Muscle Evolution :: Editor's Letter
SEP/OCT 2016
   Muscle Evolution

Sunís out guns out...

From research we know that the
arms of new lifters grow rapidly over the first couple of weeks of their training, while their legs and other body parts like chest tend to remain the same. This makes sense because most peopl
e can put a ton of extra effort into curling a barbell from day one, long before they feel comfortable to rep poundages on squats or the bench press during their training.

As we move into the summer months we tend to target our Ďmirrorí muscles more to get some eyebrow-raising results when the sun is up, the t-shirts come out and jackets are left in the cupboard.

Can you then expect twice the results in the form of pretty crazy gains by increasing your poundages on the big barbell exercises? Some bros in the gym preach isolation as the ultimate gospel when it comes to arm development and that your numbers on the basic, heavy, free-weight exercises are irrelevant. Letís think about that for a moment. The most extreme interpretation of this statement would have you do countless cable curls and tricep kickbacks which, in theory, will give you equivalent results to deadlifting, rowing and benching for a decent pair of pipes. Are you serious?

The evidence from the training population indicates that there is a noticeable effect if you work the body as a total unit. If you train your big muscles your small muscles will grow in unison. Big lifts have always built big muscles.

Cables and machines may offer some benefits, but expect a day-and-night difference when you tackle the compounds and load your body to move heavy weights. Every Pro athlete swears by the big lifts to give you the most bang for your buck, but donít expect steroid-like results in the first week. You have to have the patience to stick it out. A great initial strategy would be to add bicep curls and skull crushers to your compound moves.

Will doubling your training frequency give you better results if youíre on the hunt for bigger guns in the shortest period of time? Higher training frequency seems to be making a comeback lately. It is argued that if you train more you will get more growth per muscle in a week of training. Training more often leads to an elevation in protein synthesis which translates into better strength and hypertrophy gains. While this is true, the difference between training once or twice per week for a body part is probably negligible. Benefits still accrue to a certain point, depending on the individual lifter and the impact of certain factors that fall under the umbrella of your individual recovery rate between trips to the gym.

If you experience too much stress, either physically or psychologically, it will eventually lead to diminishing returns as your rate of adaptation decreases.

When you are new to lifting the largest benefits occur when you first touch a barbell, with further benefits accruing down the line, until you eventually arrive at a point where you have to manage your training volume in such a way that you allow recovery to happen. So donít fret now about getting your guns to Ďpopí more ahead of summer. Just keep calm and squat, row, curl, press and pull that barbell.



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