If more sets or exercise is better, why stop at 12-20 sets? Wouldn’t 75 to 100 sets (or more) be preferable?
Are all of the recommended sets to be performed with the same of intensity of effort by the same individuals all the time?
It is a readily observable fact that men and women who engage in highly repetitive tasks, such as laborers, distance runners, and swimmers, show little improvement in their muscular size or strength as a result of their efforts.
Such tasks being by nature of low intensity, they do little to stimulate the body’s musculature into inordinate levels of growth. It has been well documented that for more then eight decades within the world of exercise physiology that high intensity muscular contraction is the most important requirement for the stimulation of rapid increases in muscular size and strength, whereas the duration of the exercise is not important in this regard.
Moreover, high intensity muscular contraction prevents even the possibility of a larger number of such contractions within a given unit of time.
5 pounds of PURE muscle per year – as opposed to 5 pounds of body weight, despite its composition – would be considered a considerable achievement on a yearly basis.
5 pounds of muscle may not sound impressive, but if a bodybuilder were able to sustain that rate of growth for 5 years, he would, at the end of that period have 25 pounds of additional muscle on the body. If you could envision that much beefsteak laid out on the dinner table, you would get some idea of just how much “MEAT” that really is – enough to take the average 155 pound individual into a veritable Hercules at 180 pounds.
It should also be remembered that of the average American male’s 155 pounds of body weight, the muscle weight component is roughly 20 pounds (the remainder being bone, water, fat, and waste materials). Given this fact, his muscle gain of 25 pounds over 5 years would represent a transformation that would more than double his existing muscle mass!!!!
Increasing the INTENSITY LEVEL:
Anything that you do to make your workout harder will be a step in the right direction. Raising your intensity factor in your workouts can be done in 3 ways:
1. By progressively increasing the amount of weight you are using.
2. By progressively decreasing the amount of time it requires to perform a certain amount of work
3. By carrying each set to a point of total failure.
Once you’ve grasped the fact that high intensity of effort (training to failure) is the sole factor responsible for growth stimulation, the logical question that arises is how many such sets should be performed?
It is precisely on this point that most weight trainers make their gravest error. “ANY EXERCISE carried on beyond THE LEAST amount required to stimulate an optimal increase is not merely a waste of effort , it is actually highly counterproductive.
The fact that recovery ability is strictly limited leads to a logically warranted conclusion: the issue of duration, or the volume of sets, whether 1 set of 100 sets is performed, is a NEGATIVE FACTOR.. In other words, the extent to which you work out (perform a number of sets) is a negative because for every set performed there is a deeper inroad into your recovery ability; this is undeniably a negative factor.
For every set performed, more and more of the body’s limited reserve of biochemical resources is used in the attempts to merely recover from, or compensate for, the exhaustive effects of the workout, leaving that much less left over for OVERCOMPENSATION in the form of new muscle.
As training must be of a very high intensity in order to stimulate muscle growth, and as the higher the intensity, the lower the duration of the workout, a high intensity workout must, by its very nature be VERY BRIEF!
Up to a very definite point, imposing a high-intensity-training stress on your body will results in an adaptive, compensatory development of muscle tissue — but performing one set beyond the least amount required will make unnecessary inroads into your recovery ability and hamper the process of growth production.
These facts strongly suggest that the less time you actually spend in the gym training, the better. Once you have stimulated growth, with the required high-intensity training, GET OUT OF THE GYM!
Even if you are unwilling or simply unable, to train with the intensity required to stimulate rapid large-scale increases in size and strength, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will make up for the lack of training intensity by performing added low-intensity sets. The additional sets are not only wasted, they are highly counterproductive in that they place an unnecessary drain on your body’s resources that might otherwise have been used in the process or overcompensation and growth.
Having stressed the body sufficiently with high-intensity training, you must then leave the body alone and not exercise it further, thus allowing time for it to respond with a compensatory buildup of new tissue. While the stimulation of added growth will occur almost immediately, the actual growth cannot take place immediately. Adequate rest is needed.
Many bodybuilders wrongly believe that a split routine of six days a week, with one-half of the muscles exercised on one day and then rested on the following day while the other half are being exercised, will provide the rest required for adequate growth following exercise. You must remember that exercise always has a generalized effect on the entire physical system as well as a localized one on specific muscles. So, even though you may be affording your alternately worked muscles a certain amount of rest on a six-day split routine, you are not providing the needed rest for the overall physical system when you tax it with EVERY DAY TRAINING.
The tendency among enthusiastic bodybuilders is to add more sets to their workouts, as well as increase the number of days a week they train. This tendency must be kept in check and avoided at all costs. As a bodybuilder begins to grow larger and stronger as a result of proper training, the likelihood of overtraining looms ever greater because as the body grows stronger its ability to generate intensity increases, which, you must keep in mind, places greater stresses on the body and thus calls for less training. The majority of bodybuilders do just the opposite: as they progress, they add to the amount, which will slow down their progress. This leads to desperation and more irrational thinking.
From the time a beginner starts training, she has the potential to increase her strength 300 percent, while her ability to tolerate exercise or recover only improves by 50%. As you progress, every effort must be made to increase the intensity of your workout, which will then lead to a corresponding decrease in the amount of time you can engage in such training.
The vast majority of athletes sell themselves short. Erroneously attributing their lack of satisfactory progress to a poverty of genetic traits (instead of their irrational and counterproductive training practices), they give up training.
Please don’t confuse the terms GROWTH STIMULATION & GROWTH PRODUCTION.
THE WORKOUT STIMULATES GROWTH and the REST PRODUCES THE GROWTH.
The first thing your body must do after the workout is not build a mountain of muscle, i.e., the new muscle growth on top, but fill in the hole you’ve made below. That is, it must recover, overcome the deficit, compensate for the exhaustive effects of the workout. Now the important point: the process of recovery is not completed in 5 minutes after the workout. In fact, the completion of the recovery process may take up to several days, probably even longer, before the body will have the opportunity to start BUILDING THE MOUNTAIN and produce that much desired new muscle growth. Keep in mind that if you workout again before the recovery process is completed, you will short-circuit the growth process.