond. This causes significant microscopic damage to the muscle tissues and it is during the period of recovery that protein synthesis undertakes the repair process that results in bigger muscle fibers.
But how must rest is needed and when is it safe to train the same muscles to further intensive exercise?
Scientific studies suggest that muscle fiber degradation takes approximately five to seven days to repair and recover. Any further exposure of the affected muscle to intensive activity will interfere with the recovery process and actually prevent it from achieving maximum growth. If you’re trying to pack on muscular size, in this case MORE OFTEN is not better. However, using the muscle to assist in exercising other body parts or even taking part in low intensity aerobic exercise will not prevent recovery.
It follows therefore that each muscle group should be trained intensively only once each week in order to allow full recovery. This can be achieved by incorporating a split training regime that allows you to work out several times each week but still exercise each muscle group intensively only once every seven days. This is where crafty programming comes into play for those with a friendly enough schedule that allows for 4, 5, even 6 sessions per week. Varying your options in terms of basic “progression” is a must. An easy way to “test” yourself would be to squat heavy (8-12 reps) and repeat every 5th day. Do the same with pressing and pulling.
Be your own experiment. Depending on your current size, you should be able to see improvements within 12 weeks. If not, rather than just manipulating reps, a more effective way to look at periodization is training different strength qualities at different times.
Better advise would be to split up those 12 weeks with 6 weeks of “hypertrophy” training with 6 weeks of strength training. This strategy will allow you to pack on some size and if done right, you may even get stronger.
Bottom line, if your weighing less than 175 lbs and considering the CF Games anytime soon, sometimes the best way to lift heavier weights (in order to run with the big dogs) is to pack on some weight yourself. As with any program, whether designed for strength, size or power, proper nutrition and recovery is a must.
Words from the big man himself… Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Don’t leave any stones un-turned.” Break a few rules and start dialing in your macro ratios, get enough sleep and stay hydrated.
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Photo Reference: http://www.norcalcrossfit.com/about-jason