What's The Deal?I’ve been having an interesting e-mail exchange with someone this week and I thought I’d share my response with everyone. It’s on the subject of recovery and fixed training schedules.

His email, in part, reads;

“…What really irritates me though is that, no matter how hard I search, you seem to be the only voice out there who advocates a variable frequency (and a never ending variable one at that….ie; you keep extending the rest days, and never stop extending if the client is willing).”

“These other “HIT” trainers out there, keep their clients on a fixed frequency. They “may” at one time or another extend it to once every 9-10 days, but that’s usually the limit…….almost as if the body says “My genetic potential is at day 10 and refuse to go any further”. But that is pure nonsense.”

“…Do they really believe that they will lose clients or money if they use a variable frequency? I mean, couldn’t they gain more clients just by telling the truth and not forcing them to train “Once every 7 days” like a broken record? What’s the point in staying on a permanent plateau of little or no strength gains, and lying that “deconditioning” occurs if anymore than 10 days is inserted between workouts? (my dad is 49 days between his “Deadlift Only” routine and his conditioning does not suffer at all)”

My reply:

We all see this constantly. I used to say the three biggest lies in bodybuilding are ‘Monday, Wednesday and Friday.’ That is the universal advice given by every trainer and, I’m sorry to say, most physicians.

1. Do personal trainers believe their own advice? I can’t get inside their heads or speak to their motives but I know that people can believe things in spite of all evidence to the contrary. So they might think it’s good advice to never rest more than 48 hours.

2. When a trainer does not measure anything it’s a lot easier to believe on faith or just the momentum of doing the same as everybody else. If you simply measure how much you lift per minute on just one exercise you will very soon discover that you can’t make progress on a fixed schedule. Suppose you can bench press 200 lbs 15 times in one minute and then you have to stop. Can you return in two days and lift 210 lbs 15 times in a minute? Two days after that can you lift 220 lbs 15 times?  Because after following that fixed schedule for two months you’d have to lift 500 lbs 15 times in one minute. Have you ever seen anyone go from a max of 200 x 15 to a max of 500 x 15 in two months? I haven’t.

3. Compounding the difficulty of the above feat is the issue of making similar gains on all the other exercises in a workout.  Do the other 8 to 12 exercises in a routine also make the same fantastic gains on schedule every 48 hours? Fat chance.

4. When you calculate the total tonnage of these workouts you can see that it’s preposterous to expect a person to recover from lifting 100 tons as fast (48 hours) as he recovers from lifting 20 tons. It’s like asking six inches of hair to grow back as fast as one inch of hair would. Again, preposterous.

5. I’m scratching the surface of what can be measured. I track momentary intensity, sustained intensity, something I call Relative Static Intensity, the specific Intensity Volume of each exercise and each total workout, the personal rate of recovery a trainee demonstrates and more. Measurement cuts through the BS very quickly.

6. Most strength training is still in the Dark Ages. Crappy advice is circulated in gyms and no doubt many trainers realize they can make more from frustrated trainees who who visit them very frequently and resort to supplements and/or drugs to try to make progress while on impossible training schedules. I think the younger a person is the more susceptible he is to the garbage. My market tends to be older trainees who are too savvy to tear themselves up and risk injury doing saturation routines based on blind hope. Savvy trainees understand the value of a sustainable program instead of one that runs them into the ground and when they can see objective measurements that show their progress or lack of progress they know they are training a rational, sensible way. Too bad they’re in the minority.

 

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20 Responses to

  1. Mike at #

    What physical benefits does a “deadlifts only every forty nine days” workout produce?
    Are these positions Re the outer limits of training frequency inconsistent with positions on the topic taken by drew baye and Body By Science? Strict M-W-F workouts may not make sense, but there is surely an outer limit as to how infrequently one can workout and still make progress or even maintain current “fitness” levels.

  2. The benefits of doing a deadlift don’t change with training frequency – you still build more muscle and strength in your low back.

    Again, if trainers and trainees took objective measurements they would discover that a high percentage of their frequent workouts are useless – that is, they do not deliver higher intensity that previous workouts and therefore do not stimulate new muscle growth.

    My question to these folks is, do you want to build more muscle or do you just want to lift weights? Some people lift weights as a hobby and want to do it twice a day – that’s fine – but they are not building muscle with each workout.

  3. Blackthorne at #

    @ Mike

    Hi Mike, I’m actually the guy that Pete quoted. I’ll answer your questions in their original order. Prepare yourself, because its going to be a long response, not only to you, but also to follow up to my email that he quoted.

    1. My dad (Trap Bar) Deadlifting once every 49 days, is “current” and not where he started. He originally needed once every 2 weeks. But as he grew stronger from week to week, the stresses (ie; the weights) also grew progressively greater and greater. Everytime he tried to maintain a “fixed” schedule, he plateaued in both strength and fitness (more on fitness later). I literally had to force him to train more infrequently because, while I understood recovery ability, he did not. So I wound up inserting more rest days after each and every single workout, and he’s growing as a result. If I allow him to train any sooner than 49 days, he plateaus or grows weaker. And I can guarantee you that he will require more than 49 days very, very soon if not immediately.

    2. Why “Trap Bar Deadlift Only”? Well, not only because its been proven by a few people thus far (ie; the “Indirect Effect” by Arthur Jones for example), that its not uncommon to grow muscles in the upper body just from doing lower body work, but also because he is 68 years old and his recovery ability is so bad, that its not wise to add much more volume than his reserves can tolerate.

    And regarding the indirect effect, here’s a few quotes

    Pete Sisco: “Contrary to popular belief, muscle growth is systemic and not local to individual muscles. When leg muscles are forced to operate at the limits of their capacity, the systemic anabolic effect spills into every muscle group in the body. Your entire body has to be in an anabolic state in order for a biceps or abdominal muscle to grow. This means it is literally true that productive leg training helps arm training or chest training. What a bargain that is!

    Aurthur Jones: “Throw a stone into a pool of water, and it will make a splash – and a wave will run to the far end of the pool; the larger the stone, the larger the splash – and the larger the wave. A very similar effect results from any form of exercise – I have named this “indirect effect”.

    3. There are no “outer limits” on training frequency *until* one achieves their FULL muscular/genetic potential. This means that the limit is genetically predetermined, and not subject to emotional preferences (ie; “Oh god! I’m so scared that if I add anymore rest days I’ll become unhealthy”).

    If a person knows the truth in regards to the fact that lifting progressively heavier and heavier weights also results in heavier and heavier stress on the body’s energy systems, then you know that a person *must* train with a variable frequency, not fixed, otherwise, the growing stresses will eventually reach a critical point and constitute overtraining. (plateau).

    Mike Mentzer knew exactly what I just stated, as he had many clients who trained once every 2 months. A great friend of mine, Steve, who is a trainer from Canada, had a client named Karl Grey who, near his genetic potential, was training once every 90 days. This means he was deadlifting once every 180 days. (not a typo). He was deadlifting 740×3 using a 4/4 cadence. And his 1 Rep Max was 925, with a bodyfat percentage so freakin’ low that his back looked like it was chiseled out of granite (and he weighed only 192 at about 5’8″, super low bodyfat on a high-carb, super-low-fat diet) Amazing isn’t it? Steve noted that he actually needed longer at this point, due to his results slowing down, but Karl was reluctant to add more rest days. How silly! An addiction to exercise cost him his genetic potential!

    Ok. By now, there will be people wondering about fitness and conditioning. Well, I’m going to shock them when I say that such infrequent training does not, I repeat DOES NOT result in deconditioning. What is one suppose to do in order to improve conditioning, stay on a permanent plateau or little or no progress? Is one suppose to get weaker (via frequent training) in order to stimulate better “conditioning”? Its not even remotely sane to suggest that continued, uninterrupted progress results in deconditioning and/or loss of mental toughness. This goes completely against the laws of nature and logic itself. In fact, not resting adequately between workouts to allow for Continued Strength Gains – regardless of whether it be 7 days or 7 weeks – always ends up with the same result, decompensation, deconditioning, and mental weakness, lack of sharpness, awareness, and plenty of depression (stalled progress equals depression). Trust me, if a person is strong enough to Deadlift 925 lbs, and eating correctly to keep off excessive fat, how in the hell can they be “out of shape” or “unfit”? I guarantee you that you would never say to him (after being in total awe of his ripped muscular physique) “Your out of shape cause you train infrequently!”. Haha. As Mentzer would say “So what if you train twice only twice a year, so what! Bodybuilding is not an endurance contest!”

    We shouldn’t be the type of people to look at time off as a negative thing (unless we are gym addicts). We should look at time off more positively. How? Its our body’s way of giving us a reward. Everytime we grow stronger, our body rewards us with more time off to do other things in life. What more could a person want?

    4. Drew Baye or Body By Science – Oh boy…. I hate bringing names into this discussion, but I guess now that you mentioned it, I need to address it.

    Things have changed in the world of “HIT”. Once upon a time, Mike Mentzer, Pete Sisco, and (eventually) Arthur Jones were all advocating a Variable Frequency. And some other individuals (such as the ones you mentioned) jumped on board. This was when “Body By Science” was called “Ultimate Exercise”. Anyway, Mike Mentzer and Arthur Jones passed away, and as the old saying goes “when the Cat’s away, the mice will play” and so things started going downhill in the “HIT” community.

    While these trainers are still advocating Intense, and Brief routines, they have lost sight of Infrequent schedules, or rather, “variable” frequency. These days, they are advocating ether 3 days a week split routines, or 2 days a week split routines, or once every 5-7 days FOREVER like a broken record. And when someone plateaus on this “fixed” frequency (and they always do no exceptions), they typically “change exercises” similar to P90X (which only gives you a brief neural gain due to the new movement/pathway, and then you stall again due to the fixed frequency). They are rarely, if ever told to extend rest days.

    Arthur Jones’s zero tolerance of BS is gone. Mike Mentzer’s persistent countering of irrational pseudo “exercise” advice (such as the aerobic or low-carb nonsense) is gone. These days, Pete Sisco is the lone voice of reason, and nobody wants to help him. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say this. Pete Sisco is the only true, HIT advocate left in the online world. Remember, the Scientific Theory of HIT says that workouts MUST be “Intense, Brief, and Infrequent”. And “Infrequent” literally means “Variable”. And when a trainer cuts off the Third Fundamental (ie; Infrequent) and only practices the first two Fundamentals (Intense, Brief) then he/she is no longer a true, bonafide “HIT” advocate. I don’t care how often their system claims to be “HIT” or how often they shout “Our workouts are Infrequent” and yet the frequency is Fixed. I can call myself an “Honest” American, but if I’m an illegal immigrate, then I’m not really being honest even if I believe otherwise. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    With that said, I’ll leave this blog with the following.

    As Mike Mentzer said:

    “Are you going to allow your subsequent training activities and dietary practices be continually dominated by the bootleg logic “more is better”? He who acts contrary to what his perceptions and rational thoughts tell him is the truth is akin to Dostoevsky’s underground man who cries “What do I care for the laws of nature and arithmetic when for some reason I don’t like them, or the fact that 2+2=4?” Yes you are free to evade the responsibility of rational thought and logical deliberation, but not free to escape the consequences, its up to you.”

    And I’ll add to that. No perfect diet, nor overdosing on food or supplements can change this simple fact. There is no “limit” on frequency. There is no “10 day” limit, nor is there a “14 day” limit, nor is there a “21 day” limit. In other words people, there is no such thing as a “fixed” frequency. And anyone who claims such, is definitely taking some sort of substances (whether legal stuff like TRT, HGH, etc or plain on Anabolic Steroids) to boost their recovery ability far beyond normal levels, and/or is not being completely honest.

    Anyway, maybe this blog and the facts presented in it can help someone. For you other guys reading this, let me ask you this simple question. Are you working out just for the sake of “working out”, or are you interested in continual, uninterrupted significant progress until you REACH the upper limits of your genetic potential?

    You can ether workout more, or you can grow more, but you can’t do both!

  4. Rob at #

    Hi Pete,

    To answer your question – “do you want to build muscle or do you just want to lift weights?”

    I done an infrequent abbreviated routine for years, and though it was not apparent from week to week, with time i became very deconditioned in terms of both recovery ability and body composition, in spite of the fact i was getting stronger in leaps and bounds from one workout to the next.

    I now train 2-3 times per week and look and feel much better (with no diet change), moreover, with regular training i’m better able to manage lower back pain (i have degenerative disc syndrome).
    There is overwhelming research and evidence to show regular exercise is extremely beneficial for one’s overall heath and fitness.

    Best
    Rob

  5. Yeah, there is such a thing as training too infrequently and with too little intensity. The key is to keep track of your numbers. There’s no reason for guesswork. Between your weight, bodyfat percentage, total weight lifted per exercise and per workout and the percentage increase in intensity of each exercise it’s easy to spot stagnation of any variety. Too much or too little.

  6. Blackthorne at #

    [QUOTE=”Rob”]I done an infrequent abbreviated routine for years, and though it was not apparent from week to week, with time i became very deconditioned in terms of both recovery ability and body composition, in spite of the fact i was getting stronger in leaps and bounds from one workout to the next.”[/QUOTE]

    What your stating here, contradicts the laws of nature itself. Getting stronger each and every workout via leaps and bounds, and yet at the same time becoming deconditioned in terms of Recovery Ability?

    That’s impossible. Literally, 100% impossible. If your Recovery Ability is getting worse per workout, then there is literally NO way you could possibly get stronger per workout *at the same time*. That’s tantamount to saying that “While I was resting and getting over the Flu, my Immune (Recovery) System was regressing at the same”.

    Sames goes for getting stronger via leaps and bounds, and yet, getting worse body composition. This is literally 100% impossible. Muscles do not shrink and get stronger at the same time. 100% impossible.

    I’m starting to get suspicious……

    [QUOTE=”Rob”] “I now train 2-3 times per week and look and feel much better (with no diet change), moreover, with regular training i’m better able to manage lower back pain (i have degenerative disc syndrome).[/QUOTE}

    So at 2-3 times per week, you look and “feel” much better. Emphasis on the word “feel”. I know people who train 6-7 days a week, twice/thrice a day, and they too claim to “feel” much better than when they trained 3 times a week. But do they really? Bodily wise, no. Mentally, maybe. Just the accomplishment of completing a workout alone, or the rush and/or pump from the workout, makes you “feel” better (that warm fuzzy feeling). Getting that “fix” or “rush” on a daily basis will certainly boost your “feelings. Mike Mentzer called these people “Stimulus Freaks”. Those who LOVE training and look for all kinds of lies and excuses to train more for that special “rush”. But it doesn’t mean jack in regards to progress.

    And I know that your not making any meaningful progress. Yes for the first few workouts – maybe – IF you took a long layoff from your alleged previous infrequent training. But with a 2-3 times per week schedule – even if your on a split routine – will only work for the first few workouts, and that’s it. You will most certainly require more rest days thereafter – UNLESS your using HGH, TRT, or plain old anabolic steroids to compensate for the ever growing rest day requirements (and even then, you will have to gradually boost the dosage of these drugs when your gains slow).

    Ok, now I’m even more suspicious……..

    [QUOTE=”Rob”] “There is overwhelming research and evidence to show regular exercise is extremely beneficial for one’s overall heath and fitness.” [/QUOTE}

    No, there isn’t. WAIT…..yes there are *false* studies to show this. But real legit studies are few and far between. Truth is, you can literally dig up a *study* for anything you *want* to believe is real. There are studies to allegedly *prove* that 7 days per week is best. There are also studies to allegedly *prove* that 3 days a week is best. And then there are studies to allegedly *prove* that once every 7 days is best. And there are studies that contradicts all of these, and more studies to contradict all of those.

    – As Mike Mentzer said: “Speaking of exercise science studies. Arthur Jones can tell you all about that. A number of years ago, he conducted a study of studies in this field; it appears that all too often many alleged studies were never done (also that a number of Ph.D..’s in this field are bogus). For instance, one of the most celebrated studies in the history of exercise science which claimed to prove the superiority of isokinetic exercise over conventional, or isotonic, exercise. When Mr. Jones telephoned Jack Wilmore, one of the two exercise scientists putatively involved in the study, he asked him “the two most important questions pertaining to any study,” namely, the “time and place” of the study; to which Wilmore responded by coughing fitfully before ejaculating, “Call Pipes. Ask him@#!” whereupon the phone went dead. Mr. Jones never got through to Thomas Pipes, Ph.D., although Pipes did threaten to sue the inventor of Nautilus, as Jones has been telling the story in public for years”

    My suspicions are telling me that your intentions in your post are not sincere. First you claim that getting stronger per workout makes you deconditioned and in poor physical health, then you claim to be doing better 3 times per week, then you claim that studies prove that more frequent training is best.

    Ok, if I were Arthur Jones, you would be in serious trouble right now. But I’m a little gentler than he is. Still I know I should calm down, but the statements that your making on here are incredibly misleading, and if somebody doesn’t stand up to them, then many sincere unsuspecting individuals will chronically overtrain with your recommendations, and such chronic overtraining is carcinogenic and dangerous to their health. So that’s why I’m telling it like it is. If I’m being rude or hateful in your eyes, then so be it. But the laws of nature are consistent and they will not change based on one’s emotional dissatisfaction of training less often.

  7. Anonymous at #

    @ Blackthorne

    First off – Lose the attitude!!

    Pete posed the question, i answered honestly…

    I do “feel” better for training more frequently, I’ve been able to greatly reduce the level of pain relief i need for my back condition.

    I do look better, I’ve added more muscle to my frame in the last year training 2-3 times per week than i did from the previous several years training more and more infrequently with super intense consolidation style workouts…am still waiting for the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

    Rather than training super intensely more and more infrequently, I’ve noted better progress by combining high AND low stress HIT techniques to manage stress (2 steps forward, one step back). I’ve also noted better progress by using more variation in my training, its my belief that when the body adapts to a given stimulus, that same stimulus is less likely to create change (hence the S.A.I.D principle and GAS).

    Best
    Rob

  8. Rob at #

    Hi Pete,

    This is not intended as a post, but i was just wondering as to why my response to that “quoting site troll” was not shown? Is it because my findings contradict your’s?

  9. Rob at #

    Hi Pete,

    My apologies, the problem was at my end, my bad:)

    @ Blackthorne

    Pete posed a question, i answered honestly! I don’t know why your getting all butt hurt for, am merely reporting my personal findings.

    I do “feel” better training 2-3 times a week, I’ve been able to greatly reduce the medication i take for my back condition.

    I am looking better, I’ve been able to gain more muscle in the last year training 2-3 times per week (using a combination of low stress and high stress HIT techniques to better manage stress increases), than i did training in just high stress fashion training more and more infrequency. Am still waiting for the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow!

    P.S
    If i wanted to know what Mike Mentzer had to say, i would just read one of his books in my collection, am surprised you haven’t been done for copyright theft by now!

  10. Blackthorne at #

    @ Rob

    There’s a big difference between being “butt hurt” and *standing up for whats right and true*.

    No drug free individual can possibly train 2x or 3x a week and make continued, uninterrupted progress without eventually inserting extra rest days on a as-needed basis. Unless you live in a different reality, or your genetics are on-par with the Creator God himself, your not exempt from this simple law of nature.

    The erroneous claims of loosing muscle while – at the same time – getting stronger via leaps and bounds are not helping you. What’s one suppose to do in order to gain muscle? Get weaker? Remain plateaued? And calling me names (troll, butt hurt) are not helping your credibility ether. And the periodization recommendations are just making matters worse. It is not necessary to cycle your training intensity. With a properly conducted training program, progress is continuous (yes!) because the frequency is regulated to allow for full recovery and growth production. Why would any right-thinking individual want to cycle, periodize or stop the desired result?

    Maybe you took a long layoff, and just recently started back and truly “believe” that you’ll be able to sustain such a high frequency forever. Maybe you gained fat on the lower frequency (due to more fats in your diet) and wrongly assumed you lost muscle. Maybe your current schedule has overtrained your muscles to the point of swelling and inflammation, and you’ve wrongly assumed its a legitimate “size increase”. Or maybe your just flat out lying, and that you’ve done it for so long that you believe your own lies (I know tons of people like this, ESPECIALLY fitness enthusiasts, and they love to constantly “swear” and say things like “I’m being honest!” and yet couldn’t tell the truth if their life depended on it)

    But regardless of the reasons as to why your giving wrong information regarding frequency, its still WRONG information, regardless if you believe its right. And to make matters worse, its on a site that promotes the total opposite – ie; HONEST frequency principles that literally work for every single human being on planet earth. There are plenty of “pseudo” (ie; false) HIT sites out there that would love to have your recommendations. But on this site, we actually want people to achieve their full genetic potential (if desired), and its impossible to do so on a fixed frequency. This 2-3x a week falsehood will only give false hopes and fragile dreams on here to sincere, yet gullible individuals who would love to make “exercise” their hobby.

    P.S. And regarding adaptation, its not the devil! Adaptation is a good thing, its exactly what YOU NEED. Unfortunately, people are lied to, and told to “avoid adaptation”, and as a result they arbitrarily move from one training routine to another and become a CRC (chronic routine changer).

    But in this reality (ie; the only reality), adaptation is the most desirable thing in the logic of bodybuilding. The purpose of exercise is to cause an “adaptive” response (ie; getting stronger and therefore bigger). Same goes for suntanning. People lay in the sun to achieve an adaptive response known as a suntan.

    Ok, enough already. Lets move on.

  11. Rob at #

    Blackthorne

    Yes, you are a self opinionated troll, as am not the first person on this site you’ve “jumped” for merely offering my opinion. My response was to Pete, not you! I answered Pete’s question honestly, I’ve better things to do than to come here and lie. Though, it appears you don’t have anything better to do than to dissect the opinions and experiences of others!

    The fact is, I’ve experienced better progress (in terms of strength and conditioning) training 2-3x per week than i ever did training super intensely more and more infrequently, moreover, I’ve spoken with many very experienced Hitters (including several of Mikes natural trainee clients and a former business partner) who’ve experienced the same as i.

    Am done here!

    Now, get your head back into those Mentzer books and hang on every word!

  12. Blackthorne at #

    @ Rob

    So the ad hominem continues.

    Anyway, I’ve spoken to many so-called “HIT” trainees as well who “claimed” to be training more often with better results. Know what they all had in common? (hint: they started using drugs, ether legal, or illegal, or both, which of course boosted their recovery levels sky high and allowed for more frequent training……how convenient!)

    Truth is, I would love to train more often. But everytime I do, progress stalls. Yes, I would love to train with LESS intensity. But everytime I do, progress stalls! The same thing happens to every single (honest) person I’ve counseled, spoken to, and/or trained. These are laws of nature that cannot be refuted. We may not like them, but that won’t change them.

    But, there’s always going to be someone to claim otherwise. I’ve frequently read people claiming to make alleged better gains training SEVEN days a week. Then others claim 6 days, then others 4 days a week, and so on it goes. Myths, lies, and misconceptions will never cease, and thus continue to grow. Why do people lie about these things? Because, before they can tell the truth to others, they must FIRST be honest with themselves about their dissatisfactions and shortcomings…..and that can be very painful and that takes certain amount of courage, an amount that most people don’t have, and this is especially true for stubborn people who literally cannot handle the idea of their preconceived ideas being wrong. Its much easier to lie than tell the truth. And its gets easier and easier to lie more and more over time. (Arnold Schwarzenegger is a great example of lying during his competitive days about being on steroids, and then later on FINALLY getting up enough courage to admit he used and abused them. Without those drugs, he would have found very quick that he needed to train far less often. In fact that’s the reason he started drugs to begin with, so that he COULD train more often)

    As I said before, your recommendations are not helping. This blog is dedicated to helping people make un-interrupted progress, and your suggestions will only ruin this goal for them (and if the overtraining continues, will become carcinogenic). I truly care for peoples health and genuinely want to see them achieve the upper limits of their physical potential and it will never happen on a fixed frequency.

    If you want to tell others about the alleged “better” frequency, then your on the wrong forum.

  13. Anonymous at #

    Blackthorne..

    Who said they were my recommendation’s? I’m not advocating that people reading this should do what i do, I merely reported my findings, the real issue here is that you are just cant get your head around that I’ve made better progress training 2-3x per week than i did training more and more infrequently (probably because your so blinded by the opinions of certain others).
    I was undertraining! which is exactly why i was de-conditioning from week and week. As the first poster on this thread said (which tells me am not alone here) “there is surely an outer limit as to how infrequently one can workout and still make progress or even maintain current fitness levels”.

    Keeping my workouts brief and as i mentioned, using a combination of high and low stress techniques have allowed me to train the way i do / make better progress.

    Btw, When you say you stall, do you mean it terms of making strength increases every workout?

    Its my believe that there’s too much of a emphasis put on strength increases (in every workout) in HIT circles, there’s a big difference between trying to optimize hypertrophy vs lifting ability. John Grimick cued in on this back in the 40s when he stated “when trying optimize your bodybuilding your weightlifting will suffer, and visa versa”.
    The body learns to cope with more and more weight, there are other adaptations taking place when one gets stronger, such as improved intramuscular coordination and neuromuscular efficiency. I fact i think Drew Baye recently wrote about is in an article called “focus on the muscles not the weight lifted”.

    It doesn’t take long before an individual reaches the upper limits of their strength capacity, strength is finite, and as i and many other honest hitters have found, it very quickly gets to the point were your training is so infrequent that you began to decondition. Of course those blinded / clearly obsessed with Mentzers thinking see this as blasphemy!

    “If you want to tell others about alleged “better” frequency, then your on the wrong forum”

    Spoken like a true cult member!

  14. MAY I INTERJECT? Rob and Blackthorne, your exchanges are getting more and more heated. I’d just like to repeat that these differences in rates of progress, recovery and response to stimulus can be settled by TAKING MEASUREMENTS.

    Nobody claims all people make muscle building progress at the same rate. We can expect huge variation here just as there is in all other physiology issues.

    If we move away from “feel’ and toward numbers that quantify muscle mass, bodyfat, intensity per minute or per second, total weight lifted, rate of recovery per hour or day, volumetric intensity of exercises and whole workouts, etc. it settles all these squabbles.

    Going by ‘feel’ of being undertrained or overtrained (both of which can happen) is a very low technology. Sadly, it’s what everybody outside of my customers uses to measure progress and recovery.

    For example if a person could say, “I trained for three months with an average of 12.4 days between workouts and gained 2.6 lbs of muscle, and my bench press Power Factor rose to 28,000 lbs/min and my deadlift was 41,000 lbs/min. But when I switched to only 3.5 days between workouts for three months I gained 5.1 lbs of muscle, my bench press went to 42,000 lbs/min and by deadlift increased to 63,250 lbs/min.

    THAT cuts through a lot of ‘he said/she said’ debate about what “works” in the gym. It also puts a focus on whether a person is fooling himself for psychological reasons versus objective improvement.

    Frankly, there is no rational argument against taking proper measurements in the gym. It’s a sad state of affairs that professional trainers just don’t do it.

  15. Blackthorne at #

    Pete, you sir are SPOT ON.

    MEASUREMENT is so freakin’ important. I was always befuddled at people years ago when they would tell me to quit focusing so much on strength gains. I thought to myself “What the heck did I purchase all these additional weight plates for in the first place? Am I suppose to just go through the motions or get a pump? What the hell? I mean, who has ever witnessed a 200 (max) pound Deadlift with a 20 inch arm?”

    Most people visit your site because they are sick and tired of training without gaining. I will never forget when I trained 2x a week for FOUR years straight, following Stuart McRoberts books TO THE LETTER, yet with no strength gains. But hey, strength shouldn’t be focused on right? Or so I was told. And guess what happened to my muscles? They got smaller! Yep. I would try to add weight and/or at least 1 extra rep, but could not. It was as if my muscles refused to get stronger. I would try to add more food to my plate too, and only got fatter. And my muscles did not grow. Pete, are you surprised? Of course not.

    I knew deep down that getting stronger was the key to getting bigger. I mean, its a no brainer! When I looked back on my earlier years, I remembered that, everytime I made a significant strength increase, my muscles got larger. Everytime I stalled, they stayed the same. Everytime I got weaker, my muscles got smaller. And guess what? Everyone of my friends experienced the same thing. We never read the muscle magazines, so we just used simple logic of “stronger equals bigger”. But then the internet came along and filled our heads with all kinds of nonsense (like the idea of focusing too much on strength gains), then of course things got worse.

    It took a while, but I finally discovered your (and Mentzers) writings on Frequency. And it was a massive epiphany moment for me. So I reduced from 2x a week, to 1x a week, and WHAM, I got a massive strength increase. I was stunned. Then when my gains slowed, I reduced frequency even further, and more strength came. Guess what else happened? My muscles got larger too. Surprised Pete? No, of course not.

    So I recommended all my associates/friends/etc to try the same thing. And guess what happened to their results? They got stronger and bigger too! I mean, what’s one suppose to do to get bigger? Get weaker?

    Its simple, bloody stupid common sense when you think about it. Nowadays instead of getting befuddled at people when they say “your putting too much of a emphasis on strength”, I actually get disgusted. Why would ANY sane person tolerate little or no progress? I’m like you Pete, in that I will not tolerate ONE workout with lack of progress. I mean, sure your muscles can measure a little bigger due to the inflammation and swelling due to chronically overtraining them (the fact that they aren’t getting stronger per workout is proof of overtraing), or they could get a little larger from boosted Carb intake (stored glycogen), but does that mean they are legitimately larger (minus the swelling, glycogen, etc)? No. How do you and i know? Because they aren’t stronger! Well gee, that’s quite a novel idea. You mean a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle? Well by golly, that’s amazing!

    I could go on and on, about how there is no outer limit to frequency (other than genetic limits on strength). Or I could go on and on how that getting stronger and deconditioned at the same time is impossible. I could give all kinda of simple, down to earth, AND complicated, scientific rationale and logic. But would it do any good? No.

    Same goes for you Pete. You sir are doing a great work, and should not come down from it. There are so many critics and detractors of your science that, if you took the time to answer every false allegation, you would never have enough time to actually share these precious truths with others.

    If you were to expose every lie today and close the mounts of the detractors so that they can’t say anything, it wont matter because tomorrow they will revisit the same arguments again. Thus it will be, over and over, because they do not like reality and refuse to embrace logic, fearing that their error will be exposed. No amount of logic, reason, proof nor evidence will convince them of the truth, because they just don’t want to hear it and are thoroughly emotionally biased (you know….the good ol’ “feelings” that are so precise….ha!)

    Besides, your system and science is so freakin’ solid and crystal clear, that it defends itself.

  16. Rob at #

    Hi Pete,

    Cant argue with that…

    I honestly can say i have never given much thought to measuring intensity accurately, my focus was on certain other numbers, specifically my blood pressure, cholesterol, resting heart rate, and blood sugar readings (which are important numbers for me as i suffered a stroke 12 years ago at the age of 24) – which have all improved with slightly more regular strength training – as opposed to my declining health and conditioning as the result of more and more infrequent training.

    I must point out my workouts are extremely brief…

    Week one – i train 2x using static contraction training – (which btw, has been brilliant for working around my lower back problems / train smart is an excellent book:)

    Week two – I train 2x using low stress techniques

    week three – off

    week four – repeat

    There’s nothing scientific about the above, but its working for me better than training more and more infrequently, i am making strength increases from one cycle to the next, but as I mentioned, i’m not measuring intensity accurately, so i may well not be training as optimally as i could ( your new article has certainly got me thinking).

    Best
    Rob

  17. Blackthorne at #

    There is bound to be some confused individuals on here after reading the comments section. Most individuals would rather believe that “more frequent” training is best. They will balk at Pete’s proven principle of a Variable Frequency and thus choose the wrong path. So I’m not interested in helping those types because their minds are already made up (self-deception is a powerful thing).

    But for those who are truly seeking the right way, allow me to clear up a few misconceptions.

    1 – Will health suffer from infrequent training? – No. Health related issues such as arthritis, gout, diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, high cholesterol, etc are *not* caused by doing too little exercise. They are caused by the rich western diet or similar diets. Your body, just like any other engine, requires clean fuel to keep it healthy. Poor fuel causes problems. Diet and Health are more closely related than exercise and health. While exercise will improve your health, it will not magically turn dirty fuel (bad food) into clean fuel (health food). In other words, if your food is giving you health problems, then exercise will not negate those problems. Just try upgrading your car’s engine with a supercharger, and then put dirty gasoline into the tank and see if that supercharger runs well. It wont.

    2 – Does muscle loss occur from Infrequent training? No. IF you are growing stronger each workout, then it is literally 100% impossible to experience muscle loss. A stronger muscle is a bigger muscle, and a bigger muscle is a stronger muscle. Ever noticed that when a tree grows larger, it also grows stronger?

    3 – But what about conditioning? Doesn’t deconditioning result from infrequent training? No. Poor conditioning is the result of (A) low or moderate carbohydrate intake, and/or (B) overtraining. In other words, IF your growing stronger per workout (regardless of the amount of rest days required to do so) then your problem is obviously not the frequency, or the intensity, but is actually your poor dietary choices. Your muscles and nervous system are begging you for more glycogen and energy, so get those carbs up to 65-80% via eating more whole grain starches (potatoes, corn, rice, peas, beans, oats, etc) and you will NEVER have issues with conditioning. I mentioned earlier that my friend Steve from Canada who trained people with a variable frequency, had some clients who reached a strength/mass level that required training once every 90 days or longer, and these clients never had conditioning issues PROVIDING that they ate plenty of carbs. In fact, his strongest female client ever was a high-carb, low-fat Vegan (some of his clients unfortunately tried a low-carb diet, others a moderate-carb diet, and doing so utterly destroyed their conditioning and made their workouts pure hell. Same goes for everyone, including me. If my carbs are not 75-80% of my caloric intake, then my workouts are pure misery regardless of how much I sleep). In other words, if your already training PROPERLY, then the training is not the problem, its the DIET.

    And lets go back to the tree analogy. As the tree grows bigger, it also grows stronger, true. But equally true is that as the tree grows stronger/bigger, it also gets better at withstanding severe weather and high winds, and that dear reader is the very definition of improved conditioning AND endurance.

    4 – For those still leaning towards a fixed frequency, ask the man (Pete Sisco) himself. He will tell you straight up that he has never, ever witnessed a client or trainee that could stay on a fixed frequency and still make uninterrupted progress. Nor has he, or will he ever witness an individual loose muscle while gaining strength simultaneously. Its just not possible. These Laws of Nature apply to everybody, and they do not change, regardless if we like them or not.

  18. Rob at #

    Like a dog with a bone, bigots eh….

    Just to be clear people, my stroke was caused by a genetic defect, it had nothing to do with my diet, weight, or lifestyle, and as i previously mentioned, since my stroke I’ve kept a close eye on certain other health makers for minds sake. What I noted is that my blood pressure, RHR, bad cholesterol, blood sugar readings and lower back pain have all improved, as has my body composition as the result of training with slightly more regular training…and this was with ZERO change in diet or calorie intake. (When i say slightly more, 4 brief workouts over a 3 week period is still a lot less overall training than a traditional HIT practitioner would perform).

    Oh wait, has resistance training not been proven time and time again to improve blood pressure, cholesterol, lower back pain, cardiac function, ramp up the metabolism, lower bodyfat etc?

  19. Blackthorne at #

    @ Rob

    Still resulting to insults. That’s not helping you look any less dishonest. It just exposes you that much more. And I wasn’t talking to you anyway.

    Besides, didn’t you catch the part where I said “While exercise will improve your health, it will not magically turn dirty fuel (bad food) into clean fuel (health food). In other words, if your food is giving you health problems, then exercise will not negate those problems.” I didn’t deny that exercise improves health. All I said is that it does not negate poor diets. Case in point,

    To quote Dr. John McDougall MD: “Resent data has been published on the increase of exercise in the United States that has occured in the last 10 years; people exercise in this country more than they ever did before, and yet obesity rates have dramatically increased. Exercise will NOT compensate for the rich western diet.”

    Source = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KV2N-m4Jgo&t=43m25s

    By the way, I noticed that your virtually training close to once a month. One high intensity workout. Then one low intensity workout, then a week off. That low intensity workout might as well be another week off because its useless and does absolutely ZERO to stimulate any positive changes. But you will protest because you “believe” otherwise, oh well.

    Anyway, all we’ve seen from you are statements that are heavily subjective, based on “feelings”, and resulting to name calling and insults when your error is exposed. Typical. And you don’t seem to know when to stop, so feel free to dig an even deeper hole, we are all watching. (grabs popcorn)

  20. I think it’s time to close the comments on this post. I don’t like seeing any rancor and I don’t want this blog to become a place where people bicker.

    I can tell you that the debating never ends in the world of fitness.

    FYI, every week for 20 years I get email along these lines:

    Trainee: “Pete, you say X, Y & Z but Ted Trainer wrote that it’s really A, B & C! Can you please comment on what he said and explain all the reasons why he is wrong?”

    Me: Answer . . .

    Trainee: “That’s very interesting. But Bob Bodybuilders says D, E & F and it contradicts what you say. Can you please fully explain all the fallacies in what Bob Bodybuilder says?”

    Me: Answer . . .

    Trainee: “I see. Please read the attached 18,000 word article about a study done in Finland that says G, H & I and give me your opinion on what it says from pages 8 to 12. Compare and contrast their findings with what you say about X, Y & Z.”

    The examination of the minutiae never ends. I’m not kidding, these emails are weekly and have been for 20 years. I could spend all my time – all of it – satisfying people’s desire to keep debates going and going and going.

    Chances are, half these trainees go straight back to Ted Trainer and Bob Bodybuilder, tell them what I just said and request a full rebuttal from them. I wonder how many man-hours just go down the drain stirring the pot of controversy.

    My advice to everyone who visits here is just to not get sucked into it. There is so much to do in life and so little time to do it all.