Jul 202016

Brent Contreras discusses the latest science on muscle hypertrophy with Brad Schoenfeld so if you want to be up on the latest info be sure to read the article.

Sports science and strength and conditioning experts have been speculating about the mechanisms that create skeletal muscle hypertrophy for decades. One of the first mainstream fitness writers to summarize the popular scientific mechanisms of the time was Lyle McDonald. In his 1998 book on ketogenic dieting, Lyle proposed 4 distinct mechanisms of hypertrophy: tension, metabolic work, eccentric muscle actions, and hormonal response to weight training. This was 18 years ago and was the best synopsis of the research at the time.

Brad’s Conceptual Hypertrophy Model

Twelve years later, in 2010, Brad Schoenfeld published a review article in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research titled, The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training. In this classic article, Brad proposed that hypertrophic stimuli from resistance training fall into three categories: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. Brad didn’t invent these categories out of thin air. Although he was the first link cell swelling research to da pump in bodybuilding and comprehensively summarize and categorize the literature pertaining to skeletal muscle hypertrophy, the three mechanisms had been proposed long before Brad popularized them. Rather, he conducted a thorough examination of the literature and provided a research-based case as to why they may be involved in the hypertrophic response to resistance training.

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Jul 192016

Derek Charlebois on his new website PR-BREAKERS covers the principles he uses for creating an effective training program. Some really great information and Derek offers coaching as well to help you achieve your goals if its something you are interested in.

A training program should be structured with individual workouts that work in conjunction together towards a long-term goal and results. Anyone can design a workout routine to cause fatigue and make you feel tired. Feeling tired does not mean the workout was productive towards your long-term goal unless your goal is to simply burn calories. If you are reading this it is safe to say that is not your goal; your goal is not only to improve your physique and strength but also to optimize your program to achieve those goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. This article will go over the PR-BREAKER training principles.

3 Primary Principles of an Effective Training Program

The three primary principles of an effective training program are (1) specificity, (2) progressive overload, and (3) adherence.


If you want to get better at something then you have to do it; weight training is no different. This is known as the SAID Principle.

SAID Principle = Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands

A training program should be structured to accomplish a specific goal. If your goal is to increase your 1-RM squat strength then you need to include low rep squat training in your program. If you want your shoulders to get bigger then you need to include shoulder exercises in your training program. That may seem pretty straightforward and self-explanatory, but often times ones program is not structured optimally to accomplish their goals.

Progressive Overload

Muscle hypertrophy and increased strength are adaptations to overload beyond what the body is accustomed to with weight training serving as the stimulus. If the training stimulus never increases and you simply do what your body is accustomed to, then there is no reason for your muscles to get bigger or stronger. This is the principle of progressive overload.

Principle of Progressive Overload = lifting heavier weights and/or completing more reps with a given weight over time.

I believe that getting stronger (over time) in all rep ranges is the best way to stimulate long-term progress and should be the focal point of all strength-training programs.


It does not matter how optimal a training program is, if you don’t or can’t follow the program then it will not deliver results. For example, if research showed squatting five times per week at 80% of your 1-RM lead to the greatest strength gains but every time your tried to follow that program you got injured then it is not the ideal/optimal program for you. Or if you can only weight train 3 days per week then a 5-day/week training split will not work for your schedule. Your training program must be structured as something you can adhere to consistently.

I also feel one should ENJOY their training program. If you hate your training program then chances are you are not going to stick to it long term or may not put your full effort into your workouts.

All training programs should be built around these three primary principles. In addition to the above, there are other general principles I feel one should follow to maximize results.

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Jul 142016

New article by Peter Fitschen, PhD over at TigerFitness.com on should you use a bulking diet on in your offseason? To answer this question you have to look at a variety of factors to determine that answer for you. One size does not fit all and Peter does a great job of examining all the factors one should consider before embarking on their offseason.

You just finished your last contest of a very successful contest season. A few days have passed and you are feeling lost. The food, training, cardio, posing, and other aspects of contest prep have taken up a large portion of your free time in the past months.

Through your hard work, your goal has been achieved and the offseason is here, but you are unsure of where to go next. Do you stay stage-lean? Do you gain weight? If so, how much weight should you gain?

Many competitors can relate to this scenario so I wanted to address some of the factors to consider when determining how much weight a competitor should gain in the offseason.

However, before getting into these factors, let’s make it clear that staying stage-lean year round is not healthy or sustainable. When an individual diets down to stage-lean conditioning, there is a reduction in numerous hormones including testosterone, thyroid hormone and leptin with an increase in other hormones such as cortisol and ghrelin.

BodybuilderTaken together, these hormonal changes result in reductions in metabolic rate, increased hunger, and muscle strength and size loss. All of these changes are common and have even been observed in high level natural bodybuilders during successful contest preps.

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Jul 132016

New article by Layne Norton, PhD over at Bodybuilding.com on why workouts lasting more then an hour will not hurt your gains.

You may have heard about the perils of stretching your workouts beyond the one-hour mark for fear of becoming “catabolic.” Here’s why you shouldn’t let this old bodybuilding legend guide you!

One of the (many) accepted “truths” of bodybuilding I’ve always had a problem with is the notion that if you train for more than an hour, you will become catabolic due to increases in the hormone cortisol. To hear some people describe it, there’s a massive reservoir of a toxic gains-melting substance hidden away in your body, attached to a ticking clock like a time bomb.

I understand where people who propagate this idea are coming from, and it’s logical at first glance. Bodybuilders want to avoid cortisol at all costs because it’s catabolic, right? While this seems very simple, the truth of the matter is actually much more complex.

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Jul 082016

This is the forth interview in this new podcast series by 3DMJ. This time Andrea interviews coach Jeff Alberts, aka “The Godfather”. Jeff created 3D Muscle Journey as a blog to chronicle his 2009 contest prep and from there it has grown into what is is today. Jeff has been bodybuilding for 30 years and he shares his amazing journey with all of us.

Jul 052016

A really good article by Eric Bach over at T Nation on how to how to smash through sticking points and plateaus in the squat and deadlift.

How to Smash Sticking Points and Plateaus

Here’s what you need to know…

  1. The conventional wisdom is to add more volume to bust through a strength plateau. However, what works in theory doesn’t always work in real world practice.
  2. The real enemies are specific weaknesses, like missing a lockout on a deadlift because you can’t extend your hips. To fix it, you need to strengthen the weak point directly and improve body tension.
  3. After strengthening your sticking points with heavy weights, increase the total stress on the muscle with submaximal loading. This will build strength, stability, and awareness.
  4. You’re only as strong as your weakest link. You need to hammer your weak-points with high-tension specific lifts to push your leg training forward.

Getting stuck on a lift is part of the game. You crush your squats and deadlifts, day in and day out, and then, wham! Homeostasis. Your strength gains stop dead in their tracks. Sticking points are the plague of high-performance bodies… unless you do something about them.

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Jun 302016

Jeff presents another amazing roundtable discussion, this time on the topic of training volume. This is 2 hours long but covers a ton of information and experience from knowledgeable coaches who discuss if minimum effective volume or maximum recoverable volume is the best approach to optimal gains?