"It's amazing how much 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired." --Robert Heinlein

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Muscle Exhaustion Training

(Adapted from something I wrote on 7/8/00)

I get meaningful, significant gains in muscle mass when I work out, and I don't even work out that hard. I learned years ago that weightlifting doesn't have to be as difficult as most people make it, and there are scientific data to back me up.

I follow a regime that I call Muscle Exhaustion Training.

I do about 10 or 12 different exercises when I work out, alternating my gym days between "arms & chest", and "torso & legs". I find a weight that is heavy enough that I can not complete 12 reps, and I do one set. That's all. One set. I don't camp out on a particular machine doing multiple sets for 10 minutes. I do just one set at such a high weight that it exhausts the muscle I'm working on. If I can do 12 reps, then I move the weight up.

And I use proper form -- count 2 on the way up, and count 4 on the way down. Any faster than that and you are cheating with momentum.

This method gets my entire workout done pretty quickly, but still pumps up my muscle mass. Creatine can help with this kind of exhaustion training, because creatine kicks in when your muscle is pushed to exhaustion. Otherwise the stuff is worthless.

Scientific studies have shown that you get most of the benefit of working out from the first set (if you actually exhaust the muscle). The additional sets might make you feel more butch, and they might cause your muscle more pain, but they don't add much benefit. In fact, sometimes the extra sets actually tear down so much muscle fiber that they retard your progress.

And, you don't have to hit the gym every day. Once or twice a week per muscle is plenty. Working out more often can actually retard your progress.

The thing is -- your muscles will naturally respond to exhaustion by adding mass. All you have to do is exhaust the muscle once, and then give it a few days to grow. That's all! Anything extra is just a waste of time.

So, why am I the only person at my gym who follows this kind of training? Why haven't you heard of this kind of training before? I don't know. How often do most people read scientific literature? Never. The average person has never read a scientific study.

Exercise magazines are not peer reviewed scientific journals -- they exist to sell advertising and to create consumer anxiety (thus, leading consumers to purchase advertised products to relieve their anxiety). Some of the leading exercise magazines are owned by the same companies that sell dietary supplements and exercise equipment.

Plus, people like to think that more work is better. Isn't that the entire foundation of American culture? That more is better?

No, no, no! Moderation is better. Once you have done enough, stop.

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