Chapter

35 Eccentric training: A 2002 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by researchers at Ball State University showed that adding some extra eccentric loading to a bench-press protocol improved maximum strength by 5 to 15 percent in trained lifters. (JSCR 2002; 16 [1]: 9-13).

However, a 2001 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that going hog-wild with eccentrics, to the point of inducing severe muscle pain, didn't help study subjects get bigger and stronger, and, in fact, set back their strength gains. (MSSE 2001; 33 [7]: 1200-1205).

A good middle-ground explanation comes from a review titled "The role of resistance exercise intensity on muscle fiber adaptations," by University of Memphis researcher Andy Fry, Ph.D.: "While not all resistance-exercise programs produce increases in muscular size, most training protocols result in some degree of hypertrophy It appears that eccentric muscle actions are critical to optimize this adaptation" (SportsMedicine 2004; 34 [10]: 663-679).

I also cite Fry's review later in Chapter 3.

38 Growth hormones: The most important researcher in this area, hands-down, is William Kraemer, Ph.D., currently of the University of Connecticut, previously at Penn State and Ball State. If you're interested in more information, I highly recommend the third edition of Designing Resistance Training Programs by Kraemer and Steven Fleck, Ph.D. (Human Kinetics, 2004). It's among the best books I've picked up on the science behind strength training, and it's surprisingly accessible to non-scientists like me.

38 Low reps and muscle gains: This study, in the European Journal of Exercise Physiology 2002; 88: 50-60, was the first hint I had that maybe low-rep training deserved more attention than it was getting in the muscle magazines.

Andy Fry's review in Sports Medicine, described above, estimates that about 18 percent of the muscle growth in Type I fibers (also called "slow-twitch fibers," these are the ones designed mostly for endurance) is determined by the intensity of exercise. In other words, using weights closer to your one-repetition maximum accounts for just under one-fifth of the growth of these fibers.

With Type II fibers, the ones designed for strength and power, the weight on the bar is much more crucial. Intensity explains about 35 percent of muscle growth.

What this means is that most muscle growth can be explained by factors other than intensity (the volume of exercise, the specific program used, etc.) but that there's always a linear relationship between intensity and muscle growth.

As Fry notes: "[H]eavy intensities must be used to result in a maximal growth response as measured at the cellular level." In other words, you can't get the best possible results without, at some point, using the heaviest weights possible. You're eliminating between one-fifth and one-third of your potential gains when you work exclusively with lighter weights.

I guess that's good news for the people who are afraid of getting "too big." Small weights help you stay small.

42 Ian King split: Ian and I wrote Book of Muscle together, for which Ian designed three-days-a-week programs, as Alwyn does here in most of the workouts.

42 Westside split: I wrote about Westside's training methods in the April 2005 issue of Men's Journal, which should still be available at mensjournal.com.

44 CraigBallantyne: His programs are available at turbulencetraining.com or cbathletics.com.

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