Less is More

have you ever looked at all of the recommended workouts online and wondered which one is best? One may say to perform sets of 5, another says sets of 20, and even another may say a set of 100! No one wants to invest time and effort into the body with minimum results.

If you're used to doing sets of 12 with everything and seeing results in the "look" of your muscle there's a reason. The same reason also attributes to why if you get sick and miss working out for a week you shrink down and can lose 5 pounds. High reps were shown to increase gains and muscle mass in individuals equal to that of lower reps. The added benefit of higher reps is the "swell" most guys like to feel. By increasing reps you increase the amount of time and the extent of vasodialation [expansion of blood vessels]. You also build up and increase the amount of Sarcoplasm.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy:

It's smart to note that the Sarcroplasmic reticulum [SR] is what holds the stores for Ca++ and is a crucial part in activating muscle contraction. Therefore training in the high rep range and causing Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy is not all bad. This can be used to prevent muscle wasting and will put on weight faster. This is the faster outlet for weight gains which, as Americans, is what we like to see. Faster and easier. This is not so much the muscle mass that is expanding but actually the fluid surrounding the cells [sort of]. The negative of this is that a lack of stimulus leads to a faster wasting. In other words if you stop lifting you lose mass much faster. This can be described as the "show not go" workout.

to achieve sarcoplasmic hypertrophy your rep range would be around 10 + reps, as all the body builders would recommend.

Myofibrillar Hypertrophy:

Myofibrillar is the actual cells of the muscle necessary for contraction. This is the fast twitch muscle cells which are primarily used for more athletic type of performances. In all sports something explosive is necessary. Football is the tackle, basketball is the lay up to dunk, base ball is the throw or the swing. Either way this is our athletic muscle group. These are the "go before show" muscle types and workouts. These gains don't usually produce a "pump" or "swell" and are less favored by the mirror jockeys. It also takes even longer to gain muscle mass with this form of hypertrophy. The benefit is that this muscle LASTS! It's much less likely to waste or shrink if you get sick and can't touch the weights for a week. The greatest benefit of the lower rep heavier weight workout is that the central Nervous system is greater stimulated and the Motor Unit [nerves and muscles innervated] becomes more effective and coordinated.

Motor Unit
To achieve myofibrillar hypertrophy your rep range would be around -6 reps, like any power lifter would perform.

It then becomes your choice as to whether you want to have the muscle that will last but will take much longer, or would you rather get the muscle fast and risk losing it even faster? Below is a simple biceps routine for both programs to attempt yourself and see how it you feel.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy:

Barbell curl: 3x12 @ 50% 1RM
Alternating Hammer curl: 3x15 @ 40% 1RM
Incline Curl: 3x20 @ 30% 1RM
E-Z bar preacher curl: 1x50 @ 20-30% 1RM

Myofibrillar Hypertrophy: [NOTE: this type of hypertrophy better in compound exercises]

Barbell curl: 4x5 @ 80-90% 1RM
Alternating Hammer Curl: 3x5 @ 80% 1RM
E-Z bar preacher curl: 4x5 @ 80-85% 1RM

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.