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Resistance training

Maximum gain without wasting precious time

Where do you fit?

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Start off slowly if you are a beginner - safety first always

Weight Loss and Toning

Once-a-week only eg using the Big-5 [below]

Intermediate and Advanced
Body Sculpting and Body Building

Split Routines 2 - 3 times a week
An optimal diet and post-exercise supplementation important for everyone

Step number 3 is critical at any stage for everyone.

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Is weight training worth the effort?

Read on to see why this is so important

Frustrated that you have tried everything and not achieved the body shape you want or the weight loss you desire?

  • Many people work hard in the gym or on their diets and fail
  • Diet is critical to success
  • Resistance training done effectively can be of absolutely great benefit to help you achieve your aims.

Suitable for anyone wanting to look good, feel good, stay strong and age well. 

  • Anyone from 18 years to 80 years and beyond - more info
  • Anyone who wants to lose weight or maintain weight
  • Anyone wanting to body tone or body sculpt and to minimize body fat percentage
  • Anyone wanting to increase lean muscle mass and body-build
  • Anyone wanting to stay healthy, fit, lean and strong throughout life
  • Anyone wanting to prevent osteoporosis as they age.
  • Anyone who wants an exercise routine that minimizes the risk for long-term injury:

              Minimize long-term injuries click here for more info

Are the benefits worth the effort - the answer is a resounding - YES?

Please get a medical clearance before beginning any strenuous exercise program!


Click to enlarge

4 Distinct Fibre Types

Classification of the four fibre types in humans

Respiration Endurance Capability Growth
Type I Slow, Oxidative [SO] Oxygen Slow to fatigue Low Low
Type IIA Fast, Oxidative [FO] Oxygen Fatigue resistant Mild Low
Type IIAB Fast, Oxidative,
Oxygen +
Intermediate Moderate Moderate
Type IIB Fast Glycolytic [FG] Anaerobic Fatigues Rapidly Greatest HIgh

Keeping it simple: Think of two fibre types

  • It may be easier to think only about two of these fibres ---
    Type 1's and the Type IIB's as these are the extremes.
  • All the other muscle fibres in terms of strength, metabolic features and potential to grow will fall somewhere between these two extremes of muscle fibre types.

Strength Contraction Growth Potential
Type I Weakest Early Very Low
Type IIB Strongest



Conservation of energy: The Orderly Recruitment of Muscle Fibres

  • Throught our evolutionary development, conservation of energy has been a vital issue.
  • For most of mankind's history, starvation has been a real threat and so wasting energy made no sense if it could be avoided.
  • This exquisite balance of the need for power versus energy conservation is seen with muscle contraction. The following quote presents this aspect well:

    "In line with our species’ proclivity to conserve energy whenever possible, the brain will first attempt to contract against a resistance by recruiting only the slow fibers, which will prove inadequate for the task. The brain will then recruit the FO’s [fast, oxidative] and, shortly thereafter, the FOG [fast oxidative, glycolytic] fibers to assist with the task of contraction. If the weight is light or moderate, these are all the fibers that will need to be recruited. However, if the weight is heavy enough, a signal will be sent out to engage the elusive FG [fast, glycolytic] fibers17."

Muscle Fibre Recovery

Great difference between Type I's and Type IIB's

Muscle Fibre Recovery Time: Defining muscle exhaustion

  • Muscle exhaustion is where you cannot complete a final repetition [rep] and where the muscle fails to lift that load.
  • What you are aiming for is to lift a moderate load to the point where you cannot lift it again and to do this within 90 seconds.
  • Remember, this particular load will get bigger and bigger as you get stronger and stronger as the weeks pass by.
  • If you are trying to build bigger muscles, you will need to aim for higher and higher loads.
  • If you are trying to become lean or simply 'ripped' ie getting muscle definition, then you will stop at a weight load that provides you with the muscularity you desire.

  • The Type IIB muscle fibres are thought to be recruited only within the last 2 to 20 seconds of contraction near muscle exhaustion17.
  • The Type IIB muscle fibres once ‘tapped’ will take 4 – 10 days to recover17.
  • For this reason, frequent gym training will be of no benefit. If weight training was recommenced prior to the Type IIBs recovering, say after 3 days of rest, you will find that muscle exhaustion will occur much earlier than your previous session as the Type IIB fibres that are still recovering, will not be available for recruitment and contraction17.
  • Recovery, repair and growth of muscles will only occur after adequate rest!
  • In contrast to the Type IIB muscle fibres, the Type 1 muscle fibres, which are the endurance fibres, will be available for recruitment and contraction after only 90 seconds of rest17.

Aim to reach exhaustion within 90 seconds

  • In contrast to the Type IIB muscle fibres which can take 4 – 10 days to recover, the Type 1 muscle fibres, which are the endurance fibres, will be available for recruitment and contraction after only 90 seconds of rest17.
  • According to the book Body by Science, “ …it is desirable to employ a moderately heavy weight that allows you to progress through all motor-unit types quickly enough to recruit them all, but not so quickly that only the fast-twitch fibers receive the bulk of the stimulation, and not so slowly that the slow-twitch and/or intermediate-twitch motor units can recover and you end up cycling through the same lower-order motor units again17.”

Weight to be used

  • A weight that is too light will not be sufficient to engage the Type IIB muscle fibres. By the time muscle exhaustion occurs, only the slow-twitch Type I’s and the intermediate muscle fibres will be engaged.
  • If you use a weight that is too high ie one that will only allow say 2 – 3 repetitions for muscle exhaustion to occur, what happens in this instance is that all the muscle fibres will be recruited simultaneously. The Type IIB fibres will then drop off rapidly as these powerful fibres fatigue very quickly. Your repetitions will have ended far too quickly to have adequately recruited the Type 1’s and the intermediate fibres.

Your Aim

  • Is to find a moderate weight that will result in exhaustion within 90 seconds.
  • Use machines rather than free weights as these are less likely to cause injury and offer no greater advantage. According to Dr Doug McGuff:

    "The fact of the matter is that your muscles deal only with force-production requirements, which, in turn, are determined by the resistance to which the muscles are exposed ---whether that resistance comes in the form of a free weight, a Nautilus machine, or a bucket of rocks. The scientific literature backs this up: according to the few properly performed studies that measured the effects of free weights versus machines, both are equally effective.17"
  • Keep a through record of the exercise, date and weight used so that you can adjust the weight upwards as your strength increases.
  • Use a moderate weight that will ensure orderly recruitment of all the fibre types including the elusive Type IIB’s which will only be recruited in the last few seconds near exhaustion.
  • Going beyond this 90 second threshold will mean that the endurance Type I fibres will start to recover and you will begin to recruit and recycle these endurance fibres once again as your Type IIB’s will have been exhausted and will have become unavailable for 4 – 10 days for recruitment once again.

Hitting the 'Glycogen Ceiling'

By doing too much high intensity exercise!

If you train intensely for more than 90 minutes at a time, you may deplete your body of muscle and liver glycogen. Your training will suffer if you don't use strategies that replenish these glycogen stores. Using the principles in The Golden Hour, is a recognized scientific, evidence-based approach to ensure not only glycogen replenishment but also protein synthesis after exercise.

What is the glycogen ceiling?:                       

Big-5 Resistance Exercise

Train to exhaustion

To summarize: Do a warm-up of the muscle group but only 1 'serious-set' to exhaustion

  • Do a full-body warm up on a treadmill, stepper or a rowing machine--- for say 10 minutes. First 5 minutes low-medium pace and last 5 minutes at a higher pace that is comfortable for you. You should have a sweat on your brow at the end of this warm-up.
  • Go to a weight machine or free-weights 
  • Warm up the muscle group you are going to exercise with a light and very comfortable weight that is very easy to lift. Do 20-30 reps for all the reasons mentioned above.
  • Next increase the weight to enable you to reach exhaustion withing 90 seconds to prevent the Type-1's and lower intermediate muscle fibres 'kicking-in' again. Then move onto your next exercicse.
  • Remember, you will only do 1 serious rep to exhaustion per muscle group and then rest this group for the rest of the week.

The Big-5 Exercises: click to see the benefits

  1. The Chest Press
  2. The Pulldown
  3. The Leg Press
  4. Seated Row
  5. Overhead Press

Suitable for

  • The beginner - a trainer's input is advised
  • Anyone wanting to decrease body fat percentage
  • Body-tone or body-sculpt
  • Build strength
  • Maintain muscle mass through life

1. The Chest Press

  • Involves the pectoralis major and minor [the chest muscles], the deltoids and the triceps muscles.

2. The Pulldown

  • Try to also use an 'underhand' grip not just the overhand grip as shown in the image.

  • Keep the hands a little narrower than the shoulders for the best results.
  • Exhaust the muscles within 90 seconds
  • Involves back and front muscles of the torso, the abdominals in the slumping position [lowering the shoulders towards the hips when performing this exercise], the biceps, the triceps, the rhomboids, strongly activates the clavicular portion of the pectoralis muscle, the lattisimus dorsi and strong activation of the forearm flexors.

3. The Leg Press

  • Involves the entire lower body from the waist down
  • Strongly involves the Hamstrings and Quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh
  • The Gastrocnemius [calf] muscle is also recruited
  • Involves the hip and buttock muscles

4. Seated Row

  • Activates the lattisimus dorsi muscles of the back, the rhomboids [muscles between the shoulder blades], the spinal extensor muscles [these run all the way from the lower to the upper spine], the flexor forearm muscles, biceps and brachioradialis muscles.

5. Overhead press

  • The triceps mucles [on the back of the upper arm] are strongly involved, the deltoids the pectoral [chest] muscles are also involved with this exercise.

Workout Record

Keep a record to gauge progress

Keeping a record

  • A simple record system has been created for the Big-Five Exercises - you can download this free file and print this to record 6 sessions [6 weeks]
  • You can use this as a guide to record your own routine
  • Keeping track of time you commenced to the end of the last exercise is also important as this is a measure of performance. If you take longer than usual, your performance has slipped backwards.

pdf, 135.7K, 21-12-2009, 122 downloads


Click to enlarge

Mucle Fibre Biochemistry

The Cori Cycle

Want to know a little more about muscle biochemistry during exercise?
Then click here:

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Isolating muscle groups - Split Routines


  • The Big-Three and Big-Five routines will suit the vast majority of people who want to aim for a low body-fat percentage, and improve strength and to maintain or increase muscle mass to a mild or moderate level.
  • For those wanting greater muscle mass, these individuals will want to use exercises that isolate muscle groups and train these to exhaustion.

Do the principles described above apply to bodybuilding?

  • Absolutely!
  • Perception and reality needs to be distinguished --- humans tend to always think that if a little is good for you, then a lot must be even better.
  • The other misguided belief is that of 'no pain, no gain' --- the sense that you have to suffer to see any benefit.
  • To the bodybuilder, the elusive Type IIBs are the 'holy grail' as they have the
    greatest potential for growth [hypertrophy]
  • As discussed above, these Type IIB fibres are 'fight or flight' fibres designed for survival to get you out of harms way whatever that may be. They are designed for short yet powerful bursts of strength and use massive amounts of energy [glucose] to fuel their contractions [see under Muscle Fibre Biochemistry].
  • The Type IIBs are thus energy inefficient and after they have done their job getting you out of hot water, they are 'spent' and will take 4 - 10 days to recover and recruit again. Your body tries to limit the use of these powerful, energy-hungry fibres by making them unavailable.

So what should I do?

  • Don't train beyond the physiological and biochemical capabilities of the mucle fibre you are trying to recruit --- the Type IIBs.
  • Do isolate and work each muscle group to exhaustion within 90 seconds using moderate weights and challenging each muscle group with heavier weights as you  progress --- in this way you will keep on growing.
  • Using a split routine where only certain muscle groups are worked in any given 7 day period will enable you to work through all muscle groups in 3 days at the gym.

You grow out of the gym and with adequate rest

  • The maxim that you grow out of the gym and not in it, is absolutely true.
  • Adequate rest periods are essential for growth.
  • Post exercise nutrition is absolutely critical for protein synthesis --- amino acids within the 1st hour and preferably soon after exercise will determine success or failure8,25, 26
  • In a study by Esmark et al on elderly individuals, timing was everything. This study showed that  the group who took the protein 5 minutes after the workout,
    increased lean body mass by 1.8% whereas those that took the protein 2 hours after the workout actually decreased their lean body mass by 1.5%. Insulin stimulated by the protein/carbohydrate post-exercise drink or meal, turns off catabolic [muscle breakdown] hormones such as cortisol. The sooner this is done the better.

Click on the following link to see the discussion on post-exercise nutrition

Link to references

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There is no obligation. Just click on the following link: Join NutriDesk then you can access the references through the link below.

Exercise-Sports References