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,

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8 Comments. Leave new

  • Nice perspective, Pete! I’m finding out, as I grow older, that less is better. I found I couldn’t duplicate Static Contraction, exactly, because of many years of Powerlifting, contact sports, injuries and surgeries. They took a toll that prevented me from lifting the kinds of weights that the program dictates (along with the limitations of the equipment I train on). That said, I had to improvise and adapt my lifting schedule to what my body would safely tolerate. It still works, even with those changes! And, the good part is, I put enough time in-between workouts to be completely healed-up by the next appearance at the gym.

  • Excellent, Kent. Congrats for thinking outside the box. I’m constantly astonished at how many conventional lifters have injuries. The typical advice given by trainers – although they don’t say it this way – is to lift the heaviest weight you can in the most dangerous range of motion. No thanks.

  • Malik

    Thanks for straight forward advice for people of age like me (nearing 70). Well, weight training be done once a week or so, rest of the days some cardio, aerobics exercises if done , would it be better so as to keep body slim and trim?

  • Strength is one of three aspects of fitness. The others, flexibility and endurance (cardio), also need to be addressed. The best thing about rational strength training is you have exact numbers for each exercise (Power Factor, Power Index or Weight of Static Hold) to measure your exact progress. Those numbers tell you whether you have rested long enough to be fully recovered from ALL exercise.

  • Philip

    It really is one thing to look at those weight numbers going up and pat yourself on the back for a job well, done, its quite another to have those numbers tell you exactly when you slip.

    Anyone can get stronger by constantly engaging muscle against resistance, but having that exact knowledge that your slipping, and not just that, the power of knowing exactly WHY your slipping, and WHAT to do about it as Pete is describing is in my opinion actually the “juice” of Sisco’s Teachings. And the amazing part ? Thats the information that Pete is essentially just giving for free. I think that even if people continued to do F.R.O.M workouts, that “recovery” aspect would instantly benefit them more then anything else they could try. I have just had an example today myself, I did my last workout last Friday, where I made progress on every S.C. I had a 2 week gap previously. I wanted to see if I could recover in a week, and this workout, out of the 5 exercises I did, only 2 got a little bit better, the others stayed the same. This instantly tells me, that I am a 2 weeker as opposed to a 1 weeker. I decided to finish my workout rather then stop at the first sign so I could tell which ones got stronger in one week (Chest, Tri’s). I worked this out in 3 workouts. A Trainee who wasnt recording everything and went by “feel” might NEVER work this out. So I’ll wait 2 weeks from today to go again, and gain from there.

    Less workouts, Less wear and tear, more strength, and subsequently (though it will be slower) more muscle mass.

    I’ll also chip in my own thoughts for Malik:

    From my own studies into bodybuilding and physiology, I have read that Muscle is a metabolically expensive thing to maintain, hence why your body doesnt WANT to grow muscle unless it positively needs to. Thats why you need to constantly be striving to up your weights or time under tension, etc. to signal your muscle to grow. The more muscular you are, the more expensive in terms of calories you burn at rest. This is great news for you, as it means that you should burn more calories even if you did nothing extra, ate exactly the same.

    Something I have been doing with success to shed fat (which like Pete’s teachings is completely against the grain of BodyBuilding) is NOT to consume anything for at LEAST 1 hour after a workout, and prior to a workout, either go in fasted, or only have a small meal a few hours beforehand. Seriously, even just a straight black coffee (no milk, no sugar, or only a little sugar) before the workout should be enough. There is a big psychological leap to make going in with minimal food as you “Feel” weaker, but research shows absolutely no impact on Muscle capability. The “Golden time” after workout thats so strongly exonerated in BodyBuilding, (if you dont slam at least as many gram of protein as you weigh after a workout IMMEDIATELY, you’ll just lose everything you just worked for, or if you dont do that before a workout, you wont be able to lift anything) well, let me just say its keeping Supplement companies pockets lined. This generally leads to more calorie intake, which leads to more body fat, which leads to less muscle showing despite efforts, which leads to more workouts, which leads to more reliance on supplements to recover… Are you dizzy yet ?

    🙂

    – Philip

  • Thanks, Philip. I agree across the board. And don’t get me started on the supplement industry. Haha!

  • Thomas

    I started using PFT over twenty years ago and got bigger than ever. Later I switched to SCT and got stronger than ever. After years of wear and tear (I was a pro wrestler) I physically am limited to these two protocols. Late last year I upped my hold times first to 12 seconds, then 15 and now 45. I’ve made steady progress using 45 secs. This was before your 45 seconds test group was announced. I’m interested in learning the results of that study.
    I have explored becoming a personal trainer but have been turned down because I lack a “traditional” accredited license. I hope to become your first accredited trainer, but I need to be on scholarship as I’m still out of work!
    All the Best!

  • Thanks, Thomas. We’ve been studying 30, 45, 60 and 90 second sets but those are all with the Power Factor protocol. I’m interested in testing some aspects of Static Contraction later this year.

    It would be nice to make some meaningful comparisons. People often ask ‘which is better?” I usually answer, ‘which is better, a Ferrari or a diesel truck?” because to answer that question you need to specify what your priorities are. We know nothing is more efficient than SC, but what builds the most muscle in a month? And would it be worth less efficiency and more effort? I don’t know yet.

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