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Do What Works

Posted Nov 17 2008 9:09pm

Here's a neat study that looks at different resistance training programs.  Rugby players were tested to measure their testosterone response to four different lifting protocols:

  • Four sets of 10 repetitions (reps) at 70% of one repetition maximum (1RM)
  • Three sets of five reps at 85% 1RM
  • Five sets of 15 reps at 55% of 1RM
  • Three sets of 5 reps at 40% 1RM

For each player, the protocols that produced the highest and lowest testosterone response were noted.  Players then followed their "maximum testosterone" program for three weeks.  Finally, players alternated and performed their "minimum testosterone" program for three weeks.

When following the maximum testosterone program, all athletes increased strength and bodyweight.  When following the minimum testosterone program, 75% of athletes made no progress or actually had a decline.

This is one of the reasons I don't think blanket recommendations work for everyone.  This study clearly showed there were individual differences in the response to the various routines.  When people followed what best suited them, they made progress.  When they didn't, the made no progress or even regressed.

I think the lesson from this study is pretty simple: do what works.  While one program may work great for a friend or for Mr. Universe, it may not work for you.  Eventually, individualized lifting programs based on genetics and scientific testing will probably be available to everyone.  Until then, listening to your body and making appropriate adjustments can lead to success.

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