I performed the “shoulders” portion of my 5 way split.  This 5 way split has proved quite the revelation.  The focused effort on one body part has been enjoyable and somewhat easier to recover from, but the really surprising aspect is the effect of the prolonged recovery period for each muscle group.  I have noticed that I am experiencing a sense of growth in the resting muscle groups, and the groups that have rested the longest are showing the most response.  I am also having a renewed experience of the “indirect effect”.  Even though I trained shoulders, I seemed to experience a pump and response from other muscle groups, and not just those closest to the group being trained or indirectly involved (such as triceps while training shoulders or chest, or biceps while working back).  In fact, the muscle group most distal (my calves) seemed to have a significant response.  I think this has less to do with location on the body and more to do with the fact that they have had the longest recovery.

Also, my body composition is somewhat improved.  I do not attribute this to any particular training effect, but instead I feel less compelled to overeat when I am not overtrained.  There may also be an element of decreased cortisol effect, but I believe it is mostly that I find it easier to refrain from eating when I am better recovered.

Here is my workout performed at Fike Gym at Clemson University (UE was booked, and I had to take my daughter there for an event).

Dumbell Overhead Press

Cable Lateral Raise

Cable Bent Fly (simple row)

Dumbell Shrugs

I did these in Henry W style with an initial set with heavy weight, then a breakdown set with a lighter weight.  Today I was quite sore, and the entire shoulder girdle appeared pumped.  Systemically I felt fine, but I do return to the ER on a Clemson Football weekend, so I will report back after my shift.

When I was at the Clarence Bass event a discussion ensued about poor responders and non-responders where I made an impassioned plea not to give up on such subjects, but instead to try implementing a different protocol with them that incorporates a prolonged recovery period between bouts.  I am beginning to suspect that poor responders may actually show a much more satisfactory response if we applied a recovery interval that is better suited to their genetics.  The study below indicates the very broad range of response to strength training varying from “amazing” to “zippo”.

Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training.

Source

Department of Exercise Science, Totman Building, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

This study assessed variability in muscle size and strength changes in a large cohort of men and women after a unilateral resistance training program in the elbow flexors. A secondary purpose was to assess sex differences in size and strength changes after training.

METHODS:

Five hundred eighty-five subjects (342 women, 243 men) were tested at one of eight study centers. Isometric (MVC) and dynamic strength (one-repetition maximum (1RM)) of the elbow flexor muscles of each arm and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the biceps brachii (to determine cross-sectional area (CSA)) were assessed before and after 12 wk of progressive dynamic resistance training of the nondominant arm.

RESULTS:

Size changes ranged from -2 to +59% (-0.4 to +13.6 cm), 1RM strength gains ranged from 0 to +250% (0 to +10.2 kg), and MVC changes ranged from -32 to +149% (-15.9 to +52.6 kg). Coefficients of variation were 0.48 and 0.51 for changes in CSA (P = 0.44), 1.07 and 0.89 for changes in MVC (P < 0.01), and 0.55 and 0.59 for changes in CSA (P < 0.01) in men and women, respectively. Men experienced 2.5% greater gains for CSA (P < 0.01) compared with women. Despite greater absolute gains in men, relative increases in strength measures were greater in women versus men (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION:

Men and women exhibit wide ranges of response to resistance training, with some subjects showing little to no gain, and others showing profound changes, increasing size by over 10 cm and doubling their strength. Men had only a slight advantage in relative size gains compared with women, whereas women outpaced men considerably in relative gains in strength.

The abstract does not include methods, so we do not know the specific volume and frequency used, but it is safe to assume it is something fairly typical (ie-80%1RM x 10 reps x 3 sets done 3 times per week).  I suggest that everyone re-read Chapter 8 of BBS and consider how the mix of various genes could play out to produce this wide ranges of response at a given point on the volume/intensity/frequency continuum and how the results might be quite different (or even reversed) at a different point on this continuum.  Also consider the impassioned opinions expressed in the discussions on this blog.  When through trial and error, and N=1 experiments, we finally find something that works well for us, there is a very strong tendency to want to share it with others and feel that we have found an answer that others are either too stubborn or too stupid to embrace.  The problem is, that unless they share the same genetic combination, your revelation could be their downfall.  What I think would be a very interesting experiment is for the different blog participants to group themselves according to their training preferences (Grant D vs Ondrej or Pete Collins vs Marc Pharmacist) and then analyze DNA for ciliary neurotrophic factor, IL-15, alpha-actinin-3, myosin light chain kinase, angiotensin converting enzyme etc.  I suspect that training preferences and DNA expression would match up quite impressively.

This brings up another thought.  Recently Marc innocently attributed the static neck protocol to me, when in fact it had been taught to me by Ken Hutchins and is part of RenEx protocol.  This got me to thinking.  I realized I have NEVER come up with any protocol whatsoever.  John Little has come up with several (max contraction, power factor training, omega sets, done-in-one, max pyramid and others).  Ken Hutchins refined slow cadence training into what is now RenEx.  Brian Johnston has come up with a myriad of protocols (Jreps, chaos training, triangular training and several others).  But I have not come up with ANY original protocol.  Thus BBS should not be thought of as a protocol.  John and I wrote the book to elucidate the scientific underpinnings that support high intensity training and the effectiveness of all of these protocols.  The Big 5 is thus not a protocol.  It is a starting point.  Once the reader has laid a foundation, they will start to get a sense of how it may not precisely fit them.  From there they can begin the journey of sliding up and down the volume/intensity/recovery continuum and finding what works best for them.  As the hone in on their N=1 ideal, they must keep in mind that it will not be their forever answer.  Your response to training changes your physiology and thus you will need to make adjustments on the continuum.  I am hopeful that one day genetic testing can be correlated with a location on the continuum to get trainees honed in that much more quickly.  In the meantime, it gives us all something to discuss and argue about.

As a final note, I want to plug Drew Baye’s new book PROJECT: KRATOS-Bodyweight High Intensity Training. The original goal Drew had in mind was “to provide a sane bodyweight training program as an alternative to a lot of the crazy “boot camp” bodyweight training crap out there, based on high intensity training principles and incorporating practical means of resistance progression without using weighted vests or belts or complex exercise progressions”.  I have only got to skim an advanced copy thus far, but I must say it appears to be a new classic.  You can order it at www.baye.com/store/project-kratos/.

Post your WOW’s and your thoughts.