I recently read Body by Science by Doug McGuff. I’m late to the information therein, but it’s a considerable departure from the ‘train until you vomit and then go back to the gym the following day‘ theory of exercise and fitness. I think the constant training obsession helps sell gym memberships, yet the average schlub is not an Adonis.
McGuff’s thesis is one where you attempt to balance ‘muscle load’ and rest. This balance achieves muscle growth and helps improve strength and fat loss. Muscle load is defined as slow movement of weights ‘5-10 second cadence up then equally slow down.’ The muscle is loaded by a mass of ~80% of maximum for about 60 seconds. He explains this achieves sequential recruitment of slow, intermediate and fast twitch muscle fibers. The hypothesis is a collection of ideas by Arthur Jones (inventor of Nautilus equipment) and Mark Mentzer (body building champion and trainer) distilled masterfully. It is worthy of a consideration if you are stuck at a fitness plateau or are among the “hard gainers.”
Since starting this regimen in January 2019 I’ve added about 4 to 5 lbs of mass without increasing my waist size. Over this time my strength has improved consistently and ascending stairs at work or home has become easier. This is especially remarkable because it requires one strength training workout per week, each consisting of one set for each of five exercises. Since the movements are slow and deliberate there is minimal strain on joints, a benefit for those with arthritis and or sports injuries. The shorter time investment opens exercise to more busy people and or saves time for the after work athletes. The drawback is that it is completely draining every time you go to the gym. There is little to no rest between sets, it is not conducive to checking Twitter or Instagram between sets.