Monday, May 21, 2018

Bodybuilding and Compensatory Acceleration

This silly blog's over the 8,000,000 page view mark now.
Who woulda thunk it!

Since we just discussed some of the uses of super-high rep training, it might be a good idea to take a look at lower, heavier reps here. Bodybuilders are often prone to avoiding lower rep "work" - now there's a strange way to describe doing something you love - probably due the the fact that many for-physique-only lifters use heavy weights so infrequently they never get a handle on how to lift them. A three second up/three second down rep cadence may be fine at some times, but when it comes to lifting for power and getting the benefits of heavy weights that just don't cut it. By definition as it's meant in this case, power is dependent on speed of execution. Work? Execution? Man, I'm gettin' a bit messed up with these terms here. For our purposes here, though, power is dependent on speed of execution.

There's also the fear of injury when using heavy weights if you've never gotten yourself used to that one-of-a-kind feeling. This article sheds some light on a way of avoiding injury and still getting the benefits of power training as a bodybuilder at times, unless you're a total jackass in the gym. Why does every low level assembly line gym still have that guy who uses ALL the 45s when he does his 1/2 inch leg presses. And why is he always situated so close to the guy who's absentmindedly doing set after set of 10 rep no sweat leg extensions. You got me. But you gotta love 'em. I mean, if you start hating people at the gym it starts to seep out all over the place it seems. In traffic. At work. In your dreams. Just bloody fanning out and flaming everywhere, and when you toss a bit of that alkeehol fuel on it a guy can wind up . . . well . . . she can be wee problematic.

When you think about it, what's going on when we lift is a process of learning.
Learning what we gotta do to get that 500 (or whatever weight you're after) squat.
Learning what it takes for you as an individual to come closer and closer to the body you desire.
LEARNING how to snatch a whole heap more than you do now. It's a learning  
experience, and at some point we all have to become our own private guinea pig in order to adjust, tweak and tailor the commonly-knowns to fit our own individual temperament, physicality, lifestyle etc. 

Honestly, who could ask for more. We're given the opportunity, for as long as it's given to us, to learn more about ourselves as we learn to master each step that brings us closer to what we're after. After your first laps as a beginner - those first few years of lifting - simply becoming a robotic slave to whatever guru you may happen to feel some kinship, bond, or homage owed can only go so far. You're gonna have to look at and into yourself along the way, all the way along the way and all the way in there. Gonna have to think and not just flutter about from one "proven to be the best" method to the next like some drunken bumblebee on the prowl for more honey. I get a strong feeling that, when all is said and almost done, when our bodies are closer to the ground than they are to the sky, why, there'll be something other than dogeared training logs and softening calluses we can take away with us from what we LEARNED from all that time and energy spent under the bar. So, what do you want from it? For now, and for then. And what do you want to be able to share with others decades down the line? What will you have to offer? I mean, we're all in this together, no matter what tribe you might be in for the moment.

Flying forever to a long forgotten world . . . together.

Aw, ain't that sweet. 

Anyhows, to the article here, Soldier . . . 


YO LEP . . . 
TO LEP . . . 

Heavy Training Without Injury with Compensatory Acceleration

Most bodybuilders feel that you can't build a complete physique without training with heavy weight at strategic points in your development. The successful bodybuilder must subject muscle fibers to to sufficient stress to force them to become thicker and stronger. 

Extreme higher-rep, light-weight training results more in developing the endurance capacity of muscles than in creating maximum muscular hypertrophy. There is no getting around that fact that at times you are going to have to lift heavy. 

Remember, high-rep training (not extreme high rep training here)  has its advantages. It opens up capillaries and brings more blood to the muscles involved; it stimulates the development of mitochondrial mass; it gives the muscles the ability to store more glycogen. These physical changes give your muscles more of a pump, enhance the shape and apparent size of the muscles and contribute to the quality, finished look. 

Building basic mass, however, is not strictly a matter of how much total stress you can put on individual muscle fibers. If this were the case, bodybuilders looking to grow as much as possible would always do one-rep maximum lifts. This, of course, is not what happens in real world. Even when they are training to maximize muscle mass, bodybuilders still do sets and reps -- although they do fewer reps and use heavier weight than when they train for shape, separation, definition and overall quality. 

In fact, not even powerlifters, who need to be able to do one all-out rep with maximum force in competition, spend that much training time doing just singles. The nature of the body dictates that you need to do a number of reps with any given weight -- with heavy training for bodybuilding that's usually 6-10 reps for most people -- in order to get a good response. 

The reason for this is simple: When you're weight lifting, you're actually training the nervous system rather than the muscles themselves. You use muscular (or if you're small, mousecular) contraction to send signals through the nervous system to the brain in order to induce an adaptive response. Contracting the muscles is just a means to an end, a way of inputting info into the body's internal computer. You need a certain volume of signals, more than just one or two reps, in order to get your message across.

Unfortunately, whey you train with heavy weights there's that potential for injury we talked about up there. You're far more likely to end up with muscle tears and teary eyes, tendinitis, bursitis, strains, sprains, aches and pains when you lift heavy compared to when you do lighter workouts. But heavy training is necessary to develop a complete physique, so the task of the bodybuilder is to train in such a way as to minimize the risk of injury and cut down on the severity of any problems that occur despite his precautions.

Some methods of doing this are well known, even if frequently ignored. 
For example: 

1) Warm up before you do any heavy lifting.  

2) Cycle your training so that you don't lift heavy every workout. This allows the muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments to recover fully from highly stressful, heavy lifting. 

3) Do your heaviest lifting early in the workout and don't ever be in a hurry to git 'er done. Don't lift heavy when you're already at the tired spot in your workout.

4) Keep the weights under control at all times when you're lifting heavy. Don't heave the heavy! Don't just 'fall down' into a squat. Don't bounce your benches. Don't let heavy dumbbells get out of track. 

There is another way to train heavy that allows you the full development of mass and strength that you are genetically programmed for and yet reduces the danger of over-stressing and injuring your body. This is compensatory acceleration power training. 

This concept of power training was featured in Muscle Power magazine and elsewhere in the lifting world in the early '50s. Back then they were calling it Super Speed training and other less scientific titles. Power training differs from 'normal' lifting in that you make an effort to ACCELERATE the bar or bells as hard as possible, rather than lifting them at a predetermined rep speed, or cadence you might call it. Here's a very quick summary: 

1) The formula for strength, or work performed in this case, is how much weight you lifted multiplied by the distance you lifted it.

2) The formula for power, on the other hand, is how much weight you lifted multiplied by the distance you lifted it divided by the time it took. The faster you do the lift, the greater the power. 

In other words, if you lift a weight in two seconds, you have developed less power than if you lifted the same weight in 1.5 seconds. 

So, how can power training help a bodybuilder type lifter?
I'll give you an example. 

When you do a bench press your arms are bent at an extreme angle when the bar is on your chest, and you have far less leverage in this position than when your arms are straighter or almost locked out. So, doing a bench press with compensatory acceleration, you would accelerate the weight off your chest as hard as possible and then, as your arms straightened and you got "stronger" due the the change in leverage, you would be able to increase the acceleration and therefore move the weight faster, increasing your power production.

I'm not talking here about tossing or heaving a weight around, of course. You will still control the barbell or dumbell(s) -- and here note that power training works at its best with free weights. Hint hint. As opposed to the super-high rep/machine deal. 

When you are using a heavy weight, you aren't going to be able to accelerate it all that fast no matter
 how hard you try. 

How much weight should you use for compensatory acceleration training? A good rule of thumb is this: Choose a weight with which you can perform 8-9 normal reps and when you accelerate it you will probably find that you can only do around 6-8 with it -- which is the target range you're after here. 

Fred Hatfield, who taught me this technique, believes compensatory acceleration can increase the intensity of the lift a great deal. By the way, I came across a great article by the same on supersets, PHA-style training and a couple other things. Later.

Now, from the sports medicine perspective, the advantage is that you end up using less weight -- usually no more than 70-75% of your one-rep max -- and therefore your chances of injury are reduced.

 -- If you want to learn more on how Larry Scott and Leroy Cobert used these techniques earlier on, there's an article in the Nov. '87 issue of M & Fitness titled The Super Speed Principle by Fred Hatfield.

Again, let me emphasize that compensatory acceleration for bodybuilding does not involve cheating, sloppy lifts or throwing the weight around. You simply attempt to DRIVE THE WEIGHT UP  forcefully, rather than lifting it at a single, steady speed. And this technique is beneficial only for heavy training -- for our purposes lifting in the 6-8 rep range. When you do sets of eight reps or more, power training doesn't work. Instead, use a wide variety of intensity methods appropriately at different times in your training.  




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