I found these articles interesting. I am not sure how valid they are, but there is some good fundemental training principles in here: The author is Pete Sisco from SuperRep Inc - I have no idea who he is which may invalidate the articles but here they are anway. _____________________________________________________________ More About Muscle Recovery As I see it, the biggest problem searching for online information about muscle recovery after intense exercise is that so much of the material is aimed at selling nutritional supplements. Every time a study is done that measures some aspect of muscle stimulation and recovery, like altered calcium balance in the muscle cells or rates of protein uptake, a new miracle supplement appears claiming to 'support' the muscle recovery process based on these new findings. 'Support' is my favorite nutritional supplement word. It’s meaningless. Water supports just about every body function but drinking more of it won’t pack on muscle. The same goes for most of the ingredients in supplements. Meaningless. The big picture is lifting really heavy weights (the only way to build new muscle) requires many days of recovery. And it's not just muscle recovery. All those waste products have to be flushed through important organs like the liver and kidneys and those organs work at a relatively fixed rate. It takes time. Plus, the new muscle has to actually grow - and that's tissue. Tissue growth is not very fast. How long does it take you to fully recover from a paper cut? It’s not easy to speed up that process. I read an online article where the trainer was telling people to avoid high intensity lifting. His argument was it requires longer recovery and therefore you can't train as often. Guess what? I don't want to train as often as I can. I want to train the minimum I need to in order to get the results I want. That guy's advice is like telling me if I avoid paved roads I can wash my car more often. No thanks. How do you know you've recovered? You can lift a heavier weight. That's easy, right? If you could perform a 5 second static hold of a 285 lb bench press last workout but you can't get it off the pins this workout then you haven't fully recovered. So why do a workout? If your body can already bench press 285, why mess around with less? How would that make you stronger? What trips people up on recovery is that it's a moving target. When you start out strength training you can't lift much and your body can recover pretty quickly -one or two days in most cases. But as you get stronger the recovery is longer. I know people who are so strong they need six weeks or more before they can see improvement. So the cookie cutter advice of “3 days a week” is ridiculous. Unless you really love washing your car. Cliffs - Lifting heavy is the only way to build NEW muscle. Take longer rest so you can continue to lift heavier. _________________________________________________________________ More Studies: More Good News for You I like to browse through the fitness studies that make it to the general population. It's a barometer of where most people's fitness minds will be heading soon. What I mean is, if you read the truly scientific journals that publish the muscle fiber response to a zero-gravity environment in the left legs of fleas you know it's not going to be on the front page of the New York Times any time soon. But the strength training stuff that filters down to Yahoo's home page or onto ScienceDaily.com gets read by millions and has an effect on how people think about their future workouts. And, ever so gradually, people are seeing studies that validate a) the enormous health benefits of strength training, and b) that brief workouts with heavier weights is a better method. Here are a few examples from Science Daily: A study conducted by Ohio University, tested whether low velocity resistance training is a more effective than conventional routines, as some experts maintain. One group lifted a heavier weights with fewer repetitions, the 'endurance' group lifted lighter weights with more repetitions, and the 'low velocity' group lifted lighter weights but performed the reps much slower. The conclusion? The endurance group and the low velocity group both improved strength, but to a much lesser degree than the group lifting heavier weights for fewer reps. They also measured improvements in cardiovascular fitness and there was no significant improvement in any of the groups. Here's a quote from the article in Science Daily; "We tested cardiovascular endurance because a lot of the lay literature, the articles you might read in magazines, said it would improve. But no one has proven that.” How many times have you heard a personal trainer tell you a 30-40 min weight lifting routine will also 'give you a cardio benefit'? It's never been proven, friends. So it's wasted time. Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine measured the benefits of endurance muscles (type I) and resistance training muscles (type II). They concluded an increase in type II muscle mass can reduce body fat which in turn reduces overall body mass and improves metabolic parameters such as insulin resistance. "We've shown that type II muscle does more than allow you to pick up heavy objects. It is also important in controlling whole-body metabolism." So if you’re obese and want to lose fat and lower your total bodyweight, lift heavy weights. Even in the realm of aerobic conditioning, the world is waking up to the benefits of short and intense workouts. A study published in The Journal of Physiology measured eight subjects who performed between four and six 30-second bursts of "all out" cycling separated by 4 minutes of recovery during each training session. Another eight subjects performed 90-120 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity cycling each day. Total training time commitment including recovery was 2.5 hours in the sprint group, whereas the endurance group performed 10.5 hours of total exercise over two weeks. Despite the marked difference in training volume, both groups showed similar improvements in exercise performance and muscle parameters associated with fatigue resistance. According to Martin Gibala, an associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, "The most striking finding from our study was the remarkably similar improvements in muscle health and performance induced by two such diverse training strategies." Eventually everyone will wake up to the time and health benefits of lifting the heaviest weight possible, reducing the duration of the exercise and spacing the workouts farther apart. But you already know that! Right? Cliffs - Lift Heavy for short periods in time with larger rest periods between workouts. ______________________________________________________________ Your Muscle Recovery and Your Strength Progress Here is what many people need to be reminded of regarding why they are going into a gym and lifting weights. They are trying to build new muscle. New muscle has to grow. Your brain has to realize that your body needs more muscle. Then it has to actually grow that new muscle. So why not just stay in the gym some Thursday and not leave until the scale says you've gained two pounds? Because you have to RECOVER first. You don't grow in the gym. You just stimulate growth that will occur in the next few days...probably while you're asleep, according to recent studies. The way you get your brain to realize you need more muscle is to work your muscles at the limits of their capacity. That is very draining on the body's resources and the body doesn't like to get drained. That can be dangerous...it makes your body vulnerable to bad things. So the first order of business after a physically draining, muscle stimulating workout is for your body to fully recover. That keeps you alive and healthy right now. The next order of business is to grow some new muscle so the next draining workout doesn't deplete the muscles as much. (And if you did the identical workout next time, it wouldn't be as taxing....But we're not going to do identical workouts twice in a row, are we?) If you aren't fully recovered by the time you go back in the gym, you'll have no new muscle to work with. And how can you ensure progressive overload when there is no new muscle to handle the progression? These are the three links in the long chain of muscle building: Stimulate - Recover - Grow - Stimulate - Recover - Grow. A ton of advice is given out in books and magazine on how you should stimulate new muscle growth with workouts (and many people want you to believe a nutritional supplement will stimulate muscle growth - it won't - not ever! Food doesn't stimulate muscle growth - exercise does.) But almost no advice is given out on the importance of recovery. I think it's because you can't make money telling people to do nothing. I mean it. Where's the product? Where's the seminar? The book? The e-Book? I can't tell you what a hard time I have getting trainees to take time off. They've all been saturated with the propaganda of "3 times per week" and "supplements will fix your problems." But the honest truth is that very often three weeks of staying out of the gym completely will put far more muscle on you than nine more workouts and $200 worth of nutritional supplements will! * Training Frequency If you want to make constant progress every workout you have to space workouts farther and farther apart. Why? Because the amount of work you are doing each workout is increasing and that means the rest of your body needs more time to recover. Sisco’s maxim: "Every day is kidney day" You know those guys in the gym who say, "Today is my leg day. Yesterday was my chest day."? Well those guys all have kidneys, livers and pancreases that are saying, "We don't give a damn what "day" it is, we're exhausted!" The only way to train frequently is to cut back on intensity...and when you cut back on intensity there is no reason for new muscle to grow! So train smart; cut back on frequency and make every workout intense and productive. Remember, it's Stimulate...Recover...Grow. You must recover 100% before each workout. A Frequency Adjustment is Progress! As you increase the power of your muscles, they are able to perform more work. To recover from the extra work you have to space your workouts farther apart...think of it as a tribute to your success! Enjoy it. A beginner can start out at twice a week. But within a month he’ll have to be down to a frequency of once per week or less. Count on it. Increase your intensity of workouts and decrease your frequency of workouts. The key to constant improvement is to balance these three elements: • High Intensity - high enough to stimulate new muscle growth! • Progressive Overload - more overload than last workout because now you're stronger! • Frequency of Training - keeps reducing because of the increased work per workout. This is science...but it isn't rocket science. It's really quite easy when you know some facts and have clear objectives. Your Schedule If you are just beginning your training you can probably perform workouts two or even three times per week, and still see progress – that is, an increase in weight – on every workout. But as your body performs more work it will need more recovery time. The first time you perform a workout and cannot increase the weight you’ll know it’s because you did not take enough time off to recover and to grow more muscle. don't worry about what a magazine article says about training frequency; watch your progress to determineyour training frequency. Within a few weeks you’ll need to perform workouts only once per week or once every 10 days or more. Always remember this: there is no point in doing a strength workout if you aren’t using more weight than last time. The whole point of lifting weights is to force adaptation on your muscles and using the same weight every time does not force progress. (Of course, if you reach the level of development you’re happy with, by all means maintain your physique by performing the identical workout every time.) Cliffs - Stimulate...Recover...Grow.