I am a big fan of www.t-nation.com (Testosterone Nation), and I have a lot of respect for the weight training and fitness content that they deliver, free of charge. So, when I saw that one of their authors, Chad Waterbury, was writing a book on the "new science" of strength training, I was definitely excited to get my copy. I got my order for "Huge In A Hurry" (Get Bigger, Stronger, and Leaner in Record Time with the New Science of Strength Training) a few weeks ago and was finally able to carve out some time this weekend to start reading it. While I am only 8 chapters into it, I have to say that I'm already quite excited about the topics being discussed.
In Huge in a Hurry, Chad Waterbury starts off by explaining the science behind muscle contractions; in particular, he talks at great length about the Size Principle. The Size Principle states that when a muscle contracts, it fires its smallest motor units first. Then, only as more tension is needed, the body starts to recruit progressively larger motor units until the contraction is made possible. Muscle enervation always goes from smallest to biggest muscle fibers such that it is not possible to recruit larger muscle fibers until it has successfully recruiting smaller muscle fibers.
Once Chad fully covers the way in which muscle recruitment is performed by the body, he uses this science to explain why many commonly held theories on strength and size training are just plain wrong. Among some of the myths that he debunks is the belief that eccentric (lowering) centric lifting is safer and more effective and that training with heavy weights / low reps will give you strength without any size benefits.
Now, when it comes to knowledge, I put a lot of faith in the experience of myself and of others; but, I am definitely a man of science at heart and am always willing to try the better approach. And, while some of what he says goes completely against the very weight lifting strategies that I have in place, I am quite excited by the scientific explanations that he gives. In fact, I am very much looking forward to start one of his 16-week programs.
From what I can gather so far, his programs follow several guiding principles:
You have to lift big to get big. While this is a common, stereotypical gym rat line, the science behind it is spot on; when it comes to muscle fibers, the biggest muscle fibers have the greatest potential for hypertrophic growth. And, if you recall the Size Principle from above, you will know that we can only recruit the biggest muscle fibers if we have already recruited the smaller muscle fibers first. So, in order to stimulate the big muscle fibers, you have to lift "big enough" such that the smaller muscle fibers cannot provide enough strength to contract the muscle and the body must recruit the biggest muscle fibers to get the work done.
You can't lift big all the time, but you can always lift fast. Lifting big to get big is great; but, your body cannot handle lifting big all the time - it will start to break down too much. As such, you will have to lift lighter. But, when lifting lighter, we can still stimulate the large motor units by lifting fast. If you recall from physics that Force = Mass x Acceleration, you will know that there are two ways to increase force: more mass (ie. putting more weight on the bar) or more acceleration (ie. moving the bar faster). So, while the way in which we stimulate the large muscle fibers changes, the end result does not.
The sweet spot for strength and size potential is measured in rep volume, not set volume. That said, people who want to gain the most strength should concentrate on rep volumes around 25 (think 5 x 5 programs); people who want to gain more size than strength can increase that volume, but should not exceed 35. It doesn't matter too much how many sets this takes so long as you are not hitting singles (one rep sets) or completing all reps in a single set (more guidelines to come on this topic I am sure).
All reps in a given set should be performed at the same speed with the same form. That speed should be as fast as you can move the weight. Naturally, lighter weights can be moved faster than heavier ones; but, once your speed starts to slow, or your form starts to break, or your range of motion starts to shorten, you must end the set immediately. This is why you must concentrate on number of reps, not sets - the rep integrity is held to a high standard and will take as many sets as is needed.
Full body workouts are the most effective workouts. As such, his programs revolve around several full body workouts during the week, each of which covers the three basic human movements: push, pull, legs. For those of you who are used to doing body parts splits (ie. Chest on Monday, Back on Tuesday, etc.), he explains that his programs deliver similar volumes (3-4 exercises for a given body part), just spread throughout the week rather than condensed into one day. The big difference here being that each body part is worked out several times during the week rather than just once.
Well, that's what I understand so far (or at least I hope that I'm understanding it). All to say, I am looking forward to going home tonight and reading his "Getting Started" program. I would like to put his training advice into effect immediately. And, of course, I'll keep you all up to date on how it's going on Chad Waterbury's Huge In A Hurry program.
What is his justification of working out the same body part multiple times in the same week? Last workout coach I had was stringent on only working out 1 part a week (back, legs, chest, etc.). Just curious if he's said why yet.
Also, this form doesn't exist in Safari.
I'm always a little weary of "new programs" because I'm pretty sure the way Arnold did it worked. I used to work out at Gold's Gym in Venice (loved it) and the body builders / trainers there would always tell us that whatever we did and however we were doing it was wrong in an effort to get us to pay them to tell us how to do it the right way. That said, who knows if it's any more or less effective than what I'm doing now, but I'd try it for 16 weeks just to change things up a bit. Does he go into nutrition at all? That's actually the area where I think I need to the most guidance.
I know you really only asked one question, but let me address two questions as I think this might tie into what PJ is asking also.
Why Full Body Workouts?
With a full body workout, several times a week, you get to stimulate the same muscle groups more often. The more stimulate, the more growth potential.
With a full body workout, you stimulate more muscles because you are forced to do large, compound exercises. Since you don't want to be in the gym for 3-4 hours hitting all angles, you stick to 3-4 large, compound exercises that stimulate a lot of muscle activity. The more muscle you activate, the more growth potential you have.
With full body workouts, you are more likely to develop a balanced physique. With a body part split, you are more likely to develop an imbalanced physique by having more pushing than pulling exercises (ex. two days for pushing - chest / shoulders, only one day for pulling - back). Also, you are more likely to push yourself harder on push days (no pun intended) than on pull days; let's face it, they are more fun muscles to work since we can see them in action (flexing in the mirror). But, when you train in all three major planes of movement in the same workout, you are more likely to train equally hard in all three directions.
Why High Frequency Training?
It's funny that PJ mentions Arnold because, in fact, Arnold did use high frequency training from time to time to pick up lagging body parts. The author quotes Arnold in "The New Encyclopedia" as performing HFT (high frequency training) to grow his calves and to help his left bicep catch up to his right bicep.
But, ultimately, the reason for HFT is that there is no reason NOT to do it. The human body is an amazing machine and it adapts to cope with the stress that it is exposed to. This is known as SAID - Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. You throw high frequency training at it and it will adapt to it by growing bigger, stronger muscles.
Now, what we can't do is merge our body-part splits into high frequency training; then, we'll be over training. But, if we do a limited number of large, compound exercises, and hit the same muscle groups several times a week, it allows us to stimulate the muscles more often without fatiguing them beyond the point of proper recovery.
In his explanation, he uses some anecdotal evidence to back it up. Look at Cirque do Soleil - they have large, massive people who train constantly, putting on many shows a week, not over training. Look at Olympic athletes, training all the time for excellent gains. He also reflected on his own experiences in manual labor in which the daily, repetitive stress of lifting and moving heavy garbage caused him to grow like never before.
When I hear this, I think about silly things like the guy at the ice cream shop. There was a guy who ran this ice cream shop near me who scooped ice cream all day. This caused his right forearm to grow massively. In fact, his right forearm was so strong that he would give a free cone away to anyone who could beat him in arm wrestling.... not many people ever did. Yes, with conventional wisdom, his forearm would be so over trained that it would never get bigger.
>> I'm pretty sure the way Arnold did it worked
This is also very relevant because as much as we don't want to think about things like this, "professional athletes" have much different life styles than us. On one hand, there is the fact that many of them don't have to concentrate on anything but being in amazing shape - they don't deal with many of our daily stresses. Also, many many (let's be honest) athletes are taking performance enhancing drugs. Arnold, as with many other bodybuilders, admits to taking steroids to help build his physique (and the drug regime he was on is NOTHING compares to what people are taking today).
That said, the authors explains that what works for a pro bodybuilder cannot be hailed as the optimal way to build muscle. In fact, it because of drug use that many bodybuilders have gotten lazy about working out optimally.
But, like I said, I am not all the way through the book yet, so I might not know the whole story.
Yes, I believe there is a chapter(s) on nutrition, but I have not gotten there yet.
I agree with, and have always followed, the heavy weights low reps method. I wish I could add in more of the whole body workouts in my split but I am really limited on time unfortunately.
As far as HFT, I find that it is a little harder on my joints(shoulders/wrists especially) but the gains are worth it!
Is it possible for you to take pictures of yourself flexing in the mirror? (without a shirt) I am curious to see your progress of course, you know just to see if this book really is effective ;)
Yeah, I can see it being very hard on the joints. In Chad Waterbury's programs, to get around this issue, he changes the intensity of the sets as the weeks goes. So, you might have something like this:
Monday - Pull - 4-6 RM (rep max)
Wednesday - Pull - 10-12 RM
Friday - Pull - 18-22 RM
Because the speed of the set is as fast as you can (with control and good form), even the lighter weights should activate the large motor units. But, since the weight decreases over the week, I think it will be less stress on the joints.
We'll see :)
I always tend to just drift back to the fundamentals. Squats, deadlifts, cleans, bench, military...etc. I feel like I get the best gains when I keep it simple and heavy. Well, heavy to me anyways :)
Keep us updated though. I'm interested to see how it works out for you.
Speaking of updates, how did you like that NaNO Vapor stuff?
I hear you on that. I love the fundamentals. But, at the same time, I have to say that I am jazzed on the idea of doing bench or squat variations several times a week. I know it's not more *volume*, but I feel like it's more opportunity to come in and kick butt!
I think I have one more serving of the NaNO Vapor available. I think I liked it. My pumps were pretty good. But, I also started adding caffeine at the same time I started adding NaNO Vapor, so I am not sure where to attribute any increased focus / stamina.
It did have creatine in it, so I'll probably rock it out again.
Kicking off the "Get Ready" phase today!
After reading all of your posts, I have just ordered a copy for myself, will see how it goes real soon. Thanks for all the positive feedback!
That is awesome! You'll have to keep us posted :) I'm really liking it so far. It takes some getting used to the faster mind set.
Thanks for the post! I am psyched about getting the book and trying this method out. One thing that comes to mind--- when moving the weight at a fast speed, doesn't momentum rob your muscles of some of the work?
You still need to keep the weight under control, so hopefully there shouldn't be too much bouncing. But realize, however, that as you start to move heavier and heavier weight (some days have a 2-3 rep max), you can't even move it fast enough to have a bounce :)
Hi! Just surfed upon this site, re: searching about Chad's book. I am interested how this is panning out as I have been a one workout per bodypart trainee for years... decades even. Being mentored by Mike Mentzer late 70's, that is about all I knew regarding training. But in recent times I have been searching broader horizons, and feel I may have found it with increased frequency plus avoiding failure.
I look forward to hearing how you go/grow.
I've been enjoying it a lot. I've had some injuries (unrelated to the program) that I've had to dance around a bit which has certainly held me back a bit. I feel that my strength is absolutely up.
Sometimes I feel that the program has a bit too much variety, but that could be my old-school mentality. For example, things like single-leg dead lifts and one-arm DB bench press seem to add more difficulty / awkwardness than is necessary.
I am just finishing Get Big / Phase 2 and am excited to start the next phase. I just hope that my body can keep up with me without falling apart :)
Thanks for the update Ben. I looked into getting Chad's book to add to my vast collection. First I wanted to wait it out and see how you go on it. There were a mixed bag of customer reviews on Amazon which I found interesting... from high praise to disappointment. To be expected I guess.
I like the idea of frequent training, coming from over 3 decades of, mostly, once weekly per bodypart workouts via Heavy Duty. Also, as I have found, my progress and gains are far better when avoiding failure! Here, for your edification, is the link to my infamous article http://www.cbass.com/KevinDye.htm
All the best! I look forward to your updates.
Very interesting article. I think what you are doing is exactly what Huge in a Hurry is preaching as well and I'm glad to see you're making gains, even after so many years of training.
What I like about your style is that you stick to basic movements. The one thing in HIAH that has me somewhat uneasy is the choice of exercises. There are, of course, the basics, but there is also variety for what seems like variety's sake. Of course, I never know if this is just old-school mentality or what.
Thanks Ben. The way I see it, there are but a handful of exercises, and their variations, that will dramatically alter how one looks and make them grow bigger... and it certainly doesn't lay with leg extensions, lateral raises, or db kickbacks! So what I try to do is focus on those moves that deliver as much "bang for my buck" so I am assured, as I progress, my size gains keep up with my strength gains.
Currently 242# and growing, I have already exceeded my main goal for 2009, namely a 50" chest, which now sits at 51" cold. My next goal is 18" arms, so I have 6 months left to add 3/4". :)
What is your main goal(s) for the remainder of '09?
I don't really have any set goals. I was pretty excited about starting / finishing this program, so I guess that's a non-measurement related goal. I would love to get my deadlift back up to 405 again. I really felt like my deads where rocking in the first phase (4 weeks ago). I was powering through sets of 6 at like 365 or something and feeling great. AND, I really feel like I could have kept that progress going - my body was just feeling the *power*. But, there's been no deadlifting in this phase (last 4 weeks) and no deadlifting in the next phase (next 4 weeks), so I guess the deadlifting will have to be put on hold.
On one hand, I understand and appreciate the high variety of exercises and the short cycles... but on the other hand, something in me feels that if I'm rocking progress on an exercise, I shouldn't arbitrarily stop doing it for months on end. Is that wrong thinking?
I'd also love to be comfortably squatting 315 again - but so far in the program, all the back squatting has been higher reps. Honestly, I wish there was more squatting in the program :) I love squats.
Right now, though, I'm just hoping my shoulder feels better. I get all pinchy up in my left armpit on pressing. Doc things its a labral tear / pec strain :(
Um! seeing that you are still following the program, (congrats by the way) any chance you will be putting up those pictures of your progress???
Strictly want to see them only because I am a fan of your blog and am following your PROGRESS ;) of course.
Not really following the routine this week, I did some light weight, high rep (15-20) box squats. The light weight because it's an unloading week. Haven't done box squats in a while and they felt awesome!! I really felt like I was getting back, driving with my heals. Even with light weight, it was very satisfying.
What a trip down memory lane, I haven't performed box squats in years! I find they hit my quads differently, vs normal squats, and I recall how trash my legs always felt a day later. May have to slip them into the mix in the near future myself!!
I assume you plan of resuming your usual routine soon? What overall gains have you seen so far?
Yeah, I think box squats really force you to get back, then drive through your heels and pull with your hamms and glutes.
Regular program should resume today. The only gains I've seen are in strength. I haven't seen any real size gains so far. But, like I said - I've been battling some injuries that are holding me back.
I guess, with time and progress, size gains will transpire. Lately my quads are their biggest ever, 26 3/4", thanks to squatting off my calf machine. The leverage is 2:1, and as I stand up closer to a straight leg position the weight becomes heavier, taxing my quads deeply! With a set of cambered bar regular squats, sandwiched inbetween 2 sets of calf machine squats, my quads are growing well.
Taking a leaf from Chad's book, and from what you have been doing via Chad, I am hitting each muscle 3x weekly, vs the once I did for years/decades, enjoying how full my muscles feel 24/7 now. I'd say there are definite benefits behind training as frequently as possible, and I plan to adhere to it for the remainder of 2009 and indefinitely!
I am looking forward to hearing how you go over the coming months Ben, and I remain certain you will end this year far bigger and stronger.
Hi Ben, long time no update? You still following Chad's workout plan?
You definitely need to update us on your progress.
ps. I had some trouble putting my name - Secret Admirer on your site, is there any particular reason why?
I would tell you who I am but am a bit embarrased, you are so handsome and smart, I just don't think you would like me :(
I hope you don't mind me following your progress.
VERY VERY out dated sorry but find a new trainer really :-)
@Ben i'd like to say i will be 50 in feb of this year , this program works great , its great on the joints , i tend to do my workouts in a circuit. i have been working out for years off and on , i read the book loved the theory and i am on phase 2 i am down 2 inches of my waist body fat at 19% . get the book folks its a great routine
That's awesome my man! Glad to hear you're having success with it. I've been off it for a few months (well, off working out for a bit - injuries!!). I'm just now easing back into the gym and plan to start HIAH back up when my body is ready.
hope the injuries werent work out related , if so ease back in , maybe just body weight exercises til you heal , good luck.
Yeah, I'm not pushing the shoulder too much. I'm really gonna take it easy with that. Also, I'm slowly introducing arm work, which has traditionally hurt my wrist, and so far, so good :) So, that's really exciting.
@Ben Nadel,i am week 2 get phase 2 i feel great no joint pain so far, i am not overtraining as i have in the pass , i have bionic hip and it's not fussing at me either, after i finish the whole sha'bang i plant to try pavels kettle ball routines.
That so awesome to hear! Yeah, the full body workouts really keep you even as well, which helps to prevent over training. While I am not back on the HIAH just yet (maybe soon), I am still following full body, 3x week workouts and I have been really enjoying it.
With the steroids that Arnold took, any workout would have produced results.
40 years ago Bruce Randall told me to do 10x3 instead of 3x10. He won Mr. Universe and was working out with 700+ in the deadlift.
Yeah, I've used and heard great things about low-rep, high sets. Someone recently recommended a 5/3/1 program where you do a few weeks @ 5 reps, 3 reps, and then 1 rep. Supposed to work wonders for your 1RM.
@Wryley Rockwell, loved the 10x3 post! That is far better, though I am able to get the job done in a single set (my mid-90's hypnosis sessions to boost my pain threshold obviously beneficial).
So Ben, you still adhering to Chad's program?
I got side-tracked with some shoulder / wrist injuries. So, I actually stopped working out for a while and just did what I could when I could. My body's feeling much better now. It's time I get back on a workout.
I'm in the process of re-visioning my fitness application (Dig Deep Fitness), which will help me get mentally back in the game.
Sorry to hear Ben, was that directly related to your training?
Glad to hear, nothing like making a comeback. Personally my training is going great guns on Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty... even after 33 years of using it. Progress every single workout.
Hopefully when you are back in the swing of things again, your progress rate will rocket!
It wasn't related to anything acute - probably just chronic issues with form and flexibility that I never addressed. One of the trainers today was trying to help me open up my shoulder - the outside of my left delt (the weak shoulder) gets very tight as I start to bench. I'm gonna trrrrrrry to start incorporating some pressure point stuff and flexibility training with the foam roller.
That's awesome that you're getting good gains. I've read some stuff about Mentzer - he was all about very low reps, low work sets, right? I remember seeing pictures of him - insane arms!
Funny you should mention trigger point theraphy. I wrote an article about it for the now defunct Hardgainer magazine back in 2000.
Suffering a strained forearm, that seemed to grow worse over time, it reached the point I dreaded turning door handles to open doors, and turning the steering wheel to the right. I went in search of a solution, coming upon TPT. To my surprise and relief, with 2-weeks of TPT twice daily, my forearm was all but healed.
I wish you'd have met Mike in this prime. That was another life-time ago, 1980, but still fresh in my memory. Being my teen hero, it was akin to meeting God himself! Mike was everything I thought he'd be... but those arms, my eyes nearly fell out when I realised his triceps hung over his elbows!!!
All the best with your recuperation, I look foreward to hearing how you heal.
I've never heard of Trigger Point Therapy. I'll have to look into that. I don't think my forearm / wrist pain was that bad; but, at one point, it did hurt to brush my teeth and to open my office door with a key. THANKFULLY, my wrist is feeling much better; I'm able to do some decently heavy alt. DB curls, which used to hurt a lot before. I'm just trying to be very cautious of it now to not ruin the healing progress I've made.
While eloquent in its simplicity, Trigger Point Therapy is extremely potent! The gist of how to use it is...
* Find the painful area/s and push your thumb into it
* With either a steady push or gradual rotation, a personal preference, apply pressure for 10-seconds
* Relax for 5-seconds
* Re-apply pressure for a further 10-seconds
* Relax for 5-seconds
* A final 10-seconds pressure
Repeat twice daily, say morning an evening for convenience, relief always came in short order.
This sounds like what I would do with a foam roller a bit - find the trigger points, put my weight on it, hold, maybe move on a bit, repeat. I actually just foam rollered my quad / IT Band a bit today before my squats (stupid knees!). It's always super uncomfortable.
Hi, for my clarification,on Phase 1 Week 1 Getting Big. Reps are 20-22 range but max reps are 25 reps, does that mean 1 or 2sets?
When in doubt, I think look at the RM (rep-max) for the weight. I think he messed up a few times on the rep-scheme, but the RM is correct.
Hey ben, hope your wrists are fine from all that lifting. I know how big of a Chad Waterbury Fan You Are, so here's a website review of his new Product: http://www.bodyoffire.org
I would like to hear about your results if you decide this training if for you.
Thanks for pointing me to that. I'll definitely look into it. Right now, my body has forsaken me a bit; but, I am trying to get it back under control, slowly.
I am a fan of full body workouts for fat loss using my own body weight though and I'd really like to get a bit "huge". Do you follow the "eat every 2 hours diet"?
10x3 instead of 3x10 - I actually use both in alternance with good results.
I try to eat more often, but it really takes a lot of dedication. I work long hours and sometimes it gets really hard to remember to eat. I try to keep some healthy snacks / protein powder at my desk to have something to graze on between meals.
I think both have some great benefits. If nothing else, I think the mere variety has the most benefit.
Good luck with it, if you try it. Looking forward to hearing about your experience.
How long do you bulk? Will you bulking depends on body fat percentage or a fixed period of time, say 6 months?
I don't think that much about it :) I tend to stick with bigger-type approaches. I find it very psychologically demanding to start dropping body weight (I probably suffer from some mild body dysmorphia). I would like to start doing *some* cardio so I can try to lean down a bit while not necessarily "cutting"... anyway, I'm probably not the right person to ask about all this :)
Regarding the "You can't lift big all the time, but you can always lift fast."...I always was a bit hesitant to lift fast because I didn't know if it was very effective. I thought that I'd lose momentum and the muscles wouldn't train very effectively. I asked a few professionals and I got the same response: "It's better to lift slow and keep momentum for maximum effectiveness".
I tried to lift fast and if I do I get tired very quickly. I guess that's a good sign?
So it's more effective to lift fast rather than slow and with momentum?
All I can say is that I found the science in the book very convincing. At the end of the day, however, I'm just a computer scientist, not a specialist in biomechanics. Also, listing fast doesn't necessarily mean using momentum or control. All it really means is pushing as fast as you can and not being slow for the sake of being slow.
Every now and then, I'll work out with someone who does that kind of workout and it's always enjoyable. But, it's never as satisfying as full body. If I do 4/5 sets for chest, I'll come out of the gym feeling like my chest is swollen (in a good way)... but, now that I've gone full-body, I think nothing really compares to the full-body pump :)
Hey Ben, I just had a few questions about the book "Huge in a hurry". I have finished the get ready phase, and trying to do the "get big phase1" .I understand the program is 16 weeks,but I am having trouble getting when to do each work out and when to move to the next phase.Do I do workouts A,B and C every week?Or is it 4 weeks of work out A then 4 of B and then 4 of C?As you can see I'm lost haha. I've got to say this is a great book, its changed the way i think about working out drastically!Cant wait to start it.
Sorry for not getting back sooner on this; you want to do each workout each week. So, something like Monday:A, Wednesday:B, Friday:C. I think you repeat this for 4 weeks (if I recall correctly). Then, after the 4 weeks, I believe there is an "unloading week" where you do very light weight before you move onto the next exercise.
I have been off the program for months due to laziness and injury. But, my body is feeling much better lately and I'm thinking of getting back on it.
yes you do A,B and C every week for 4 weeks then you do unloading for the next week ( 5th week ) then move onto workout 2 for 4 weeks and unload after 4 weeks again.
Thanks guys, by the way did anyone ever alter the workout? For example: add an abb exercise because I didn't see any in "get big". (just a thought)
I'm a former Gymnastic Champion in Iran and I really like Chad Waterbury's ideas about HFT and I'm using it now when I'm not doing Gymnastics any more.It's awesome. I have a question: I want my biceps grow larger and ripper so I do Hammer Curl for 10 sets of 3 to 5 reps and it really works am I doing right? what should I do for ripping my legs? should I Squat eveyday with Dumbbells? what set and what reps?
thank you really
I hope not to be unrespectful with your research and with all of you, but I have something to add to the post. When it comes to increase our functional strength, lifting unconfortable things is a really good way to build it, because it works out the strength of the hand and the stabilizer muscles, building functional power to the lifter. Then, don't you think it would be a better way to train? (again, no offense)