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Muscular Tension Part 3

So I’ve already covered a lot of information in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series on muscular tension and believe it or not I’ll wrap up here.  Let me try to rapidly summarize the previous 2 parts (rapidly meaning like 6 paragraphs).

High mechanical tension for some number of “effective” contractions is the primary initiating factor in muscle growth; this occurs via the FAK/PA/mTOR pathway.  Activating this pathway requires that muscle fibers are first recruited and then exposed to enough high tension contractions (the amount needed per set, per workout or per week are currently unknown).   You can get to a number of high tension “effective” contractions in numerous ways: heavy weights (80-85% or heavier) for lower repetitions or moderate/lighter weights for moderate/high repetitions so long as the sets are near or to failure.

We can’t measure mechanical tension easily in the gym (yet) and need some objective marker we can use.  Weight on the bar is, to a first approximation, a proxy for mechanical tension and heavier weights should lead to higher muscular tensions.

But only with the understanding that you can’t  compared dissimilar situations.  You can’t compare two different individuals, you can’t compare different repetitions ranges Read More

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Muscular Tension Part 2

Ok, so in Muscular Tension Part 1 I looked at the topic of muscular tension in overview.  What it is, what it represents and why it is important (i.e. as the primary initiator) in terms of muscle growth.  This had to do with high-tension skeletal muscle contractions activating mechanosensors which turned on the protein synthesis pathway via mTOR .

This requires two factors which are recruiting the fibers and then exposing them to some (currently uknown) number of contractions to activate the mTOR pathway via mechanosensors..  This can occur in a number of ways including lifting heavy weights (80-85% of max or higher) which recruit all fibers from repetition 1 or by lifting lighter weights near or to failure.  Both may end up achieving the same or a similar number of high tension repetitions.

All roads lead to tension.  It’s just a matter of how you get there.

I ended up by addressing the idea of “effective reps” the number of reps of a set or workout that occur under full recruitment and activate mTOR.  The idea being that only those effective reps really matter in terms of a growth stimulus, at least for the highest threshold muscle fibers.  Effective … Read More

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Muscular Tension Part 1

Focal Adhesion Kinase CascadeWhile I’m waiting until I get the energy to get aggro again, and I will, I wanted to write about a topic I’ve been meaning to address for a while,  a detailed look at the idea of muscular tension.  What it is, why it’s important, how we can or cannot measure it and what confusion comes out of the concept in a practical sense.

I’ve sure as hell typed up most of this in my Facebook group enough times to make this easier for me: I can type it up once and just link to it in the future.  Honestly, that’s why I write most of what I write.  Write it once, link to it forever after.  Eventually, maybe put it in a book.  This series will certainly be long enough.

As well, this article is going to act as a background piece for some stuff I intend to write about going forwards regarding training, muscle growth and what the actual PRIMARY driver on growth is (hint: it’s still not volume).  But since I’ll likely have several articles using this information, it’s faster and keeps the articles shorter to write it up once and link to it.  Even if this … Read More

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Evidence for an Upper Threshold for Resistance Training Volume in Trained Women – Research Review

This piece is greatly overdue as I meant to get it done in February but managed to hit major writer’s block on everything.  Finally it is time.


So during the debate that settled absolutely nothing, during one of Mike’s responses that I still deem an irrelevant deflection (simply: what other papers have or have not done is of no relevance to the discussion of Brad’s paper), I was accused, as I suspected I would be, of having a hardon for Brad’s paper due to it disagreeing with my general recommendations.

First and foremost, this is just a deflection, one I expected, the typical “You’re just emotionally invested in this.”  Which goes both ways and isn’t an answer to begin with.   It’s the “What’s YOUR agenda?” bullshit that people love to use to put you on trial for asking a question about something else.  I could similarly ask him what HIS AGENDA for defending Brad’s shitshow of a paper is.  But I didn’t.  Not in the debate anyhow.  I know the answer anyway.  Even moreso now than before. But I’ll take the high ground and not make it about that.

It’s also untrue as my general history clearly shows … Read More