Should your dominant muscle-fiber type determine how you train for mass?
For example, if you’re an ectomorphic hardgainer type, should you be using longer tension times with higher reps on most of your sets?
One study addressed that. Researchers took 100 randomly selected subjects and trained them using various set-and-rep protocols.
Those with a so-called ACE-2 variant, or endurance gene (skinny folks), responded best to training using 12 to 15 reps, or extended tension times. When those subjects used heavier weight that limited reps to around eight, they showed smaller gains.
On the other hand, the subjects who were more anaerobic, with something called an ACE-DD variant, showed similar gains from both types of loads. These are the lucky mesomorphs, the more athletic folks who gain muscle and strength more easily. [Colakoglu, M., et al. (2005). Eur J App Physiol. 95(1):20-26.]
The bottom line is that everyone needs both types of training to max out muscle mass, perhaps emphasizing the range that is best for your dominant fiber type.
Note that the eight-to-10 range is like middle ground. It’s why eight-to-10 reps has been the go-to range for bodybuilding.
Even so, training a variety of rep ranges can amplify your gains, creating new layers of muscle…
In the new ebook, I quote respected bodybuilding researcher Jerry Brainum. He’s a true savant when it comes to interpreting the latest studies. The old belief was that only fast-twitch fibers were responsible for muscle size, but Brainum found that…
It’s now known that type-1 fibers are also capable of showing a significant level of muscular hypertrophy.
So even if you’re an athletic mesomorph, you can add new mass by using some higher-rep sets that produce longer muscular tension times.
And hardgainers can benefit from doing some lower-rep sets.
While I lean toward the ectomorphic twig camp, I’ve found that using multiple rep ranges gives me the biggest mass jolt with the least time expenditure in the gym.
For example, my reps on the ideal exercise will usually go 20, 10, 7…
Then I’ll follow with a “missing-positions move”—from Positions of Flexion—for two sets, usually 10 and 7 reps.
Keep in mind that I use the same weight on all sets for each exercise, with brief rests between sets so the poundage never gets in the joint-jarring range.
I’ve found that it’s the most efficient and safest way to train for impressive muscle-mass gain…
Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, my complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
Build MASS with Bodyweight Training
One way you’re guaranteed to pack on stacks of muscle is through a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which more than doubles 24 hours after an intense workout…
Until recently, MPS was only elevated when trainees would lift 70-90% of their one-rep max…
That’s not only dangerous for your joints, but it also sets you up for high injury risk every time you exercise…
It used to be believed that training with your own bodyweight couldn’t get you the same results as training with your 70-90% one rep max… Until NOW.