The Avengers Address Three Recent FAQs…
At Avenger Fitness, we get questions on all varieties of topics, however, three have popped up with a higher-than-normal frequency as of late so let’s explore them!
Topic 1: Am I over-training?
Topic 2: Should I do fasted cardio?
Topic 3: I can’t get my legs to grow. Any tips or suggestions?
Over-Training vs. Over-Taxing: Though true “over training” is possible, it’s actually highly rare. This does not mean, however, that an individual is not over doing it when it comes to their workout programming and execution. A well-respected author and fitness professional (Christian Thibaudeau) does a solid job in articulating the symptoms of “over taxing” the body during training and the need for additional recovery. Check out his article from T-nation here. If you’re experiencing a number of the symptoms he outlines, I’d recommend baking in additional rest/recovery days into your training programming, reducing volume, and/or altering workout theory/methodology incorporating less CNS-taxing (central nervous system) heavy-weight training and replacing with more time-under-tension/lighter weight “muscle pump” work. Variety in training methodology is critical (independent of overtaxing) for optimizing muscle growth (hypertrophy). Leveraging a program design with undulating periodization helps ensure maximal progress without over-taxation. (Note: programming for one’s self can be a daunting task! Let us at AvengerFitness assist! We excel here…
Should I do fasted cardio? I read somewhere this is smart! Answer: NO! This is one of those topics which continues to pop up from a media and un/under-informed health fitness professional standpoint. There is no appreciable benefit of performing cardiovascular exercise in a fasted state. (for detailed reading, click here for a well-conducted university study on the topic). There is, however, a distinction worth communicating relative to HOW cardio exercise is executed. Outside of training for a particular endurance event/sport (think marathon running, triathlon, etc.) for the “average” gym goer and/or individual looking to alter body composition (reduce body fat and retain/gain lean body mass), leveraging a “sprinting” type of cardio workout (HIIT training) is optimal. An example of this would be doing bike sprints for 30 seconds of maximal effort (8 to 10 exertion range on a scale of 10) followed by a 1 minute to 1:30 recovery period (2 to 3 exertion range on a scale of 10). Repeat 4 to 8 times.
I can’t get my legs to grow. Any tips or suggestions?
Recently I competed in a NPC bodybuilding competition. Though I’ve always had solid leg genetics, for the sport of bodybuilding, it’s said that legs can always be bigger! I leveraged three strategies during my grueling 6-month preparation prior to competing. Cumulatively, these strategies allowed me to actually gain leg size during a cut (while cutting down body fat levels for the competition). Note: these are strategies for an intermediate to advanced lifter and not recommended for beginners.
Strategy one: Execute 100’s (1 unbroken set of 100 reps) on the leg press machine every workout to build endurance, capillary volume in the legs, and mental fortitude! Yes…that’s correct. Not just on “leg day” but if one trains 4 times a week, that’s 4 times a week of 100’s. Think of it as a workout “warm up” exercise no matter what you’re training that day. For details on how to do this, reference this solid article from T-nation on the topic.
Strategy two: split “leg day” into two days…one day for hamstrings, glutes, and calves; the other for quadriceps. I’ve often experienced that when someone REALLY trains legs hard, one of these two areas becomes second fiddle from a focus and energy standpoint. If I start with quads, typically hammies suffer or vice-versa. The fix: give each their own day! If leg size is a priority, remember Arnold Schwarzenegger’s advice on the “prioritization principle” and this becomes the focus of your energy, dedication, and drive. I would challenge anyone training to pick ONE focus area at a time and develop this area. Scattered focus = minimal or no results.
Strategy three: leverage different training techniques, particularly BFR (blood flow restriction) training for quadraceps. There is a lot of good research and information recently on the value and efficacy of BFR training. A great resource is ASPI (The Applied Science & Performance Institute) in Tampa Florida headed up by Dr. Jacob Wilson. (Click here for a detailed explanation of BFR training philosophy and its execution.)
This advanced training methodology allows one to utilize less weight while achieving maximal muscle pumps (cell swelling theory of hypertrophy) to promote muscle growth. For the experienced lifter, I’d wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try. It’s clearly not for the faint-of-heart as the band restriction on the quadraceps cause some degree of discomfort. And caution must be exercised as to not over-tighten the restriction bands as one does not want to impair arterial blood flow. Before trying this technique, make sure to read the above article from Dr. Wilson and watch the accompanying video on proper execution.