Muscle Math

Another great article by Greg Nuckols over at his blog Strength & Science.

What you’re getting yourself into:

~3400 words.

10-15 minute read time.

Key points

1) Having useful conceptual frameworks can help you reason through problems as they arise, rather than having to invest a ton of time to seek out each individual answer. This is especially useful if you need to make decisions on the fly or if you’re really busy.

2) Factors that fall under the umbrella of “recovery” tend to follow a power law distribution – you get the most bang for your buck from initial increases, with further increases making less and less of a difference.

3) Factors that fall under the umbrella of “stressors” tend to follow a parabolic distribution – more is better, until you overwhelm your body’s ability to adapt.

4) “Recovery” factors, and things such as training status, drugs, and genetics can shift the stress curve, increasing or decreasing the amount of stress you can handle.

This article isn’t anything groundbreaking. For half of you, you’ll probably read along thinking “I’d had similar thoughts before, but I wasn’t quite sure how to express it.” For the other half, you’ll read along thinking, “I already know this, but it’s nice to have all of this in one place so I can link it and save myself the typing when I see one of these arguments on Facebook or in a forum somewhere.”

Of late, it’s come into vogue to attack just about every piece of practical gym wisdom, decrying it as “broscience,” with the implication being that if it’s “broscience,” it’s automatically ineffective. Now, I’m all for science (look at the site’s name or the linked article, for example), but I think people are taking things a step too far.

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