I’m currently writing the new Total Anabolism book and wanted to share with you the following which will become one of the early chapters…
The most important statement to be made regarding intensity is this: You should ALWAYS train to muscular failure! Why?
Because muscle growth literally has to be FORCED!
There is a point in a set where the body’s ‘Growth Mechanism’ is activated; stop before this point and NO muscular growth is stimulated. You can liken this to a switch that’s flipped when you cross a certain threshold of pressure.
This point is also sometimes called ‘Overload‘.
The necessary stimulation to force adaptation (growth) occurs in the last rep of a set.
In order to force the body into making your muscle fibers thicker, you need to give it a damn good reason! Training WITHIN your existing strength levels does NOTHING to produce this change.
Let’s put it simply: If you know you can get a maximum of 12 reps on a given set and you stop at 11 or lower, you did NOTHING to stimulate a size and strength increase because you merely trained WITHIN your existing strength level.
It is pushing to that 100% level that forces the body to say, “Hey, I need to make these muscles bigger and stronger so that if he/she does this again, it won’t be such a strain”.
You must drill this into your mind once and for all: muscle growth is a DEFENSE MECHANISM. The training you perform must be seen as a THREAT by the body so that it not just compensates for what you did, but OVERcompensates and puts more muscle back than was there before the workout.
The Best Way To Gain Muscle
Stopping at a rep before failure is like training WITHIN the blue circle above. It is only by hitting the outer edges of that circle that your set was of sufficient INTENSITY to force the body to adapt and grow bigger.
In order to grow bigger and stronger, you need that blue circle to continually expand larger and larger. This means training to 100% intensity i.e. muscular failure. What do I mean by “failure”?
Failure is that point in a set where you cannot possibly complete another positive repetition unassisted
Any program (and there are a lot of them) that has you stopping before failure is not optimal for stimulating muscle growth. Furthermore, any program that has you lifting the same weight in every set, like 5×5 programs and so on, is also NOT going to produce growth at any where near maximum levels.
Because if you do 5 sets, and only the last set forced muscular failure, you just wasted 4 sets worth of growth potential!
People will often report AMAZING strength increases on such programs. Here’s the point: you can only say you’ve had a GENUINE strength increase if you can lift the same weight for more reps TO FAILURE than you did in your last workout (or lift a heavier weight for the same or more reps).
If you pick a weight and perform 5 reps, that 5th rep NOT being the last rep you could possibly do, you didn’t stimulate growth because you trained WITHIN your current strength levels.
On your next workout, you may perform this same exercise for 5 reps with a heavier weight and succeed – a progression, right? Wrong.
There was no progression or strength increase because you COULD have lifted this weight for 5 reps in the previous workout. This can go on for weeks until finally you arrive at a weight that brings you to a point of failure (or 100% intensity of effort) on that 5th rep. Congratulations, you’ve just stimulated growth! But it took you weeks to do it.
With THT training you stimulate growth from day 1, set 1, and in each and EVERY SET you perform!
All THT progressions in strength are REAL, not fake. THT‘ers from all around the world continue to report amazing progressions in strength UNINTERRUPTED by plateaus! The best thing is that these strength gains are matched by increases in muscle size too! (see testimonial section).
Heck, I could barbell curl 5lbs today and keep adding 1 pound every week for 2 years and tell everyone of the BREATH-TAKING progressions I’ve made. However, after 2 years you’d probably say to me, “Well how come you aren’t any bigger?” And you’d have a point! Those type of workouts don’t produce much growth, if any.
All intelligent muscle-building programs take the “100% Intensity” approach. THT, Max-OT, the various High Intensity (HIT) systems from Mike Mentzer, Ellington Darden, and so on. However, for reasons you’ll discover in the new Total Anabolism book, you’ll see why I think THT takes the prize for the best way to gain muscle mass.
So every THT workout starts at the top i.e. you’ll select the maximum weight that forces muscular failure within a given rep range. You don’t start at the bottom like “pyramid training” and others. Why waste your time? Yes you need to warm up, but once you’re warm, all your time should be devoted to igniting new GROWTH! EVERY SET | NO EXCEPTIONS!
Remember, if you do 10 sets, and only the last set forced muscular failure, you just wasted 9 sets worth of growth potential!
It is that last, most uncomfortable rep where the ‘growth switch’ is flipped. Bring a set to this point and you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done enough stimulate growth.
This is Mark McManus reminding you to TRAIN WITH INTENSITY!
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