I have been waiting to address this question for a long time. You hear a lot about muscle confusion, particularly in TV ads for programs you can purchase on. You also see it in magazines and periodicals.

The theory is that your muscles become accustomed to any given workout and to keep progressing either in physical size or fitness you need to keep your muscles “confused” by changing the workout at regular interval.

Let’s answer this by starting out with a lesson in human physiology. When you begin a new routine of any kind, your body makes certain neuromuscular adjustments or adaptations. Your body does two things: it gets stronger by accommodating to the actual exercise movement or “groove”. You realize this when after two or three workouts you find the actual groove for the movement and  you can push a little bit more weight. This Relates to your body actually learning the  plane of motion. Secondly , your body adapts to heavier weight by increasing muscle size so the muscles can contract with greater force becoming stronger.

Here in lies the problem. The term muscle confusion is used as a reason that this or that program works. In reality, there’s really no truths to this.

 Let me explain. First, let’s look at what really improves your fitness level. Exercise intensity measured by heart rate and duration are the only two factors involved in improving internal or cardiovascular fitness. Simply changing what you do has almost nothing to do with it.

Now let’s look at muscular strength. In this case, if you measure muscular strength by any specific movement e.g bench press, the muscle confusion theory does not apply because when you change from a bench press to some other chest exercise, you lose the bodies focus on the exact bench press movement. For example; let’s say you do bench presses twice a week for four weeks increasing in strength each workout. Now you want to exercise this muscle confusion principal so you do cable crossovers and decline dumbbell presses for three weeks and then come back and try to measure your bench strength. You will inevitably find out that your strength level on the bench press is now less or at the very least, certainly not more.

The truth is, your body thrives on consistency in your workout for a time period of between three and six weeks depending on the type of work out you’re doing. When you plateau and you will, you need to change the workout and begin again at a lower work load and increasing over time

Arnold

This blog is the second part of the series on reps and sets for maximum muscular growth.

Let’s start with an example. Look at marathon runners. They are all extremely thin, almost to the point of looking anorexic. Do you think they want to look like this? The answer is no. Their physique is simply a result of the body’s response to type of training. Running great distances requires no upper body size or strength. As a matter of fact, any weight or thickness in the upper body is extra baggage that the body has to carry over these distances. It represents tissue that must be oxygenated and maintained by your internal physiology.

Running, at this level requires a lot of oxygen to course through the system and this upper body “baggage” is part of the system so upper body mass actually decreases the runner’s efficiency.

Now let’s look at bodybuilders. Building muscular size is an anaerobic activity as opposed to an aerobic activity like marathon running. Anaerobic activities do not require large amounts of oxygen coursing through the system.

This brings us to our comparison of repetitions. The marathon runner does thousands of repetitions (steps) in one set to carry him 26 miles. The reps are light and numerous.

On the other hand, bodybuilders do many less reps per set and get a completely different physiological response. The muscles grow in size to accommodate the heavier and less repetitive resistance.

Now let’s get to the heart of the matter. That is, the specific number of reps per set required to gain maximum size. We will examine the range of one rep to 15 reps. Doing one to five reps generally creates more densely packed harder muscle like you see in a typical power lifter. Doing 10 to 15 reps tends to create longer muscles like you would see in a “conditioned” athlete.

The ideal number of reps for maximum size is between six and eight. And believe it or not, there is a huge difference between 6 to 8 and 10 the 15 reps in the body’s response. The key is to train your muscles to accommodate to doing six to eight reps. For some reason we have this mindset of having to do 10 to 15 reps per set to get the best results.

If you are currently on a program doing 10 to 12 to 15 reps per set, simply try this. It will take two or three workouts to accustom your body to less reps when you have been doing more. However, by the fourth or fifth workout, you will begin to see and feel a difference. You will be able to use more weight and consequently gain more size.

Arnold

Let me preface my suggestions with a little bit of personal history. I started training with weights when I was 15 years old and I’m now 59 years old. That’s over 44 years of total time. At the peak of my career I placed fifth in my class at the Mr. America as well as sixth in the Mr. Universe competition.

I am by definition a hard gainer with much less genetic potential than most.  After the first 10-15 years of beating myself to death with fast-paced, high rep, high-intensity workouts I begin to learn what it really takes to gain the most size.

Before I go any further, I want you to know that I realize my suggestions may seem somewhat controversial, but I assure you that if you follow this pattern, you will not only succeed now, but you’ll also be laying the groundwork for continued  growth to some degree for many years.

I’m going to divide the following information into two separate blogs (rest between sets and reps per set).

 In this blog I will talk about the rest increments between sets.  As an example let’s take a typical four set exercise. Between your first and second set which are warm-ups the rest time should be between 1 and 2 minutes. Between your heavy sets the rest should be between 3 and 4 min. If you’re rest period between sets are shorter than this you will fatigue because you’re out of oxygen, not because the weight was too heavy. If you fatigue because you’re out of oxygen your body will respond by improving the efficiency of oxygen use, not improving strength and size. This is crucial.

Most of us have been brainwashed to think that we must work hard and fast to get results. That may be the case in some sports, but is not true in bodybuilding or strength training. In order to gain size you have to apply a resistance to the muscle that is not accustomed to while giving the muscle group as well as the system plenty of time to re-oxygenate.

The body’s physiological response to resistance training at the right reps (between six and 10) and rest increments is to create larger muscles. A good rule of thumb to follow this: rest 1 to 2 min. longer than you think you should.

If you don’t believe it just try it. Next time you workout add a minute or two to your rest periods between sets and see if you can handle more weight. We all know that if you can handle more weight you will get bigger and stronger.  

In my next blog I will cover number of reps per set that is ideal for creating size and or strength.

Should I Follow a Vegetarian Diet?

Love a Veggie

There is a lot of controversy as to the health and validity of a vegetarian diet. Let me address this from a realistic and logical point of view.

In graduate school. I took a vegetarian course along with 13 other students. At the end of the course seven of the 13 students converted from omnivores to vegetarians. Why do you think they did this?

During the course of the study we were shown videos of inhumane treatment of animals by large farms and inundated with negative views of meat eating. While it is true that these animals are treated badly, the course was obviously intended to not only educate, but to convert students.

Let me make two points clear. Number one; we have four teeth naturally embedded in our jaws called canines. These are the pointed teeth slightly off center in four positions. You might call them the vampire teeth. Being pointed, these teeth are designed to tear meet. The teeth behind the canines are designed to grind food and the teeth in front being flat edged are designed to bite and separate.

 Number two; there is no vitamin B12 in any plant on this earth. Vitamin B12 is essential for our very existence. It is necessary in the formation of hemoglobin which transports oxygen throughout your system, plus it has other vital functions. If we were designed to be vegetarians, how would we get this necessary vitamin in our diets? The answer is, we would die because he wouldn’t get any vitamin B12.

In a totally natural environment without processed, fast, or engineered foods we would survive on what we could find in nature.

We are designed to eat seeds, nuts, berries, vegetables and fruits most of the time and occasionally, maybe every other day snare a rabbit and less frequently, maybe weekly procure a larger animal such as a deer and then consume meat on these occasions. Just think about the logic here and make up your own mind.