Does Heavier Weight Mean Greater Increases in Protein Synthesis
Dorian Yates was a beast in the gym. Dorian believed in lifting massive weight for bulking up. The science of muscle hypertrophy is very complicated and it’s not as simple as lift heavier weights and a person will get bigger. If heavy weights were the primary stimulus for muscle hypertrophy than Olympic weight lifters would be bigger than bodybuilders which clearly is not the case.
Two factors increase muscle protein synthesis, resistance exercise and of course protein from food. Resistance exercise is an effective stimulus to improve muscle protein synthesis, and when accompanied by protein ingestion the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis is greater than either stimulus alone. The outcome of the increased protein synthesis over time will lead to eventual hypertrophy. The million dollar question is what’s the best intensity for optimal increases in muscle protein synthesis for muscle growth. One one side, there are bodybuilders like Dorian Yates, who believed in using maximal weight for muscle growth, this is opposed to the late bodybuilders like Serge Olivia that believed in using high reps with lots of sets with a much lower weight.
For years, bodybuilders have been told, “the only way to grow is is to use heavy weights.” In fact, eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman was famous for saying, “Everyone wants to be a bodybuilder but no one wants to lift heavy ass weight!” The American College of Sports Medicine, recommends resistance exercise intensities of ∼70% – 80% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM) for 8–12 repetitions for muscle hypertrophy. Type 2 muscle fibers (divided further into A and B) are responsible for short-duration, high-intensity activity. Type 2B fibers are built for explosive, very short-duration activity such as Olympic lifts. Type 2A fibers are designed for short-to- moderate duration, moderate-to-high intensity work, as is seen in most weight training activities. Type 2B muscle fibers also have the most potential for muscle growth.
It’s been well established that heavier weights lead to a greater recruitment of type 2B muscle fibres at high exercise intensities may occur to stimulate a robust muscle protein synthesis response. One of the first studies back in 2009 provide support for the concept of a dose-response relationship between external work-equated exercise intensities and muscle protein synthesis.
Interestingly, they did not find that after 60% of a 1-RM there were no further increases in muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis reached a plateau between intensities of ∼60– 90% of 1RM. The researchers found that going heavier than 60% of a 1-RM did not lead to further increases in muscle protein synthesis. An important finding was that going to maximum muscle failure was an important stimulus for maximizing muscle protein synthesis. Another laboratory has recently tested the thesis that eliciting muscle failure during resistance exercise during high- or low-intensity resistance exercise leads to maximal muscle fibre activation, and thus a similar stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. It was demonstrated, in resistance-trained young men, that lower intensity (30% of 1RM) and higher volume (average of 24 reps) resistance exercise performed until failure was equally effective in stimulating myofibrillar protein synthesis rates during 0– 4 h recovery as heavy intensity (90% of 1RM) and lower volume (5 repetitions) resistance exercise. The observation of a sustained elevation in myofibrillar protein synthesis rates after the low-intensity–higher volume regime corroborates recent data demonstrating that exercise volume is an integral factor for sustaining the myofibrillar protein synthetic response during exercise recovery.
So based on the research, the type of training that Serge Olivia performed is more in alignment with the best type of training which incorporated high volume with lots of sets to induce muscle hypertrophy. This research is revolutionary because it suggests that high volume resistance exercise like the kind of training performed by Sergio Olivia, Arnold, and Lee Haney is an effective means of increasing muscle mass.
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