Today’s post is short, but powerful.
It contains key information which will produce better and faster gains.
I’m sure most of you have heard many “experts” recommend that you change your routine frequently to ignite new gains – sometimes as often as every week. But…it’s just wrong.
No matter what they say about “muscle confusion”, muscles don’t get confused.
Here’s the problem with this strategy…
When you change exercises, you have to go through an initial period of “neural” adaptation i.e. your nervous system “learns” how to do the exercise in the most efficient way possible.
Over the course of a few workouts, you get better and better and the weights and reps can go up quite dramatically. You think this is some kind of proof that changing your routine produces faster gains, but you’d be wrong.
You are making neural adaptations, not size and strength adaptations. You are simply getting better and more efficient at performing that lift, not necessarily stronger.
After a few training sessions, when you are at 100% efficiency, then you start making max gains in size and strength. Now that you are at 100%, your central nervous system can recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers and you can start stimulating some real gains.
While these increases are much slower – they’re real. You may go up 1 rep here, and 1 rep there. But a 1-rep increase is significant in terms of actually stimulating real, hypertrophic gains.
But what so often happens is a trainee sees the rate and speed of his increases slow and assumes the exercise is no longer working.
But in fact, the exercise is really only beginning to work now. However, because of his mistaken perception, he makes a switch to something else and has to go through a period of adapting neurally all over again.
THE “WOBBLY” BEGINNER
Ever seen a beginner train? Even with something simple like dumbbell curls for the biceps, his arms are wobbling all over the place. It will take a little while for this guy to become efficient at this movement.
To a lesser degree, the trainee who changes his routine frequently is going through this process after every shift.
So switching your routine too often means that those initial weeks of training are going to be mostly about making new neural adaptations, not genuine strength (and size) increases. And it can be a huge waste of time and effort.
It’s perfectly ok, and even to be expected, that after a few weeks of training the rate of strength increases starts to slow down.
This shouldn’t be alarming to the intelligent bodybuilder. Rather it should be accepted and welcomed because you are secure in the knowledge that you are now making REAL increases in strength.
For example, if you can generate 100 units of force in a particular exercise because you are accustomed to the movement, it would be counterproductive to drop it for something else.
If you change sub it for an exercise that you’d never done before, you may only be able to generate 80 units of force until such times as your nervous system learns to master the movement. If this took until your 3rd week of training, you can see how your first 2 weeks could not possibly have been MAXIMALLY productive in terms of stimulating increases in muscle size. (The above “units” I’m using are arbitrary and are used only to illustrate the point being made).
If you totally changed your routine every 1 or 2 weeks, you can begin to see how ineffective your training would actually become! You’re always in that “neural” zone and are simply incapable of stimulating maximum increases in size and strength.
It makes a LOT more sense to really master a movement (neurally speaking) and then KEEP PUSHING and progressively overloading the muscle for true gains.
So in THT we use the same program for 10 weeks at a time. We simply seek to make strength progressions in every single workout! After 10 weeks we move to a new cycle of THT and take the opportunity to use the Exercise Bank and select new exercises from the recommended list.
Yes there is a time to change things up. We all experience plateaus on certain lifts and psychologically speaking, a change keeps us motivated!
NOTE: You can download the full and free THT training program (and Exercise Bank) right now and start packing on mass like these guys did. You don’t have to go to your email to confirm anything. Once you click the button, you’ll be taken straight to the download page 😀 I operate a ‘Strictly Zero Spam‘ policy.
If you have any questions about your training, get in touch with me below.
And also add me on social media here…
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+
Can I give you my free muscle-building workout?
Join thousands over the world who are packing on slabs of new muscle for free with Targeted Hypertrophy Training (THT)
It was even worse for me. Not only did I change my routine all the time. I didn’t really even have a proper routine, and I wasn’t keeping a log of all my weights and reps. THT changed that back on 2013. Now I can leg and track everything and change every 10 weeks. It’s made a bigger difference than you could believe!
Hi mark. You wrote an article a while back showing evidence that a 3 x per week full body workout was more effective than a 5 day split. I’m coming to the end of my tht 10 week full body 8 -12 rep workouts so should I still swap to 5 day split or move to full body 7 – 10 reps?
@Matt. Yes I’ve been doing back to back 3-day cycles. So if you’re continuing to get stronger, you can continue with the 3-day cycle.
In Your THT5 training MASS program, are you supposed to max weight/reps on EVERY session? I mean, can you grow from Monday to Wednesday? Every week ?
@zoa. I’m not sure what your question is exactly, but yes you can grow over the 5 days. And you train to failure on each and every set. If you haven’t downloaded and read the THT training manual, you should check that out ASAP.
> My son just turned 16 and i started him on your T.H.T program (3 day a week) with me and he is slightly skinny. is it safe and or advisable to give him Whey Protein after training at this age. I only trust you on this and would appreciate your assistance.
@Ayman. Sure, that wouldn’t be a problem. Since he’s not heavy, his protein requirement wouldn’t be very high. So probably 1 shake after training would be all he needs.
I’ve been out of commission for a year now dew to health problems. I suffered a stroke in March of 2014 and had a heart attack in October 2014. Now I’m ready to get back into exercising. Since the Stroke in March of 2014 I have been diagnose with type 2 Diabetes and I have quit smoking. My Doctors want me to exercises but I’m scared too. Please Mark I really need your advise?
Hey again. I have read THT and bought your TSPA. Great stuff 🙂
BUT; with THT full-body-workout 3 times a week, I am not able to progress my reps/weight from Monday to Wednesday. Are we suppose to?
@Dan. Wow, I hope you’re feeling good now, buddy. What I suggest you do is download my free THT plan and start with the 3 day workout. You’ll love the results. If you’ve any questions about the workout, I’ll be happy to help. By the way, if you need to lose fat in the process, consider looking into my total six pack abs plan.
Anyway, stay strong, my friend.
@Zoa. Yes, even a 1 rep increase. Are you sticking to the 2 sets per body part? Doing extra volume will increase recovery time and this might be your problem.
I notice on the 3 day workout, it’s only set up for 2 sets max on most workouts. Would it hurt anything to try and do 3 sets? Thanks for your comments
@Travis. The way to test it, buddy, is to do an extra set and see if 48 hrs you can get more reps or use more weight. If you can’t, then you’ve overtrained and 2 sets would work better. If you can, then 3 sets is not too much for you. By all means, test it out for yourself.
Mark, this might be a off subject question, but have you heard of the MiX40 program? My boyfriend has been lifting weights for years and is quite muscular, but since he started this program 8 weeks ago, he is exhausted most of the time; it seems extreme and that you have to get your body into shock so it keeps growing and once you achieve that muscle growth, it will be less demanding to maintain it.
I train using your 3 day T.H.T program and I am getting great results!