How to Increase Muscle Mass
For years, bodybuilders have been told, “the only way to grow is is to use heavy weights.” In fact, eight time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman was famous for saying, “Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder but no one wants to lift heavy ass weight!” The American College of Sports Medicine, recommends resistance exercise intensities of ∼70% – 80% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM) for 8–12 repetitions for muscle hypertrophy. Type 2 muscle fibers (divided further into A and B) are responsible for short-duration, high intensity activity. Type 2B fibers are built for explosive, very short-duration activity such as Olympic lifts. Type 2A fibers are designed for short-to- moderate duration, moderate-to-high intensity work, as is seen in most weight training activities. Type 2B muscle fibers also have the most potential for muscle growth.
Its been well established that heavier weights leads to a greater recruitment of type 2B muscle fibres at high exercise intensities may occur to stimulate a robust muscle protein synthesis response. One of the first studies back in 2009 provide support for the concept of a dose response relationship between external work-equated exercise intensities and muscle protein synthesis.
Interestingly, they did not find that after 60% of a 1-RM there was no further increases in muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis reached a plateau between intensities of ∼60– 90% of 1RM. The researchers found that going heavier than 60% of a 1-RM did not lead to further increases in muscle protein synthesis. A important finding was that going to maximum muscle failure was an important stimulus for maximizing muscle protein synthesis. Another laboratory has recently tested the thesis that eliciting muscle failure during resistance exercise during high- or low-intensity resistance exercise leads to maximal muscle fibre activation, and thus a similar stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. It was demonstrated, in resistance-trained young men, that lower intensity (30% of 1RM) and higher volume (average of 24 reps) resistance exercise performed until failure was equally effective in stimulating myofibrillar protein synthesis rates during 0– 4 h recovery as heavy intensity (90% of 1RM) and lower volume (5 repetitions) resistance exercise.
The observation of a sustained elevation in myofibrillar protein synthesis rates after the low-intensity–higher volume regime corroborates recent data demonstrating that exercise volume is an integral factor for sustaining the myofibrillar protein synthetic response during exercise recovery.
So based on the research, the type of training that Serge Olivia performed is more in alignment with the best type of training which incorporated high volume with lots of sets to induce muscle hypertrophy. This research is really revolutionary because it suggests that high volume resistance exercise like the kind of training performed by Sergio Olivia, Arnold, and Lee Haney is an effective means of increasing muscle mass.
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Burd, N.A., West, D.W., Staples, A.W., Atherton, P.J., Baker, J.M., Moore, D.R., et al. 2010b. Low-load high volume resistance exercise stimulates muscle protein synthesis more than high-load low volume resistance exercise in young men. PLoS ONE,5(8): e12033.
Burd, N.A., Holwerda, A.M., Selby, K.C., West, D.W., Staples, A.W., Cain, N.E., et al. 2010a. Resistance exercise volume affects myofibrillar protein synthesis and anabolic signalling molecule phosphorylation in young men. J. Physiol. 588(16): 3119–3130.
Burd NA, Mitchell CJ, Churchward-Venne TA, Phillips SM. Bigger weights may not beget bigger muscles: evidence from acute muscle protein synthetic responses after resistance exercise. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2012 Jun;37(3):551-4.
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