Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Study Spotlight: Training Volume and Muscle Hypertrophy: What is the Optimal Dose?

By: Andrew Jagim

Training for muscle hypertrophy (increasing muscle growth) typically includes a higher training volume.  But is there an optimal dose or training volume that is need to maximize muscle growth?

A recent review paper covered this topic in detail and tried to identify whether or not there was a dose-response relationship between training volume and muscle hypertrophy.

What did they do?
The investigators compiled various articles within the literature to identify a relationship between weekly training volume and changes in muscle mass over time using a meta-analysis approach. Specifically this included 34 different treatment groups from 15 separate publications that completed a structured training program and measured indices of muscle mass.

What did they find?
The researchers found a strength association between weekly training volume and increase in muscle size.  For example, they found that each additional set (of a particular exercise) resulted in a percentage gain in muscle of approximately 0.37%. As seen in the table below:

When weekly sets completed were categorized as either lower (<5 sets per muscle) or higher (10+ sets per muscle) there was a difference in lean muscle development of approximately 3.9% suggesting that there is in fact a dose-response relationship between training volume and muscle hypertrophy over time.

Take Home Message:
If your goal is to maximize muscle development it appears as though a higher training volume is the key.  From a physiological, neuromuscular and metabolic standpoint a higher training volume seems to create the "perfect storm" of an anabolic environment to facilitate increases in muscle growth over time.  Specifically, the combination of a moderate to heavy load, performed until near-failure (higher volume) appears to maximize the intracellular signaling mechanisms that are responsible to muscle growth. Further, a higher training volume will result in greater time under tension which creates a higher degree of mechanical tension on the muscle, ultimately leading to a higher degree of exercise induced muscle damage (Again a powerful anabolic stimulus).

This will also systematically recruit and fatigue multiple motor units and their corresponding muscle fibers.  Lastly, the higher volume will create a greater degree of metabolic stress which means an increased production of metabolic byproducts within the muscle that also serve to stimulate protein synthesis and lead to greater muscular development overt time.  So if you're looking to increase lean body mass, try ramping up the training volume. It's important to note that this is weekly training volume, so a greater training frequency would also provide this benefit, instead of just doing more sets in a single training session.

Full Article Here

No comments: