CAN THIS FREQUENCY REALLY BE ENOUGH?
Yes. Doug McGuff MD compares burn healing to muscle tissue healing to explain:
"Building muscle is actually a much slower process than healing a wound from a burn [which typically takes one to two weeks]. A burn heals from the ectodermal germ line, where the healing rate is relatively faster, because epithelial cells turn over quickly. If you scratch your cornea, for instance, it’s generally going to be healed in 8–12 hours. Muscle tissue, in contrast, heals from the mesodermal germ line, where the healing rate is typically significantly slower. All in all—when you separate all the emotion and positive feedback that people derive from the training experience—solid biological data indicate that the optimal training frequency for the vast majority of the population is no more than once a week."
Here is our singular objective: to apply the MED necessary to trigger muscular growth mechanisms, and then channel food preferentially into muscle tissue during overfeeding. There is one condition: we must do both as safely as possible.
The mechanisms of growth we want to stimulate are both local (muscular, neural) and systemic (hormonal). The longer time under tension (TUT) for the lower body will elicit a greater full-body growth hormone response while also stimulating the formation of new capillaries, which will improve nutrient delivery.
Each workout consists of just two primary lifts.
1. PERFORM ONE-SET-TO-FAILURE FOR EACH EXERCISE.
Follow Arthur Jones’s general recommendation of one-set-to-failure (i.e., reaching the point where you can no longer move the weight) for 80–120 seconds of total time under tension per exercise. Take at least three minutes of rest between exercises.
The exercises should be performed for one set each and no more. The objective is to fail, to reach the point where you can no longer move the weight, at seven or more repetitions at a 5/5 cadence (five seconds up and five seconds down).
2. USE A 5/5 REP CADENCE. Perform every repetition with a 5/5 cadence (five seconds up, five seconds down) to eliminate momentum and ensure constant load.
Perform every repetition with a 5/5 cadence (five seconds up, five seconds down) to eliminate momentum and ensure constant load.
3. FOCUS ON 2–10 EXERCISES PER WORKOUT, NO MORE.
Focus on 2–10 exercises per workout (including at least one multi-joint exercise for pressing, pulling, and leg movements). I chose to exercise my entire body each workout to elicit a heightened hormonal response (testosterone, growth hormone, IGF-1, etc.).
Here is the sequence I used during this experiment (“+” = superset, which means no rest between exercises):
Pullover + Yates’s bent row
Shoulder-width leg press12
Pec-deck + weighted dips
Reverse thick-bar curl (purchase cut 2″ piping from Home Depot if needed, which you can then slide plates onto)
Seated calf raises
Manual neck resistance
4. INCREASE RECOVERY TIME ALONG WITH SIZE.
This is described at length in the next chapter, which describes the most reductionist and refined approach to overriding stubborn genetics: Occam’s Protocol.
Rules to Lift By
1. If you complete the minimal target number of reps for all exercises (excluding abs and kettlebell swing), increase the weight the next workout at least 10 pounds for that exercise. If the additional 10 pounds feels easy after two to three reps, stop, wait five minutes, increase the weight an additional 5 to 10 pounds, then do your single set to failure.
2. Do not just drop the weight when you hit failure. Attempt to move it, millimeter by millimeter, and then hold it at the limit for five seconds. Only after that should you slowly (take five to ten seconds) lower the weight. The biggest mistake novice trainees make is underestimating the severity of complete failure. “Failure” is not dropping the weight after your last moderately strenuous rep. It is pushing like you have a gun to your head. To quote the ever poetic Arthur Jones: “If you’ve never vomited from doing a set of barbell curls, then you’ve never experienced outright hard work.” If you feel like you could do another set of the same exercise a minute later, you didn’t reach failure as we are defining it. Remember that the last repetition, the point of failure, is the rep that matters. The rest of the repetitions are just a warm-up for that moment.
3. Do not pause at the top or bottom of any movements (except the bench press, as noted), and take three minutes of rest between all exercises. Time three minutes exactly with a wall clock or a stopwatch. Keep rest periods standardized so you don’t mistake rest changes for strength changes. 4. The weight and repetitions used will change as you progress, but all other variables need to be identical from one workout to the next: rep speed, exercise form, and rest intervals. This is a laboratory experiment. To accurately gauge progress and tweak as needed, you must ensure that you control your variables. That’s it. The temptation to add exercises will be enormous. Don’t do it. If anything, if you’ve never been able to gain mass, you might choose to do less.