Lifting heavy weights to build new muscle is, by definition, wear and tear on your body?
Does wear and tear matter to you?
Notice in the title of this post I said, ‘Are You Wise Enough’? I was going to say ‘Old Enough’? Haha! At 55 I know I’m old enough. I also cared when I was in my thirties but I think back then it was more like, ‘Are You Lazy Enough…’
I’m just wired to seek efficiency. I want maximum returns for minimum investment. At the grocery store I pick the line that has young people waiting with cash in their hands over the line with old ladies with coupons who are confused about how to operate the card machine. I’m a heavy user of time-saving apps the allow me to do four hours of work in one hour. I hate wasting time and effort. I’m not saying everyone should be like me – Hell would be a place where everyone is the same – I’m just explaining my perspective – I want efficiency. I don’t want to waste time or effort.
So when I make a post about training efficiency and only strength training, for example, twice per month, I often get comments from people saying things like, “How can you say that when guys like Arnold trained twice a day six days a week and built fantastic physiques?”
I say it because I recognize that obviously efficiency and minimum wear and tear were not priorities for Arnold and his colleagues. I’d bet if they knew performing 200% more work would give them 1% more muscle mass they would take that deal. To my eye that’s a grossly inefficient and inequitable bargain, but to them it’s worth the investment.
On top of that, the people who advocate frequent training are people who LOVE to be in the gym. It’s often their living. It’s what they studied in college. It’s what they talk to their friends about. It’s what they write blog posts about. It’s what they would do all day long if they were wealthy enough to not have to do other things. They look for ways to train more, more, more!
But do they NEED to train so often?
It turns out the answer is, no. You can measure your output on every exercise so you aren’t judging by “feel” or “instinct” and instead use objective numbers. Those numbers help you test to determine whether less frequent training will build muscle. And guess what? Infrequent training will absolutely, positively build new muscle. In fact a person can train himself to the limits of his potential by training methodically and relatively infrequently. There is no law of physics or physiology that prevents it.
Anybody can test this. It’s easy. If you measure your bench press output this week and measure it again in 10 days does it go up or down? Pass or fail? If it goes up you are getting stronger and therefore building new muscle.
So Here’s A Big Question
If you could build one pound of new muscle this month by doing 20 workouts or by doing 3 workouts, which would you choose? Maybe you care about wear and tear on your body and would prefer fewer workouts. Maybe you travel a lot and would prefer fewer workouts. Maybe you want to spend time sailing or learning a new language or reading about ancient Rome and would prefer fewer workouts. I think that’s most of us in the real world. It’s most of us outside of a gym.
But maybe you studied physiology in college, follow every pro sport, love athletics and love exercising and just love being in a gym as often as possible. If so, you’ll choose 20 workouts where 3 might do. That’s fine. Do it and be happy.
But don’t elevate it to an essential principle that the rest of us should choose. Some of us care about other things. Like wear and tear on our aging bodies. Like feeling too tired from so many workouts. Like getting the most value at the least cost. Like spending our time on other things we love more than being in the gym.
Note: If you want to try efficient, objective training designed to build new muscle in 60 days, you might be interested in this,