I’m sure you’ve heard this a hundred times before…
“We’re all different, so we all need a different workout program to succeed. Just because your routine worked for you, doesn’t mean it’ll work for me.”
Is it true though?
It sounds like a reasonable statement.
Do the facts back it up?
It may surprise you to hear that my answer is NO.
I can hear some of you say,
“But Mark, it’s true that we’re all different, isn’t it?”
No, not really.
We’re all human. We all belong to the same species. That being true, what we are dealing with here is human physiology. If a certain stimulus can be demonstrated to produce a certain adaptation in human skeletal muscle, it will produce it in EVERYONE to some degree (all other factors being equal).
Some of the areas in which we DO differ include:
- Genetic Muscle-Building Potential (muscle fiber density, muscle belly length etc.)
- Body Somatotype
- Rate of Recovery
- Rate of Growth
- Speed of Metabolism
And this is where the confusion arises. This is because:
- We all respond to intense stress at varying speeds
- Some people seem to grow at less-than-maximal intensity
Both of the above are genetically determined and have NO bearing on the fact that it is the intensity of muscular contractions that produces growth i.e. a certain stimulus produces a certain result in us all because physiologically speaking, we are all the same. (Even the genetically-gifted who flip the growth switch at say 85% max intensity, would still have grown even faster with higher intensity)
So you see, there really should be no confusion on the issue when we turn to our own physiology for the answers.
Let’s take an every-day example…
If any one of us cuts our finger i.e. tears the tissue down, the body will begin the response of starting to build the tissue back up.
STIMULUS – Cut/Tearing of skin
RESPONSE – Body dedicates resources to repair
ADAPTATION – Cut heals (possibly a scar develops depending on the severity of the cut)
One person may heal that cut quicker. Another might develop a scar whereas another doesn’t. These are factors that you can’t control. However, it doesn’t negate the fact that the same stimulus produced the same type of adaptation in everyone!
What’s the relevance?
When we make micro-tears in our muscle tissue, the same response takes place in all of us (so long as you’re human).
When we look at the desired outcome of our training, which is muscular hypertrophy, we need to ascertain what the proper stimulus to provide such an adaptation is. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, INTENSITY.
Does it not make perfect sense that any activity below a certain threshold of intensity will NOT produce the desired adaptation, and above that threshold WILL result in hypertrophy?
If you cut yourself severely enough, you’ll heal up and even form some extra scar-tissue on top. This is a defense mechanism by the body to protect that area from further assaults.
Building muscle is also a defense mechanism. If you workout with a certain severity or intensity, you will not only recover, but OVERCOMPENSATE, or enlarge upon your existing size.
So, do we all need a different workout program if our goal is the same? Nope. We all need a high-intensity training method because the biochemical changes that produce muscle growth in me, produce muscle growth in YOU.
To reiterate the point: If the stimulus required (intensity) is the same, and the response (biochemical changes) is the same, the adaptation will be the same (though please take into account the genetic potentials I have already talked about).
Give the body the required stimulus, allow it enough time to fully recover, then reap the desired adaptation.
This is good news for all and should offer hope to EVERYONE who is frustrated with their current results. My THT program is a high-intensity plan (to positive failure on every set), and my new protocol (in development) is a Higher Intensity plan. If your workouts suck, crank up the intensity!
Hit it HARD & GROW!
image credit: d_vdm
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