In the preceding chapters we saw the most effective exercises to stimulate muscle growth in each of the major muscle groups. I have also detailed several types of exercises:
Activation: Exercises that serve the purpose of increasing neural activation of a certain muscle group. Indirectly these movements are also useful for athletes via their positive effect on balance and stability. These drills are most often performed on unstable surfaces.
Potentiation: Exercises that focus on neural facilitation, also called post-tetanic potentiation and high frequency initial pulse potentiation. Simply put, these explosive exercises lead to a greater muscle recruitment and force production during subsequent exercises. Note that plyometric work as well as the drop & catch and drop, catch & lift methods are to be included in our list of potentiation exercises.
Stimulation: Exercises aimed at stimulating muscle growth. These movements are the ones better suited to maximally recruit the HTMUs of the targeted muscle group which will lead to the greatest muscle growth possible.
Metabolic: Exercises performed at a high rate of work for a prescribed period of time (20-60 seconds). The objective is to perform as much physical work as possible within that given time frame. This type of training increases energy expenditure and improves the efficiency of the glycolitic energy system.
To that we can add the various accentuated eccentric exercises.
There are several ways to organize these different types of exercises; they can either be performed as a stand-alone, a superset or a giant set depending on your objective. In this chapter I will describe the possible combinations that you can use when you design a training program.
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The use of dumbbells gives you a much more comprehensive strengthening effect because the workout engages your stabilizer muscles, in addition to the muscle you may be pin-pointing. Without all of the belts and artificial stabilizers of a machine, you also engage your core muscles, which are your body's natural stabilizers.