Efficiency

In my introduction I told you about my history of fitness training. I described the hours I spent at the gym in pursuit of my ideal physique. The problem at the time was that I was asking myself the wrong question. Instead of asking myself “how little do I need to workout to trigger results” I was asking myself “how much do I need to workout to get results.” There is a BIG difference between both of those questions! Which question do you ask yourself?

Another way to think about it is as follows:  You need to cover a distance of 1 mile. You can walk that mile or jog it or run it.  Whatever method you choose, the end result will be the same:  you covered 1 mile. The difference is the time it takes you to cover that mile. Hopefully you run quicker than you walk, in which case you’ll cover that mile in much less time than if you were to walk it. Which method is the most efficient method to cover that mile? Well, if you said take a cab, then you’d be right!!

All kidding aside, efficiency is described in the dictionary as the quality of doing something with no waste of time or money. How efficient are your workouts? How many days a week do you spend in the gym training with weights and doing cardio? And what kind of results do you see from those efforts? Are you being efficient with your workouts?

What drives me crazy is when I go to the gym and see the same people, day in and day out, doing the same strength training routine and the same cardio program and never changing!!! They spend hours and hours a week in the gym and they look exactly the same every week!!! Do you know anyone like this? What’s the point of spending all that time working out and not getting any significant results? No wonder people get mental confusion when someone tells them that the thing they’re missing in their workouts is muscle confusion.

If training is done correctly, results will occur steadily and consistently. Your body is programmed to adapt to external stimuli. I used to tell my clients that if you looked the same over a two week period, then something was wrong. Keep training correctly over a period of a few weeks, and this will produce a good transformation. And kept up over a period months, the transformation can be truly amazing!

Our goal at Precision Training is to explain to you the science behind the triggers that cause the body to change in the way you want. By sticking with proven science and not marketing hype, we can help you design a workout program that will get you the most results in the least amount of time. Once you experience results with an efficient workout program, you will never go back to wasting time in the gym again!

The truth is the reason you look the way you do now is because your body has adapted to the external stimuli you’ve given it. If you’re not happy with what you look like, then it’s time to change those stimuli to get you the results you want.

Time is your most precious asset. As life gets busier and busier, we look for ways of increasing our efficiency. From fuel efficient cars to smartphones, the direction everything is headed is towards increased efficiency. Why not bring your workout out of the 20th century and into the 21st century with the most efficient strength training program ever created? You can read all about it in Train Smart.

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54 Responses to Efficiency

  1. T. Robert at #

    Hey Greg, welcome to the Static Contraction team! As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and huge fan of the Train Smart workout, I absolutely agree with you that this is the MOST efficient and effective weight lifting methodology out there. I had been looking for an “Executive” once-a-week workout for years and couldn’t find one. It wasn’t until I bought Pete’s book that I realized he’d found a way to help me build muscle in every major muscle group, allowed me to get stronger than I ever thought possible (I’m up to 1300 lbs on the legs now – incredible), and didn’t require me to buy a $14,000 machine! No pain, plenty of gain!! Thanks Pete for developing the quintessential Executive Workout!

  2. Brian T at #

    I’d like to make a request for that ebook you are talking about maybe writing Greg.

    I’d be happy to pay for it.

    I’m trying to figure out how to maximise my cardiovascular fitness, fat loss as well as my strength and speed using the sct workouts. Any help appreciated.

  3. Dave at #

    I’m a little confused regarding SCT and the need for really heavy weights for muscle mass and strength gains. I’ve read several studies that seem to indicate that volume is just as if not more important than intensity. The most recent from McMaster University in Canada showed that a lighter weight(30% of 1 rep max) lifted to failure actually resulted in greater protein turnover than a heavier weight(90% of 1 rep max) lifted to muscle failure. Of course the volume or the number of reps was greater with the lighter resistance.
    Carpinelli, another researcher, also points out that as long as a set ends in a high degree of effort, all muscle fibers will have been engaged and that’s all that’s required to trigger gains.
    I would think that most people, myself included, just don’t have access to the heavy weights required for SCT.

  4. Brian, such an ebook is going to be in the works. The biggest change I’ve seen, next to my strength gains, has been in my cardiovascular fitness. Just so you know where I’m coming from, when I was in high school, the best 1 mile I could run was around 6:00. Not very impressive. And this was from someone who tried to be on the cross country team too. 🙂 Needless to say I wasn’t very fit. 4 years ago I started developing the techniques I use now to maximize my cardio fitness. I did a sample run and I pulled off just under an 8 minute mile. Very, very unimpressive but then again cardio had never been my focus of training since high school so I guess its not very suprising. Well now I run a 5 minute mile and am working on getting it down to 4:45. While not world class, its definitely better than I did in high school. There is a proper and precise way to train for cardiovascular fitness. I spent several years going thru all the misinformation until I found the most efficient method that will not only help you gain cardio fitness but will also make you lose fat like it was going out of style. And that will definitely be an ebook I get out there because I’m tired of seeing people spend money on programs that are just flat out lies and produce mediocre results at best.

  5. Dave, you bring up an excellent point. Is it volume or is it intensity? In order to answer this question thoroughly, I’d need more room than just this reply. What I may do is prepare a blog to describe how muscle physiology works. I spent several years and thousands of hours studying how the muscle works and how the nervous system interacts with the muscle. My goal one day is to prepare a DVD going through all the basics of muscle physiology and helping people understand exactly what happens. Then you will be able to answer the volume vs. intensity question yourself. Until that time though, I will think about doing a blog post helping you understand what happens.
    In the meantime, I’ll leave it up to you. Why don’t you try both and see what happens. Spend 6 weeks lifting 30% of your 1 rep max until failure and record any strength and muscle mass gains. Then spend the next 6 weeks doing SCT and record the results. You can then post your results here for a totally unbiased observation of the two techniques. I’m sure we’d all be eager to see your results.
    And from my experience, most people do have access for the heavy weights for SCT. It takes a bit of creativity, but any standard gym should have the equipment needed to do the workouts. But we’re going to have a fix for that too in the near future 😉

  6. Brian T at #

    I can’t wait to read it Greg, very interested in your findings.

  7. Hi Dave! I’d like to add something to what Greg said. This came up a few months ago when that McMaster study came out in a press release that talked about building muscle “without the straining o grunting” Here’s what I said back then.

    Every few months somebody sends me an e-mail link to a medical study that reveals some aspect of strength training that they believe disproves the fundamental principles behind static contraction training. This month it’s a study by McMaster University in Canada (a very good university for kinesiology studies, by the way).

    This study was headlined all over the Internet as a ‘new’ way to build muscle without ‘straining’ or ‘grunting’. The big, new secret is that lifting only 30% of your one-rep maximum 24 or more times – until muscular failure is reached – can build muscle. Many people wanted me to know that this new information could overturn what I’ve been saying about Static Contraction.

    So let’s have a look at some aspects of this information and how people interpret it:

    – The truth is people have been working out with less than their 1-rep maximum (1RM) and gaining muscle for many years. Swing a sledgehammer all day for a living and watch what it does for your muscularity. Plenty. My point with SCT is that if a 5-second maximum hold will also build muscle why spend time performing 24+ reps with a lighter weight? To me it’s a matter of efficiency; not that lifting less weight more times fails to build muscle.

    – The part about lifting lighter weights meaning there is no straining and grunting is also misleading because the study talked about lifting until failure. By definition, lifting to failure demands straining and possibly grunting, so that claim is not really valid. Reaching muscular failure is very demanding irrespective of the weight used.

    – There is a simple logical fallacy in thinking that a study that proves lifting 30% of 1RM builds muscle also somehow simultaneously disproves that lifting 50% or 80% or 100% of 1RM builds muscle.

    – Finally, none of the studies done by these august universities ever (that I know of) tests what happens when you use 150% to 200% of people’s 1RM. That’s right; what is called “maximum” is not really the maximum. Static Contraction training limits the range of motion so trainees can lift much more weight than what is called their “maximum”.

    Static Contraction training requires lifting the absolute heaviest weight you can possibly lift under ideal conditions. That weight is invariably much heavier than any weight you have ever lifted on any given exercise. That builds muscle. It has for many thousands of people. There isn’t going to be any future study that says lifting that much weight will not build muscle. That can’t happen without overturning several long-settled laws of physiology and physics.

  8. joe at #

    Greg/Pete – how do you use SCT while competing… say college basketball, or soccer or rugby…how can you manage recovery time needed for SCT – 4-6 days a week the athletes are spending a couple of hours in intense effort – intense cardio & muscular fatigue..

  9. F. Gregorian at #

    Hi Pete and Greg. I’ve been trainning with a self-created protocol that is very similar to the one you call Static Contraction. I’m 23, and I train since I was 20. The first year of trainning in a full-range form and for about 7 hours every week I started to think about efficiency so I resarched how muscles work and I came up with a system really similar to Static Contraction, consinting in trainning once in a week in the strongest point of every muscle in a isometric way. The only difference is that I do 3 ‘sets’ or holds for every muscle. The first ‘set’ is with the strongest wight I can lift in order to fatigue the stronger fibers. But I believe that if I could still lift some weight is because the other fibers are not fatigued so I immediately do a second longer hold with less weight (actually the heaviest I can lift at that point) and finally a third with even less weight, so at the end I can’t barely lift anything using that muscle, which (I think) means that all the fibers, even the Type I, all fatigued. Anyway, with time the machines didn’t offer the weight I needed for the first hold, so I came up with an idea. If the activation of the fibers of a muscle depends on the wieght and not on the movement or position, what about trainning in THE WEAKEST point?…That way, you don’t have to worry about the machines because you will using less weight, and the fact that you are lifting less weight doesn’t mean you are using less fibers, it just means that you are in disadvantaged position of the lever. Obviously, the thing with this is that your wakest point is always the one that brings you closer to an injury so maybe it’s better to say WAEKER POINT instead ‘weakest point’…Anyway, when I reached the limits of the machines, I started to train in a WEAKER POINT. Maybe it could help to solve the problem I see you all are having with the machines…What do you think?….By the way, I’m not american so try to ignore the mistakes in my writting or drafting.

  10. Jonathan at #

    I am also very eager to see your proposed ebook on cardio vascular training. I am pretty pleased with the strength gains using SCT. For example, my shrug weight has gone from 250 pounds to 660 pounds in about two years of irregular training, but I still have a spare tire around the middle and my cardio is not where I would like it at. Though I have a spare tire now, I would have to say that I am historically an ectomorph – “thin boned.” In high school I was very thin and could sustain a 5 minute mile in cross country races. At age 44, I cannot do that but my strength is much greater. A couple of your recent posts indicating 5% body fat and a 5 minute mile have piqued my interest. I am hoping to see future blogs on that soon and an ebook in the near future. Thanks for any input you may offer.

  11. Joseph D. at #

    Agreed! Look forward to *both* of those e-books… asap! 😉

  12. I’ve got so much to say about what you’re describing but first and foremost I’d like to touch upon lifting weights at your weakest point. One class I took for my masters degree was a class called “Biomechanics of Musculoskeletal Injury.” All I studied for that class was biomechanics and how that effected muscle injury. Without writing a new book for you detailing what happens to cause injury, working out at your weakest point is not a good idea because the joint is at an angle that usually does not produce much force and there is a lot of strain on the muscle, tendon and joint. Think about what position guys who are bench pressing a heavy weight are in when they injure themselves. That’s right, their weakest point in the range of motion. Same goes with most of the lifts I can think about. In short, not a good idea. Stick with the last few inches of motion. They are not only the strongest range of motion, they’re where you need the most strength. Does a football lineman push with his arms all the way against his chest or does he push with his arms in the strongest range? Do you every need maximum strength at your weakest point? Not really. Its all about the functional strength so stick with the principles and you’ll do fine.

  13. Jonathan, I think you will be pleased when the ebook comes out. While I never had a spare tire around my waist, I was always heavier in the lower body. I would lose weight around my waist but keep it in my butt and legs. Well, the good news is that when you train properly, you can even get that “stubborn” fat to drop off your body. Its a new way of thinking about fat loss. Keep up the SCT for now and soon enough we’ll give you the details on how to get your body to want to drop the fat…..as opposed to fighting it off.

  14. Joe, I use it like I would any other workout. I train on my normal intervals and spend the rest of the time practicing my sport. I make sure I get LOTS of sleep too. That is something a lot of people forget about and I will do a post on soon enough. Sleep is VERY important. Think about young kids. They sleep all the time. Why? Because that’s when the body is doing its growth thing. Without proper sleep, your body doesn’t have the time it needs to recover from workouts and eventually you will experience burnout as your body forces you to take some time to recover.

  15. charlie at #

    i would be interested to know more about the measurements in that study, ie. protein turnover. is that a measure of stimulus and growth or a measure of damage and healing? low-level rhabdomyalysis? research is way too easily misleading…

  16. charlie at #

    kudos to this young man, 23 and actually thinking about his progress. i like what you said about ‘weaker point’. I have the XF machines and was able to progress to a static bench press effort of 701lb. a few times. Even with substantial padding i was unable to take that kind of force through my hands. I lowered the bar 1cm and was able to do about 10% less, then over time i progressed back to 700lb. and lowered it again.
    military press was another that i changed to a ‘weaker point’. the position where i could do the most force 353lb. seemed to create major strain in my neck and traps leaving me sore for days or at least seeming weaker for the shrug.
    on military press i really wanted to exert the delts. so i lowered it 3cm or so.

  17. May I also add that you are making many, many assumptions about what your muscle fibers “are doing”. To reach valid conclusions about all of that takes an enormous about of testing right down to the level of doing tissue biopsies. My focus has always been on the physics behind the lifting. Lifting 200 lbs must involve more muscle fibers than lifting 100 lbs. Since fiber contraction is what causes movement in the body – all movement – no other factor can be as certain than the fact that lifting a heavier weight must use more fibers than lifting a lighter weight. Therefore lifting the heaviest weight possible under the safest conditions must involve the most fibers. In the realm of physics, that’s not guessing, it’s the way our universe works – moving more mass requires more energy and power.

  18. Paul Chappin at #

    Hey Pete,

    Just a thought while I was reading your stuff: Cyclist (at least the good ones) do the same thing you are talking about – they use their leg muscles in the most powerful range that they have. Seat height is paramount to cycling power. You won’t see Lance Armstrong with his knees bent (like in a squat) at the bottom of his pedal stroke. Your stuff makes sense. Thanks.

  19. Dave at #

    Hi Pete and Greg: Thanks for the replies. Please don’t take my comments or questions as criticisms of SCT. I respect your experience, knowledge and education. As noted above, I questioned the need for such heavy weights in light of Henneman’s size principle and some recent studies I read.
    Okay, I’ll buy that SCT will probably build muscle mass and will no doubt build great strength in the position the weight is held in. I agree that it is time efficient if you just do a 5 second hold. However, is SCT more effective? Will it build more muscle than traditional training?
    Also, will there be any transfer of that strength or will I be as weak as a kitten trying to lift a 100 pound weight from the floor? I know that when I practise a deadlift with 450 pounds through a full range of motion for example, it works a chain of muscles from my feet to my traps, and that strength will transfer to picking up a 100 pound bag of cement from the floor.
    I realize that when it comes exercise and sports the SAID principle applies, but when you strength train, you would like some of that strength to transfer. I want that strength to make my chores easier, and my wife wants to be able to pick up a child off the floor with ease.
    As Greg pointed out, I could do a 12 week, one man study to see what happens, but I’d prefer to “cash in” on your knowledge and save myself some valuable time. Thanks in advance.

  20. Dave, there is transference of strength to full range but it varies a lot between individuals. Are you a competitive powerlifter who needs maximum weak range strength? If so, you are forced to train that way despite the risk of injury. SAID = Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand and refers to all stress/adaptation. (As you know; I’m mentioning it for those who haven’t seen the term.) That first word is Specific, it is not Exclusive. When your legs get stronger from lifting weights they also allow you to run faster, not just lift more weight – it’s not that ‘specific’ and certainly never ‘exclusive’. Weak as a kitten? No. they guy who does a 2,000 lb partial leg press has plenty of power throughout his range. But he’d still be dumb to do a max lift in his weak range if there was no good reason to risk the injury. Dave, at some point you have to get past working this out on paper based on everybody’s opinions and clinical studies. You have to hoist some iron and see what effect it has on whatever it is you need to improve. We did this with golfers and they all, male and female, hit the ball farther – and that’s a full range of motion if ever there was one.

  21. Donnie Hunt at #

    Hey guys,

    I really like the new site layout. Just had a couple of things I wanted to bring up.

    Being stronger near the point of lockout during exercises like bench presses and leg presses. Isn’t this due to your body being at a great leverage advantage? I know you guys talk about being able to recruit more fibers by loading the body in these ranges because you are able to contract against more weight/resistance. I don’t understand how working in a more leverage advantaged range would make the body use more fibers or work harder than if your limbs were in a more leverage disadvantaged range. I do see your point of not working in ranges of extreme stretching, and there are probably other ranges in conventional exercises that one should avoid that I don’t know about or understand. It just seems to me that in order to progressively add more and more resistance over time it would be alot more practical to do this using ranges where you don’t need as much resistance as you would in your mechanically strongest ranges.

  22. Thanks, Donnie. I’ve run into this question before. People basically say, “maybe lifting a light weight in at an angle of weakness does use the same number of muscle fibers as a heavy weight at the optimum angle.”. For the sake of this discussion, let’s suppose that it’s true. In one instance you can perform a one-arm dumbbell curl with 60 lbs in your strongest range of motion. The other extreme is to place your arm behind your back so your tendons, ligaments and joints are all at the worst possible angle of leverage and then you discover that in that position you can only curl 15 lbs. But – what if – it used the same number of muscle fibers? My answer would be, why on earth would you risk all that additional injury to your tendons, ligaments, joints and possibly the muscle itself just to use a different dumbbell? Remember – both exercises should require the same exertion – so one won’t even feel easier. In fact, maybe the heavy one would feel easier because there would not be the pain of the shear forces on your joints and connective tissue. You might say, “but, Pete, that’s an extreme example. I’m not going to use my absolute weakest range by contorting my arm behind my back.” But consider the force on your knee joint when you do deep squats or full leg presses. I’ve created a very primitive drawing of a bridge made with support pillars that approach the angle of a bent knee. You can immediately see that no responsible engineer would ever suggest this configuration. It’s because the force of the load has to travel through that joint and the leverage creates shear forces that are staggering! Consider it lucky that humans can build strength and muscle in our optimum, safest range of motion. Why invite injury by deliberately ignoring our good engineering?

    Bridge

  23. John at #

    Thanks Pete and Greg,

    This issue has raised more than one point, firstly is it necessary to train to failure to gain strength and size? The quick answer is no. And secondly what happens if failure occurs sooner than in the previous workout? Suppose you had a cold or were coming down with one or you had a bad day at work or you partied too hard the previous night and didn’t sleep all that well or you didn’t allow enough time to not only recover but to allow for overcompensation to occur.

    The truth of the matter is training to failure has never been nor ever will be a way to quantify the workload due to the myriad of external influences on the body and mind; diet, lifestyle, relationships etc. all play a key role in how we feel and perform on a daily basis.
    The idea of training to failure was advocated and made popular by Mike Mentzer and due to the above reasons was one of the major flaws in his “Heavy Duty Training” system which at the time was truly ground breaking with his one set per exercise coupled with infrequent workouts. Mentzer proved conclusively a bodybuilder didn’t need multiple sets and reps for each group of muscles in order to gain size and strength. However shear forces and the limitations of lifting in the weak range were never addressed nor was the idea that as one grew bigger and stronger it demanded the workout frequency to be pushed further and further into the future.

    From experience I think always training to failure is hard on the mind especially if you are performing several sets in one workout to failure as it will subconsciously prevent you from truly exerting 100%; an innate self preservation system so to speak . After a while the adrenals get overworked doing multiple sets to failure and will cause a condition of over training leading to injury or quitting outright.
    It is how all these other workout routines came into being like periodization or cycling intensity. These systems exist due to the fundamental flaws inherent in these kinds of workouts that all have the same underlying feature and that is training too frequently and performing too many sets. They also had a lot to do with the anabolic steroid cycling too but that is another subject on its own.

    A while back I submitted an article that addresses weak range entitled “Full Range of Motion Lifting and BMW ‘Limp Mode’. . I discuss things such as nociception and shear force and the deleterious effects on the body. If you want you can look it up in the archives of this website or Google it, I believe it is still posted somewhere.
    [ Editor’s note: http://www.precisiontraining.com/full-range-of-motion-lifting-and-bmw-limp-mode/ ]

    Interestingly training to failure is advocated in only one sport and that is bodybuilding, a sport I might add that is rife with steroid abuse more than any other. Not even Olympic Lifters train to failure. Can you imagine an Olympic lifter lifting to failure each and every time he went to do a clean and jerk set? Or how about a sprinter performing 100 meter sprints to failure? Or a baseball pitcher practicing his fast ball to failure where he couldn’t throw the ball an inch.

    When used in this light you can see how ludicrous it would be to do just that in any sports discipline so why do we blindly subscribe to the idea that it should be applied to lifting weight for strength? The reason is simple….it is what was written in articles in all the fitness and bodybuilding magazines and what is touted as the holy grail for reaching our physical strength and size potentials.

    SCT eliminates all of these issues and quantifies the progress. If you don’t progress then you know one of two things happened. You either didn’t impose enough stress to stimulate a reaction or you didn’t allow for enough time to elapse for the growth/overcompensation to occur. Pretty simple!

    Save your joints, get strong, and have tons of energy when you are done.

    John

  24. Donnie Hunt at #

    Hi Pete,

    Thanks for the response man. Your talk about the bridge pillars really makes a lot of sense, a lot of sense! I have followed your writings and ideas along with John Little’s for a long time, like the early 90’s. The only thing I never really got is when you guys would say that one could only recruit the maximum amount of fibers in the position of full contraction or the most leverage advantaged position. As far as safety goes I totally get what you guys have saying for many years. Like you guys have both said before we would never lift something in everyday life using a weak or leverage disadvantaged range. I know Little now advocates doing statics in positions of the greatest moment arm as an alternative to the position of maximum contraction. There is of course more to his protocol than just that, I don’t wanna misrepresent his ideas. As far as reducing wear and tear and safety I do get what you guys have to say.

  25. Donnie Hunt at #

    Hi Pete,

    I’ve thought alot about what you had to say in your reply. About the bridge pillar example and comparing it to the limbs of the body. What I was suggesting with working in more leverage disadvantaged ranges would put more stress on the joints. I can see what you’re saying. Thank you very much for your input. This is probably going to drastically change the way I strength train whenever I get back into the gym.

  26. Thanks for having an open mind. Too rare.

  27. Donnie Hunt at #

    What is your current view regarding squats/deadlifts are more generally your view of loading the spine to work the leg muscles. I will not argue that both the squat and the deadlift stimulate a great deal of muscle mass. Recently a video was posted on thedreamlounge.net of Bill DeSimone talking about the architecture of the spine and how loading it with a heavy weight that is intended to challenge the legs is really backwards. What you said here about about the bridge pillars, to me, seemed to go along with this. I know in one of your ebooks you talk about how great of an exercise “strongest range static leg press” is. So maybe you have already talked about this issue before. Just seemed like a good topic for this site. I’m all about doing productive exercise that actually benefits the body. I don’t care how much I can “full range” lift or being able to lift like the “real” lifters or bodybuilders do.

  28. Donnie Hunt at #

    This will probably contradict what I have said previously. The analogy you made to the bridge pillars really made me think. Now lets say one loads the body in a more midrange or range with greater moment arm. Doing this requires less weight. Now lets say one is loading the body in the more mechanically strong range. This requires more weight. Since it takes more weight in the stronger range and less weight in the weaker range, is loading in the weaker range putting a significantly greater level of shearing forces on the body. Or do they kinda cancel each other out. There’s probably more going on that I don’t fully understand. But I had to ask.

  29. Leaving out all the math and talk of moments of force, it is not equal. A light weight that uses leverage on a joint creates far, far more shear force than a heavy weight aligned optimally.

  30. Donny, if you read any of my e-books you know I don’t advocate squats. We tested the intensity of all common leg exercises and the leg press wins by a wide margin. It also avoids the issue of loading maximum weight on your spine. So it’s better in two ways. Some people have a religious devotion to squats. I look at the issue mathematically and don’t see any merits in squats rather than leg presses.

  31. Donnie Hunt at #

    Thanks Pete. Makes sense to me.

  32. Bertrand at #

    Thanks, Pete and Greg for taking time to answer endless streams of questions you probably feel like you’ve answered them a thousand times.

    My question concerns the recovery aspect of training, especially your emphasis on taking longer time in between workouts as you actually lift heavier weights.
    At a first glance, it seems to me that you wouldn’t need that extra time off since your muscles have adapted to lifting heavier weights. Aren’t increase in strength and the required recovery time correlated? I can see how one might extrapolate that if you couldn’t lift the same weight or more, there wasn’t sufficient time for recovery since the last work out. But if you could actually lift the same or more weight, do you still figure in more time off before the next work out? At least that’s what I gathered from reading your e-book.

    Say if you are working out every ten days, at what point does the muscle recovery actually begin? Day 1 of rest, or day 2, etc. ?

  33. Hi Bertrand. The amount of recovery you need is a moving target. Yes, you adapt and get stronger so you can lift more, but you are always pushing that limit as a way to force new growth. If you think in terms of the total weight lifted for your five exercises that total should always be increasing. And even though your muscles can hoist the extra weight your liver, kidneys, pancreas and other organs have more and more waste products to clean up and they might not improve at the same rate as your muscles. (I’m not claiming they improve at all, I’m only pointing out that many elements are involved in recovery whereas fewer are involved in lifting.) Also, I don’t know the exact chronology of recovery in terms of what happens each day and I’m not sure anyone does. But it has to be complete before new muscle will grow. You can’t cheat that.

  34. Bertrand at #

    I just purchased the CNS workout and I’m excited to try it.
    On the issue of intensity I always had this question. How much does volume matter, especially on multiple set exercise?

    Here is a sample exercise. (1 minute rest between sets)
    Weight Rep Volume Time(sec) Intensity
    Set 1 160 26 4160 44 94.55
    Set 2 160 13 2080
    Set 3 160 9 1440 202
    Total 7680 202 38.02

    Obviously the more sets you perform the lower the intensity, but does higher volume have any compensating effect as far as taxing the muscle to stimulate growth? Is there a point of diminishing return as regards the volume vs. intensity? Is it conclusive in your opinion one SCT style rep produces the same muscle growth as 2 or 3 SCT style reps?

    Thanks, (Your training methods sure make one think a lot which in itself is valuable.)

  35. Bertand, it’s not clear that your example is from the CNS workout. I think your question did not need the number as you seem to be asking about high intensity versus sustained intensity. I’ve talked about that int he section on Alpha and Beta strength and also elsewhere in these blog comments. It’s not that I’ve ever said that one rep is always better for all people than 3, 10, or 40 reps, it’s that it is more efficient. You can do 400% more work in the gym but it never – ever – yields 400% more muscle or strength gain. Moreover it seems like about 90% of people never need the extra volume. Endurance athletes seem to be the minority who benefit from training with more volume, or Beta workouts.

  36. MikeW at #

    I’m interested in this subject as well and look forward to these new ebooks.

    Just a bit of background: I’m 63 years old and in early August of last year decided to quit smoking and get my ass in shape. At that time I weighed 240lbs (I’m 5’11”). I began walking regularly, totally changed the way I eat (I’m a sugar addict), joined a gym where I do cardio, pilades (for old folk) and some resistance training, and began educating myself about how to tone up my body. I’m now down to 200lbs and have gained some muscle as well as losing a lot of fat.

    Now that I’ve come across SCT I’m going to give it a try once I get myself educated and psyched up enough to actually get into a power rack and do it. Although in my younger years I was heavily into aerobics and did some moderate weight training, I’ve never been a “gym rat” so just culturally I’m a bit intimidated by all that iron!

    Here’s my question: When I first began this program I was seeing a personal trainer who told me emphatically to NOT use weight resistance for ab work until I had significantly depleted the visceral fat in that area. Body weight crunches and core strength building (pilades) were fine but no added resistance. His opinion was that since my abdomen was distorted by the internal, visceral fat, over developing it in that distorted position would not give me the results I wanted.

    I’m wondering what your opinion is on this? Would it be better to leave out the SCT abdominal work until I get rid of more visceral fat or is his concern another myth?

  37. Mike, first of all, I’d like to say congratulations on coming this far. You’ve made excellent progress. Now lets see if we can take it up a notch and really get you into tip top shape using SCT. I know that if you stick with the training principles you will see tremendous gains in the next few months. AND you don’t have to be a “gym rat” to see those gains when you train smart.
    Now to get to your question about resistance training and ab work: I know why a trainer would say don’t train with weights. The thinking is that adding muscle to the abs with abdominal fat that is present will only make your waist look bigger. Well, that’s partly true. When you have fat on top of your abs, the only way to slim down and reveal the existing muscle is to lose weight. As you lose weight, your body will drop that fat in that area and you will trim down. If you only had so much time to work out, I would agree that it is better to spend that time doing cardio to burn the fat off than trying to do crunches or something else to get rid of fat. You can’t get rid of fat doing ab exercises. That is spot reduction and its a BIG no-no. I’ll talk about spot reduction more in my future posts.

    However, if I were you, I’d still do the SCT ab program and here’s why: The abs are not only used for looking good when they’re nice and lean, they’re used to maintain posture and help you with everyday activities. They are an extremely important muscle group to have nice and strong. They help when you pick something up, help you sit up straight and help you with any other kind of training activities you may do. They make up your core muscles, those all important muscles people spend way too much time doing silly exercises for. But it is the core of your strength and that’s why its important to keep them strong (along with your lower back muscles). So I’d just go ahead and do the SCT program along with a good diet and cardio program. This way, as the fat melts off, those abs can peek out and say hello to the world.

  38. Bertrand at #

    You’re correct, Pete. My example was from the Power Factor workout system, not from the CNS.
    Also you’re never less than 100 % clear about the SCT being about the efficiency.
    I was just wondering about where the point of diminishing return might occur with volume regardless of training style. If Dorian Yates could achieve with 1 set/exercise what others with 15 sets/exercise (assuming everybody getting same kind of benefits from using steroid, etc. ) surely ‘volume’ is overrated, I think.

    Thanks.

  39. I think volume is overrated for the majority of people. There is a minority who seem to do better with a bit more volume but nowhere near the saturation workout routines that get passed off to the general public.

  40. Brian T at #

    The fastest muscle growth spurts I’ve had coincided with consuming a pint of milk with two eggs per day, infrequent but intense workouts and 9-12 hours sleep per night. I’m convinced milk and eggs are pure growth food, containing far more growth builders than just protein (adding in two scoops of whey makes it even better) and plenty of rest definitely helps growth too.

  41. MikeW at #

    Thanks, Greg. What you’re saying makes sense. When I began working out my body a few months ago it became clear that my core was very weak, which is one reason I began doing pilades type work. My gym is about a mile and a half from where I live, on the UC Berkeley campus. I walk there and back three times a week. When I say “walk” I don’t mean “stroll”. I walk at a brisk pace with long strides. Usually takes me about 30 minutes. I typically walk three miles a day and occasionally in steep terrain. As well as taking three (relatively gentile) pilades classes a week, I take two or three step aerobics classes and sometimes run on an elliptical for a half hour or so. Eventually I want to start running, there is a good dirt track about a quarter mile from where I live but I’m not quite up to that yet. Currently my weight vacillates a bit from a low of 200 to a high of 203 and my body fat is 26%. I do have a protruding (pot) belly, though, visceral fat. Waist at navel, 40″. I’ve also been working out with weights, too, doing a kind of ‘hodge podge’ of things, but typically the 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps, each to the fatigue point where I can’t maintain good form. Legs, arms and shoulders are looking good 😉 .

    SO… having done all this, including cleaning up my diet tremendously, I’ve made great strides. If I understand you correctly, beyond aesthetics, what you are saying is it is a good idea to keep my muscle groups trained together as they support one another. It wouldn’t be a good idea to do a lot of intense back work and not also develop the abdominal. They need to be in balance as they support one another. Makes total sense to me!

    The last time I did weight work was February 2nd so, in line with Pete’s recommendation that we let our bodies recuperate for two weeks before beginning SCT, I’ll begin my day “0” next week.

  42. Brian, the 9-12 hours of sleep (if you can find the time) is great!! I know when I’m training hard, 8 hours just isn’t enough. But that’s what your body needs to grow. As far as milk and egg are concerned they are complete proteins. They provide the body with all the amino acids it needs to build muscle. Whey protein is also a complete protein so that’s why you see it in pretty much all protein shakes. If you eat a diet composed of complete proteins though you don’t need the whey. But stimulus + nutrients + rest = muscle growth!

  43. Mike, you definitely want to make sure you balance the strength training around your joints. It’s very important not only for proper joint stability but also for aesethetics. The lower back and abs are extremely important for everyday activities and general well being. Please train both. I would also tell you to keep working on your diet, gradually, so that eventually you will be eating very healthy. That will help you keep all your hard earned work for the future and you will never see 200 lbs again! Increase that cardio as your body allows you to, and you’ll drop that 40″ belly to 34″ in no time! Take a picture of yourself today because you won’t believe how far you’ve progressed in 3 months if you stick with this. It will happen, just go for it. The rewards are more than worth it! And we’re here to help you out along the way….

  44. Darren Rose at #

    Hi Pete/Greg

    First off well done on the blog site, it’s a great place to read the latest studies on CNS and SCT and to see how other people are getting on!

    I’ve been training for over 10 years and have been using the SCT since June 2010 – it has definitly made a huge difference to my physique! My body fat percentage is down from 14 to 10 and I’ll be 37 in August! I’d like to further streamline my workouts as I’d like to see my abs for once in my life and I know from extensive reading that this usually happens when body fat is below the 10% mark.

    I only eat healthy food and I lift iron roughly once every 7-14 days but my question is more about cardio. I understand that 20 minutes of cardio per day is ideal but if I’m honest I’m too tired after work to even drag myself to the gym. Instead I prefer to compact my cardio session down to once a week. This consists of 20 minutes treadmill, 20 minutes bike, 20 minutes rowing. Needless to say after an hour of cardio (although low impact) I’m pretty exhausted but it’s a good feeling the next morning.

    So my question is this, would it be more benificial for me to split that cardio routine into 2 days of 30 minutes? Would I not be burning the same amount of calories regardless? Plus would it be worth the extra effort ie petrol to and from the gym, the impact on less rest between my next weight session, more gym laundry (LOL), less time for other evening activities etc etc?

    Looking forward to your feedback.

    Darren from London

  45. Darren, you’re only hurting yourself by not doing cardio throughout the week. Its better to do 3- 20 minute sessions than to do 1 hour long session. There is SO much I’d like to say about this and the reasoning behind it but I don’t have room here. So let me give you this quick analogy. Which of the following do you think is better: 1) Brushing your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day 7 days a week for a total time of 28 minutes of brushing or 2) Brushing your teeth just once on Sunday night for 30 minutes? If you’re looking purely at the time, they’re both about the same quantity of time. But what do you think the results will be?

  46. Brian Schamber at #

    I was using 730 on deadlift today and felt a pretty sharp pain in my left peck. I managed to finish the workout, but was wondering if this is a common occurrence once the weights start adding up. Afterward I used an icepack and an aspirin/acetaminophen pain reliever to start the healing process. I am working out every 14 days and may lay off the deadlift for another 28-42 days, instead doing shrugs with a lighter weight (400-500 pounds). Incidentally, I have over the course of the past 4 months gotten stronger while losing weight. I am 6’4″ and was at 292 and am now at 262 (goal is to get to 249). My knees, ankles and feet are were I can tell the biggest relief. Is a 30 pound drop over 120 days going to be mostly fat loss, if the SCT weights are increasing?

  47. Brian, sharp pain is never good. It happens to all of us but it’s a yellow flag. I think your more rest strategy moving forward is a good one. As for muscle/fat, this is why it’s good to have a bodyfat measurement. It could be that you gained 10 lbs of muscle and lost 40 lbs of fat. Which just shows up as down 30 on the scale. It’s more motivating to know the muscle number too.

  48. Brian Schamber at #

    I forgot to mention that the last time that I felt a pain like that was when I managed to lift a Ford Festiva (with 270 lb passenger) off the ground at the rear bumper (albeit 1/2″). As far as the weight loss, I haven’t performed any traditional “cardio”, preferring to just eat less (my job has me on my feet walking around for 8 hours a day anyway). Also, my brother (age 33) and my old man ( age 63) are working out with me (age 36). In some of the exercises my dad smokes both of us in the holds (crunches, and lat pullover). We are all what I would consider (on a left to right scale, left being weak, right being strong) just to the right of the center. This training system works and results are seen every workout by the increasing poundage numbers. I have to admit, I enjoy getting the “what the @#&*?” stares at the gym. My reply is “STATIC CONTRACTION!” Keep up the good work.

  49. Mike at #

    I have a question: My oldest son has decided to do extra workouts with the Football Team, and I was asked by the coach what I thought the workouts should be like. I mentioned your site, but I also stated that the workout should fit what each player will be doing. By this, I mean, all of the players have an average play duration of between 5 and 6 seconds. That should cover the “Duration” for all exercises. There will be time off between plays as well, with the average being between seconds and 30 and 40 seconds. All of your linemen need to exert maximum force for 5-6 Seconds, with a break of about 30 seconds, and repeat. All exercises should be set up to perform exertions in the exact same range as they will in real life. i.e. real life range of motion.

    I told him, “Practice what you do”. I told him to have each member of the team only focusing on what they “Do”, on increasing their force output each practice, and that lengthening the time between workouts when numbers don’t increase means that his team will be stronger the next workout, stronger yet the workout after that, … I told him this also applies to running. Linemen do not normally “Run” a lot. For the linemen, I suggested that he set up some football sleds, and have them hit the sleds over and over at the interval of a real game. Keep increasing the weights on the sleds each practice. When the weights can’t go up because the kids can’t move them, lengthen the time between practices.

    I told him that having any of the kids running 5 laps around the field will actually detract from their performance on the field because no one, not even the receivers, needs that kind of endurance. I told him that it is like doing workouts throughout your complete range of motion. First off, I can’t think of anyone, in any sport, or in life itself, that uses his weak range for anything. Plus, if you are using your “weak range”, you must lessen the weight for your strong range to compensate. Thus, your strong range will never get “stronger” than your “weakest range” can handle. In other words, if you bench press 550 lbs. in your strongest range, using partials, your full range you can probably do around 290 – 300 lbs.. However, if you switch to doing 300 lb. Full Range lifts, not only are you at greater risk of an injury, but, even with proper resting and recovery, your “Maximum” lifts in your strongest range will decrease. YOU WILL GET WEAKER! Why? Because you are no longer lifting those heavy weights.

    I also mentioned that the same applied to his receivers. If the average number of yards gained per pass is 8 yards, and only 5% are longer than that, PRACTICE WHAT YOU DO! Work at gettting the fastest times through every pattern for every player. Everything is a full out sprint at top speed. If you have a player do 15 plays a game where the “Bomb” is an option, run 15 “ALL OUT SPRINTS” at top speed 85 yards. Practice until the speeds don’t increase. When they get slower, lengthen the time between practices.

    I also told him that this didn’t mean that he had to change the practice schedule one bit. All he had to do was alter what he did during those practices. I told him, run plays at half speed, do passing and line drills at half strength. Work on technique and coordination, work on those things that won’t destroy the kids recovery and then building of the muscle they need to perform even better the next practice. I told him to tailer all weight training the same way. If you are never going to need the strength through the full range of a situp, don’t work out in that range. Your linemen are never going to be exerting force through a full range like that, they only need about 2 inches from full verticle. DEVELOP STRENGTH IN THE RANGE YOU WILL USE. DO THE MAXIMUM WEIGHT YOU CAN FOR THE DURATIONS YOU NEED, DO AS MANY REPS AS YOU NEED, and then let the kids rest, recover and build the muscles they need to be even better the next time.

    Does this make sense? I advised that he get your e-books, but that they aren’t tailored to specific sports. Using this logic, if you ran ultramarathons, packing on a ton of muscle by doing low rep, high weight, is contrary to what you need in your sport. Sprinters, they need the muscle. In every olympic event, those that win in each category have what they need to do the job the best because they practice what they do. They build the muscles they need to excel in what they do, and they take the time off to rest, recover and build the muscle they need to excel.

    Next question: Did I give him the wrong advise? I know he probably won’t take it, as he has all kinds of fitness certifications, … He just had to ask after I had him help me put 600 lbs. up for a bench press, and I did a 7 second static hold. (By the way, even with the grip pads, that kind of weight hurts the hands.)

    I have been using your program fairly consistently for over 5 years. I own an XF machine and have been happy with it. Sad to see they went out of business. I have had 2 car accidents, and fell 20 feet to the concrete about a year and a half back, but now I am almost back to where I was prior to the last injury. 607 lbs. was my best on the machine. in a month and a half (My next workout.) I am going for 610 lbs. Wish me luck…

  50. Jonathan at #

    Hi Greg,

    Any word on the cardio e-book? Just curious if there is an anticipated date for release. I don’t do much cardio, and so I still have the spare tire. I imagine the forthcoming cardio e-book will be effifiency oriented like SCT. The good news is that the shrug is up to 770 pounds (with lifting hooks).

    Sincerely,

    Jonathan

  51. Mike, good luck with your lift. It’s impressive how far you’ve come from your injury but that is one of the best benefits of static contraction. It helps you recover from injuries and even get rid of old nagging injuries.
    I like the advice you’ve given the coach. I would LOVE to see a high school implement this into their training program and see how they perform come football season. I would love to compare the athletes strength, speed, stamina and incidence of injury versus athletes who train the traditional way. Unfortunately it will take a brave coach to step out on this limb to have his athletes try this for a full season. But you gave great advice. Its exactly what I would have told him to do with his athletes.

  52. Jonathan, I don’t have a release date yet for you. You are right, we are all about efficiency here at static contraction, and the e-book will be geared around efficiency.
    Good job with the shrugs!

  53. Jonathan at #

    Dear Greg Karr,

    Any luck with getting the cardio e-book together? Also, I do not have a kindle, but wonder if it will come in pdf format.

    Regards,

    Jonathan

  54. Jonathan at #

    Hello Greg Karr,

    I have a New Year’s Resolution for you…Cardio E-Book!

    My co-worker asked me about your forth-coming cardio e-book, and I said I would write you.

    I know, I don’t need to wait for your e-book to do cardio, but it would be nice.

    If you get the chance, please let us know.

    Regards,

    Jonathan