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Clarifying A Jaw Dropping Study

Written on February 27, 2008 at 12:12 pm, by Eric Cressey

Q: Just got The Art of the Deload. The overtraining study you quoted was fairly jaw dropping (for me). I always thought intensity overtraining was worse than volume, but it appears to be the opposite. Given that study, it would appear to me that the best way to induce hypertrophy (via rep work) would do a 1 set to within 1 rep of failure, then do rest pauses or drops, but not to total failure. Thus, you have minimum nervous system fatigue and little potentially anabolic hormone level lowering volume fatigue. Do you agree?

A: I wouldn’t say that one is necessarily worse than the other – just that intensity-related overtraining is tougher to detect. Basically, a performance drop-off is all that you’ll see (nothing endocrine, and no muscle damage markers).

I think the secret is fluctuation of training stress. It’s always about finding a balance between stressors and tolerance to stress. Supplements can help, sleep can help, minimizing stress can help – and the same goes for a host of other factors. The right answer is constantly fluctuating based on what’s going on in the world outside the gym. What you outlined might work one week, be too little another week, and too much in a third week. The secret is to listen to your body and eventually learn to be one step ahead of it.

Eric Cressey

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