Training For Shape

There's also a popular though erroneous belief (which exists in quite a few training circles) that by varying the angle at which a muscle is trained, the trainee will somehow be able to direct the stress imposed to specific areas of a muscle and can thereby "shape" the muscle being trained. This belief has absolutely no basis in fact. The reason is the way a muscle is innervated. The nerves that enter a given muscle divide out into threads that resemble branches on a tree. Each branch ends at the muscle cell and carries the electrochemical current that causes each muscle cell to contract. When this current is released, all of the cells serviced by the branch (a single neuron) contract simultaneously (the all-or-none law of muscle fiber contraction), not some to the exclusion of others. It's simply not possible to isolate one portion, border, or ridge of a muscle.

According to Or. Fred Hatfield in his book Bodybuilding: A Scientific Approach, "the cells associated with each motor unit are spread all through the gross muscle; all portions of the gross muscle are affected similarly by a given exercise and therefore develop similarly. This is called the principle of noncontiguous innervation. Using many variations of an exercise for one muscle in no way ensures more growth or different growth patterning than does performing the basic exercise The shape of that muscle will not be affected by variations in the angle or position of stress application. Does this mean that all a bodybuilder has to do is perform the basic movement, and rid himself or herself of the array of supplemental exercises for a given muscle? I suspect it does."5

Muscle shape is a function of genetics. That's why the "muscle shaping" advocates can't perform an exercise to make a biceps muscle look like a triangle, a hexagon, or

Muscle shape is a function of genetics. That's why the "muscle shaping" advocates can't perform an exercise to make a biceps muscle look like a triangle, a hexagon, or Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore. Looking at it another way, suppose a sixteen-year-old had a crystal ball into which he could look to see what his muscles would look like when he is a maximally muscular twenty-one-year-old. He would see much larger, bulging muscles, but the look and shape of them would be as preordained as the shape of his nose or ears. He could train any way he wanted over the next five years, but his muscles would end up looking exactly like the ones in the crystal ball. There is no other choice. He could train with one set, ten sets, full range, strong range, isolation movements, compound movements, rock lifting, weight lifting, etc. But when he was at his maximum muscularity, his muscles would look the way they were programmed to look when his father's sperm bit his mother's egg.

So don't waste your time trying to shape a muscle into something it cannot become. All you can do is make your muscle smaller (through lack of use), larger (through pro-gressive intensity), or stay the same (through no change in intensity).


As important as it is to lift progressively heavier and heavier weights to stimulate continuous increases in size and strength, it's not the only factor. The bottom line is contraction. To induce maximum levels of muscle growth, as many of a muscle's fibers as possible must be made to contract simultaneously. The law of muscle fiber recruitment makes it abundantly clear that you must use a load of at least a threshold poundage, since in the body's ongoing effort to conserve energy, it activates only the minimum number of muscle fibers required to perform a particular movement for any given demand.


As you can see, the relationship between muscular stimulation and growth is one of supply and demand. For muscle growth to be supplied, there must first have been a very serious demand for it. After all, the primary concern of all living organisms is the acquisition and preservation of energy in order to better maintain the body's internal status quo, known as homeostasis. The growth of muscle tissue beyond normal levels is, in fact, a disruption of this status quo and requires additional energy for building and maintenance. Muscles will grow only when there is a tremendous physiological demand for them to do so. If a muscle's existing level of size and strength is adequate for handling workloads normally encountered (normal Power Factors), there will be no growth. There is no need for it.

The growth of muscle tissue, then, is a process that must literally he forced to take place. What is important to keep in mind is the fact that the human body will do everything it possibly can to maintain its existing condition. It will not waste precious resources building a larger musculature than it perceives to be necessary. Its up to you to give your body a reason to grow progressively larger and stronger muscles.

This can only be accomplished through maximum muscular output training and heavy weights. Power Factor Training, utilizing the enlightened technique of strongest-range repetitions, has been shown to deliver the greatest possible amount of overload to a working muscle. This, in turn, stimulates the body's overcompensation mechanism into action and results very quickly in maximal increases in the size and strength of its muscle tissue.

Body Sculpture

Body Sculpture

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