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The Importance Of Sets In Your Muscle Building Program
By: Rick Mitchell

In an earlier article we looked at how repetitions contribute to the muscle building process, but is the position regarding sets just as clear cut? Unfortunately, the answer to this is no as some experts feel one set to failure is sufficient, whereas others argue that multiple sets are needed to ensure maximum muscle gains.

Research to date suggests that, when using six to eight repetitions to failure at 75-80% 1RM, there is little significant difference between training with single and multiple sets in terms of increasing either strength or muscle size. Any small differences that have been recorded indicate that a single set completed to failure encourages strength gains but subsequent sets have a slightly greater impact on muscle size. What is clear is that the law of diminishing returns applies, so you have to question if the marginal improvements in size justify the extra time and effort expended.

Like everything else in life, bodybuilding does not remain static and several cutting edge experts have redefined the boundaries of achievement. Increasingly, serious athletes are using methods that extend the set beyond the point of failure. This involves forcing the muscle to perform more work despite having experienced failure in the previous rep. In practice, you perform one last forced repetition with the help of a training partner.

This obviously calls for great commitment and high motivation but the rewards include better mass gains thanks to the greater muscular overload. Such intensive training places additional importance on the need to lift with sound technique and to incorporate sufficient recovery time into your muscle building program.

About the Author

Rick Mitchell is the creator of the bodybuildingadvisor.com website that provides guidance and information to athletes at all levels of bodybuilding experience. Go to Bodybuilding Advice to learn more about the issues covered in this article.


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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape

 

Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.


Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
shocks.

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
speaking.

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
time.

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:
http://tinyurl.com/6c6kq
 

Dave Snape

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