|Image 1: Going for the pump was Arnold's way |
to biceps peak and size, but is that "optimal"?
|Illustration 1: Setup of the 4 training bouts the 10 subjects of the study participated in (according to Chan. 2011)|
Maximal voluntary contraction strength, ROM, biceps brachii CSA [cross sectional area], muscle soreness and plasma CK [creatine kinase - leakage of this enzyme from the muscle is a measure of muscle damage] activity changed significantly after the first bouts without significant differences between 3x10 and 10x3, and changes in the measures following 20x3 were similar between arms. No significant differences in the changes of the criterion measures were evident between bouts.the set-repetition configuration had little effect on muscle damage, which was likely to be due to similar peak torques produced during exercise between the 3x10 and 10x3 bouts.The question we have to answer now, is "How representative is this data?" In the previous paragraph I already mentioned the first fundamental flaw of the study: the subject selection. "Why on earth", you may be asking yourself rightly, "Why did this Australian exclude resistance trained subjects from his study and chose subjects with 4.5inch arms? Isn't it obvious that these bonsai-guns will grow no-matter what those guys would do in the gym?" And, yes that is exactly the case and, at the same time though, also the reason why, time-and-again, we see those studies done with "resistance training virgins" - due to the completely novel stimulus their muscle simply grow like crazy, no matter how short your study period, how flawed your exercise program or how useless your supplement may be - and that, in turn, reduces your costs and the threat of observing a null-result dramatically. You better keep these general objections in mind, especially if you look at absolute values of studies like this one.
|Figure 1: Relative increase in biceps cross sectional area [CSA] of 3 sets a 10 reps (3x10) and 10 sets a 3 reps (10x3) compared to 20 sets of 3 reps (data calculated based on Chan. 2011)|
|Figure 2: Relative elevation of creatine kinase over baseline in group A (3x10 vs. 20x3) and group B (10x3 vs. 20x3) 4 days after eccentric biceps training (data calculated based on Chan. 2011)|
For the time being you could however try to switch things up for a week or two and see whether and how a rather unorthodox 10x3 regimen impacts your sleeve size, since even if it may not be the "optimal" training regimen, changing the training stimulus from time to time is always a good idea... ah, and if you wake up four days later with an +2inch increase in your biceps size, please let me know ;-)