- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Rodale Books; First edition. edition (October 25, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594860831
- ISBN-13: 978-1594860836
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Muscle Logic : Escalating Density Training Paperback – October 25, 2005
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About the Author
CHARLES STALEY guides Olympic and professional athletes, and serious weightlifters in their quest for physique transformation and performance enhancement. He has authored more than 300 articles for such magazines as Muscle & Fitness, Men's Health, and Ms. Fitness. He currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
WHY WEIGHT TRAINING WORKS
IF YOU'VE COME TO THE REALIZATION THAT RESISTANCE TRAINING IS more effective than aerobic exercise for the purposes of becoming lean, strong, and functional, your instincts have served you well. Both scientific research and "in the trenches" experience confirm that brief, high- intensity exercise burns calories, builds muscle, elevates metabolism, and improves overall athleticism more efficiently and effectively than lower- intensity forms of physical activity.
Although this book focuses primarily on resistance training, keep in mind that almost any activity, when performed in an anaerobic manner, will deliver similar results. So if you're a cycling fanatic, you'll find that multiple short, high-intensity sprints will deliver better results than a long-duration, "steady-state" ride. Let's briefly examine some of the physiological mechanisms behind the extraordinary effectiveness of intense exercise.
THE "EPOC" PHENOMENON
EPOC (or excess postexercise oxygen consumption) is basically a measure of how much energy (read: calories) is consumed after the exercise session is finished. You'll often hear novice exercisers complain about how few calories they burned during a 20-minute stint on the Stairmaster, but the fact is, you don't really burn a lot of calories during any type of exercise--it's what happens afterward that really matters.
One published study by R. Bahr, performed at the department of physiology at the National Institute of Occupational Health in Oslo, Norway, demonstrated that low-intensity exercise (defined as 65 percent of maximum heart rate for less than 1 hour) led to a total EPOC of only 5 calories. On the other hand, intensive exercise--where heart rate was above 85 percent of maximum--led to EPOC values up to 180 calories.
Another investigation showed that resistance training can lead to a 4 to 7 percent increase in metabolic rate over a 24-hour period. That might not sound like much, but consider that for a person with a 2,000-calorie-per- day metabolic rate, this equates to an extra 80 to 140 calories burned after every weight-training session. If this same person weight-trains 4 days per week, he can expect an additional 320 to 560 calories burned per week.
In addition to the metabolic-increase effects of strength training, consider the metabolic effects of the additional muscle you'll gain. Every £d of muscle you gain increases your daily metabolic rate by 30 to 40 calories per day--every day. Once again, these numbers may not initially seem significant. However, let's take a wider view for a moment: If you add 5 £ds of new muscle to your body--which is very easy to accomplish in 8 to 12 weeks, especially for beginners--that new muscle will increase your metabolism by 150 to 200 calories per day, or 1,050 to 1,400 calories per week!
Additionally, there's an interesting synergy that occurs with new muscle growth through resistance exercise: Every time you perform a strength- training workout, you achieve a certain EPOC, which is based on how much muscle you currently have--the more muscle you have, the higher your EPOC will be for any given workout. You're also gradually building more muscle, which leads not only to greater and greater EPOC but to an even faster metabolism, helping you to burn excess body fat. In other words, each success builds upon the last, and the result is faster and faster metabolism. No wonder so many people get hooked on weight training!
STRENGTH TRAINING AND THE LADDER EFFECT
There is a list of distinct motor qualities that are enhanced by exercise. These include increases in lean muscle mass, loss of body fat (these two are really one in the same and are often collectively referred to as "improvements in body composition"), improved maximal strength, speed strength, strength endurance, and aerobic endurance.
These motor qualities can be "ranked" in terms of their relative intensity. The highest level is maximal strength, which involves the greatest possible tension that a muscle can develop. The level below that represents explosive strength, followed by starting strength, anaerobic endurance, and finally, aerobic endurance.
THE TABATA PROTOCOL
One important benefit of anaerobic training over aerobic exercise is that when you train anaerobically, you also improve aerobic fitness simultaneously, but the reverse of that doesn't hold true.
Some of the most interesting research on the subject in the past several years was performed by Izumi Tabata, PhD, at the National Institute of Fitness and Sport in Tokyo, Japan.
Tabata conducted a 6-week study in which one group of subjects (the control group) rode an exercise bike at 70 percent of VO2 max (aerobic capacity) 5 days a week for 60 minutes per workout. The experimental group cycled at 170 percent of VO2 max for eight 20-second bouts with 10-second rest intervals.
The control group improved their aerobic fitness by 10 percent but had no improvement in anaerobic fitness. The experimental group, however, not only improved their anaerobic capacity by 28 percent but also improved their aerobic fitness by 14 percent!
So the beauty of anaerobic training, aside from its muscle-building characteristics, is its ability to kill two birds with one stone.
And needless to say, there is a price to pay--in hard work, in time, and in effort--but here's concrete evidence that you can become significantly fitter in 20 minutes a week using anaerobic intervals than you can in 5 hours a week using aerobics.
People often want to see improvement in many or all of these areas at once. Unfortunately, they end up wasting a lot of time and energy spending equivalent time working to improve their performance in each area individually. However, the truth is that you can work on improving your performance in all of these areas simultaneously. Imagine, for instance, that you were to grab and then lift the "anaerobic endurance" rung of a rope ladder. You'd find that the aerobic endurance rung would be lifted as well, while the rungs above the anaerobic endurance rung would be undisturbed. Similarly, if you lifted the starting strength rung, only the anaerobic endurance and the aerobic endurance rungs would be affected. Finally, if you lifted the maximal strength rung of the ladder, all of the rungs below it would be dragged along with it. In a nutshell, if you're after maximum efficiency, you're better off working to improve on one of the areas at the top of the ladder. Working to improve one of these areas involves more-intensive training. That's because when you work at a high level, all other areas below it are improved at the same time. The reverse is not true, however (see "The Tabata Protocol," on page 5, for a closer look at this phenomenon). By simply working on aerobic endurance, you're not really improving your maximal strength. Working at the top of the ladder is the only way to enhance total-body motor skills.
"LIFE IS NOT AEROBIC"
This phrase was one of the favorite one-liners of Fred Hatfield, PhD, during his certification seminars for the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). Dr. Hatfield is a former world champion in the sport of powerlifting and the first man to officially squat 1,000 £ds in competition. Whenever Dr. Hatfield offers this mantra to audiences of personal trainers and aerobics instructors, it has the same shock value as if he'd said that the world was flat. But Dr. Hatfield is right: A true aerobic state rarely (if ever) occurs in real life. Only prolonged, steady- state exercise at moderate intensity fits the definition. It's truly a rare and artificial condition.
But doesn't aerobic exercise burn more fat?
Let's do some myth busting here: If aerobic exercise is superior to anaerobic exercise on any level, it isn't because it burns more fat. Let's take a closer look.
Aerobic and anaerobic forms of exercise both derive energy from glycogen (the body's storage form of sugar) and fats (which can come from free fatty acids in the bloodstream and/or from stored body fat deposits). Now, it is true that aerobic exercise takes more of its energy from fats than sugars (as opposed to anaerobic exercise, which is fueled more by sugars). But that's only part of the equation. As it turns out, although aerobic exercise uses fats as a primary fuel source, the problem is that it also burns far less total energy than anaerobic exercise does. So it's a wash, as they say.
SO WHY DO MOST PEOPLE STILL GRAVITATE TOWARD AEROBIC EXERCISE?
When it comes to exercise, people are polarized by pain. In other words, beginners try to avoid pain, but more experienced exercisers usually end up seeking pain.
I alluded to this phenomenon in the introduction of this book, but in essence people tend to assess the value of a workout according to how much fatigue (and by fatigue, I mean pain and soreness) it causes. Just look at the word workout. In eastern European countries, workouts are called "sessions" or "lessons." But in the West, we tend to focus on the difficulty inherent in the term, rather than the results, which are enhanced performance and motor skills.
And make no doubt about it; our language affects our thinking, which in turn affects our actions. Most people still cling to aerobic exercise because it hurts, it takes a long time to complete, and you sweat. It's work.
AEROBIC VERSUS ANAEROBIC EXERCISE
Most people know that the term aerobic means "with oxygen," but relatively few people can articulate the difference between aerobic and anaerobic forms of exercise. Here's a simple explanation.
Intensive exercise produces a waste product called lactic acid (LA)--you've experienced it before when your muscles burned in agony during a very intense workout. When you stop, the burn recedes almost immediately. That burning sensation is caused by LA.
During anaerobic exercise--weight training, sprinting, and similar intense, short-duration drills--the lactic acid (lactate) levels will reach a point called the lactate threshold (LT), where you're forced to either stop or slow down until the LA burn diminishes enough for you to continue your effort. The lactate threshold is the exertion level beyond which your body can no longer produce energy aerobically. Additional intense work means your body can't deal with the resulting lactate buildup, which is marked by muscle fatigue, pain, and shallow, rapid breathing. (LT was formerly called anaerobic threshold, but this designation is now dated. In scientific papers it's sometimes referred to as onset of blood lactate accumulation.)
Aerobic exercise on the other hand, occurs below the lactate threshold. You're still producing LA but at levels low enough to permit long-term, continuous activity.
These definitions reveal that any activity can be either aerobic or anaerobic, depending on the pace and duration. For example, although I'll often refer to resistance training as an anaerobic form of exercise in this book, it can actually be a form of aerobic exercise, if the exerciser uses very light weights, uses high repetitions, and takes only minimal rests between sets.
It's also important to realize that most activities are fueled by both aerobic and anaerobic processes, so when we refer to an activity's being aerobic (for example), what we really mean is that the activity is primarily or mostly aerobic in nature.
I suspect that our fondness for hard work in the gym reflects a desire to feel a sense of completion--if not at work, then in the gym. And soreness, for example, is a 24/7 concrete reminder that you worked hard and got something done.
In almost everything we do, quantity seems to trump quality. For example, if you had a hard day at the office, many people might say, "Man, I put in 10 hours at work yesterday. What a day!" (reflecting quantity). But for some reason, we'd be less likely to say, "Wow, I really employed a high percentage of my abilities at work today!" (reflecting quality).
THE MANY FACES OF STRENGTH
Without strength, no movement is possible.
That's a simple statement, but it's true. All other motor skills--including endurance, flexibility, coordination, balance, and agility--are simply modifiers of the core motor ability, and that's strength. Given the critical importance of this fitness quality, it's worth a closer look. Far from a single entity, strength is actually a family of qualities. The primary players include:
Maximal strength: Defined as the most force you can generate for a single all-out effort, regardless of time or body weight. If you've ever worked up to the heaviest squat or bench press you can possibly lift, you've tested your maximal strength.
Relative strength: The most force you can generate relative to your body weight for a single all-out effort. Think of this as your "£d for £d" strength. If you and your training partner can deadlift 300 £ds, you both have the same level of maximal strength. However, if you weigh less than your buddy, you've got greater relative strength.
Speed strength: Also called "power," speed strength is the most force you can generate relative to time. Think of speed strength as maximal strength divided by time. If your training partner can deadlift that 300-£d barbell in 1.8 seconds and you can lift it in 2.1 seconds, he has a greater degree of speed strength than you do, at least with respect to the deadlift exercise.
Anaerobic strength: Your ability to perform repeated muscular contractions in activities conducted above the lactate threshold. This quality is critical to sprint performances between the 100-meter and 800-meter distances in track and field.
Aerobic strength: Your ability to perform repeated muscular contractions in activities conducted under the lactate threshold. This quality is critical to running performances at distances greater than 800 meters in track and field.
My experiences as a martial arts instructor and competitor taught me a great deal about human nature with respect to the quality-quantity conundrum. I've found that most instructors stress repetition to the virtual exclusion of quality. As a competitor, I'd attend classes where we'd perform many hundreds of kicks, yet because of extreme fatigue, most of those kicks were well below 50 percent of my true technical capabilities in a fresh state. But if you hung in there, you'd receive praise for your internal fortitude. Despite this, most of these instructors loved to recite the mantras "Practice makes perfect" and "One perfect punch is better than 1,000 poorly executed punches." Yet in practice, the disconnect was starkly obvious. I never received praise for performing a single move with perfect technique!
THE MASTER PRINCIPLE: QUALITY BEFORE QUANTITY
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You need to work hard and have the motivation to try and beat you PR each time you train so maybe this technique isn't good for people not willing to push themselves.
The workouts aren't easy either. I didn't have the cardio capacity to do heavy lifting for 15 minutes at a time when I started out (besides previously doing 'cardio' workouts) so I had to build up my work capacity.
Overall, you are going to get out what you are willing to put in.
One - You always have a clear-cut goal when going into a workout. Based on how many reps you did in your last workout with this weight, you know exactly how many reps (or more) you should attempt to get in this workout. If you're a person who just enjoys hanging out in the gym for 90 minutes and working out by "feel", then this approach may not be for you. But, if you're a person who likes to set goals in order to focus your effort, then you will enjoy this approach.
Two - You can clearly see your progress from workout to workout. This can help you stay motivated over time. I not only keep track of the number of reps I do for each PR zone, but I keep track (using a spreadsheet) of the total poundage I move as well. Each time I exceed my last workout's performance (and, since starting this program in April, I have done so in twelve of my last seventeen workouts), I put an asterisk ("*") on my log. If you like to achieve goals (not just set them), this workout system is for you.
In short, this workout methodology forces you to deliver a laser-like focus on results during your workouts. The goal is always clear, and you always know without a doubt if you met it or not.
Bottom line, I'm getting results. I had reached a plateau about two years ago and gains were minimal after that. I kept slogging on. Now, using EDT, after 30 minutes I'm sweating like I've run 3 miles. I'm exhausted, but not sore. Not flirting with injury. This never happened before in any free weight training session I ever made for myself.
I reckon I'll eventually reach a plateau with this method as well. As the author points out in two of his "four cardinal rules:" Everything works. Nothing works forever.
New and Old
The basic principles used in EDT are old ones: Progressive overload, controlling the tempo of your lifting, attention to form, measuring progress.
The questions most amateur (and some pro's no doubt) lifters have that this system addresses:
- How long should you lift? (and "I don't have 2 hours a day to do this!")
- How can you guarantee progressive overload?
- How can you measure progress?
- When is it most effective to increase or decrease weight?
- How many reps are the best?
Muscle Logic has a novel system that answers these questions and does it is a simple manner that is both easy to track, and simple to do.
I won't spoil the system (you have to get the book for that!) but I will present some highlights:
- You lift weights for a predetermined time (15 minutes is his suggestion)
- You use moderate weights lifted explosively and with perfect form
- You work antagonistic pairs (supersets)
- You lift as many sets of small reps as you can
- When you reach a certain number of total reps (up or down) you change weight
This is a very simple and very effective system, though you may not think so when reading it!
Simple and Complex
The book has a few negatives: The concept is so simple, that the author has a hard time putting it into words. When reading it, I got the distinct impression it could be summarized on a couple of pages in a brochure, though the author was not able to do so for whatever reason.
When in the "Menu" section of the book (all these sorts of books seem to have this) I got the distinct impression it was "tacked on" since the book seems to be more about crafting your own workout routine rather than following the author's.
This book is worth the price of admission. The system seems to work - using this I can get the same result as some of my best workouts much more consistently, and the results seem to be more assured since these principles will all but guarantee progressive overload and make progress tracking (& adjustment) much easier.
This is a very unique (to me) approach to working out. It takes a bit to put a schedule together but
the workouts are great. You walk out of the gym in minimal time, feeling like you haven't done enough.
But the following day, you know you've trained. Its fast and intense. I'm going on my second cycle and
I can already feel and see some results. Try it.....you'll be surprised.