Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Tag: Training

No need to train until failure

“No pain, no gain!”

“If you’re not puking, you’re not working hard enough!”

“Go until you can’t do one more rep!”

That’s how we should train, right? Well no, at least not in untrained lifters, according to a new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Effect Of Resistance Training To Muscle Failure Versus Volitional Interruption At High- And Low-Intensities On Muscle Mass And Strength.

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of resistance training (RT) at high- and low-intensities performed to muscle failure or volitional interruption on muscle strength, cross-sectional area (CSA), pennation angle (PA) and muscle activation. Thirty-two untrained men participated in the study. Each leg was allocated in one of four unilateral RT protocols: RT to failure at high (HIRT-F) and low (LIRT-F) intensities, and RT to volitional interruption (repetitions performed to the point in which participants voluntarily interrupted the exercise) at high (HIRT-V) and low (LIRT-V) intensities. Muscle strength (1-RM), CSA, PA and muscle activation by amplitude of the electromyography (EMG) signal were assessed before (Pre), after 6 (6W) and 12 (12W) weeks. 1-RM increased similarly after 6W (range: 15.8 - 18.9%, ES: 0.41- 0.58) and 12W (range: 25.6 - 33.6%, ES: 0.64 - 0.98) for all protocols. All protocols were similarly effective in increasing CSA after 6W (range: 3.0 - 4.6%, ES: 0.10 - 0.24) and 12W (range: 6.1 - 7.5%, ES: 0.22 - 0.26). PA increased after 6W (~3.5) and 12W (~9%; main time effect, P < 0.0001), with no differences between protocols. EMG values were significantly higher for the high-intensity protocols at all times (main intensity effect, P < 0.0001). In conclusion, both high- and low-intensity RT performed to volitional interruption are equally effective in increasing muscle mass, strength and PA when compared to RT performed to muscle failure.

Ok, so why is this important? How often do you hear from somebody you know who has recently started a workout program, and all they rave about is how tough it is. “My trainer made me do so many squats that I could barely walk for a week afterwards!”

Although D.O.M.S. (delayed onset muscle soreness) is an inflammatory response to something your body is not used to, it doesn’t always mean that you are necessarily improving. The go beyond that, doing something like squats or push-ups until you can no longer do one more rep shouldn’t necessarily be your end goal either.

What the aforementioned study is telling us, is that in untrained individuals, training to failure isn’t necessarily more effective in improving your strength or muscular size. This is quite important to remember for those just starting out in a workout program because the belief is that you must completely destroy yourself in order to improve.

I would argue that movement mechanics and safety outweigh the importance of how hard you work in the beginning. Take note that I still think intensity and effort need to be high in order to start to develop good habits, however, effective coaching where an athlete or participant is scaled and pushed according to their fitness and skill level should be the primary focus.

I run the CrossFit Orangeville Beginner Bootcamp with this very mentality. Sure, the first few sessions involve soreness (read above: D.O.M.S) and some minimal muscular failure, however, the primary focus is on moving well first, and then we begin to scale up the intensity and effort as the strength and fitness level of the participants begins to climb.

Conclusions

It should be noted that this study was conducted on untrained individuals. We have seen research that shows the vast differences between training intensity and volume in trained individuals. Some people seem to be able to handle more or less overall training volume based on a number of variables and circumstances.

Having said that, for untrained folks, this study tells us that just “getting your feet wet” and ramping up intensity later is probably the best option. Not only that, but I see it time and time again when new trainees start too intense, push their bodies to the limit in the beginning, and end up either injured or too sore to move. The far better option would be to push enough (with proper coaching) and staying consistent over time rather than trying to accomplish everything in a workout or two.





World's Toughest Mudder Training Volume 1

Well, here we go. Here is my World's Toughest Mudder training schedule. I have this listed as "Volume 1" because based on my training schedule last year, I will probably make modifications along the way as I assess my training status and progress. 

The keys/changes this year, when comparing to last year's training is that I will be training less about "performance" and more about strength and endurance. I don't need to get around the course in record pace, I just need to be prepared to endure the length of the event as well as the inevitable pain that will come with it.

Training will consist of lots of strength training as well as lots of recovery. This should allow my muscles, ligaments, connective tissues, and joints to toughen up, but also allow sufficient recovery. 

Some of my longer 'runs' may end up being a combination of walking and running. Again, I am training my body to be used to traveling long distances, not necessarily in a quick amount of time. 

My diet will mostly be eat-as-I-feel. I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle to begin with, and the last thing I need is to be cranky and running low on calories, so I will not be restricting myself on what I am eating. That does not mean, however, that I will be stopping by Pizza Hut for an all-you-can-eat cheesy bread lunch... 

During my "Strength" and "Hypertrophy" phases, I will be attempting to pack on some muscle, so I will more than likely be intaking more calories than normal during those stages, but again, I will be keeping things relatively clean so that I don't turn into a giant turd. My "Performance" and "Polish/Focus" phases will be weight-maintenance with the calories, with a slight increase just before WTM to put on a little bit of body fat, which should help me sustain energy at the event.

For those of you who workout to try and look good for others, this plan is obviously not for you. 

The schedule below will make more sense to you if you refer to my "Starting Strength" post from the other day. It explains my strength workouts.

"Recovery" days will consist of either yoga, stretching, foam rolling, a combination of the above, or nothing at all. All depending on time available.

During the "Performance" and "Polish/Focus" phases, I will be using a bonus strength set at the beginning of the workout (listed). The goal here is to maintain strength on the compound lifts used during the strength phases. 

Not listed below are bonus runs. There will be those days when I just feel like heading out for a run, when my energy levels are high, and I have time, so I will head out for a run based on the distance/time I feel like at the time. These will more often than not be in the evenings, acting as a double workout for that particular day. 

The schedule:

Strength Phase 1 - June 24 - July 13 

M - Workout 1, 2, 1
T - 5km Run
W - Workout 2, 1, 2
Th - Core Day
F - Workout 1, 2, 1
S - Recovery
S - Recovery

Recovery Week 1 - July 14 - July 20

S - Yoga
M - Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit
T - Recovery
W - X2 Total Body
Th - Yoga
F - X2 Core
S - Recovery

 Hypertrophy Phase - July 21 - August 10

S - Body Beast Build: Chest/Tris + Abs
M - Body Beast Build: Legs
T - Recovery
W - Body Beast Build: Shoulders + Abs
Th - Body Beast Build: Back/Bis
F - 5km Run
S - Recovery

Recovery Week 2 - August 11 - August 17 

S - Yoga
M - Insanity Pure Cardio
T - Recovery
W - X2 Total Body
Th - Yoga
F - X2 Core
S - Recovery

Strength Phase 2 - August 18 - September 7 

S - 6km, 8km, 10km Run
M - Workout 2, 1, 2
T - P90X+ Abs/Core Plus
W - Workout 1, 2, 1
Th - 5km Run
F - Workout 2, 1, 2
S - Recovery

 Recovery Week 3 - September 8 - September 14

S - 8km Run
M - Yoga
T - X2 Core
W - Recovery
Th - X2 Total Body
F - Recovery
S - 8km Run

Performance Phase - September 15 - October 12

S - Recovery
M - *bonus* 3x5 Bench Press - X2 Chest, Back, and Balance
T - *bonus* 3x5 Back Squat - P.A.P. Lower
W - Recovery
Th - *bonus* 1x5 Deadlift - X2 Base & Back
F - *bonus* 3x5 Overhead Press - X2 Balance & Power
S - 10km, 14km, 12km, 17km Run

Recovery Week 4 - October 13 - October 19 

S - Recovery
M - Yoga
T - X2 Core
W - 10km Run
Th - X2 Total Body
F - Recovery
S - 22km Run

 Polish/Focus Phase - October 20 - November 9

S - Recovery
M - *bonus* 3x5 Bench Press - 30/15
T - 12km, 14km, 12km Run
W - *bonus* 3x5 Back Squat - X2 Base & Back
Th - Recovery
F - *bonus* 3x5 Overhead Press - X2 Total Body (core moves in place of Pull-Ups)
S - 27km, 32km, 10km Run

 Recovery Week 5 - November 10 - November 15

S - Recovery
M - 30/15
T - Yoga
W - Recovery
Th - Recovery
F - Travel Day

World's Toughest Mudder - November 16, 17 2013!