Wow! I improved 6.4%!!The logical foundation of strength training is that we build muscle by lifting heavy weights. It’s an adaptation of the body similar to developing darker skin as an adaptation to intense sunshine. We call that adaptation a suntan. Stand in the shade and your tan does not get any darker. Lift an easy weight and your muscles don’t get any stronger. Makes perfect sense.

So if you want today’s workout to build some new muscle you will need to lift a heavier weight than you usually do. A heavier weight than the last time you lifted. Or maybe if you lifted a weight for three reps last time you need to do four reps today. Something more intense. Something akin to brighter sunshine.

If your last workout was truly productive it stimulated some new muscle growth. If you waited enough time for that muscle to grow (like you have to wait for hair and fingernails to grow) then you should be stronger today. So when you return to the gym you should be able to lift a heavier weight or at least generate higher intensity (total weight / time).

Your last workout is inferior now. It’s like standing in the shade. You need more intensity today because you are a stronger person than you were during last workout. You are a new man.

No Two Workouts The Same

If every workout you perform is productive (and is there any reason it should not be?) then it causes new muscle to grow. If you have new muscle you are stronger. If you are stronger you should lift heavier weights more times. If you are doing everything right then every workout should be different than the last one. No two workouts should deliver the same intensity to a target muscle.

Of course, it’s impossible to know if today’s workout is more intense than the last one if you don’t take some basic measurement.

Which Set Is Better?
The fact is the first example is better by about 5% in terms of both momentary intensity and sustained intensity. This is something you can’t just “feel.” To know these facts you have to measure things.

The reason so much crappy advice gets circulated year after year in gyms, magazines and blogs about strength training is because nobody measures anything in the gym. So nobody gets proved wrong. Measurement cuts through the opinions and gets down to facts. What exercises deliver the most intensity to the triceps? What combination of weight and reps delivers more intensity?

When you measure you suddenly have facts instead of lore and opinion.

When you measure you can pre-engineer productive workouts.

When you measure you can become a new man.

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1-Set? 2-Sets? 3-Sets? Strip sets? Pyramid sets? Fixed sets? Timed sets? What delivers the highest intensity?

16 Comments. Leave new

  • Anthony

    How much do you generally reccomend or observe people increase their weights after they are on SCT or PCT for about 4-5 months? DO you say 5-10lbs more to the bar or more like 5-10 % more even at that stage. Because 5% of 100 lbs is a lot less weight than telling someone 5% of 500 lbs once you get to thats strength level you know. Depends on the person but I’m noticing sometimes I can do big jumps and then sometimes only about 5 -10 lbs and sometimes just an extra rep. When theres no increase then we know we need to increase rest days. What do you say Pete on this?

  • The studies we are doing now might help us get closer to some rules of thumb to guide people. The problem is there is so much variation between individuals it is not possible to tell people, “Add 6.8% more weight on your 5th workout.” In this business we are always working with approximations and doing the best we can.

    This is an issue that never goes away. Suppose you are doing a timed set of 60 seconds; ideally you need to select a weight that is exactly heavy enough to completely fatigue you in 59.9 seconds. So what weight is that exactly? How can we know? And how can we know next time when the weight should be different because we are stronger?

    This is why keeping track of exact numbers is so important. Most people just guess at every exercise and have no clear picture of their output put unit of time.

  • Anthony

    I was reading up on another “HIT” style way of training which use concevntial fullrange reps but do advocate similar principals of needing rest short duration workouts infrequent (but not too infrequent was where they were different). They claimed that its ok to take a week or 2 between workouts but any more than that will results in some strength and muscle loss which will be regained quickly though. They said resting over a month ‘will have a really negative effect on size and strength gains’ that all gains one mad eup until then will be lost if one takes over a month off between a workout. and they ended it off with “sad but true”… Sorry to hear that they are missing out and actually longer rests are necessary to keep growth and strength going. Im not sure where they come up with these so called truths Pete!!! as if in their experience this happened to them when they took off a month. I’m doing 25 days between workouts and gained more muscle and strength as I increase rest… Youve said you have people doing once every 8 weeks between workout A and B which is 16 weeks between muscles and they dont get negative effects of losing all gains!! I dont understand how some people using ‘hit prinicpals’ make sure not to go “too infrequent” (over a month between) because they claim they lose all strength. I just think they need more rest if they lost strength or size and havnt rested long enough for it to grow back in general…

  • You have to remember these guys NEVER take objective measurements of their output per unit of time. So they shoot from the hip and make generalizations. I had a guy tell me today that “a friend” trains every week and makes constant progress for years. Uh huh. If you make 2% progress on 100 workouts in two years it means you can lift 7 times more weight per second. So his 200lb bench press is now 1,400 lbs? Maybe his squat is 3,000 or so by now?

    When people never take meaningful measurements they can delude themselves no end. Nobody has a productive workout every week for two years. You can visit the gym 365 times in a year but you can’t have 365 productive workouts.

  • Anthony

    Well part of hit is to make sure they either increase weight or reps atleast weekly. So he said on his site that when progress stalled in his journal he would take a 2 week layoff and come bakc stronger. When he tried him or his clients on over a month nearly all lost strength and muscle but then it would regrow after he got back on to training once a week! I mean thats not my experience at all nor yours. I know i havnt lost muscle after 25 days rest or strength because the numbers go up in fact I gain muscle (totally opposite of this guys facts). So to make statements like ‘the fact is when you rest over a month you lose everything’ is just baloney even though his principals are sound. Ah well 😉

  • That’s what happens when trainers work with a few people and then make generalizations. Measurements cut through the BS. Every individual can take his own measurements of his own workout performance and learn what rest interval he needs. That interval will change. When you lift 10 tons in one workout you need less recovery time than when you lift 100 tons in one workout. That’s easy to understand – but try telling it to most trainers.

  • Anonymous

    Too true. But to say people lose strength and muscle resting a month is crazy stupid. Muscle doesn’t disappear in a month or even two months without working it even for a beginner using full range HIT using progressive overload… One of the typical bodybuilding myths/ assumptions that proves wrong when you actually do take long rests and see muscles continue to grow even if it’s over a month .

  • I agree that no two workouts are the same, and if you want to see changes, you must exhibit change. The two you mentioned are great ways to see gains or muscles changes. High intensity or additional weight are great ways to shock the body with something new, and with these changes, new developments will happen. Thanks for sharing!

  • Yes, but not change for change’s sake. Beware of the gym lore about ‘shocking’ your biceps by switching from dumbbell curls to barbell curls. Change only stimulates new muscle growth if there is a mathematically provable increase in the intensity of lifting – measured in weight per second.

  • Gunnar

    That is so true.
    Do you think static pyramid training is safer
    and will make you as strong as max-lifting?
    I quickly gave up the one Max rep protocol due to
    the fact i got easily injured and the pyramid seems
    to do the trick as well,even better.What alternative do you recommend
    when my goal is to Get as strong as possible and do you use
    pyramid or max-training yourself?
    Thank you a lot:)

  • We’ve never tested pyramids with static holds. We tested pyramids with strong-range reps and the intensity per minute did not equal other tactics, especially timed sets. (Make sure you get a free copy of Workout Variations Revealed)

    You say you get easily injured with max holds and that would be a good reason to find other tactics. That’s what you should do. But for people who do not get injured by lifting their maximum in their strongest, safest range I would still recommend maximum weight static holds.

  • Ruben rodriguez

    I first heard about power factor science,through a tony Robbins study course.Honestly I thought these two guys were gonna make themselves look like a couple clowns.It was Pete Sisco and the other guy.After all how could a hundred 100,000 big bodybuilders be wrong right.
    Well I had to give it a try so I could tell everyone I know, their science was a bunch of baloney.After putting on more weight than I am accustomed to lifting,I lifted it and held it for about 11 seconds or so 3″ from full extension for chest bench press.I put the bar and back on the hooks and BAM!!! BABY!!!,my pecs were instantly bigger than any reps or weight I had been doing for the past 20 years or so.I consider myself a ninja practitioner and realist when it comes to this kind of science.
    I only do what works in my training.If anyone thinks this power factor science doesn’t work.Well they can keep watching everyone else get big I guess.This science takes the internal organs into consideration, as well as chi or real strength as opposed to show muscle so popular and prevelant amongst this generation.I tell you this much.If I ever need real strength I will have it and my organs will be healthy as well.Thank you power factor for your cutting edge hypertrophy science.

  • Ruben rodriguez

    I workout twice a month at the most and once every month and a half at the least.I am in Kenpo karate right now.Its all math.A lot of conventional bodybuilders unfortunately have more muscle in their brain than brain in their muscle.So its up to us as our own best example of true Human potential.I can’t bench more than 225 lbs,because my bench might not support it and I don’t have a spotter.That’s why my numbers are stagnant and are not going up.But whenever I work out I get pumped like a balloon with fresh helium.Another fact I wanted to add is that marathon runners have heart attacks and internal organ problems.They live a shorter life than most peaple.Chinese are ahead of us on chi science.You want to pump up your muscles not your organs.Conventional bodybuilders are so damn stubborn.They are big with show muscle but not true muscle.True muscle is inside and out,not just on the outside.There I’m done…

  • Donnie Hunt

    @ Ruben,

    I like the feeling of a workout with brief, intense contractions. I avoid over stretching ranges. I don’t personally go for the feeling of be I drained, or feeling like I’m puke. I like leaving a workout feeling refreshed and energetic. Kinda made me think about my approach after reading your comments.

  • Shane

    I can’t afford local gym, and I’m limited on space. I know Pete has said something about not using resistance bands, but it’s all I have. I take the movement to a predestined location (strongest range) and hold for 30 seconds, or until fail. I found that if I can’t get to to 30 I keep it up until 30 is attained. Example: initial max 15 sec. immediately into another set, say 10 seconds, immediately into another set, say 5 seconds. At this point I have reached 30. After rest, usually 2 weeks, I use same resistance and try and beat my initial 15 sec. Usually, I hit 30 sec. immediately. It is contrary to popular belief, but the numbers don’t lie. Thanks, Pete!

  • JIM

    I am the fittest, most muscular ever in my life. I do statics every 2 weeks. 45 min’s. or 90 min’s a month. Gym rats hate me….I am nearly 50…have the physique of a 25 year old. Don’t hate me…love me!

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