I remember when I was just starting out in the training game I followed the same principle that every gym rat was told…
“Make sure to give your muscles at least a 24-hour break after your workout so they can grow otherwise you’ll overtrain them, and they will NOT grow.” Also the rule “keep you set between 3-4 of 8-12 reps otherwise your just training them to be endurance muscles and they won’t grow.” So just like EVERYONE else I adopted a bodybuilder routine, one muscle group a day, and didn’t train the muscle again until next week.
In the beginning, I did notice SOME development but honestly when you first start out with anything is going to work. But I did remember watching some people in particular sports QUICKLY gained sized, developed a more defined body but yet seemed to break this sacred rule of the 24-hour break. On top of that, they were doing COUNTLESS reps. WAY MORE than the media prescribed 10-12 reps routines for development.
- Look at a swimmer with WIDE V-taper
- A cyclist develops just amazing thighs.
- Boxers with awesome shoulders.
- AND we can’t forget a male gymnast’s arms… I mean damn I’m a bit envious.
In my younger days, I couldn’t figure it out… how the hell could these people gain such an impressive development but not following the muscle building rules set in stone by all the local meat-heads at the gym?
This is a phoneme that, we in the fitness industry, have noticed but never really took the time to understand why or how to exploit.
Some have tried and have developed some interesting theories, but we must remember that fitness is a relatively young field in regards to clinical studies. For all the muscle junkies out there, there has not been a popular demand for science (mostly due to limited funds) to find out how to drastically increase muscle hypertrophy, so it’s remained still a relatively small field of study.
One thing’s for sure; you can NOT argue with the results that these athletes are getting training those muscles every day.
I once read a quote that “Science is the act of observing the world around you”… so in this case looking around at these gymnast’s arms and simmer’s lats apparently some rules could be broken to gain FAST development in those lagging areas.
If we go back to the beginning of our blog, we talked about how EVERYONE always said that to get a muscle to grow you need to let it rest for at LEAST 24 hours, if not longer, to give it ample time to allow the growth process to occur.
That has worked for a reasonable period, we can’t argue with the results of muscular development over the years of the fitness industry, BUT then we go back to those athletes that just seem to spout IMPRESSIVE growth in a short period that did NOT follow that 24-hour rest rule.
So what the hell happened that caused a gymnast arms to spouts like they were on Miracle Grow?
The theory is that since they were using their arms more often in their workout’s they experienced more growth responses (I’m saving you from a long physiological explanation on how this actually happens) than a traditional bodybuilding split routine.
Everything that gymnast did involve their arms and because of all the demand they were placing on their biceps they were forced to grow and develop faster and larger to accommodate the increased workload.
Does that mean that ever guys should go out there and joining a gymnastics studio to gain some guns? No, remember this is explaining the theory WHY the gymnast’s arms grew so quickly; their arms were continually being broken down and needed frequent and fast repair.
I can hear the questions and rebuttals happening already, but I promise I’ll get to those.
Now let’s take a look at speed skaters or cyclist quads if you never saw a speed cyclist quads those things are utterly ridiculous!
Those people do hundreds of reps just about EVERYDAY and look at their legs! They did NOT follow a bodybuilder routine, but their legs are enough to make most meat heads stare with envy.
So these athletes are breaking the rule of letting your muscles rest for days between workouts to allow muscular growth to occur, not only are they breaking it but they are proving it WRONG.
You simply can’t argue with RESULTS.
Yes, You CAN Train a Muscle Every Day
Before you jump on the gym floor and do curls every day, there ARE some specifications to this that we need to address to keep people from going stupid.
We do realize that if all it took were just doing countless reps of curls we would all have Olympian class arms and I’m sure every one of us has come to that conclusion that hasn’t worked yet.
So what does work?
What I think helps, from my personal experience AND some of my client’s results, is that the movement needs to be different in some way.
If we go back to the gymnast with the guns, we notice that they will do pull-ups in every workout, maybe not even as part of the workout but to at least pull themselves up to a bar to get ready for the next skill attempt. What you will need to take into account though is that they do NOT do the SAME type of pull up every time they grabbed the rings or bar.
Some of the pull-ups are with the hands pronated forward; others turned inwards, some neutral and heck even some go through the full range of motion with rings thus activating muscle fibers from different angles.
You might be saying “Well duh Travis; this is nothing new. You’re supposed to train muscles from different angles.”
Yes, you’re right, but this is where I think things get interesting…
(Click here for Part 2) HOW to make this work for those lagging body parts)
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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