Even our understanding of so-called irrefutable, immutable laws of nature constantly change. Einstein amended Newtonian gravity through his general Theory of Relativity. Physicist Stephen Hawking suggests that Einstein's theory diminishes in extreme space and in time warps inside black holes, or at the edges of the Universe (what's on the other side of the edge, Little Rock)?
Likewise, nothing in bodybuilding is proven, fixed, done or unchanging, despite dissenting yaps and guffaws from stubborn monkey galleries selling books, claiming that all bodybuilding tenets are clearly understood.
Some bodybuilding pundits have suggested, in all situations without exception, maximum muscle size accrues via efficient warm-ups and then maximum work to positive muscular failure with one or at most, two sets of exercise to failure. This is usually in the range of 8-12 reps or 6-8 reps.
Indeed, preliminary research on beginners suggests that one heavy set can be as effective as two or three sets, for a rudimentary level and rate of acquisition of muscle hypertrophy.
However, as even these researchers note, most research and anecdotal observation supports some variant of multiple sets, which would differ depending upon overall metabolic and adaptive conditions among individuals.
Most muscle program experimenters agree that changing the set and rep load with age and condition is probably optimal for maximum muscle size over a long training period of general anabolism.
Frequency, Volume, Duration, Intensity, Nutrition:
The Variables For Size
In the past I've suggested there's little documented, repeatable science to bodybuilding training. Instead, as I see it, we have babbled, audible gasps of opinion.
We can deduce that building muscle and activating muscle fibers requires movement, and/or at least muscle tension of a significant degree. Building muscle requires at least neuron-induced contraction with an electrical impulse strong and diffuses enough to move a lever arm through a range of motion and usually against resistance at that.
Straight away you realize that all forms of electrical stimulation, where contraction does not generate lever arm motion through its available range (let alone against resistance), does NADA to increase hypertrophy or to build power or strength beyond basic healthy nerve-cell function/action.
Indeed, at best, such sub-maximal electrical stress will partially maintain neuron-axon-synapse connections between dendrites and muscle cells. It's used for such clinical purposes in rehabilitative medicine.
So, one thing you won't see advertised for sale in the pages of Planet Muscle is any electrical stimulation machine, claiming to build muscle without exercise.
To induce changes in muscle function, e.g., in our case, to make optimal increases in strength, power, endurance and specifically muscle size, various factors must be manipulated.
In General, To Get Bigger And Stronger Your:
- Muscles must be exercised against progressive resistance.
- Muscles must be exercised at some critical intensity - (some percentage of maximum contractile potential, and no one knows exactly what this optimum intensity is across a wide population base).
- Muscles must be exercised enough times per session. This is called exercise volume.
- Muscles must be exercised at some optimum frequency, relative to stress load.
- Muscle training sessions must be of adequate duration, not so often, or not so arduous that the demand exceeds recovery limits, both of a short and long termination and in relation to compensation of energy stores and nutritional and exercise substrates necessary to re-activate equal, or better subsequent effort.