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Started By subseven (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

Started on: 8/9/2005 8:48:59 PM, viewed 2342 times
Constant Tension Training


As you will recall, I was quite intrigued by the occlusion studies where the blood flow to a limb was seriously hampered by external pressure and subject grew lifting only very low weights. The reason I wanted to replicate the same results is that I have always grown better from "burning" the muscle with drop sets or quick partial reps at the end of a regular set. If the occlusion method achieves the same burn that those methods give you but with much less muscle and CNS damage, that would be wonderful.

Analyzer predicted that the same results could be achieved by contracting the muscle really hard and not locking out on top. This would keep the tension in the muscle above 50% at all times and occlude the blood.

Today I tried this method of training for legs (on leg press) and here is what I found: My hat off to Az, because it worked exactly as advertised. After some experimentation with weights, I found that I need to load ~70% of the normal load onto the machine and really squeeze the legs on the way down, otherwise the muscle rests and blood will be pumped away during the negative portion of the exercise. After 8-9 reps, legs were burning like hell. It really is a sensation one must feel to appreciate. I have experimented with the tabata protocol a lot and this is the only training method other than the tabata protocol or very short and very quick partial reps (which is basically a tabata protocol with weights) that produces such an intense burn.

More important than the burn is the following and this is why this may be a great muscle builder: The momentary weakining of the muscles -i.e. inroad- is tremendous. I did 3 sets and on every single set I got stuck at the bottom. In a regular set of leg presses I almost never get stuck at the bottom. If I do, I take 6-7 deep breaths, give myself a 30 second rest and can then muscle the weight back to the top before I walk away from the machine. But here, the legs were so weakened that this proved impossible. Basically the legs just give up alltogether. Also, the decline in your power is very rapid. You go from being able to lift to weight to barely lifting it to completely failing in 20 seconds or less. Much more importantly, you are just fine after taking a few minutes off following complete muscular failure. When I do a regular set on the legg press, my pulse goes through the roof. Here it didn′t go up that much at all. Also, now 4 hours after the workout, my legs are totally fine, whereas after a normal leg workout they would be pretty weak.

So could this be something worth trying? It looks like you can achieve a great deal of inroading and muscle waste product accumulation (both of which are growth triggers) at a relatively low cost to the CNS.

(I know that some of you think growth stmulation and CNS fatigue are always perfectly correlated but pls consider that here the set is pretty brief, so how much can the CNS really wear out during that short a time period?)


This Topic has 57 Replies: Displaying out of 57 Replies:

Analyzer (CDA, id, U.S.A.) on 8/9/2005 10:30:19 PM

Hey nice post and great explanation of your trial.

Yes, by training like that, your causing the muscle to fatigue sooner, it′s more ′high intensity′ on the muscle than resting in between reps. If a person rests and pauses between reps (not rest-pause, but pausing with each rep) they are really doing a bunch of 1 rep sets. 🙂

Bet you′ll get some good DOMS going with that!


subseven (New York, NY, U.S.A.) on 8/9/2005 10:46:14 PM

Thanks for the feedback Az,

Although I had asked you a similar question before I would like to once again get your opinion on this because we have a slight bit more data now.

If I wanted to try this method for a while, let′s say for legs, what would be the best way of doing so? I know that I can either tolerate several sets taken to positive failure on leg presses or only one drop set (10RM weight to failure, then strip 40% of the weight and do as many as you possibly can, when you reach failure, take 6-7 deep breaths and bang out 1-2 more reps)

I can either try to do a regular set to failure rest and then do such a constant tension set, do a regular set and then this constant tension set with no rest in between, or simply do a couple of these constant tension sets.

Doing a regular set has the advantage of exposing the muscles to more weight (because I must use less weight with constant tension) but as far as I recall you don′t consider total load as such a critical factor. Also, the reason I am thinking of doing several such sets is that the TUL may not be long enough -especially for the fastest twitch fibers- because the sets must be terminated soon after the muscle gets weaker…



Analyzer (CDA, id, U.S.A.) on 8/9/2005 11:10:06 PM

"simply do a couple of these constant tension sets. "

this one. If you want to test this, keep it pure or you won′t know which set did what

"I recall you don′t consider total load as such a critical factor"

Yes, right on 🙂

"that the TUL may not be long enough -especially for the fastest twitch fibers- because the sets must be terminated soon after the muscle gets weaker…"

If your getting weaker that means all the fibers have been enguaged, including the FT fibers…

write this on a post-it …

"Level of effort = level of activation (recruitment & rate coding)



Vincent (Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland) on 8/10/2005 8:35:41 AM

But the level of effort is not the same at the end of a 10RM, 5RM or 1RM. It takes much much longer time to be able to repeat a 1RM compared to a 10RM or 5RM.

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