Early skeletal muscle hypertrophy and architectural changes in response to high-intensity resistance training – That is the title of the study conducted by O. R. Seynnes, M. de Boer, and M. V. Narici which indicated that given sufficient stimulus noticeable hypertrophic gains will be noticeable only after 3 weeks which means you can get noticeably bigger in 3 weeks, no kidding.
These are the results that you would most likely get:
Magnetic resonance imaging scans of the quadriceps muscles before (A) and after (B) 20 days of resistance training. In B, hypertrophy of the knee extensors is clearly visible.
The onset of whole muscle hypertrophy in response to overloading is poorly documented. The purpose of this study was to assess the early changes in muscle size and architecture during a 35-day high-intensity resistance training (RT) program. Seven young healthy volunteers performed bilateral leg extension three times per week on a gravity-independent flywheel ergometer. Cross-sectional area (CSA) in the central (C) and distal (D) regions of the quadriceps femoris (QF), muscle architecture, maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), and electromyographic (EMG) activity were measured before and after 10, 20, and 35 days of RT. By the end of the training period, MVC and EMG activity increased by 38.9 ± 5.7 and 34.8% ± 4.7%, respectively. Significant increase in QF CSA (3.5 and 5.2% in the C and D regions, respectively) was observed after 20 days of training, along with a 2.4 ± 0.7% increase in fascicle length from the 10th day of training. By the end of the 35-day training period, the total increase in QF CSA for regions C and D was 6.5 ± 1.1 and 7.4 ± 0.8%, respectively, and fascicle length and pennation angle increased by 9.9 ± 1.2 and 7.7 ± 1.3%, respectively. The results show for the first time that changes in muscle size are detectable after only 3 wk of RT and that remodeling of muscle architecture precedes gains in muscle CSA. Muscle hypertrophy seems to contribute to strength gains earlier than previously reported; flywheel training seems particularly effective for inducing these early structural adaptations.
Journal of Applied Physiology January 2007 vol. 102 no. 1 368-373
The respondents basically trained their legs with a gravity independent leg extension machine shown below:
They trained legs 3 times a week with that machine for 7 reps of 4 sets with 2 minutes rest in between sets. Take note: 7 reps would be considered “heavy” and would involve a lot of resistance indeed.
The researchers however indicated that besides the intensity, the “quality” of every rep was the key for the hypertrophic response.
By means of rotating flywheels, this inertia-based system not only sets the exercise independent from gravity but also allows maximal voluntary exertion both concentrically and eccentrically. This specificity is of critical importance in the enhancement of the training stimulus for eccentric contraction produces more myofibrillar disruption, increased local production of IGF-I and therefore a greater hypertrophic response. Thus the near maximal effort throughout the whole range of motion during both concentric and eccentric contractions probably provided a greater stimulus than that obtained with conventional high-intensity resistance training.
To “get big quick” one needs to exert effort and put emphasis upon all the phases of the rep (or muscular contraction) which include the eccentric phase: the negative or the lowering phase as has been clearly stated by the researchers.
Thus the near maximal effort throughout the whole range of motion during both concentric and eccentric contractions probably provided a greater stimulus than that obtained with conventional high-intensity resistance training
In conclusion, the present study shows for the first time that changes in muscle size can be observed at a macroscopic level after only 3 wk of resistance training, providing that the training stimulus is sufficient. These results do not challenge previous findings on the contribution of neural factors to the early strength gains; instead, they suggest that the contribution of hypertrophy to strength gains during training occurs earlier than previously reported.
The Ironthumb protocol is on the right track. As we can see the rep ranges from 6-10 reps (which is 7 reps in the study) is highly effective and the way we do our reps which is sweet and slow on the negative phase of each movement to facilitate the greatest hypertrophic response possible.
We see that the researchers had the subjects hit the legs three times in one week but before you go and do the same thing consider first these three things:
1) The respondents only did 4 working sets per session
2) The respondents did not annihilate the muscle per session and
3) They haven’t trained any other bodypart besides legs therefore their body is not as taxed as the ones who are hitting all the muscle groups within the week – therefore they can train the same body part 3 days a week
Can you share your methods in the comments section? How are the eccentric accentuated reps working for you? Eat your eggs, people!
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