Read this! Why? Honestly, I’m tired of explaining it. So today, I’ll put it as plainly as I can so that hopefully I never have to do it again.
Plus, it’s the key to fast and continuous gains. Want that? Ok, read on…
Building muscle is a 50/50 game. And the majority of guys and girls get BOTH aspects wrong.
The 2 keys are:
- High-intensity sets
- Complete rest between workouts (yes, absolutely no further work)
- Taking a set to the last possible rep
- Yes – every single set of every single exercise
- You cannot stimulate growth by performing tasks your body already has the capacity to perform
50%: COMPLETE REST
- You do NOT grow during a workout. You only STIMULATE the growth/repair process to begin
- You grow in the rest periods between workouts
- This takes time. If you don’t leave the muscle alone to repair, you will not grow
- No further work is required
- Think of it like picking a scab. You pick it, it simply won’t heal
Like I said above, most people in the gym are getting BOTH these things wrong.
Not training with a high enough intensity, and not taking proper rest. So they’re doing too many workouts, training every day, doing extra cardio…all in an attempt to make faster progress. They don’t realize that they’re actually PREVENTING progress with this strategy.
(1) 50% of the puzzle: INTENSITY
Imagine the absurdity of thinking that you can stimulate growth without high-intensity!
Let’s call going to the last rep (positive failure) 100%. Let’s assume that this happens at the 10th rep i.e. you can’t possibly perform an 11th rep.
Most people might train to 70% or 80% in each set (7-8 reps out of a possible 10). And they don’t grow.
Why not? Their body ALREADY HAS the capacity to perform those 7 or 8 reps. Why on earth would your body respond to this level of stress by building more muscle mass? You DON’T NEED more muscle mass since you are performing tasks your body ALREADY HAS the capacity to do. So your body will not synthesize/build any new muscle.
Only by going to that last possible rep (10) do you stress your body’s EXISTING CAPACITY to a maximal degree and place a demand for more muscle mass. It’s like placing an order with your own body for more muscle tissue.
I won’t make this post overly long by going into the science, the biology of going to the last rep – but you can read my post on that here.
And also get my free THT training routine that explains EVERYTHING about how to train properly – and even includes studies that prove that even just 1 set can stimulate growth – if that set is taken to failure.
(2) 50% of the puzzle: COMPLETE REST
Now imagine the absurdity of thinking you will grow by doing more work when you are not even finished recovering/growing yet.
As stated above, this is no different than someone thinking that their cut will heal faster if they pick at it. Clearly it won’t. Leave it alone! More work interrupts and stops the growth process.
As Mike Mentzer said, “If you don’t rest enough, you don’t grow enough”.
HOW TO TRAIN
So all these people doing moderate-intensity sets and going to the gym too often are simply getting it all wrong. And their severe lack of progress is all the proof they need!
Hit a muscle hard – REALLY HARD – then leave it alone…that’s how growing is done.Hit a muscle hard - REALLY HARD - then leave it alone...that's how growing is done. Click To Tweet
The more high-intensity sets you do, the more growth will be stimulated…but then more rest time is required to complete the growth process.
So how should you train for hypertrophy/growth? You’ve got 2 options:
- Lower volume but train each body part more often
- Higher volume but train each body part less often
And that will look like this:
- Train every muscle with 2 sets to failure in a complete full-body routine…and do this workout every 48hrs. Or…
- Train only 2-3 muscles per workout with 7-10 sets to failure. Train each muscle group once per week in a 5-day split.
- A full-body routine every 48rs (3 days per week). Or…
- A 5-day split
And that’s exactly what THT Training is. BOTH! These 2 training cycles allow anyone to pack on muscle mass at the fastest rate their genetics will allow them to.
You can download both routines free by simply clicking here or inputting your details below. You’ll be guided on exactly what exercises to do, in what order, for the right number of reps. It’s all in there. But read the whole guide so that you know WHY you are doing what you’re doing. There’s good science behind all of this.
You don’t have to go to your email to click a confirm link or anything like that; the download will appear immediately after you enter your email. Enjoy them gains! 🙂
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And if you want to occasionally crank up intensity levels ABOVE 100%, you can stimulate even faster gains. For this, I have developed “Blast” workouts for the ARMS, CHEST, and LEGS/BUTT.Click here to discover the 50/50 rule that makes for fast muscle gains Click To Tweet
OK, everybody happy? 🙂 You understand the 50/50 principle when training for growth?
If you need clarification, ask me below or add me on Social Media (links below).
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Well explained. Hit it hard, then rest!
Sorry Mark and I don’t want to annoy you. I still disagree. 1000’s of lifters the world over build muscle without going to failure. But they do train very close to it. Also volume to an extent can be traded for intensity for example 3 sets of 10 very close to failure can produce similar growth than 1 all out set in my humble opinion and the experience of many others. Now you may argue that going to failire is optimal. But then some of the best multi joint exercises like squats, deadlifts and stiff legged deadlifts aren’t conducive to failure training. You yourself recommend deadlifts in the 4 to 6 range. So if I build up my deadlifts from 350 to 400 lbs in the 4 to 6 range without going failure surely all the involved muscles will get bigger?
@Darshan. Not annoyed at all, bud.
However, guys with some or all of the genetic advantages I mention in this post will get away with less than optimal training. https://musclehack.com/can-we-all-be-as-big-as-arnold-bodybuilding-genetics-explained/
Like I’ve said before, emulating their training is like a 7ft guy trying to teach a 5’10” guy how to be 7ft. It’s genetics and not the training.
I recommend 4-6 reps “To Failure” in the deadlift – so failure is still stressed even at the lower rep range.
Like you’ve said – it’s about what’s optimally effective. Why do 3 sets for the equivalent of 1 set to positive failure? Do 3 sets to failure and produce much better gains. The actual science of why this is so is covered in this post https://musclehack.com/will-you-build-more-muscle-if-you-train-to-failure-in-every-set/
Regarding your last point about adding weight from 350 to 400lbs. You may have been able to use 400lbs from the get-go, but you won’t know that unless you attempted it and went to failure. In this case, you were simply performing a task that your body already had the capacity to do (350 to 400) and yes you therefore wouldn’t grow. There was simply no stimulus, no need for your body to add muscle when it can already do what you’ve been asking of it.
Plenty of guys train the way you’re alluding to…and they look the same year after year. Anecdotes don’t really work to prove a point here unfortunately.
But thanks for raising the issue.
Great insight as always Mark. I spent years on high volume workouts and got nowhere..
8 weeks on THT and I blew up!
I am planning to start another cycle soon – transformation pixs coming your way.
@Akash. Awesome! Great what can happen when you start training correctly, eh? Looking forward to hearing about your transformation!
I think it all depends on smart periodisation of volume – frequency- intensity. My background is from eastern Europe and we’ve always trained with systems like Sheiko and others so most of the year we stayed within 65 to 85% of RM with high frequency and volume and kept improving year by year pretty dramatically and were strictly warned from doing total failure sets otherwise it’d screw the whole programming. I think it’s really down to how much you want it. We were always thriving to lift heavy with good technique and to be big and strong. All of us trained to our best ability focusing on major lifts or close variations and very minimum of the isolation stuff or failure training.
My personal opinion is that HIT type of sets have their place and merit but for very brief period like maybe twice a year for 3-4 weeks max. What I see in UK is major focus on failure training for years on end with not much showing for it. You walk to any gym and squat racks are empty or used for BB bi’s curls HIT type set with shitty form. Everybody is upper body dominant with non existing legs doing only machine or isolation work….very tiny percentage squat in 180-250kg region for reps let alone deadlift in 230-300kg. I do max 3 to 4 heavy compound lifts with quite a decent volume and go home and very rarely I take set to failure as I usually squat and push 3x times a week with pull twice a week with some hypertrophy sets thrown in and I very rarely stagnate. In my humble opinion it’s the best way to grow for majority of trainees training 3 to 5 times a week with high frequency and volume focusing on good technique and speed of the main lifts with good quality food obviously.
@Schimi. Yes you’ve correctly identified what I call the 3 fundamentals of bodybuilding:
My THT already takes into account the inverse relationship between volume and frequency i.e. the higher the volume (number of sets) the less often you can hit that same muscle and keep progressing – this forms the basis of both the 3-day full body and 5-day split THT routines.
The 65-85% 1RM will take you to failure betweeen 8 and 12 reps.
I live in the UK and my experience is the opposite to yours. Hardly anyone is training to failure, and they train too often – with nothing to show for it.
I agree the heavy compound lifts are crucial and too many people ignore them – that’s been my observation also.
I’ll finish with some science around failure. There are many biological factors that clearly demonstrate the superiority of going to failure when training for hypertrophy.
Training to failure:
* Maximizes muscle fiber recruitment (especially those type 2b ones we need for size gains)
* Maximizes metabolic stress
* Maximizes muscles fiber damage
…and all of the above factors correlate positively with protein synthesis/growth rates.
I won’t go into all 3. But I’ll just cover fiber recruitment to help illustrate this point.
As you progress in a set towards failure, you recruit more and more muscle fibers.
If you take no sets to failure, you cannot recruit the max number of muscle fibers. Only going to the last rep will do that.
Additionally, you start recruiting more and more of the type 2b fibers, which are the ones predominantly responsible for size gains.
Again, if you don’t go to that last rep, you simply cannot recruit the max number of those growth fibers.
So, if training for growth, go to the last rep. There is no reason to hold back.
You can make some gains (if your genetics allow it) with sub-optimal training. But why accept sub-optimal gains and taking much longer to produce the kind of gains you can make much quicker by going to the last rep?
Yes, properly periodize volume and frequency. But if you’re in the iron name for growth, I see no scientific or logical reason to not take a set to failure. It’ll be inefficient at best or useless at worst.
My 2 cents.