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admin | Office Exercises | 29.12.2013
Scientifically, stress is defined as the nonspecific responses of an organism to any demand made upon it (Selye, 1974).
In this model, the stimulus (exercise) is imposed upon the organism (human body), followed by a recovery period (x-days) in order to produce a response (increase in muscular strength and hypertrophy). Most of these questions can be answered by looking at existing physiology and medical research literature. Following the model, it can be seen that the initial stimulus is a mechanical stressor to the muscle tissue caused by high-tension, low-velocity contractions, occurring during the eccentric (negative or lowering) phase of an exercise (Armstrong RB, Warren GL, Warren JA, 1991).
However, if another stimulus (workout) is introduced before recovery is complete, a cascade of negative biochemical reactions occurs in the body. High Intensity Strength Training for Cardiovascular Conditioning and Fat LossInterview With Ellington Darden, PhD.
This seems to support the BBS protocol of training the full body only once per week (every 5-10 days for most people). Thanks for hosting such a great website and continuing to provide top-notch training information!
Like most things, this depends on the individual, and some people may recover more quickly and others more slowly.
If that’s the case, then performing a HIT routine more frequently than every 5th day would seem counterproductive, unless other studies have demonstrated that the serum creatine kinase increase returns to baseline in less than 5 days in some people.
If the goal is muscular strength and size increases it is more useful to look at studies that directly measure this, rather than indirect factors in isolation which may not give a complete picture. I don’t question your experience in the least, but Ryan Hall seems to have experienced the exact opposite as a trainer…at least as it relates to “advanced” subjects (which I assume would be those who have at least 6 months of more of proper HIT training under their belt?). I can only comment on my experience, and although I’ve had many clients who have needed to cut back to training once weekly the majority have done better training more frequently.
The most important thing to keep in mind is this varies considerably between individuals, and any training volume and frequency should be considered a starting point from which to make adjustments based on individual response. The second study was a meta-analysis of 140 different studies, so who knows how well or poorly each study was set up and conducted. Anyway, I agree with you “that progress will slow over time and it is unrealistic to be able to expect to regularly add five to ten pounds to exercises.” Whether too many trainees “cut back their volume and frequency too much as they advance when what they ought to be doing is reducing the weight increments” is an open question for me. The first shows why two times weekly is a good starting point, and while the meta analysis may be off (Rhea has gotten things pretty wrong before) all of this reflects what I’ve experienced training hundreds of people over a period of twenty years.
By the way, just to be clear, I highly respect your experience and opinion on these matters, so please don’t take my comments here in any other way.
I’m not disagreeing with Ryan and have seen the same thing in some clients, I just have not found this to be the case with nearly as large a percentage.
If halving the frequency doubles the rate of progress between workouts, the net progress would be the same but the reduced frequency would be superior because of the greater results relative to the time invested and reduced stress on the body. To determine this I recommend taking up to two weeks off of training completely, then resuming at the reduced frequency for several weeks and comparing. Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. H I I T T R A I N I N G I S H I G H - I N T E N S I T Y I N T E R VA L T R A I N I N G W H E R E Y O U A LT E R N AT E W O R K I N G O U T. S E C T I O N T O L E A R N A B O U T T H E P R E C I S E R E P S , S E T S A N D T I M I N G .
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Viewed in this light, exercise is nothing more than a physical stressor imposed upon the body to produce an adaptive response.
The high-tension eccentric contractions cause disruption or micro-trauma of the myofilaments (contractile proteins), and cytoskeleton of the muscle fibers, usually in the largest fast glycolytic fibers (Friden J, Sjostrom M, Ekblom B, 1983).
Protein turnover will be incomplete, thus causing further disruption to previously damaged tissue.
Increased vulnerability to eccentric exercise-induced dysfunction and muscle injury after concentric training.
The only way for most of us to practically determine this is to track and compare workout performance and body measurements over time and to experiment. I understand that recovery time from HIT varies between different individuals, with some people recovering quicker and others slower. If this really was the case people would be losing strength training more frequently, but I just don’t see that happening with most people, either in research or my own experience as a trainer. But how many studies on strength and hypertrophy have been done using a full-body HIT protocol that measures training volume and frequency over an adequate time-frame of 90-180 days or longer, and with a large enough group of participants to be statistically relevant? There have been numerous instances where clients have had to cut back from twice to once weekly over the years due to either scheduling conflicts or a lack of finances, and in the majority of cases their progress slowed (comparing over time, not workout to workout). The studies you linked to are interesting, but I’m not sure how much practical relevance they have to a properly done HIT program. It seems like there would be way too many variables between the studies to draw any type of relevant conclusion from such a meta-analysis. I just finished reading “High Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way,” and he came to the opposite conclusion as a personal trainer, sometimes cutting his advanced trainees back to a 3 way split done once every 5-14 days or more before they started to resume progress. In most cases where a client has reduced frequency due to scheduling or financial reasons they made about the same amount of improvement each workout, but their rate of progress over time would be halved.
Also, it is important to consider that progress needs to be looked at over time, not on a workout to workout basis. If halving the frequency does not at least double the rate of progress, however, then you have to look at what is more important to the individual, progress over time or return on time invested. If someone makes better average progress over the course of a month on the reduced frequency, they should continue with it.
The extent of the adaptation is dependent upon balancing the severity of the stressor (intensity, frequency, and duration) with an adequate recovery interval.
This presentation will review research on many aspects of the stimulus and recovery process of skeletal muscle in order to develop a biochemical adaptation model. This initial mechanical damage is followed by an inflammatory response resulting in further protein turnover.
This imbalance between stimulus and recovery leads to an overstressed condition and an increase in the production of cortisol, a major catabolic hormone.
Further evidence shows that as the intensity of exercise increases, greater micro-trauma accumulates, requiring a greater recovery interval (Ploutz-Snyder LL, Tesch PA, Dudley GA, 1998). I ask this because I believe you have now switched to two workouts per week for yourself, and many other HIT advocates recommend 3 workouts per week. Twice weekly seems to be a good starting point for most people, but there are some people who require a lot less frequency (at least per muscle group) to recover.


Or are you basing your conclusion that working out “twice weekly” is a good starting point “for most people” more from practical experience training yourself and others? Some studies have even shown better results training three times a week than twice weekly (Braith RW, Graves JE, Pollock ML, Leggett SL, Carpenter DM, Colvin AB (1989). The first one used sedentary untrained men and women in their late twenties, performing one set of leg extensions to failure for seven to ten reps, for a period of ten to eighteen weeks. It states that “four sets per muscle group elicited maximal gains in both trained and untrained individuals,” so I highly doubt that very many of those studies were analyzing properly done full-body HIT routines.
Some people who had difficulty progressing at twice weekly have done better cutting back to once a week, but the majority make pretty good progress training twice weekly.
Some people may make better improvements from workout to workout training less frequently, but when cutting frequency in half unless their rate of improvement between workouts at least doubles, their overall progress will be slower. If halving the frequency only resulted in fifty percent greater improvement between workouts it would result in slower progress over time but a better return on the time invested.
When viewed together, this data supports the attached biochemical model (Fig 1) of the stimulus and growth process of skeletal muscle. An overabundance of cortisol upsets the balance between catabolism (breakdown of tissue) and anabolism (build-up of tissue), favoring the catabolic process (Urhausen A, Gabriel H, Kindermann W, 1995). Details of the biochemical model and application to exercise prescription will be covered in the presentation and in report format at a later date.
I’ve already determined that a full-body HIT routine once every 5th or 7th day is about the most I can handle.
Depending upon the severity of myofiber disruption, serum creatine kinase can increase to very high levels over the next five days, and not return to baseline for 10 or more days (Pedersen BK, Ostrowski K, Rohde T, Bruunsgaard H, 1998). If this occurs, the organism is now in a chronic state of degeneration called overtraining.
This process must be left uninterrupted or protein synthesis and regeneration of the damaged fibers will not be complete.
I can’t imagine only hitting the gym once every 14 days or so though, so once per week is probably the most I’ll ever cut back to.
If an adequate recovery interval is allowed, the body will enter an anabolic state and the disrupted fibers will enhance their composition of contractile protein by increasing the number of myofibrils within the muscle fibers.
Research indicates that chronically overtrained individuals may require up to three to six months to fully recover after cessation of training (Kuipers H, Keizer HA, 1988). Perhaps I just have terrible recovery ability, but I can’t imagine doing the “Big Five” routine intensely 2 or 3 times a week for very long without completely burning out, even when I was in my twenties. The previously disrupted fibers will hypertrophy, increasing the resistance to further damage at similar intensities (Armstrong et al., 1991).
I remember doing a twenty-rep breathing squat routine 2 times per week for ten weeks when I was about 25 years old, and I’m positive that I was totally over-trained by the end of it. I made it up to 300 lbs for twenty reps at a body weight of about 160 lbs, but I bet I would have progressed quite a bit beyond that point if I was only doing it once per week.



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