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Welcome to Day 9 of the BWF Primer Build-up!
Hey gang, Nick-E here! You’re in the groove now so I won’t bore you with a long intro.
Today we’ll be doing:
– Some reading on what adaptations occur to what demands!
– Another workout!
Today’s Learning: Change the Demand, Change the Adaptation
So there’s a couple concepts we need to get sorted out today, and they all center around the SAID Principle.
We know that if you repeatedly do something over time, your body makes specific adaptations to make the demands that have been imposed upon it easier to handle.
How do those specific adaptations differ, based on the nature of the demand?
(Note: Today might get a little technical, but I’ve tried to keep it as simple as I can. If it’s still hard to understand, by all means, ask some clarifying questions in the comments!)
Within the realm of strength training and gym based (or home based. Teehee.) resistance exercise, one of the most significant ways we can alter the nature of the adaptations we get is by manipulating the rep ranges we train in.
One of the simplest ways that you often see this represented in information online, is in a table like this:
|Rep Range||Specific Adaptation|
|1-3 reps per set||Absolute strength (or power)|
|3-5 reps per set||Strength|
|5-8 reps per set||Strength and Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth)|
|8-12 reps per set||Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth)|
|12-15 reps per set||Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth) and Endurance|
|15+ reps per set||Endurance|
(Note: The number of reps in this table refers to a set of challenging reps. If you do a set of 3 squats instead of doing 20 squats even though can easily do 20 or even more, you won’t get stronger just because you only did 3 squats. On the other hand, if you did an exercise where it would be pretty dang tough to get 3 reps done, then that would stimulate a strength adaptation much moreso than if you did a tough set of 20 reps of an easier exercise.)
Now that I’ve gotten you to read and understand that, I’m going to throw you a curveball and tell you that the neat divisions between rep ranges don’t really work exactly that way in real life. It’s a great way to begin to conceptualise the spectrum of adaptations you can get from resistance exercise, but the simpler an explanation gets the more it misses a great deal of nuance. This is important to bear in mind so you do not end up like the unfortunately misinformed people who limit themselves far too much with training in the following ways:
e.g. “I want big muscles so I’m only going to train between 8 and 12 reps for everything, no matter what!”
e.g. “I only want to be strong but don’t care about muscles or aesthetics, so I’m never going to do more than 5 reps, maybe 8 reps if I really have to!”
e.g. “I’m an endurance athlete and/or I like cycling and running, so I’m only going to train 15+ reps, because that’s what THE MIGHTY TABLE says is appropriate for me!!!”
The reality of the situation is:
- While certain rep ranges bias towards certain adaptations, all of the listed qualities are all developed to varying degree at most rep ranges (THIS IMAGE ILLUSTRATES THIS CONCEPT PERFECTLY) (THIS OTHER IMAGE DOES SO AS WELL).
- In most programs past the total beginner stages, regardless of your goals your progress will be better if you are utilising many different rep ranges between 1 and 20 reps in your program for different purposes and different exercises (The one caveat being: beginners will not benefit very much from training below 5 reps for reasons that would require more reading than I’m going to subject you to today).
This is very relevant for you folks who may be wondering about how this relates to the rep ranges included in the primer routine that you are currently doing:
– You have been, and will be doing exercises between 5 and 20 reps, depending on the exercise (and you will see the rep range is relevant to the exercise)
– Your upper body strength training is neatly covering a wide range of reps- Same for the lower body but slightly higher because it is less useful to work in lower rep ranges when your capacity to make lower body exercises harder with BWF is so limited
– You haven’t been introduced to them yet, but your core work will be higher reps because your core needs to be able to work to stabilise your body constantly throughout other exercises and in life, so it needs a good deal of endurance
So just for clarification, and also to pre-empt any questions:
Yes, the primer routine is appropriate for individuals who want to get stronger, who want to get bigger muscles, and essentially every other goal you may have. It’s a primer!
This is not least because the goal of the primer is to give you the knowledge and practical competence to move on to a program more strength and muscle gain focused (the BWF Strength Foundation Routine!), or other goal focused upon completion.
Rest between Sets:
So your muscles contract (shorten) in order to move you around, which requires a kind of ‘fuel’ made by your body (mostly out of food!) and stored in the muscle. The harder your muscles have to work, and the longer the work, the more fuel they use up.
When your muscles have done a good bit of hard work, they’ll have depleted a large amount of that fuel, and it will take a little bit of time for your body to create more. Roughly speaking, this is a representation of how much fuel will have been replenished by a certain amount of time after the end of a set of exercise performed to failure:
|Time after the end of the set||% Fuel Replenishment|
(Side note: this effect is specific to the muscles that were working during the set. If you did a fatiguing set of squats, your leg muscles would need to recover this fuel, but your arm muscles would still be ready to go.)
So if you were to do 3 challenging sets of an exercise and rest for 2 minutes between sets, for example, you may notice that each set it feels a little bit harder than the last.
What’s happening here is your available strength is dipping slightly, because each time you are asking it to complete the same difficult task, but each time with less fuel in the tank. By doing this, you’re imposing a new demand on your system.
Instead of just:
the new adaptation will be something a little more like:
‘Get stronger….And be more efficient with your fuel use.And also maybe store more fuel!And also get bigger so you can actually store more fuel.And while you’re at it, be able to work harder even when you don’t have all your fuel.etc.’.
(I hope this disclaimer is not necessary, but this is not the most cutting edge of scientific accuracy for the more pedantically minded in the audience. We’re going for simple and understandable here!)
The fancy word for this effect you are eliciting by limiting your rest times and exercising without 100% of your fuel stores is “Metabolic Stress”, and it is one of the stimuli you get from exercising that causes your muscles to need to get bigger. This is why timing your rests is important, other than making sure you dont spend 3 hours doing your workout for no reason because you’re resting too long.
(The other two are:
- Mechanical Tension placed on the muscle from lifting something heavy, and
- the ‘wear and tear’ on the muscles that we talked about in Day 7.)
Ok that was a bit of a long one, but well done for getting through it all. Now for the actual workout part!
|Rows (Or Reverse Push-ups)||2×10||60s|
(REMINDER: IF YOU ARE FAILING ANY OF YOUR SETS, OR EVEN PUSHING CLOSE TO FAILURE, YOU ARE WORKING WAY TOO HARD. PICK AN EASIER LEVEL OF INCLINATION/EXERCISE VARIATION THAT YOU COULD DO SEVERAL MORE REPS OF IF YOU HAD TO. THE FOCUS OF THIS PHASE OF THE PRIMER ROUTINE IS ON TECHNIQUE PRACTICE AND LEARNING, NOT PUSHING YOURSELF TO YOUR LIMIT OR EVEN CLOSE. IF YOU PUSH YOURSELF TO FAILURE 6x A WEEK FOR TWO WEEKS YOU WILL BE MASSIVELY OVERDOING IT AND BURN OUT QUICKLY.)
Ok, I did it!
If you want to chat about your experience so far, I’ve set up a new ‘beginners zone’ in the /r/bodyweightfitness discord server, so you can come chat with other new exercisers in a friendly environment, with friendly helpers with experience with exercise that have volunteered to answer any questions you may have!