I guess I should take a step back and clarify exactly what I'm talking about.....Single set training. Simple.
The scientific evidence (and don't tell me we don't like scientific evidence; it's given us most medicines and pharmaceuticals via clinical trials - exercise science follows the same rules) suggests that
single sets of a resistance exercise when performed in a controlled manner, to muscular failure are at least as beneficial as multiple sets
I know that some people are still arguing against this, and for the most part I have given up trying to convert the masses. But apparently there was a recent article in Men's Health or the like stating this. I was particularly happy to hear this since I don't read fitness/health magazines as they are, well, for want of a better word; wrong. They are media based hype and b*llsh*t. which got me thinking as to how most people who go to the gym have come to do multiple sets......brainwashing. Like a politician selling you their ideals, or a pusher with a drug, you've been sold on something. Sorry. If you ask the right questions then you'll either get the right answers or excuses. If you get excuses be worried; you would with everything else, right!?
|This article is a tribute to Mike Mentzer.|
June 2011 marks the 10 year anniversary of his death.
- We perform a resistance exercise slow enough to keep the muscle under tension all the time, until we simply cannot perform the exercise any more.
- We do not twist or turn or cheat our form or posture, we breath as close to normally as possible and when we're done we get up and move to the next exercise.
- We aim to train every muscle possible without over training any of them
Of course this sees a marked decrease in time spent exercising, and perhaps a great time spent doing other things, one of which is recovery. I always laugh when I explain that I train, at most, twice per week. When people question it I explain it this way...."we grow when we rest right?...so I only train twice per week; but I grow 5 days per week" On that note, if you train 3 or 4 or 5 days per week consider that your growth is quite likely stunted by this.
As for single sets, well once you've stimulated a muscle to grow there is simply nothing gained by stimulating it again, in fact you are making further in roads into your recovery and probably doing more harm than good.
When it comes to speed of movement; I always want muscular tension, no ballistic movements and no plyometrics; if the muscle isn't under tension it's not doing anything right?? You can take this to the extreme (e.g. 10-second concentric (lifting) and 10-second eccentric (lowering)) or even further; I'm partial to the occasional 60 second pull-up. Instead of just gunning out as many horrible form pull-ups as you can with body movement and all sort, try to start at the bottom and move very slowly upwards....for 60 seconds. Ideally you get to the top at the end of the minute. Then you come back down for a further 60 seconds. That's 2-minutes of muscular tension, if you can't do it (and most people can't) then make it your challenge, and challenge others too. Most people revel gym challenges and yet this one because of the decreased velocity and difficulty seems less popular. If you're struggling with the 'slow' concept think of it this way. You're contracting the muscle, everything else is a bi-product! - E.g. when you do a bicep curl your aim is not to move the bar, you don't go in the gym saying I'm going to move this bar. You want bigger arms right/ So to do this you make the muscle work. If the bar moves, that's just a bi-product. The primary aim is to contract the muscle, until you can't contract it any more. Simple.
I've said this so many times to people I'm almost bored of hearing it, but now and then I get the urge to help people out again. So here it is for you. As for the science, here's an article written by two colleagues of mine that discusses resistance training philosophy and methods in detail, specifically those of Arthur Jones. If you're really interested in your workout then you NEED to read it.