Knowledge

Training leads and muscle follows (EN76)

By Hammer Nutrition

Athletes searching for training protocols to improve strength using NMES (neuromuscular electrical stimulation) find a variety of plans. Some find a mixed training plan that incorporates the variety of strength training programs week by week. In a mixed training plan, the programs selected account for the demands of a particular sport and whether or not the athlete is in a precompetitive or competitive phase of their training. Other plans focus on building one kind of strength for a minimum of three weeks and continue it for up to eight weeks. Can you expect similar results from these different approaches to building strength? The answer is no, so pick the kind of plan that helps you meet your goals.

An important consideration when selecting workouts that best meet your needs is "muscle specificity," a concept that helps accurately predict the outcome of the whole spectrum of training practices. While it's a simple concept, it can help any athlete make decisions about how best to meet their athletic goals.

Muscle specificity can apply to any and all characteristics of skeletal muscle function. Whether it's the energy delivery system, (aerobic, anaerobic, or alactate,), the speed at which a muscle contracts (slowly, quickly, and everything in between), the amount of force applied at various points throughout a muscle's range of motion, or the kind of muscle contraction (concentric, eccentric, or isometric), the muscle can be trained specifically. The flip side is that specific training produces specific results. Just because one is well trained to sprint has little to do with how well that individual can perform if not sprinting. We all have experienced this firsthand.

It's not only the workouts you do, but also how many times per week and how many weeks you consistently do it that affect the outcome. When it comes to building strength, one time per week will show some improvement initially, but the rate of gain will quickly slow down and plateau. Two times per week is far better for gaining the desired adaptations, and continued improvement will last for many more weeks. Given that you need to recover from NMES strength training, three times per week is often enough to acquire the maximum amount of gain and the proper amount of recovery.

How many weeks the training is extended affects the amount of gain as well. Measured significant improvement takes about three weeks to realize when using the Strength and Resistance programs. Up to six weeks is required to see a significant improvement with the Endurance building program. The inevitable plateau from weeks of training in a specific way occurs in about 8 weeks when using the Strength and Resistance programs, and 10-12 weeks when employing the Endurance program. Once a plateau is reached, change the way in which you train to avoid stale performances.

Below are two possible approaches to training with a Compex. There are a lot of similarities between Scenarios One and Two; the major difference is in the number of weeks that a particular program is applied. The results will be different as well. In Scenario One, the gains will come, but they won't be fully developed in one area. This is a way to touch more bases and spread the gains out over a broader set of adaptations. In Scenario Two, the programs are applied over many weeks and the gains are significantly greater, but the set of adaptations are narrow and focused.

Which way is better? "Better" depends on what kind of outcome you desire. I like to employ both methods. During off-season, Scenario Two makes more sense to me. Once the three specific adaptations that result from applying the Strength, Resistance, and Endurance programs are fully developed and you're close to the season's competitions, switching to Scenario One to maintain the gains and focus more on the intensity and volume that comes from practicing your particular sport makes a good deal of sense. Not a new approach and certainly not the only approach, it is a common one used in a majority of sports. Like any approach that works, it doesn't ignore the principles of muscle specificity, training frequency, and plateau effect.

No matter what approach you take, build strength with a Compex. It works! HN

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