Muscle building and strength gains go hand-in-hand. If a muscle becomes bigger, it will get stronger. If a muscle gets stronger, it will become bigger. Jumping, sprinting and near-maximal weight training induce the fastest gains. Why?
Muscles come in two types and three categories. Type I muscles are “slow-twitch” muscles. These muscles are not very strong and are used for endurance activities.
Type II muscles are “fast-twitch” muscles. Type IIa muscles are stronger than type I muscles and are used for strength and stamina.
Type IIb muscles are the “heavy hitters.” They are only used for strength and power. How does one train these muscles? By training the nervous system.
The revolution began in 1960. The research of Buller et al proved that the nervous system controlled the muscles. When a person picks up a weight, nervous system receptors feel the weight and tell the brain how many muscle fibers need to contract. The muscles will use the least amount of energy as possible.
To move an object, the weakest (type I) muscles will contract first and the bigger, stronger muscles will be utilized if more energy is needed to move an object. If a heavy weight needs to be moved, the nervous system will “recruit” more muscle fibers, i.e. the big type IIb muscles. Therefore, heavy weights build the muscles.
The faster the muscles contract, the more force a movement will have. If a person wishes to become strong, he or she must train the body to increase the speed of muscular contractions by training with lighter weights at higher speeds.
Time-under tension exercises are also beneficial for a variety of reasons. Time-under-tension exercises decrease the stress put on joints. Training every repetition of every set with maximal effort will cause joint degeneration. An athlete cannot train if he or she is injured.
Avoid failure at all costs. Muscle failure occurs when the nervous system is taxed to the point of not being able to fire the muscles anymore. If the nervous system is expended after the first 10 minutes of the workout, the workout is over whether the athlete is still in the gym or not. Stop one rep short of complete failure.
This is a 6-week program.
Complete 6 sets of 4 during weeks one and four,
8 sets of 3 reps during weeks two and five, and
10 sets of 2 during weeks three and six.
Complete time-under-tension exercises with one-minute in-between sets.
DAY ONE consists of chest and triceps. Perform the bench press with near-maximal weight. Drop the bar and immediately pick up dumbbells. The dumbbells should be 25 to 50% of the weight on the bar (300lbs on bar, 45 – 75lb dumbbells). Complete dumbbell bench press as fast as possible. Rest 3-5 minutes and repeat.
For time-under-tension exercises, complete machine flys, 3 sets of 10 – 15. Then move on to triceps. Complete pushdowns and dips for 3 sets of 10-15.
DAY TWO consists of back and biceps. Superset underhand bent-over barbell rows with dumbbell bent-over rows in the same manner as chest day. Time-under-tension exercises are pull-ups (or pull-downs), preacher curls and concentration curls.
DAY THREE consists of legs and shoulders. For legs, superset squat or dead lifts with bodyweight squat jumps. For shoulders, superset barbell shoulder press with dumbbell shoulder press. Time-under-tension exercises are lunges and lateral raises.
Time’s up, get moving!