Short ‘n’ healthful article:
You’re a few months into a resistance training program. Good work! You achieved some nice gains (bro) initially, but now you’ve plateaued. You’re flat and you know it! You want to change things up, but simply don’t know how. Before you raise this global issue with the UN, why not try this little exercise hack?
What is this hack you speak of?
Agh yes, a superb question, Sir/Madam! The hack is to perform a set of a weightlifting exercise at a low load – approximately 20% of your one rep max – until failure before you commence your traditional resistance training program. Ideally this exercise should incorporate as many muscle groups you’re about to work as possible.
Why would I ever, ever do that?
Brilliant question again. Performing exhaustive exercise before weightlifting will only make my performance worse, right? Wrong! Maybe.
The premise is that this low load exhaustive exercise will fatigue the type-one muscle fibres. These muscle fibres are the ones we use for endurance (aerobic) type exercise, which are also the fibres that have minimal effect on muscle bulk, tone, shape. If we’re fatiguing these type-one fibres, it means that when we do our traditional resistance training program, we’re solely utilising our type-two (anaerobic) fibres. This preferential type-two recruitment should then mean: more bulk, tone and shape from our resistance training.
Does this hack work:
Yes, the all important question: is this hack, in fact, a hack? Well based on a recent study, yes. In this study individuals either performed a traditional resistance training program, or a traditional resistance training program with one set of exhaustive, low-load exercise beforehand. The group that did the additional low-load exercise prior reported significantly greater increases in: strength, hypertrophy (muscle size) and muscular endurance and believe it or not the changes were of a fairly large magnitude! So should you try it? Is it healthful?
Is it healthful:
In short, yes. This hack appears moderately healthful. As I have said previously, these findings are based on a single, low-moderate quality study. So it’s no guarantee that these findings weren’t simply due to chance. However, it’s unlikely to be detrimental to performance, so why not give it a bloody good, hard crack?
I hope this has been healthful? Have you tried this before, or do you think it will work? Lettuce know (funny joke)!