Friday, August 16, 2013

The Colorado Experiment - How to make Hulk green with envy

Hey guys,

Because of the great success of the GVT posts I decided to write some more stuff about fast and effective increase of muscle mass. In todays post I want to summerize the findings/methods from a very interesting strength experiment that could help you to increase strength and muscle mass very fast as well. You may have heard about the Colorado experiment before (Tim Ferris has written about it in "The 4-Hour Body" and I have written about it in "The LLA-Method").

In the world of real bodybuilding there was an experiment at the Colorado State University in May 1973 that has been much-noticed in the last years. This experiment was conducted by Arthur Jones et. al.

The Colorado Experiment

During a 28 days lasting experiment the former bodybuilder Casey Viator increased his lean muscle mass by approx. 63 lbs. [28.67kg] in total (and, additionally, he lost 18 lbs. [8.13kg] body fat in that time). He exercised just 14 times, always on an average of 33.6 minutes! He swears that he hadn’t used any illegal drugs during the experiment.

How could Viator achieve such unbelievable results?

His training was based on some main principles that are still up-to-date:

High Intensity – Viator had followed the HIT principle. Extremely high intensity to muscle failure had been his standard procedure in every single exercise (in his case he had chosen the weights so that he could perform approx. 10 reps per set). He had done only a single set of each exercise per session. A special focus had been on the correct execution of the movements (to avoid injuries!).

Training Volume – Due to the high intensity to muscle failure within one set, there was no need to train longer or more often. Today it is well known among scientists and trainers that a training session should be less than 60 minutes, because afterwards your body starts to release a huge amount of the stress hormone Cortisol. The result of this process is that you actually lose muscle mass (catabolic effect) instead of increasing it. Of course, this negative effect is partly compensated (sometimes overcompensated) by the stimuli of the training. Nevertheless, if you exercise too long, you waste a lot of valuable life time for small or, worst case, negative effects on your body.

Eccentric Contractions (lengthening contraction) – By now many sport scientists of this world have confirmed that the eccentric part of an exercise is worth a bit more (or at least the same) than the concentric when it comes to effective strength and muscle building training. It can be said that eccentric muscle work is almost always the second part of the movement, when you move back to the start position. Now that you know that eccentric contractions are an important part of an exercise, it is weird that many of all trainees who you can see in the gyms don’t pay any attention to this part of the movement. Estimated 80% of the (mostly male) trainees try to lift (or move) big weights (uncontrolled and with momentum) and neglect the eccentric part totally (e.g. when they perform lat pulldowns they let jolt up the bar or they let the barbell almost fall down on their chest while performing bench presses). For an efficient and target-aimed training you should execute the concentric part explosively and the eccentric part slowly and controlled (3-4 seconds).

Quality – During the whole experiment they had focused strictly on complete and correct movement execution.

Further key success factors that were important for the experiment were:

-Application of supersets

-Sufficient sleep and recovery

-Usage of a full body workout program in every session

It would be overconfident to think that everyone of us is capable to copy Viator’s results easily. He is, undoubtly, a real „beast“, who has enormous mental strength at his disposal and his genetic predisposition is a „one of a kind“ thing as well, for sure. Nevertheless all of us can learn some things from this experiment and the latest training science findings to improve our workout routines.

Cheers,
Andi