Monthly Archives: November 2012
There have been some interesting studies published of late, a number of which have practical implications for our training routines.
- Higher rep ranges (15 – 25) are worth including for muscle growth
A brand new study conducted by Dr Stu Phillps and his team set about the task of testing whether training for 10 weeks at 30% 1 Rep Max (usually around 20 -25 reps) to failure could produce equivalent, or even greater muscle gains than heavier (80% 1RM) training. These aren’t precise figures but usually an 80% 1RM would be around 5 – 8 reps before you hit failure
After ten weeks the authors found quadriceps volume / size in the beginner trainers and muscle fibre area (type one and two fibres) were increased across ALL groups (both light and heavy), almost equally, regardless of the rep range used.
Maybe the old adage of “go heavy or go home” isn’t necessarily true?
Yes and No.
What the study has shown us is that you can get EQUAL muscle gains over a 10 week period with higher training loads in BEGINNER trainers. We have yet to see the evidence for the same results in advanced lifters.
It has also shown that training heavy is actually a far more time efficient method to build muscle (you spend a lot less time under the bar doing 5- 8 reps than 20-25).
When to include some higher rep work in your routine:
- You have an injury you are working around; by all means drop the weight and rep out to failure.
- You have trouble “feeling” an exercise working a target muscle area i.e. lats or chest, it would not hurt to dial down the weights and focus on making the muscle work in isolation.
- You are “older” and prone to injury from lifting heavy weights
- Your strength gains have stagnated
- You are simply looking for something different to try in the gym to keep things interesting.
Other than these times, it’s probably a good idea to keep the weight relatively heavy and focus on getting stronger or doing more volume. But certainly don’t be scared to throw in a few light days into your routine.
2. Caffeine Pre Workout
A new study out of the Coventry University, UK has proven what we have all known for a while; caffeine pre workout can improve anaerobic (weight training) workouts significantly.
The study recruited 13 resistance trained males, who either ingested an energy drink containing 179mg of caffeine or a placebo 60 minutes pre workout in a cross over fashion.
The participants did a workout comprising of bench press, deadlift, rows and squats (all taken to failure) with a moderate
weight (60% of their 1RM).
The researchers reported the following results:
- Participants completed significantly greater repetitions to failure, irrespective of exercise, in the energy drink condition.
- Rating of perceived effort was significantly higher in the placebo condition
- The energy drink positively enhances psychophysiological factors related to exertion in trained males
So those participants who used caffeine pre workout were able to do more repetitions before they reached failure, felt as if their workout was easier, and were generally more pumped about training. Sound familiar?
Jack3d micro is latest pre workout supplement to hit the market. It contains caffeine and a number of proven ergogens.
1. Burd, N. A., Mitchell, C. J., Churchward-Venne, T. A. & Phillips, S. M. Bigger weights may not beget bigger muscles: evidence from acute muscle protein synthetic responses after resistance exercise. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 37, 551–554 (2012).
2. Mitchell, C. J., Churchward-Venne, T. A. & West, D. Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. Journal of Applied … (2012)
3. Duncan MJ et al. The acute effect of a caffeine containing energy drink on mood state, readiness to invest effort and resistance exercise to failure. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Nov 23. [Epub ahead of print.]