The Science Behind Brevity Training
A few months ago I released a book whose title was more reminiscent of a line out of “There’s Something About Mary” than a serious work on fitness. “7 Minute Muscle” — yep, it’s getting more and more difficult to distinguish fact from parody.
Here’s the real irony: Of the 27 testimonials I’ve received that I deem worth of publishing on the web, over a dozen were from fitness professionals. I’m not talking about “doctors” with a gut as large as their paycheck. I’m speaking of guys and girls with both academic and real-world experience in the fitness and bodybuilding world.
There were exceptions of course. My friend John Berardi, while saying some nice things about the work, couldn’t endorse it due to the emphasis on shorter training sessions. That’s cool. Everyone has a different approach. But the overwhelming number of folks with consonants behind their names — those who read the book and applied the principles — had wonderful things to say.
There’s a reason for that: The workout protocol is based on the science of hypertrophy as well as psychophysiology, the science of the mind/body connection.
I will delve into the mental aspects of the protocols in a later blog. For now, since most of Will’s readers are experienced, educated and (dare I say it) hard-core, let’s get into the meat.
“7 Minute Muscle” is primarily a density training system that demands varying rep ranges done within specific time periods. It factors in the six primary hypertrophic variables: Intensity, Load, Volume, Density, Time and Force. (Time includes rest intervals as well as the time required to perform a given task.)
A layman’s take on one of the basic laws of physics states that time and energy are inter-related. Doing the same amount of work in less time demands more energy, which translates into more power. While power is a factor in training, our interest is focused on forcing muscle growth and adaptation.
Other routines, of course, utilize density. Vince Gironda’s infamous 8 sets of 8, EDT and so-forth. 7 Minute Muscle goes a bit further by varying rest, load factors and repetition range. Reps will vary from as low as one rep to as much as ten, and all of this is at the trainee’s discretion. They have only one objective: Increase the aggregate repetition count from one training session to the next. Since time is limited (broken down into two phases: A Power Phase of no more than 5 repetitions and a Mass Phase of no more than 10 repetitions) the trainee is given a system that more accurately measure the seventh and most crucial factor of hypertrophy: Progression.
More work in less time. Variable repetition ranges. Variable rest intervals. And all in seven minutes (for beginners.) Intermediate and advanced-level trainees are given 14 and 21-minute protocols if they wish to implement them. I myself rarely go beyond 14 minutes, as that is all that’s required to stimulate muscle growth.
I will cover health factors, cardiovascular work, ab training, and the science of mind and body in future posts.