We lift weights to build our muscles.

We force our body to make an adaptation to lifting heavy loads. We essentially trick our Central Nervous System into thinking that, in order to survive such demanding, high-intensity work, the body needs to grow more muscle mass.

And just like growing new skin, hair, or fingernails, that new muscle growth takes time. We can’t just stay in the gym lifting weights until a pound of new muscle is created, then shower and go home. Growth takes time.

How much time?

We know the first priority of the body is to recover from the stress of a workout. Metabolic waste has to be processed through the body. It’s likely that at some point recovery is still finishing while early new muscle growth is beginning in some places.  Also, some muscle groups recover faster than others and some muscle groups probably grow faster than others. So there’s a mix of some recovery and some growth simultaneously occurring. (Eg. your biceps have recovered, but your quads have not.)

All of this happens at the microscopic level and, assuming you aren’t performing hourly blood draws and tissue biopsies, you can’t know exactly where you are in terms of your full recovery and your completed new muscle growth.

However, it’s very easy to measure your recovery and growth in terms of your strength:

  • If you’re weaker, you haven’t recovered.
  • If you’re the same, you’ve recovered but haven’t grown any new muscle.
  • If you are stronger you are recovered and you have more muscle.

To train smart and avoid wasted workouts and extra depletion, you need to return to the gym and successfully complete slightly more difficult goals. That’s a ‘win’ compared to your previous performance.

Here’s a graphic to help explain. (click to enlarge)

There’s a spectrum of recovery that basically stretches from zero ( I just did a set to failure and can’t lift anything heavy right now) – to fully recovered, stronger, and able to lift even heavier weights – to “I waited too long and now I’ve lost muscle.”

Immediately after you’ve completed a workout you should be depleted. You should have pushed yourself to new, higher limits to the point where you ran out of gas.

 

The next critical date is the day you could return to the gym a set a new record on one or more of your exercises. Perhaps in a 10-exercise routine you could improve on one or two of them, but would not be sufficiently recovered (or had new growth) to permit improvement on the other exercises.

 

The big benchmark is the day you could return to the gym and set new records on all of your exercises. This is the point where you’re not only recovered, but whatever growth was stimulated has occurred and you are a stronger person on every exercise.

 

Eventually, you’ll enter a phase where atrophy has started in some muscle groups but you’re still able to set new records on some exercises. A partially productive workout is still possible.

 

This is the point when your body sheds all of your recent gains. Your body will not stay in an anabolic, muscle-growing state unless it’s needed for survival. (Well, the artificial “survival” of heavy work in the gym.) So if you wait too long, the extra muscle mass you built will wither to what is required for your normal day to day activity.

Everyone is NOT the Same (duh)

Anyone should be able to understand that these dates are not ‘Monday, Wednesday, and Friday” in perpetuity for 7-billion people.

A 20-something training for the Olympics would not have the same #2, #3, and #4 dates as a 60-something who is pre-diabetic and out of shape.

I know many advanced trainees who have to wait months to get to #3. People starting out often need only 48 hours to get to #3, but it can’t stay that way for very long. Their numbers prove it. When they return to the gym and can’t even match what they did last time, it’s all the proof anyone needs. Or should need, if they care about wasted workouts and unnecessary wear and tear on their body.

For over 20 years we’ve been focused on #3. This is the efficient way to train. Slow and steady with no wasted effort. This has been our niche in the weightlifting world; people who want the well established benefits of strength training but they don’t want frequent trips to the gym if they don’t absolutely need them. That’s a perfectly valid outlook.

But recent surveys of the people on our mailing list revealed that many people are keen to train at the #2 point on their recovery spectrum. These people enjoy training. They don’t want to do any useless workouts, but if they can eke out some progress it’s worth it to them. That’s also a perfectly valid outlook.

Want to Train at Points #2 or #3? – YOUR Data Points the Way

It’s ridiculous to the point of insanity to adopt the same training frequency and weight/rep schemes for all people week after week after week.

Every trainee has his own ‘sweet spot’ on every single exercise where he generates his peak power output.

Yes, he can eventually go to failure with 20 lbs, and yes, he can quickly go to failure with 150 lbs. But neither of those is likely to be his absolute peak output per unit of time.

And that’s just today. If he’s stronger when he returns to the gym it means all those ratios change – on every exercise.

Same goes for knowing when to return to the gym. Try lifting before point #2 and it’s a wasted workout. Same with trying after point #4. And how about six weeks from now? When does #2 or #3 occur at that point?

But, YOU CAN KNOW, if you look at YOUR performance data.

And we’ll do it all for you.

Want to Train at Point #2?  Train with our new Accelerated program
Want to Train at Point #3? Train with our steady, efficient program

(Reporting for both workouts is now mobile-friendly.)

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19 Comments. Leave new

  • Bryan

    Is there some way to simply purchase the program so that we can plot our data points ourselves?

  • Yes, buy the e-booklet that comes with the program and do your own calculations after each workout. (You’ll at least get an approximation of what I do. I perform 60+ calculations per workout using algebra, because the effect that Volume and Intensity have on your Recovery are not linear.)

    Here’s the e-booklet link: http://www.precisiontraining.com/products/mass-gain-study-part-1/

  • JAdam

    Is static contraction training compatible with the ARX Alpha machine. I am pretty sure that the answer is yes, but may I email you some questions?

  • I don’t know the specifics of those machines.

    If you want to get into the specifics of your own training and how to adapt my methods you’re going to need to set up a consultation with me.

    http://www.precisiontraining.com/talk-pete/

  • […] Now my wife and I have been traveling non-stop since our kids grew up and we live all over the world, moving to new countries every few months or so. I do work I really enjoy and because I do it in a very ‘hands on’ way it means it will always be a small operation delivered to a relative handful of people. I hope you become one of them. […]

  • Aaron

    Has any one here after a period of time of training with SCT gone into the gym to test whether or not they have gained strength in a full range of motion for each exercise???
    Thanks in advance.

  • People have reported a very wide variance in transference from strongest range power to full range power.

    Some people claim nearly total transference, while others says they had almost zero. Most people are in the middle. (E.g. Add 100 lbs to their strong range bench press but only 25 lbs to their full range.)

    I always ask, if you added 15 lbs of new lean muscle mass by training in your strongest and safest range of motion, would you really care if your full range power was unchanged?

  • Aaron

    Thanks Pete,
    I thought that may have been the case, as usual there is no one result that fits all. There is one guy on youtube claiming he lost strength in his full range of motion after doing the original partial rep power factor training, however he never stated the length of time between his last session and when he tested his full range strength (perhaps too early). I was referred to SCT by a family friend who was 10 weeks into it. He reported a big functional strength improvement in his Brazilian Ju-Jitsu grappling, previously being out muscled by larger men (he is a lean 75kgs). After 10 weeks he was man handling 100kg + sparring partners. Naturally, he is very happy. Apart from your golf player study, are you familiar of any other functional strength improvements from your programs?
    I’m a 30 yr old Aussie up too my 6th workout on the weekend. I’m adding weight every session and pleased with the noticeable aesthetic results already. after a period of time I’ll be curious to test out my full range strength and see how it stacks up! Thanks again Pete.

  • admin

    My routine recommends doing strong-range partial leg presses. We measured people’s power output and no leg exercise matched the leg press done our way. And there’s almost no strain on your spine.

  • Robert

    After 4 months of progress I could not progress anymore. I tried adding rest days but it did not help. Please help me.

  • admin

    Four months of progress means you were doing it right. Try adding 50% to your rest interval. (Eg. a 10 days off moves to 15 days off) If that doesn’t work, add 50% again. Muscles take months to atrophy, so don’t worry about losing muscle. I work with many people who need months off in order to set new personal records. (Which is what you are shooting for every time you enter the gym.)

  • Robert

    Thanks. I will try as you suggested. I wonder if you are injured or cannot train because of some social event how do you adapt your training?

  • Robert

    continuation: If you are sick.

  • Robert

    Please answer.

  • Bj

    Pete,
    Sorry if this question has already been asked I didn’t read the whole thread to see if it was. But, I’m doing power factor and was wondering if the power factor number for a particular exercise has to go up in order to count it as a success or just simply the fact that I added weight can be considered a success. As you know, sometimes just because you lifted more weight doesn’t mean the power factor has gone up. I’m in that situation at the moment and am trying to figure out if I should count it as an improvement. Thanks

  • Either your Power Factor, or Power Index, or both has to go up in order to reflect an increase in Intensity. We are measuring Weight/Time.

    We care about this measurement because new muscle growth is stimulated by increasing Intensity of exercise.

  • Bj

    Thanks for responding. I was wanting to move into the engineered strength gym with my power factor workouts. I just started the workouts a couple of weeks ago. Would it be easy to pick up where I am and go right into the engineered gym program?

  • Yes, that’s easy. You just sign up and then your first workout is what you would have done anyway if you didn’t join.

    We progress from there.

  • Robert

    How many rest days do you have after having progressed after 50 % more rest days and then regressing again?

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