The Concurrent Training Effect Blog #3

To read the first two installments please see the ALN blog page here: http://atlargenutrition.com/blog/

The Concurrent Training Effect Blog #3

As noted in our first installment, the concurrent training effect is a mitigation or cessation of the hypertrophy response to strength training when both strength and endurance training are performed concurrently.  Now that we understand mTORC1 (from blog #2) is almost exclusively the driver of strength training induced hypertrophy we know that looking into how endurance training can influence it is the key to insight into how to mitigate the concurrent training effect and thus to creating a superior CrossFitter or hybrid athlete.

marathon

In this blog we are going to seek a better understanding of how endurance training can effect mTORC1.  The molecular effects of endurance training on hypertrophy are much more equivocal than the molecular effects of strength training.  There is no single molecular source for the manner in which endurance training can or does effect hypertrophy.  This blog will focus on those sources most generally accepted to have the greatest impact.

We will begin with AMPK (adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase).  Endurance training of sufficient intensity results in metabolic and molecular responses that activate AMPK.  AMPK has been shown in animal studies to be able to inhibit mTORC1.  In humans its effects on mTORC1 are less certain, but overall the scientific consensus is that it (a specific form of it) likely contributes to the concurrent training effect.

Our next focus is on the sirtuin family of NAD+ dependent deacetylases with SIRT1 being of primary interest.  In the previous paragraph it was noted that the intensity of endurance exercise is a controlling factor in AMPK activation.  The same is true for SIRT1.  The presence of SIRT1 has been clearly demonstrated to inhibit mTORC1, thus the effects on mTORC1 of relatively frequent intense endurance training may due fully, or in part, to SIRT1.

The final possible metabolic cause of the effect of endurance training on mTORC1 to be covered in this blog are unfolded proteins.  Intense and frequent endurance training and high fat diets are both triggers for unfolded proteins.  The body’s response to increased unfolded proteins includes the blocking of protein synthesis via a decrease in mTORC1 activity.

Hopefully you have already noted the fact that the intensity and frequency of endurance training are catalysts in each of the above possible metabolic pathways in which endurance training can effect mTORC1.  This fact will be the focus of our next blog when we take the information from the first three blogs and use it to propose specific training protocols which can mitigate, and even nearly eliminate, the concurrent training effect.

ALN Concurrent Training Effect Blog Installment #1

Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk?”  So, can we talk?  I want to “talk” to you in this blog about something very important to anyone interested in complete fitness (CrossFitters, this means YOU), and that is building strength and endurance simultaneously.

Simultaneously training for both strength and endurance can (and will to some degree) result in the inhibition of the body’s ability to adapt to either stimulus with the greater inhibition seemingly focused on the hypertrophy response to strength training.  This is known as the concurrent training effect.  Until fairly recently this effect was generally misunderstood in the fitness community.  Most trainers, coaches, and trainees thought that simultaneously training for strength and endurance would pretty much negate the strength training results.  In other words, they thought the concurrent training effect was absolute.  It isn’t, and the balance of this blog is going to be a chronicle of my research into the concurrent training effect.  As I learn so will you…

CrossFit competitors who have significantly above average strength and endurance.
CrossFit competitors who have significantly above average strength and endurance.

In my opinion, the advent of Greg Glassman’s CrossFit has done more than any formal research to change the fitness world’s concept of what can be done in terms of increasing all aspects of fitness simultaneously (even beyond strength and endurance to things like skill development).  CrossFitters have shown that you can become bigger, faster, stronger, AND dramatically increase your strength endurance and endurance.  I would say that one of the best examples from the CrossFit world of how much the concurrent training effect can be mitigated is a woman named Tia-Claire Toomey.  She has placed second at the CrossFit Games (a massive test of all things fitness related) and made the Australian weightlifting team which competed at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio just two weeks after the CrossFit Games.  She performed better at the CrossFit Games than the Olympics in terms of placing, but the fact she was able to compete at a very high level in both CrossFit and weightlifting is a testament to what can be done in terms of building strength and endurance simultaneously.

My research will begin with examining adaptation to both strength and endurance training at the molecular level.  Don’t worry, this blog is not going to turn into a science blog, but the bottom line is that it is only a minor flub to say it all starts at the molecular level and if we can understand that, in only the most cursory sense, we can gain a much deeper understanding of how to optimize performance when simultaneously training for both strength and endurance.

Watch our page on Facebook and the blog on www.atlargenutrition.com for the 2nd installment of the ALN Concurrent Training Effect Blog.

Chris Mason
Author
Owner AtLarge Nutrition, LLC

Your author and his bae :).
Your author and his bae :).

THREE TRAINING MYTHS TO AVOID IN THE NEW YEAR

1) You need to foam roll, stretch, and God knows what else to warm-up prior to training.

NO!  Was that clear enough?  Crushing your flesh, fatiguing yourself with endless repetitions etc. will NOT decrease your chances of injury, nor will it enhance performance.  With strength training, exercise specific warm-ups are all that are needed.  If you are going to squat then a couple of sets of squats will give your body the movement specific warm-up it needs.  If you feel you need more you are doing something wrong.  Your training is damaging your joints and changes must be made.

By the way, for other sporting activities and less intensive exercise the same principal holds true.  An “easy” version of said activity to get started will be more the sufficient to prepare the athlete for the increased intensity of activity to come.

Gee, this will make ALL the difference in your training session...
Gee, this will make ALL the difference in your training session…

One final note, I am not calling all such activities worthless.  I am specifically referring to timing.  If you feel said activities help you with mobility and recovery then by all means do them, but don’t do them immediately before training.

2) If you don’t go all out, psyching yourself out of your mind and pushing yourself beyond fatigue with every training session you are wasting your time.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Training like that will quickly lead to stagnation, overtraining, and eventually injury and or regression.  The majority of one’s training should be done in a non-elevated psychological state.

Does that mean training should be light or easy?  Heck no!  Training should not be easy, nor should it wipe you out.  Met-Con based athletes, bodybuilders, and powerlifters take heed, killing yourself might make you look cool and even be beneficial in the short term, but you will not reach your goals if you don’t modulate the intensity and volume of your training.

Mike Mentzer - the right combination of intensity of effort and volume can lead to some very impressive results.
Mike Mentzer – the right combination of intensity of effort and volume can lead to some very impressive results.

3) Training for “stability” will improve your functional fitness.

This is one of the STUPIDEST and WORST myths…  Squatting on a Bosu Ball will NOT improve anything other than your ability to squat on a Bosu Ball.  Adaptation, or response to training stimuli is extremely specific.  If you want to get better at a specific activity practice that specific activity.  Use strength training to either increase the general force production capacity of the musculature you are training, or to get better at a specific lift for competition purposes.  If I see you doing any kind of balance crap while strength training I will be forced to slap you silly…  Thank you.

This goof seems to be working "stability" AND foam rolling...
This goof seems to be working “stability” AND foam rolling…

 

Chris Mason

Author Chris Mason is the owner of AtLarge Nutrition, LLC and an accomplished author in the fitness genre. He has written for numerous websites and magazines.

5 Protein Pumped Holiday Recipes

The holidays can be a trying time for those of us that are serious about training. As an AtLarge athlete you more than likely have no intention of letting the plethora of saturated fats and empty carbs associated with holiday feasts throw you off track and deter you from achieving your goals, and for that we salute you.

Being dedicated to your goals and wanting to look and feel your best doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the wonderful flavors associated with holiday eating. In fact some of the most famous holiday dishes can be turned into protein-packed power meals, if prepared correctly.

Enjoy one of these five amazing meals that will not only help you stay fit, but will also satisfy your cravings for all of those traditional holiday delicacies.

1. Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

P Pancake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 scoop AtLarge Nutrition Nitrean Natural Raw Protein– Vanilla
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup organic canned pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp stevia
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Directions

  • Mix all of the ingredients in medium sized bowl until smooth.
  • Spray non-stick cooking spray into a griddle or skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Pour two dollops of batter onto your cooking surface; these should be 4-5 inches in circumference. Cook for 90 seconds or until the top starts to bubble.
  • Continue to cook for 30-60 seconds or until the pancake is completely cooked through.
  • Serve warm and enjoy.

2. Chocolate Protein Bars

P Brownie

Ingredients

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.
  • Combine through salt in a large bowl, set aside.
  • Combine eggs and stevia and whisk together until fully incorporated in a medium bowl.
  • Add remaining wet ingredients to the medium bowl and whisk together.
  • Pour wet into dry ingredients and add in chocolate chips and walnuts if using.
  • Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely in pan and then cut into 9 squares, wrap individually and store in refrigerator.

3. Protein Iced Coffee

Iced Coffee

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, regular skim milk or fat free milk
  • 3 scoops AtLarge Nutrition Nitrean Natural Raw Protein– Vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp instant coffee granules
  • ⅛ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 no-calorie sweetener packet
  • 1 ¼ cup crushed ice

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients and ice in blender.
  • Blend at highest speed.
  • Blend until consistency is frothy, smooth and free of lumps.
  • Serve and enjoy chilled.

4. Pumpkin Protein Cheesecake Ice Cream

P Ice cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup regular skim milk or nonfat milk
  • 2 scoops AtLarge Nutrition Nitrean Natural Raw Protein– Vanilla
  • ½ cup low fat cottage cheese
  • ½ cup plain low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar free vanilla syrup
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  • Blend at highest speed.
  • Blend ingredients until smooth and free of lumps.
  • Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s instructions.
  • Serve and enjoy.

5. Eggnog Protein Shake

P eggnog

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 scoops AtLarge Nutrition Nitrean Natural Raw Protein– Vanilla
  • **1 whole egg, raw (optional, consume at your own risk)
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

  • Add all ingredients to Blender.
  • Blend until smooth without lumps.
  • Serve in chilled glass.

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We are committed to making AtLarge Nutrition even better!

“We saw AtLarge Nutrition as a ‘right fit, right time’ company, and recently joined their team as majority owners. We entered into this collaboration with Chris Mason with the intent of applying the same True Nutrition commitment to product quality and customer service to support and grow the AtLarge community. Most people know the TN deal… we source the best damn products in the world; products that are known for their validity and quality. We are committed to making AtLarge Nutrition even better! Come along for the ride.”

– Dante Trudel & Doug Smith, Co-Founders of True Nutrition

Over the last 15 years, True Nutrition (TrueNutrition.com & True Nutrition Brand Products) has organically grown into one of the most trusted nutritional supplement companies in the world.

The Reason? Transparency; an ongoing investment to lab test all raw materials, a grassroots global following, superior customer support, and a core team lead by industry pioneers, Dante Trudel and Doug Smith. This dynamic team set out on a path over a decade ago to legitimize the supplement and health food world, creating a movement that continues to redefine the industry.

They now bring this same commitment of truth, quality and legitimacy to the AtLarge Nutrition brand and look forward to expanding their passion to support the goals of athletes both men and women around the world. 

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Strength Training Application for Improved Athletic Performance

Strength Training Application for Improved Athletic Performance

by Chris Mason

I hate to appear to be a name dropper, but I want to give credit where it is due.  So, at the risk of appearing to be the former I was recently visiting with my friend Louie Simmons.  As the majority of readers will know Louie is one of the most famous and brilliant strength coaches in the world.  The man has been responsible for an innumerable number of strength training processes and innovations which permeate the athletic world (board presses, accommodating resistance in the form of chains and bands, his patented Reverse-Hyper devices, box squats, and the list goes on and on).

Louie Simmons still kicking ass well into his 60s.
Louie Simmons still kicking ass well into his 60s.

Louie is also a noted author in the field with a mountain of published articles as well as several books (you can buy them at www.westside-barbell.com).  When discussing one of his soon to be released books we got back to the basics of his methodology in terms of how strength training relates to enhancing athletic performance.  One of the first statements Louie made on the subject related to how many strength coaches simply don’t seem to get it.  For instance, sprinting coaches often run their athletes into oblivion.  He said if you want to get faster you have to get stronger, period.

Put that last sentence on social media and watch it get vehemently attacked by most of the “experts” in the strength training industry.  You would see statements like strength only increases speed up to a certain level of strength and then a further increase does virtually nothing.  That is partially accurate, but as with most things in life there is much more to it than that, and now we have reached the crux of Louie’s success.  You see, over many years of study and application with the all-time record setting athletes at his gym and from all over the world, Louie has learned that if you want to improve any end of the strength spectrum optimally you have to improve the entire spectrum simultaneously.  In other words, if you want more strength endurance you also have to improve your starting strength, explosive strength, absolute strength and so on.

If technique is perfected the only way to get faster is to get stronger.
If technique is perfected the only way to get faster is to get stronger.

To be clear, if one particular portion of the strength spectrum is the primary goal that should be the main focus of the training regimen, but not developing the other forms of strength will retard progress and reduce results.  So, in the initially mentioned example of a sprinter above, absolute/maximal strength must be a component of the training program because strength endurance, starting strength, reactive strength and so on cannot be optimized without simultaneously increasing maximal strength.

I think a good way to visualize the strength spectrum and how to best increase any particular point on it is to envision filling a bucket with sand.  You can pour sand in the middle, but you can’t appreciably increase the height of any particular point of the sand in the bucket until you fill in the diameter of the bucket throughout the full circumference.  In the same way, you can’t maximize maximal strength without increasing starting strength, explosive strength, speed strength, strength speed and so on across the spectrum.

While the above concept may seem intuitive, it is anything but in the strength training and athletic performance world.  Most performance coaches focus almost exclusively on the portion of the strength spectrum specific to their sport and thus dramatically limit the results which can be achieved by their athletes.  Louie Simmons’ Westside methodology addresses the entire spectrum with a focus on the specific portion of the spectrum most relevant to the sport of choice.  THAT is why Louie’s methods are the most effective in the business.

In case you missed it, the moral of this story is to train the entire strength spectrum (and do the research so you know how) and focus on the portion which is specific to your sport of choice.

Chris Mason

Chris Mason is the owner of AtLarge Nutrition, LLC and an accomplished author in the fitness genre. He has written for numerous websites and magazines.

ALN Black Friday Sale – BIG SAVINGS!

AtLarge Nutrition Black Friday Sale!

Code: black

Save 15% off every supplement we offer!

PLUS, GET A PRE-WORKOUT AND BCAA+ FOR ONLY $55.20 – THAT’S A $32.70 SAVINGS!!

*Sale ends Friday at midnight P.S.T – NO exceptions

 

We have just released our Nitrean Natural all-natural protein line (no artificial sweeteners, drug free, grass fed whey sources, and more).  This sale event is the perfect time to give it a try and see what all of the hype is about!

 

Want to save on a performance stack?  Order these products:

Pre-Workout – 1 serving 40 min. before training

Nitrean Natural – 1.5 scoops in water post-workout

RESULTS – 1 serving post workout on training days and 1 serving with a meal on off days

 

Order now!  Great holiday gifts for your fitness minded friends and family.

ALN Gobble-Gobble Sale!

ALN Gobble-Gobble Sale!

SALE CODE: 241ETS

It’s time to gobble up some savings with AtLarge Nutrition! Now through Monday, November 10. Order now while supplies last!

Our top selling recovery supplement ETS is unique in the industry. It can enhance general recovery, reduce delayed onset muscular soreness, help with minor joint pain, and enhance the quality of your sleep. No other product comes close to offering its wide array of potential benefits.

For a very limited time, order one Nitrean+, Opticen+, Pre-Workout, and or RESULTS and get two ETS for the price of one. That is a $38.95 savings!!!

Ex. Place an order for a Pre-Workout ($59.95) and then add two ETS to your cart. Enter the code sale code 241ETS and you will get a credit for $38.95 (your total will be reduced by $38.95)!

Hypertrophy Specific Training CAN Have a Direct Effect on Maximal Strength

Hypertrophy Specific Training CAN Have a Direct Effect on Maximal Strength

by Chris Mason

Dennis James seems to know something about hypertrophy specific training...
Dennis James seems to know something about hypertrophy specific training…

On my drive home this evening my mind wandered as it often does.  During the process I came to what should be an obvious, but was instead a bit of an epiphany, at least at the conscious level, conclusion about hypertrophy training as it relates to maximal strength.  That conclusion was that hypertrophy training can have more than an indirect effect on maximal strength.

Holly knows the importance of hypertrophy specific training for strength.
Holly knows the importance of hypertrophy specific training for strength.

It is absolutely true that hypertrophy training indirectly aids maximal strength assuming the trainee also includes maximal strength training in their regimen.  This is due to the fact that a percentage of any hypertrophy that occurs in skeletal muscle is comprised of an increase in the size, and thus potential force production of the contractile myofibrils (actin and myosin).  Maximal strength specific work in the form of high intensity, low repetition training then permits the nervous system to harness the increased force production potential of the larger myofibrils and the athlete is able to lift ever greater maximal loads.

Branch Warren has some serious size in his lower body.
Branch Warren has some serious size in his lower body.

With that said, my epiphany relative to a direct effect of hypertrophy specific training on maximal strength stems from the fact that I realized that hypertrophy training is also a form of strength endurance training, and that strength endurance can play a role in a one repetition maximum attempt.  The connection lies in the fact that any maximal strength demonstration, by definition, will move relatively slowly.  The success or failure of a given max attempt can thus partly depend on how long the athlete can produce maximal force, or the rate of reduction in maximal force production.  In theory, enhancing strength endurance can enhance the length of time the athlete can produce maximal force.

Think of it this way, and I will greatly simplify for the sake of argument (taking joint angles and varying forces etc. out of it); if it takes 301 lbs of force to bench press 300 lbs and the lifter starts the press by producing 310 lbs of force which then rapidly declines to 305 lbs, and then 301 lbs, and finally 298 lbs before the completion of the press, they might miss the lift.  Conversely, if via hypertrophy specific training the lifter has built their strength endurance to the point they can prolong their ability to produce maximal force, and or mitigate the rate of reduction of force production, the likelihood they can grind out a maximal attempt increases.

Jeremy Hoornstra is one of the best bench pressers in history.
Jeremy Hoornstra is one of the best bench pressers in history.

The above begs the question of how a strength athlete can use this concept to their benefit.  At face value it might seem that hypertrophy specific training would be counterproductive for the strength athlete relegated to a weight class other than superheavyweight.  When it comes to the human body that which seems obvious isn’t always the case.  An important component of skeletal muscular hypertrophy when considering an individual whose level of muscular development is anything beyond a rote beginner is total caloric intake.  If the athlete controls their total caloric intake and practices hypertrophy specific training not much in the way of actual hypertrophy will occur, but the adaptation of increased muscular endurance will still be manifest given proper rest etc.  So, even for the strength athlete that does not want a significant increase in skeletal muscle mass, hypertrophy specific training can be of benefit to their absolute strength and performance.

If you have followed me or my companies at all for the past several years you already know I am a firm believer in Louie Simmons and his Westside Barbell training system (www.westside-barbell.com).  I have known his system is highly effective for some time, but the more I learn and contemplate the ramifications of what I learn, the more I begin to understand why.  Relative to this article, Westside includes hypertrophy specific training directly alongside maximal strength training, and I think that fact is lost on a lot of trainees.  The accessory work which is at the core of the Westside system is, for all intents and purposes, bodybuilding.  Its inclusion aids maximal strength in exactly the manner I have defined above.

To further illustrate the effects of hypertrophy specific work and enhancing strength endurance for maximal strength we need look no further than one of Louie’s disciples and a story Louie loves to relate when telling about his system.  Travis Bell is a natural athlete who is a tremendous bench presser (570+ lbs raw and nearly 900 lbs shirted at around 260 lbs body weight).  Travis began training at Westside several years ago and has made amazing progress since being there.  At one point, when Travis’ training had stagnated, Louie had instructed him to add sets of 100 repetition band pushdowns supersetted with lying extensions after his standard triceps work.  As Louie tells it, Travis’ triceps blew up to over 20″ in short order and his bench press followed suit.

Travis Bell at Westside
Travis Bell at Westside

Bottom line, if you want to be as strong as possible do not shy away from hypertrophy specific/strength endurance work.  Make it a part of your regimen and optimize your training results.

Intensity vs. Volume for Hypertrophy (includes a 4 day split routine)

Intensity vs. Volume for Hypertrophy (includes a 4 day split routine)

by Chris Mason

My last article addressed how to get bigger legs in 30 days using a form of double pre-exhaustion with a very high intensity of effort and low volume.  I addressed how hypertrophy can benefit strength athletes from bodybuilders to weightlifters with some detail, but I did not directly touch on the topic of intensity vs. volume as it relates to hypertrophy.

John Defendis definitely had the vacuum pose down!
John Defendis definitely had the vacuum pose down!

Intensity vs. volume has been a topic of hot debate over the years with the two extremes of the spectrum being commonly represented on one end by the HIT (High Intensity Training) one set to failure popularized by the legendary Arthur Jones (the man who invented Nautilus® training equipment), his protege Ellington Darden PhD, and bodybuilding icon Mike Mentzer.  The other end of the spectrum has the GVT (German Volume Training) proponents and the system coined Intensity or Insanity championed by bodybuilder John Defendis (he learned it from another bodybuilding legend named Steve Michalik) which promoted up to 60 or more sets per body part per session (clearly the high volume champion)! 



The one immutable physiologic fact is that intensity and volume are inversely related when it comes to strength training.  Intensity can be defined in this case by either the classic weightlifting definition which relates it to the percentage load used compared to the trainee’s one rep max, or by how close to concentric failure (when you cannot complete a rep) one comes during their post-warm-up sets.  The higher the intensity of the session, the less volume which can be benefited from. 

Konstantin Konstantinov knows intensity!
Konstantin Konstantinov knows intensity!

Many, many trainees confuse tolerating a given high volume routine with truly benefitting from it.  Some trainees can adapt to a volume load such that they don’t show the classic symptoms of overtraining, but that does not mean they are training in such a fashion as to elicit, and more importantly, to permit supercompensation which results in improved size, strength, or both. 

Don’t be a dummy, dummy!  If you are not consistently progressing, assuming you are not near your genetic potential for size, strength, or both, you are NOT training properly, and as most serious trainees are not lacking in the effort department (i.e. intensity) chances are very good you are training with excessive volume and literally preventing the outcome you seek!

Vic Richards was definitely at or near his genetic potential!
Vic Richards was definitely at or near his genetic potential!

Now, as anyone who has been around the iron game for any length of time knows, there can be a pretty large variance in the amount of volume which works for a given trainee.  There are two main reasons.  First, individual genetic makeup provides for variance.  Some people can simply handle more high intensity volume than others.  Second, intensity, as has already been stated, is a variable that can make a huge difference.  There is a marked difference in terms of recovery from training done at 100% intensity (as a percentage of one’s 1RM), or to failure with repetitions, than training done at 70-80% intensity, or stopping two or more reps short of failure.  In the end, I believe this is a primary source of the confusion that persists in the bodybuilding (hypertrophy specific) world as to what volume of training is best.

So, what is the answer, what is the optimal volume and intensity for training for hypertrophy?  In terms of actual results the answer is somewhat equivocal, but when you take into account time (the actual amount of time spent training) the answer becomes much clearer.

Over the years I have trained myself and many, many others both in person and remotely.  What I have found to work best for the vast majority when hypertrophy is the primary goal is 4-6 working sets (I define work sets as post-warm-up sets) of 8-12 reps taken to, or within 1 rep of failure for larger body parts, or muscle groups, and 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps for smaller muscles, or muscle groups.  So, nutshell, high intensity with moderate volume is the most effective means of eliciting maximal hypertrophy.  Sure, variants of this formula work, but as noted in the previous paragraph, when you consider time spent in the gym, the formula I have set forth is the most “cost effective” I have found.  Increased volume, generally speaking, does not translate to significantly better results (and often leads to overtraining), and less volume nets less results.

Earlier in this article I mentioned bodybuilding legend Mike Mentzer.  Mike, after his competitive bodybuilding days, and before his death, promoted less and less volume.  What is interesting is that at his competitive best he did not train with one set to failure.  He used multiple working sets to failure and was able to achieve what is arguably one of the finest physiques ever displayed sporting a very rare combination of shape, symmetry, and sheer mass.  I think Mike’s move towards extremely low volume was based on both a diseased mind (I understand he was considered to have some mental health concerns) and the need/compulsion for progression that is basic to human nature.  People, especially high achievers, always feel compelled to improve things.  This basic attribute of humanity is simultaneously a driver of achievement and a foible.  

I have always loved the sheer power Mike exudes in this pic.
I have always loved the sheer power Mike exudes in this pic.

I mention Mike again because the following routine, which I have found to be VERY effective, is based off of a contest training regimen which Mike employed at his peak.  To be clear, Mike was one to grow into his shows, so the pre-contest routines he used were potent at stimulating hypertrophy.  

Monday & Thursday:

Superset (perform 3 supersets):

Incline dumbbell flye x 10 reps

Flat barbell bench press x 10 reps

Giant set (perform 2 giant sets):

Leg extension x 12 reps

Leg curl x 12 reps

Full squat x 12 reps

Rest 3-5 minutes then (not part of the giant set):

Leg Press – 1 x 15 reps

Calf raise – 2 x 20 reps

Overhead cable ab crunch – 2 x 12 reps

Tuesday & Friday:

Wide grip chins – 2 x failure

Superset (perform 2 supersets):

Dumbbell pullover x 10 reps

T-bar row x 8 reps

Superset (perform 2 supersets)

Dumbbell lateral raise x 12 reps

Seated dumbbell press x 10 reps

Superset (perform 2 supersets)

Barbell curl x 10 reps

Dumbbell rollback x 12 reps

Donkey calf raise – 2 x 15 reps

Overhead cable ab crunch – 2 x 15 reps

* Each of the above sets is a working set.  Warm-up as needed prior to their performance.  

Follow the above routine for three months.  After three months take at least ten days off totally from training and then begin a new training regimen based upon your goal(s).

Nutrition and Supplementation

This is a training article, but some mention should be made of both nutrition and supplementation to support your intense hypertrophy focused training.  In terms of nutrition the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle applies.  The key points to remember: You should try to minimize consumption of processed foods, consume sufficient protein (1g per pound of body weight is more than sufficient), consume sufficient calories to support potential growth (this is the most often missed component), and have some sense of nutrient timing surrounding your training (be sure to consume some protein and quickly absorbed carbs immediately after training).

The concept of sufficient calories is a bit amorphous, so let me be more specific.  For younger men, and those with a fast metabolism, sufficient caloric intake to fuel growth ranges from roughly 17-25 calories per pound of body weight.  For older trainees, and those with slower metabolisms, the range is more along the lines of 14-18 calories per pound.  The only way to know what is best for you is to experiment, but the ranges noted are good starting points.

In terms of supplementation, and keeping one’s budget in mind, I recommend the following:

http://atlargenutrition.com/product/pre-workout/ – take one serving about 40 minutes prior to training

http://atlargenutrition.com/product/nitrean/ – 1.5 scoops mixed in water or milk post-workout

http://atlargenutrition.com/product/results/

 – one serving post-workout on training days and with a meal on off days