Reaching Your Goals Without Genetics

Here’s a thought. If a person has always been skinny, do you think her workouts will help overweight people be skinny, or will they help skinny people stay skinny? Just take a deep long thought. Likewise, would a naturally muscular guy’s workout do the same for a skinny guy that it did for himself? The answer is probably not. The fitness industry is a throng of spandex wearing genetic anomalies. All of whom are trying to pass of their routine as the one way to a glorious body like theirs. Of course, they forget to mention the different parents and different genetics bit.

I believe that the most important part of fitness is, well fitness. Being healthy and functional far surpasses looks. However, most people start sweating so people will start starring; mirrin’ if you will. Rather than berate people who make boatloads of money based on their genetics, I think the more fruitful action would be to talk about 5 different rep schemes, and why you should do them to reach your goals.
Hypertrophy: Growth or expansion of muscle cells.
Myofibrillar hypertrophy: growth of muscle cells due to specific stress.
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy: Expansion of fluid between muscle fibers. Contains Calcium for muscle contraction.
If You Want Get Bigger
How long have you been lifting? Years? Months? Days? Minutes? If you would classify yourself as either a beginner, or someone who is stuck in a rut than you want to do the 5x5 method. Start by using a weight that is at least 70% of your 1 rep max; this percentage has been shown to stimulate testosterone and thus muscle growth. You perform 5 sets of 5 reps with this weight, which should be slightly challenging. Each week try and increase the weight so that the work doesn’t become easy. A lot of sites and magazines suggest that muscle growth occurs with higher reps, however, without proper stress to begin with higher reps won’t stimulate sufficient myofibrillar hypertrophy. When it comes to getting bigger, think of this method as the concrete foundation. It will give your muscle babies something to grow on top of.

At this point in your life you have realized that your muscles are growing, but not at the pace you first saw. You have to work twice as hard for half the results. You’ve built up a solid amount of strength, but now you’re hungry for size. There are plenty of rep schemes that you can perform here, but I recommend lifting with 6 to 10 reps, 8 being the most optimal. Try and lift at or above 70 percent of your one rep max; again, testosterone being a huge factor. At this volume, the rest begins to become a prime factor in growth; 90 seconds maximum rest. By keeping the rest short, more blood will be forced into the muscle. Likewise more glucose will be pulled from the muscle, and thus homeostasis will be disrupted causing the body to proactively respond; which means increased hypertrophy.

There comes a time in a man’s life when he has to say “see ya,” to logic. Those training days can be categorized as overload days. Think of them as your vacation home; it may feel good to go there all of the time, but you only should every now and again. A lot of guys spend every workout “overloading,” and they might wonder, “Why am I still so small?” Adaptation occurs when the body slowly adjusts to handle a certain load. If the body is adapted to overloading, than it’s not overload. Overload consists of doing sets that have greater than 15 reps with a weight that could not be done for much more. This type of load will increase blood flow and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (the pump) which can lead to an influx of myofibrillar hypertrophy. The danger of lifting in the ‘Pump Zone’ is that constantly lifting with high volume will not expand the muscle fibers. Very soon, the only time your muscles will look big is immediately after a set. Long distance runners don’t look very big because they have taken their muscles and trained them to be long, skinny, and efficient and they did this by performing high rep exercises.

Fun Tip:
Muscle soreness and growth is greatest during eccentric movements. Eccentric is when the muscle lengthens while resisting a load. Think of lowering a weight after you curl it. Eccentric focused exercises occur when you exaggerate the amount of time spent lowering a weight. For example, if you’re doing a squat, go down for a 5 second count and then come up quickly. This type of movement will stimulate growth even more. I suggest that you only do these towards the end of your workout, so that you don’t fatigue yourself too early on.

If You Want To Get Leaner

If you want to tone up, but you don’t want to gain any weight I have some bad news for you; too stinking bad. Unless you can choose new parents, there is a good chance that you will gain weight first; but it’s for a good cause. Muscle is a very expensive piece of equipment. Fat costs the body 1.2 calories per pound per hour. Meanwhile, muscle costs the body 6.5 calories per pound per hour which is 5.5 times greater. So, although the scale may say that you have gained weight, your body is busily converting fat into muscle and then boosting your metabolism. At some point this costly muscle will help you lose weight faster than it would without it. The rest of the weightloss has to come from your kitchen.

Like I just said, laying down a solid layer of muscle first is a must. Losing weight without putting on muscle is like trying to warm up in front of a pile of sticks that haven’t been caught on fire. Waste of time. Start off by lifting with sets that contain 8 to 10 reps, with a weight that you could easily perform a couple more reps of. The catch is that you need to keep using up fuel, so your rest should only be between 30 and 45 seconds. As the glucose is used up, your muscles should start to “burn” which will signal your body out of homeostasis and towards hypertrophy. With these weights you should lift until or near failure.

Now that your body has become a furnace of calories, it’s time to lift like a marathoner. Lifting like this for too long might stimulate a “bodybuilder” effect, so only perform these reps when a good burn is needed. Perform several sets of 20 plus reps to stimulate hypertrophy, but to also encourage the muscles to look longer. By lifting in this higher volume, for longer periods of time, the body fat will be encouraged to store itself within the muscle fibers. Although you may not actually have less body fat, and you may not weigh less, the fat could be stored in a secret hide away. Your muscles will covet your love handles, so to speak.
Unfortunately, a lot of these rep schemes are all dependent on who you are. If you’ve never lifted before, than training with high reps may only keep you lean. If you’ve been lifting for a while, high reps may pack on your muscle. We like to think that the human body is a cryptic system of checks and unchecks, but it’s a fluid system. Like a building, the structure that you can put up is highly dependent on the foundation that you first laid. I’m simply suggesting how to lay your foundation, or how to change it.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a month on a trainer, especially if that would kill your bank account. All you have to do is train smart and see where it goes. But don’t expect to snap your fingers, perform a set of curls, and then flash your 22’s in the mirror. Goals take work. Remember to lay your foundation before you put up the house, or a little storm will knock down all of your efforts.

And of course remember to never worship the temple over God. Your body houses Him, so keep it healthy and humble.



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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.