How High Is Up?

Most people have no idea how strong they can get. And if they insist on training “three days per week,” as the common advice goes, they really don’t have a prayer of ever knowing how strong they can get because they never recover fully from the previous workout and therefore arrest the muscle growth they might have got.

The real trick to rational strength training is to plan each workout so it delivers more overload than the last workout. That’s what the Power Factor workout is all about.

I just got a report from a trainee who did 34 strong-range leg press reps with 1,100 lbs. That’s a total weight lifted of 37,400 lbs or 18.7 tons! Yes, tons! That’s about a dozen mid-sized cars. That’s how much weight your legs can lift. Or, at least, that’s what Pat can lift. That’s Pat, as in Patricia.

Patricia did 34 strong-range leg press reps with 1,100 lbs on her last workout. Next workout I expect she’ll hoist a bit more, just like she has on her previous five workouts. Oh, one more thing. Patricia is 70 years old.

Most people just play with weights in the gym and then wonder why they haven’t added any new muscle mass. When you properly plan your workouts you begin to learn how high up really is.

Train with your brain.

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34 Responses to How High Is Up?

  1. Anthony at #

    Hey Pete! Is your new muscle building study building more in terms of muscle mass than regular static contraction training with 5 sec holds? If so why would that be if in the precision training ebook you say more weight trumps everything in terms of building muscle and strength? Thanks again man

  2. Good questions.

    1. We don’t know the comparisons yet. In this study we’re measuring different timed Power Factor sets to see which works better, if any. We’ll do a different study to measure how Static Contraction trainees do with the identical exercises done statically.

    2. Static Contraction is all about efficiency; doing the absolute minimum in order to grow muscle. With SCT we try to get the workouts as far apart as possible and the exertion as short as possible (5 seconds). And weight does trump time. Better to hold 600 lbs for 5 seconds than 300 lbs for 10 seconds. It’s more efficient and we know it builds muscle. (It will also be good to discover if the Power Factor group lifting heavier weights for 30 seconds does better than those lifting lighter weights for 120 seconds.)

    3. I’ve never said Static Contraction delivers the most muscle growth possible. I’ve said it delivers the most efficiency possible; muscle gain from an entire workout that lasts only 25 seconds. I’m hoping later this year we can compare how much muscle can be gained with SC in 60 days compared to these trainees doing Power Factor.

  3. Philip at #

    Sweet,

    I am looking forward to see the results of Q3, looking at your comparison charts PFW has a tick next to “build muscle on Hardgainers” which SCT doesnt. I am gathering its not to mean Hardgainers dont get any benefit from SCT, but perhaps (results pending) PFW is a quicker way to gain mass as opposed to strength which is the way I am reading it. I dont necessarily think I am a “hardgainer”, but I guess its the idea of being able to build mass for someoe who has difficulty, it should technically mean it will be at least as effective for someone who doesnt have the same difficulty.

    I would be inclined if thats the case to to switch to PFW, and go to SCT once I have reached a desired level of mass. I am still a young 33, so I think I can absorb the extra metabolic cost at least for a year anyway 🙂

    Thanks mate,

    – Philip

  4. PF uses more volume that SC and some people respond better to more volume. I never use the terms “quicker way to gain mass” because I don’t have any data to show the speed of gains can be affected. But logically, the fastest way to gain muscle is to space PRODUCTIVE workouts as close together as possible. Obviously, the trick is to make them productive – not the dozens of wasted Mon, Wed, Fri workouts you see people doing all the time.

    I agree with your premise of using PF to deliver maximum productive volume to build the desired mass (efficiency be damned!) then switching to the efficiency of SC to maintain that mass. I think that would appeal to many people’s priorities.

    We’ll be able to put a sharper point on this when we have all the results in. I still need to put together an SC study but I’m rather swamped right now.

  5. David Dressler, BA, RMT at #

    Hey, Pete, tell Patricia (your example above), who at 70 lifted 1100 lbs with her legs, I did the same thing at about her age. Your system works.

  6. Philip at #

    Hi Pete,

    I am curious about something, I saw the Youtube Video with speaker Tony Robbins, and the idea of “Systemic” adaptation and non localised came up from John’s corner.

    This is a very interesting idea, and I guess the point I want to explore is whether or not a very heavy Leg Press would almost trump arm exercises _for_ arms, due to the idea of systemic reponse.

    Cheers

    – Philip

  7. I don’t know because I’ve never tested it. The CNS is what triggers all muscle growth but that’s a separate issue from doing a heavy calf workout and expecting it to build triceps. And I’m not sure it’s worth examining anyway because what’s wrong with working your triceps when you want to build triceps? Why would it be an advantage to work legs instead?

    There’s a long list of things it would be nice to study regarding muscle growth but this issue seems a lower priority from a practical standpoint.

  8. Donnie Hunt at #

    Very good point here Pete.

  9. Anthony at #

    Hey Pete. I know in a past article you mentioned 1 of the 3 mistakes with PFT is they combine other training styles with it such as full range training or other more frequent programs all together. Now if I wanted to combine SCT with PFT training would that be a bit different since they both use the same principals. I wanted to do a few exercises using SCT in my workout B. Thank you

  10. I’m not sure what the benefit would be of combining SC and PF. SC is ultra-efficient so if you spend the time and volume doing PF you can’t recapture that efficiency. And what do you do when your PF goes up 5% but your SC weight does not improve? Or vice versa. I’m not saying it’s a mistake to do it, it’s just unwieldy to manage and I can’t say there is a known benefit over just doing one or the other only.

  11. Anthony at #

    Simply because I’m in my early 20’s and maybe more work is better for faster muscle gain on certain body parts than a 5 sec hold. Hard to tell which has worked better for muscle gain. I’m interested mostly on strength and muscle gain more so than anything else. To me more tension time on the muscle is better for muscle gain yet maybe I’m wrong and SCT can put on just as much equally. What would you say?

  12. I don’t know which system adds more muscle. Maybe later this year I will study that. I get asked a lot.

    Yeah, when you’re young you don’t care as much about efficiency and wear and tear. So PF would be a good bet for you.

  13. Anthony at #

    So you are saying PFT does add more muscle . If SCT adds more muscle and strength I’d do that. Whatever one adds the most muscle gain basically. I still think this way builds more muscle than the 3 day a week routines also. I don’t think you are saying SCT and pct is just about efficency. efficiency is basically a side benefit of a way that builds a lot of strength and muscle and it just so happens it doesn’t involve long frequent hours. You are not just saying this is for people who efficency is number one on the list . Muscle and strength is number one on my list and this style happens to produce it better than conventuals training 3 days a week I find also so… Wanted to be clear on that 🙂

  14. See the part where I said: “I don’t know which system adds more muscle.” That’s what I’m saying. Not all the stuff you say I’m saying.

  15. Anthony at #

    Like which parts to be clear? I’m just saying this style of training builds muscle and strength just as good if not better then conventional 3 day a week or more training…it’s not just for efficency and then muscle gains on the side you know what I mean? Thank you again for your insights on this. PFT is working so well so it’s tough to switch to SCT fully yet.

  16. I don’t know what you want me to be clear on. I’ve never said one system is “better” than the other. Is a Ferrari better than a dump truck? It depends on what your priorities are.

  17. Anthony at #

    Good point. I’m just saying if you proposed this to a group of gym goers who like being in the gym and they used PFT or SC for a period of time I can bet some would switch because they would see gains again and would convince them they can get better gains if they went less frequently. My interest in the future is which one gives more muscle PFT or SCT . Could be unique depending on the person too as you’ve said.

  18. charlie at #

    Any indication if how much bend in the knee that Pat was using for the bottom range if her leg press? And how much time is she doing this in? Either way these numbers are amazing! Osteoporosis proof I would imagine, also pretty certain to keep independence as long as she can get up from a chair at 80 yo.

  19. charlie at #

    At 40 yo. and some knee trouble and shoulder and back concerns, preface…lol
    I have worked with short range 1min sets and inreased my days off each workout to 10 days apart. And now I want to do sct on my machine. every month now, on the 2s, I workout strong as in static on the second day of the month, 1min sets on the 12th and 22nd with weights heavy enough to keep to around 10reps. Considering the weights I use I am being very careful with form. Further, deadlifts from the knee up have been replaced by a hip thrust lift which I feel uses same muscles but supports safe positioning of lumbar. I felt like increasing deadlifts was heading toward failure in form and potential spinal injury, hip thrust gives me none of that feeling.

  20. lexxy at #

    before pete sisco had his own e-books and blog, i followed him on askmen.com and his advice was what PFT would later become. i performed those workouts after i hit the inevitable plateau from all the gym lore in junior high. i would say that PFT is good when you’re young and trying to find your fitness level. you’re still doing a rep but there’s no risk of damage to the body. in the beginning of strength training, the body recovers quickly (because you’re not very strong) and you can tax your muscles quite a bit with PFT. part of strength training is muscle memory, so PFT helps you learn the motion and proper form of a lift.

    if you’re in your later years (40+) or have found your fitness level already, SCT is better for maintenance. it’s faster (less total training time) and does less damage to the cartilage and bones. when a heavy lifter gets into the gym and they’re old enough to raise teenagers, calcification becomes an issue along with arthritis. the workouts are intense but there’s less movement.

  21. Opa Hamilton at #

    Hey Pete,
    I am doing 937 pounds in Leg Press Hold on Explosive Fitness Machine 7000. I did over 1000 a few years ago, but after loss in family quit training for a while. Back working out and running again. I am female, 69 years old, 5’2″ @ 145. I have made EXFit machine available to clients (am a personal trainer & a nurse) last year in Athens OH in a small studio at ACEnet. opasnotes@yahoo.com
    I am experimenting with some full ROM legs and back/shoulders as I feel I should be stronger in full ROM than I seem. I will let you know how it translates when I reach a max. At this time I am doing 45% of static leg press mentioned and haven’t been doing it long. Upper body holds have never been that impressive, hoping to find a way to move it forward too. I did SCT and PF prior to EXFit, and loved the results, so experimenting some to improve the static holds realizing I may slow the EXFit process some during the experiment. Thanks again. Opa (this is 2nd version sent, think I lost the first.)

  22. Ben at #

    Hi Pete,

    You say that “it will also be good to discover if the Power Factor group lifting heavier weights for 30 seconds does better than those lifting lighter weights for 120 seconds”. Does that mean that there is a chance that lifting heavier weights may trump the ‘sweet spot’ in PFT where it’s the most weight lifted in a given, let’s say 2 min. time. But lifting less total weight in the same 2 min. with heavier weight may produce greater results? That would be an interesting study and possibly go contrary to the ‘sweet spot’ methodology and system or theory.

  23. Actually, there is a ‘sweet spot’ for every time frame. If you only lift for 30 seconds, what weight gives you the highest product of weight x reps? What about if you lift for 60 seconds? The weight has to be lighter but you can do more reps. So there is a different sweet spot. Same for 90 seconds and 120 seconds.

    Plus, when you go back to the gym you are now stronger. So what is today’s perfect weight for lifting 60 seconds? It’s more than last time, but how much more? It’s a moving target. Or it should be if you are making progress.

  24. Mark Winchester at #

    Pete Sisco is today’s Arthur Jones. I don’t know if everyone here can relate to the gravity of that statement but its about the equivalent of saying a current band is today’s Led Zeppelin. Pete, I & everyone who lifts weights will forever be in your debt.

  25. Thanks Mark. I sure wish I had his money. Ha! He was ten times the businessman I am.

  26. Mark Winchester at #

    Pete,
    What you’ve given the world is worth more than just money. You IMO have contributed something to bodybuilding which is of far greater importance than that of even Arthur Jones. Like Jones is so sad bodybuilding is wasted on bodybuilders.

  27. Mark Winchester at #

    PFT/SCT??? There sooo many variables & individual differences its impossible to simply say one is superior IMO. We should all simply be eternally grateful for the lightyear advancement bodybuilding took in 1992 and let it go at that. I honestly think the difference in results a person would derive from either system would be miniscule. They probably should be alternated cycle to cycle for best results.

  28. Ben at #

    Dear Pete,

    Is there a plan for building and producing a SC Machine that is being actively worked at this time. If no one know if or when that is going to be accomplished, is there out there on the market a decent SC Machine or at least one that is going to be put on the market relatively soon?
    Thank you,
    Ben

  29. Ben, a retail, mass market SCT machine in an inevitability. There is just too much utility and precision in SC for there not to be a machine to fill the demand. But I don’t know when it will be ready and there is no machine I could recommend in the meantime. The only one’s I’ve even heard of tend to be offered under questionable terms from guys who make them in their basement. I also know a lot of people have resorted to making their own machines for personal use. As I said, there is a tidal wave of demand waiting for the right machine but it needs to be of professional quality and priced near the cost of conventional home equipment.

  30. It often comes down to a volume vs. intensity equations. People have different preferences and different sensitivities to what works for them. Which is better? I like to answer, ‘Which is better, a Ferrari or a dump truck?’ I depends on your personal priorities.

  31. Mark Winchester at #

    Unless your able to test several sets of identical twins I don’t see how the respective results of each method could be realistically compared. Even then it’ll be highly subjective. IMO.

  32. Mark Winchester at #

    There are, as I said earlier ^, too many variables to make a blanket statement “PFT is better/worse than SCT”. Just as in the elusive “sweet spot” its asking too much from Pete or his training systems to point blank assert one method, weight & rep range/time, or system is THE best for absolutely everyone. There simply aren’t those b&w, yes/no kinds of answers in bodybuilding or life itsef. IMO.

  33. Mark Winchester at #

    There is nothing that’s going to “trump” the sweet spot analysis. Nikola Tesla discovered everything has a harmonization point which is what the sweet spot is. Tesla was able to bring down entire buildings w/ a vibration device in tune w/ building’s resonant frequency or “sweet spot”.

  34. Mark Winchester at #

    http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2006/05/the_lamest_exercise_in_the_world.html

    The leg press LIE, no matter who says it, leads people they’re doing something they’re just not. The partial-range DEADLIFT will do more for the thighs than any form of pressing will.

    There’s also a huge amount of friction in most 45 degree leg press machines which vary widely in quality.

    I wonder why Mr Illuminati Robertson suffers from major osteoporosis???

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