If you know the process of taking out and paying back a loan, you know all about building muscle!
The process of building muscle is not that difficult to understand.
If you’re confused (or you know someone who is) this analogy will end that confusion once and for all.
Let’s have a simplistic look at taking out a loan from the bank.
- Take out a loan (you’re now in debt)
- Interest rate applies
- Pay it back over time
- Because of the interest rate you pay more back than the actual value of the loan
So what has all this got to do with building muscle?
It’s exactly the same kind of process.
Taking out a loan and getting in debt = the workout itself. Remember that working out is catabolic i.e. it breaks muscle tissue down. Just like you can’t form scar tissue without first cutting yourself, you can’t BUILD more muscle without first breaking it down!
Catabolism stimulates anabolism. So when you train you create a ‘debt’ or deficit just like when you take out a loan. There now HAS to be a payback.
What’s the interest rate on that loan? If you took out a zero percent interest loan, you would not pay back any more than that which was taken out. This means that you would only COMPENSATE for the deficit.
In terms of building muscle, what is ‘only compensating’ or taking out a 0% loan?
Those people who do not seek to increase their reps and/or weights in every workout are only going to compensate i.e. they perform a workout of sub-maximal intensity and do not stimulate ADDITIONAL growth.
Yes, even these pointless workouts will create a deficit and therefore a necessity for recovery. However, the body will only compensate, not OVERcompensate i.e. put back more muscle than was there before the workout.
Are YOU borrowing at 0% interest?
Obviously we want more than 0% in this analogy i.e. we want more muscle put back than was broken down. How do we know if we have achieved this with our workouts? Answer: OVERLOAD.
Once you train beyond a certain INTENSITY you can be sure you have overloaded a muscle and that your body will not just compensate (0%), but overcompensate for the deficit created.
Your body perceived the workout to be of a sufficient THREAT to warrant an adaptive response i.e. pay it back with interest. Remember, building muscle is a defence mechanism. You can train every day for 10 years and not build a single pound of muscle if you don’t train with enough intensity. The point at which you cross this threshold of intensity is what we call Overload.
So ‘interest’ is ‘overcompensation’ in this context.
But paying back a loan, especially when there is a high interest rate, takes time. Building muscle also takes time and the more growth stimulated, the longer the payback (recovery and overcompensation) will take.
This is what I’ve coined as the ‘Peak Overcompensation Point‘ or POP.
A workout only STIMULATES growth. The growth itself happens in the inter-training periods. Quoting from Total Anabolism 3.0:
“Sufficient rest or recovery between stresses, or training sessions, must be allowed for adaptation to occur. Adaptation will only occur during the inter-training recovery periods.”
The body itself produces the growth, you just have to ‘stimulate’ it. A cut will heal all by itself, you only had to make the incision.
- Get in debt / train with intensity
- Loan has interest payments / OVERcompensation is stimulated
- Pay back over time / rest, recover and grow
By using the THT program we train with the requisite intensity to stimulate an overcompensatory adaptive response.
Then we allow our body to payback the debt we created by training i.e. wait until POP has occurred. Then we do it all over again with progression in mind to ensure overload is reached. Now repeat ad infinitum or until you’re happy with what you see in the mirror when standing butt naked. 🙂
In terms of this analogy, always ensure you take out a loan with interest and wait until it’s paid back before taking out another one!
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Really Cool. Love how you break stuff down mark!
Keep it coming!
Hmm… I think maybe a short term CD might be a better analogy. You’re investing by temporarily losing money, but you end up with more than you started with. A loan would be more like doing bad workouts that leave you with less muscle than you started with. 🙂
(Sorry — I work for a bank.I have to be picky about that sort of thing)
@JC. Ok, if the bank is the muscle it loses first, then plays the waiting game, then gets paid with interest. I could tell you worked in a bank by the first sentence 😉
I love the analogy, but the return from the interest is for you because you build muscle and it is yours so it is like an investment in yourself. I am just splitting hairs though.
Kansas City, MO
this is a nice way to get the point of building muscle. Mark my gym doesn’t allow people who are under 16 to train with heavy weighs or in the weights area. I can just use weight machines so that means I won’t be able to do all the workouts you put in the book. What do you think I should do now untill I get 16? Also what do you suggest for the diet because It’s kinda hard to do it when you live with your family and my mom cooks whatever food but I try to eat as healthy as can? please help?
I’ve been following your THT principles for 8months now 🙂
and i recently read something that u might find of interest and i wanted to know what you thought of it. And if you see validity in it, in fitting in within THT workouts ?
and if you start reading from the heading -Testosterone Needs A “Dance Partner” In Order To Build Muscle Mass! .
I recently downloaded your free e book and I must say it’s changed the whole way I look at my work outs. Undoubtedly for the better. Thank you.
I do agree with everything you say, especially about working out anaerobically but on that note I have a question about whether it’s possible to do cardio work outs anaerobically. I still have fat to lose (I’m about 15% body fat right now and can’t see my abs like I want to).
I only do 15 minutes of cardio but I warm up for 4 minutes then train as fast as I can for 1 minute. Then I run at a moderate pace for two minutes and go as fast as I can again for 1. I do 3 reps (for want of a better word) of this. then cool down and stop. it’s interval training as I’m sure you see, but my question is is it beneficial? I used to run for 2 hours at moderate pace (mostly because I love running) but I find the 15 minutes of interval training with 3 non consecutive minutes of high rate (what I consider to be level 9 or 10 on the perceived rate of exhaustion) to be having much better results as far as fat loss goes but is it impeding muscle gain?
Thanks again, your ideas on strength training are second to none.
Hey mark i got a question. In some of the machines in my gym, the weights can be increased in 5kg increments. so its rele difficult to go from doing 15 kg cable curls to 20kg cable curls. i tried doig 20 kg and it hurt my wrists a lot! so i was wondering wether i shud do st lyk 9 kg dumbbell incline curls supersetted with 15kg cable curls until im strong enuf to do 20kg cable curls. is that a good idea?