| || |
When I set out to condense Jones′ material I had no idea how difficult it was really going to be. Learn about: Indirect effect, Limiting Exercise Number, High Intensity, Secondary Growth Factors, and Reciprocity Failure.
(In Brief) Part 1
By: Shannon Pittman
It is interesting to note that Arthur Jones never really set out to compile a set of principles based upon his work. Such a writing would have made designing any workout routine very easy to accomplish. Though it is true that the routines that Jones espoused were not overly complex, his ides on what constituted a good routine were very precise and eccentric even by today′s standards of "scientific" periodized routines.
When I set out to condense Jones′ material I had no idea how difficult is was really going to be. After all most people sum up his work in three words: brief, infrequent, intense. But is that all there is, really? Not even close. Many of the bodybuilding standards that we now use were first uttered by Jones and still survive the test of time.
1. Indirect effect
"Throw a stone into a pool and it will make a splash and the wave will run to the [edges] of the pool. The larger the stone, the larger the splash and the larger the resulting wave." – Arthur Jones
This was a comparison to what happens in the human body when a specific muscle is worked. The indirect effect merely describes the phenomena that when you exercise any muscle correctly growth will be produced as a result and it will effect, to a lesser extent all other muscles of the body. It has also been noticed that the effect is proximity related. The closer a muscle is to the exercised muscle, the more it is affected via this effect. Also, the larger the muscle the greater its affect on overall growth.
The common practice among hard gainer populations of performing only full squats for periods of time is base entirely upon this principle. Performance of full squats intensely will affect overall growth in the entire body. Such a program allows for a minimum drain on the system and a maximum gain on the one exercise being used. If that one exercise is the squat then the growth stimulation resulting has enormous potential because the exercise involves the largest muscle structures of the body and influences the greatest number of muscle groups.
Watch a Squatting Video Here!
This one principle lead to three properties of a good training program which are used in all circles of training to this day: 1) for good results from exercise it is essential that the program be well rounded, 2) greatest concentration should be given to working the largest muscles and 3) the training sequence should be such that larger muscles should be worked first since they have the potential to affect overall growth by the greatest amount.
2. Limit Exercise Number
Best results will almost always be produced by selecting from a number of the best exercises which involve the major muscle masses. The human body very rarely utilizes a movement in which a muscle is isolated. Therefore why would we attempt to cause muscle growth by using a large number of isolation exercises. The triceps, for example, are designed to work synergistically with the pectorals and deltoids in all pressing movements. If they are used as such they will respond to the same stimulus as the larger muscles being worked. This is also much more efficient since you can effectively work a large number of muscle groups with only a few exercises. This limits the possibility of overtraining because not as much energy is expended in the training process thereby allowing more energy for recovery and growth.
The point of overtraining is a problematic one for easily 75% of people currently attending gyms. If you aren′t making progress, even on a program that has worked in the past, you are likely overtrained. It would be very rare to find a bodybuilder who is under trained. In nearly all cases a decrease in training volume and/or frequency would yield an increase in productivity
3. High Intensity
For those who are totally new to HIT (High Intensity Training) you may not have heard of Jones′ intensity recommendations. Prepare yourself!
According to Jones, "for the production of best results one must attempt the momentarily impossible." That means you should carry each set to a point where you force against the weight on a rep even after the weight has stopped moving upward. When the weight stops mid-rep and will not move another inch, you are done the set.
I must point out that, contrary to popular belief, Jones did not encourage the use of intensity techniques to further increase momentary intensity. In Jones′ opinion such techniques were counterproductive as they would reduce the amount of tension placed on a muscle in the subsequent reps. It is unnecessary work that will be less effective. In Jones′ own words, "do the minimum necessary which causes maximum results. The set should be terminated when it is impossible to move the weight in any position." Enough said!
4. Secondary Growth Factors
Regardless of how hard you work in the gym there are certain factors that must be provided if growth is to occur. These factors are: nutrition, adequate rest, avoidance of overwork (i.e. overtraining) and psychological factors.
The first point, nutrition, is one that Jones′ was reluctant to place emphasis on. Many bodybuilders have gotten very carried away with this point. Some calling nutrition 90% of training results. This is a fallacy which must be dispelled. While it is true that continued growth cannot occur without proper nutrition there is no need for this to be a point of fanatic endeavor. The calling for large amounts of calories and protein has primarily come from those who wish to capitalize on the sale of large amounts of supplements to support outrageous diets. Though some supplements and supplemental protein/calories can be very useful and convenient, especially for hard gainers, they are not absolutely necessary for muscle growth to occur. Furthermore, no amount of creatine, HMB, glutamine, etc. is going to turn Pee Wee Herman into Dorian Yates. That′s a reality that we all must live with. Use supplements, by all means, but don′t deem them to be the holy grail to success. They are not.
Adequate rest is the other major point here. The bottom line is that you should wake each morning feeling rested and you should not have to be awakened to the sound of an alarm. If you don′t wake on your own you haven′t slept sufficiently.
5. Reciprocity Failure
This can be defined as the failure to achieve desired results. In itself this definition doesn′t seem to mean much. But with careful explanation we will see that is actually tells us a lot. Even within the confines of HIT there are extremes where results will be less than what is expected, despite the correct application of the necessary variables. This principle takes the care of the "more is better" approach. If bodybuilding training were a simple mathematical calculation it would stand to reason that if one set gave results then 10 sets would give ten times the desired result. Unfortunately, not the case. There is an intermediate point, somewhere between these two extremes, where optimal results will be achieved. However, the effects of both too much and too little training will be much the same. In both instances results will be poor. Of course the safest way to experiment with this principle is to start at the minimum of 1 set of 1 exercise and monitor progress. If no progress is noted increase to two sets and so on until desired results are noted. If the maximum is exceeded, however, the results will again depreciate to near zero. Experiment with volume, but do so carefully.
This is where I will end the first installment of this article. In my next article I will divulge the final 5 principles from Arthur Jones. In addition, I will present you with a good working routine to help you make sense of the entire article. Until then…
For Part 1, click here.
Last time I discussed the first five major points in Arthur Jones′ training articles. Indeed the first five principles that I gave you are already enough to get you started on a good routine. However with the information I′m going to present this time you should be able to formulate a program that is guaranteed to give you results.
6. Strength and Endurance
Muscular endurance, as opposed to cardiovascular endurance, is directly correlated with the strength of the muscle. That is to say that if you can complete 12 reps with x pounds of resistance you should be able to predict, with some accuracy, the amount of weight that you could move for 3, 9, 20, etc.
For this reason training for muscular strength and endurance yield the same results; stronger, more powerful, larger muscles. Increases in muscular size make strength gains possible. The relation is not 1:1 however. Strength gains will continue, via neurological efficiency increases until no further such gain is possible. At this point size must increase in order to further more strength increases.
7. The Time Factor
In order to accurately assess bodybuilding gains and maximize training efficiency, time must be considered in every training routine.
Arthur Jones also recommended assessment of distance for perfect measurement of power output. However, I believe that as long as the range of motion is kept consistent distance does not need to be ascertained. This is also a premise that Peter Sisco took in designing his training system.
Considering time as a factor can be a very simple task, or it can be the instrument of precision. At its very basic level it means recording the time, in minutes, that each entire workout takes. This works well for comparing whole workouts to one another. As long as the time period remains the same or less you are making reasonable progress, provided your poundage is increasing. If, on the other hand, the same workout begins to take you considerably longer than normal you are likely to have reached a plateau or have begun to regress.
Time keeping can also be applied to individual exercises. Jones′ solution was to carefully control the time between the beginning of one set to the beginning of the next set. His recommendation was that there should be exactly 4 minutes between when you began one set to when you began the next set. Though I am not entirely sure where the 4 minute interval came into being it seems to be a reasonable time frame. Given that the average set time is 40-70 seconds that leaves approximately 3 minutes rest between sets.
Another control measure that Jones introduced was rep speed. He suggested a rep tempo of about a 4 second negative, and a 2 second positive. This further controls the total time involved in the workout and the time involved in completing each set and/or exercise. Another one of Jones′ time control factors involved the timing of overall weekly training. He recommended that there be no more than five hours of training weekly and preferably 4 hours or less.
8. Instinctive Training….No way!
"For anything even approaching the best possible results from training, it is absolutely essential to work in direct opposition to your instincts." – Arthur Jones
This should seem obvious and yet in the gym every day you will see people wandering about with no idea of what exercise they are doing next or with what poundage. If you were to obey your instincts you would not lift weights at all. Basic instincts would involve conserving energy as much as possible, not to push yourself to the point of exhaustion for no life sustaining reason. Lets face the facts, training is a form of stress, something you body would instinctively avoid, not induce!
9. Low Volume
One, two, never more than three….sets that is. Jones was a firm believer that any more than three sets of an exercise was wasted effort and unnecessary. In general he stated the "best set scheme" was the 10, 8, 6 format. The first set of an exercise would use a sufficient amount of resistance to cause failure at 10 reps. The weight is increased on the second set to permit only 8 reps and again on the third set to allow for only 6 reps. Squats would be one of a few exceptions to this rule. In the case of squats Jones often prescribed the 20-rep breathing squat. An exercise that is still held in high esteem by the hard gainer camp. In addition to these recommendations he also did not recommend doing any more than two exercises per muscle group. In most cases, if results are not what are to be expected, a further reduction in volume is usually warranted. Upon a reduction in training volume most trainees will begin to progress rather rapidly and predictably.
For the best possible results a trainee needs to take some time off every once in awhile. However scheduled layoffs are not recommended because a trainees enthusiasm may begin to subside if anticipating a layoff. The opposite may also be true. A trainee who foresees a layoff may overwork in order to try to compensate for downtime, thereby negating the purpose of the layoff by overtraining severely before hand.
Long layoffs of anywhere from 1-4 weeks have proven beneficial in many cases. Often upon return, the trainee notices an increase in strength following the layoff. In any case if a month of training yields little results a layoff of 7-10 days is recommended.
As you can see from this short list Arthur Jones was a true innovator in the world of strength training. I do not espouse this to be anything even approaching a complete list of Jones′ principles on training. I do believe that these are the ten most prominent points but someone else may read his work and pick out an entirely different set of principles. An article by Jones was often so in-depth that one could probably pick five or six principles from a single article. Now, as if that wasn′t enough to get you going on your next routine, I′m going to finish by adding an Arthur Jones-type bodybuilding routine. Try this routine 2-3 times a week for the next 4-6 weeks and let me know what happens.
Do the following each session:
2. Stiff-legged deadlifts
3. Close supinated grip chins/pull down
4. Standing press
5. Parallel bar dips
6. Barbell curls
7. Barbell wrist curls
8. One-legged calf raise
Just these eight exercises done twice weekly is all that is needed provided that you take each set to absolute failure. If the desired results are not achieved the volume/frequency can further be reduced by dividing the program into two sessions per week of only four exercises each. Now apply all of what you have learned in the last two articles and I′ll see you in about 10-20 pounds