Friday, January 14, 2011
Size and Strength - Fred Koch and Tudor Bompa
Size and Strength
by Fred Koch and Tudor Bompa
For more detailed information,
Periodization Training: Theory and Methodology
One of the great advantages and unique training aspects of bodybuilding periodization is the way Size and Strength phases are integrated into the program. After the initial phase of Growth Activation and Adaptation (see previous articles), you go into the Size and Strength I phase, then the Maximum Mass phase and then Size and Strength II. The main training goals in the Size and Strength phases are to increase both strength and muscle density and to continue improving your cardiorespiratory levels.
In Size and Strength I the focus is on building strength that will help you meet the demands of the Maximum Mass phase. Then, when you get to Size and Strength II, you’ll be building a strength foundation for training gains in the following year. Remember, we’re after long-term planning, leading to long-term training success.
During Size and Strength I and II the weight loads vary between 70 and 95% of your one-repetition maximums. A one-rep max is the heaviest weight load you can handle for one rep of a given exercise. You determine your one-rep maximums at the beginning and close to the end of each phase.
Since you are using high weight loads during the Size and Strength phases, it is important to understand what happens at the beginning of the annual plan – during the Growth Activation and Adaptation phase. Remember that each phase builds upon the next as if you were building a house. If you skip over Growth Activation and Adaptation or if you don’t take it seriously, it will handicap your ability to make improvements in the Size and Strength phases and future years. You must adapt and prepare your muscles, tendons and ligaments for the added demands of strength-building cycles.
Research shows that lifting weight loads in the 70 to 95 percent range leads to progressive improvements in strength levels. Gains in strength are the direct result of neuromuscular adaptation, which is an improvement in the nervous system’s ability to stimulate the target muscle, accompanied by a physiological adaptation, which is an increase in the protein content of a muscle (an increase in density). The neurological adaptation that occurs in Size and Strength I not only increases your strength levels, but it also sets the stage for increased muscle density in Size and Strength II.
Higher weight loads, such as those in the 75-to-90 percent range, stimulate the muscle to work harder, which recruits more muscle fibers in order to overcome the weight loads. The central nervous system and the neuromuscular system react to meet the challenge, which improves the coordination between the two systems and thereby fires up more muscle fibers.
Heavy loads are also necessary to create a high level of tension within the muscle. This is an important requirement for building maximum strength. If you don’t create the highest level of tension possible, you will not make maximum progress in developing size and density.
The Size and Strength phases follow a step-load approach, which means you alternate rhythm of progression weeks with time for regeneration so your body can be reenergized. This step-load progression is an important element in all the phases because if you don’t allow time for regeneration, your body cannot adapt to the stress you’re putting on it. Ignoring this need for regeneration is what leads many bodybuilders into overtraining.
The number of sets per bodypart generally varies from four to six during the Size and Strength phases. You won’t necessarily be limited to that number of sets, however. Variables may include your background and genetic potential as well as the number of exercises in your individual program. The most important factor is the number of exercises which often dictates the number of sets. If you perform more than 12 to 15 exercises per workout, you may find it difficult to finish six or more sets per exercise. On the other hand, if you do fewer exercises per workout, you can perform more sets and in doing so expose the same muscle to more repetitions and thus more work.
The rest interval between sets represents another important element in the Size and Strength phases. Many trainers who use traditional bodybuilding methods do not understand the importance of the rest interval, or they misinterpret its meaning. As a result they prescribe short rest periods between sets – sometimes as little as 30 seconds – for trainees using maximum weight loads.
Strength loads of 70 percent or more of maximum capacity are extremely taxing on both the central nervous system and the neuromuscular system. Physiologists believe that nervous system recovery from these loads is incomplete if the rest between sets is under two minutes. And if there are fewer signals to the nerves to fire up the muscles and move the weight load, which results in the target muscles working at an inefficient rate. When this happens, overtraining is not far behind.
Therefore, in order for you to be able to get out the required number of reps at the prescribed weight loads in your Size and Strength phases, the rest intervals must be longer than two minutes. Otherwise your nervous system will become fatigued.
This discussion is a simplified explanation of complex physiological and neuromuscular adaptations. You must be very patient and disciplined and follow the set, rep and rest intervals that work best in the Size and Strength phases.
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