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It should be obvious from the name of this site that we’re pretty into science around these parts. When we discuss a particular subject, we try to give a broad, objective overview of all the relevant studies in that area. I’d never claim we’re perfect, but that’s always our aim. However, not everyone is that scrupulous. A common tactic used by many people who aim to appear scientific while still pushing an agenda is called “cherry picking.” Cherry picking refers to discussing only research that supports your point of view, while ignoring or impugning research that disagrees with your biases. In any area of science with a lot of studies being conducted, there are going to be some studies that support one position, and other studies that support the entirely opposite position. The cynic would take that as evidence that science can’t be trusted, but it’s generally much less sinister than that. Simply due to different methodologies, different subject pools, and random chance, you should expect studies to come to differing conclusions. So, how can you avoid cherry picking, but also just avoid saying “some studies say this and some studies say that, so we really have no idea”? Systematic review and meta-analyses.

In a review article, you discuss the findings of many studies instead of primarily just reporting the results of a single study. Not all reviews are created equal, though. In systematic reviews, you follow an extensive set of guidelines to ensure you find and report the results...

I used this search query to find sources: (thanks to Brandon Roberts for this)

There were 662 results.  From these results, I identified 54 relevant studies.  From reference lists of those studies, I identified 24 more results, bringing the total up to 78 studies.  Several of these studies were the result of multiple papers being published from the same experiment (i.e. one paper reporting the hypertrophy results, and one paper publishing the strength results).  When combining these studies, there were 61 unique research projects included in this analysis. Many of these studies made comparisons in two different age groups (i.e. they studied the effects of both age and sex on resistance training adaptations, comparing young men, young women, older men, and older women).  I treated the young people and older people as two separate cohorts, bringing the total number of groups compared in this analysis to 72, with a combined total of 3,811 participants.

I separated the results from these studies into four broad categories:  direct measures of muscle hypertrophy (CSAs, mean fiber area, muscle thicknesses, etc.), indirect estimates of hypertrophy (LBM, appendicular lean mass, etc.), upper body strength gains, and lower body strength gains.

When a paper reported both dynamic and isometric strength, I only went with dynamic strength measures, since increases in dynamic and isometric strength aren’t interchangeable, and MOST lifters are only interested in dynamic strength.  When a paper only reported isometric strength changes, I did include them in my analysis since isometric force is a valid...

What you’re getting yourself into:

5000 words, 17-35 minute read time

Key points:

1) While men start with more muscle mass and strength, relative strength gains actually tend to be larger in women, at least in the short term. This is especially true for younger women and upper body strength gains.

2) Long-term, relative rates of muscle growth and strength gains are probably roughly equal for men and women, though women may make slightly larger gains, relative to their starting point, across their entire training career.

3) Women are not just “little men.”  While relative muscle and strength gains may be similar, there are key differences between men and women that impact training and recovery.


There are a lot of misconceptions about strength training for women, and there are a lot of reasons for those misconceptions.  Women are less likely to be represented in exercise research, women are less likely to take part in strength training or compete in strength sports, and there are still a lot of societal biases against women lifting (heavy) weights.

With that in mind, there are two general camps when it comes to strength training for women:

  1. The first camp says women and men are very different, respond to training very differently, and therefore women should ignore general strength training advice and only focus on advice specifically marketed as being “for women.”  This camp is divided into two sub-camps.
    1. Some people claim...

Note: This article is from a previous issue of MASS, my monthly research review with Eric Helms and Mike Zourdos. Each issue of MASS contains at least 9 pieces of content.  At least 6 (generally 7) are articles that each break down the findings and application of a recent study, 2 are videos covering broader topics, and we occasionally have guest posts or special features for the last article.

This article is a review of a 2017 study from Calatayud et al titled Influence of Different Attentional Focus on EMG Amplitude and Contraction Duration During the Bench Press at Different Speeds.

Key Points
  1. With low (50% 1RM) loads on the bench press, trained participants were able to slightly increase pec and triceps activation by focusing on the target muscle, but only when performing slow reps.
  2. When trying to lift explosively, actively focusing on using the pecs or triceps didn’t affect muscle activation.
  3. Trying to press the weight explosively resulted in more muscle activation than pressing the weight slowly, regardless of cues.

Bodybuilders and physique athletes swear they can feel a stronger contraction during an exercise in the target muscle when they actively focus on using that muscle: the “mind-muscle connection.” In fact, there’s considerable research to support that premise; internal cues (focusing on part of the body) consistently lead to increased muscle activation compared to no cues or external cues (focusing on the desired outcome of the movement).

However, increased muscle activation due to internal cues may be an inconsistent phenomenon. When you try...

by Cody Haun, PhD (c), MA, CSCS
& Brandon Roberts, PhD, CSCS

Before reading this, you may want to take a look at Part 1 for a refresher on concurrent training. As we delve into Part 2, we will cover the molecular exercise physiology, then provide some application for concurrent programming. Our goal is to describe some of the more important underlying mechanisms involved in the acute responses and chronic adaptive processes. We intend to explain how interference can occur, to what extent, and why this matters for programming applications. At the end, we provide an example of how concurrent training can be applied within the context of a mesocycle of training. Let’s get started with:

Factors that contribute to the interference effect acutely and chronically:
  1. Molecular signaling
  2. Muscle fiber type
  3. Muscle glycogen
  4. Time between bouts of endurance and resistance training
Factor #1: Molecular Signaling

Hypertrophy is the product of muscle protein breakdown (MPB) and muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Two of the most well-established stimuli of muscle hypertrophy are:...

There’s been a lot of talk about training frequency lately, and a new study on the topic was just published from Colquhoun et al. called “Training Volume, Not Frequency, Indicative of Maximal Strength Adaptations to Resistance Training.”

Well, the MASS team was able to get the lead author Ryan Colquhoun and senior author Dr. Bill Campbell on the line to interview them about the study. This resulted in a 45-minute conversation regarding the specifics of the study, the authors’ own interpretations of the findings, and new horizons for frequency research. Thanks to Ryan and Bill for their time and insight, we hope you enjoy.

The post The Frequency Roundtable appeared first on Stronger by Science.

Note from Greg:

This guest post comes from Dr. Eric Helms.  If you don’t know Eric, he’s a successful coach for 3D Muscle Journey, an INBA natural pro bodybuilder, a scientist, and an all-around brilliant human being.  If you didn’t know already, he’s one of my partners (along with Dr. Mike Zourdos) for MASS – a monthly research review breaking down the latest science that’s directly relevant to strength and physique athletes.

As the evidence mounts, it becomes more and more clear that hypertrophy can effectively occur at heavy, moderate, light, and even very light loads (as confirmed by the most recent meta-analysis on this topic [1]). However, the caveat is the data on this subject are almost entirely on sets taken to failure. Considering heavy-load sets result in high muscle activation right from their initiation (more on this in a bit), it’s probably the case that light-load training needs to be completed at or near failure to be comparable to heavy-load training on a set-to-set basis (2).

For anyone who is late to the party thinking, “Say what? I thought load needed to at least be adequately heavy to be effective for hypertrophy,” let me clarify before getting to the meat of the article.

When you’re lifting heavy weights (~80% 1RM+), the vast majority of muscle fibers are recruited from the beginning of a set’s initiation (3, 4). Muscle fibers are under mechanical strain – the primary...

This is an article I meant to write a while back when this article on Precision Nutrition about nutrition labels was first making the rounds, but I never got around to it.

Let me start by saying that I really like PN, I respect what they do, and I have a load of respect for John Berardi’s work. However, I think this article misses the mark for some pretty straightforward reasons that are easy to demonstrate mathematically. First off, I’d strongly recommend you read the article. I do think it raises some good points, and it did a great job of raising awareness about an issue most people aren’t familiar with: the information on nutrition labels isn’t perfectly accurate (in fact, the law allows it to be off by up to 20%) and can – at times – be wildly inaccurate. The foods may come packaged with more calories or fewer calories than are on the label, and your body does a better or worse job of extracting the energy from certain foods (largely based on fiber content and how it’s prepared).

However, I think the article misses the mark when it makes the leap to claim that “counting calories as a way to try to know, and control, your energy intake is fundamentally — sometimes hopelessly — flawed.”

How I’ll address this issue

The PN article does a very good job demonstrating that for every discrete...

From the outset, I want to make my intentions clear:  I want this to be the most thorough quantitative overview of the periodization literature in existence, while also being readily accessible and understandable.  It may get a bit dense and technical at times, but my aim is for anyone to be able to understand it, regardless of academic background, as long as they’re willing to read closely and pay attention.

Periodization is a popular topic of discussion in the strength community.  However, 90% of the discussion essentially boils down to “I read an article on (insert random website here) saying that xyz form of periodization is the best,” or “here are two studies that support my view, therefore I’m right,” or “well, in theory, xyz periodization model SHOULD lead to abc outcomes, therefore it’s indisputably the best.”  However, there’s a vast body of literature on the subject, with at least 60 studies (that I could find, at least), most of which the majority of people are completely unaware.  With this article, I basically want to provide the groundwork for people to discuss this topic well, with an empirical starting point and a beefy list of sources to read and learn from.

If you haven’t read the first installment in this series yet (Periodization: History and Theory), I’d encourage you to check it out before diving in here.

Before we get rolling here, since this article...

¿Quieres aprender a hacer press en banco plano, o aprender a hacerlo mejor? Si es así, esta guía te enseñará todo lo que necesitas saber.

por Greg Nuckols

Todos quieren un press de banco pesado, lo admitan o no.

Cuando alguien se entera de que levantas pesas – a menos que sea un atleta de fuerza competitivo – no van a preguntar cuando haces en la sentadilla o peso muerto/despegue. No, preguntarán cuando haces en banco plano.

El año pasado, hicimos una encuesta preguntando a la gente en cuál ejercicio tenían más problemas y querían mejorar más. Mi suposición principal fue que la gente tendría más facilidad con los despegues y el banco plano y más dificultad con las sentadillas. Me equivoqué, y cómo! Casi 2/3 de quienes contestaron dijeron que el banco plano era su mayor fuente de frustración.


Antes de meternos en esto, déjame contarte un poco acerca de cómo fluye esta guía. Está dividida en cuatro secciones principales. La sección 1 cubre todo el trasfondo necesario de anatomía y física (para sentar las bases de la biomecánica que viene más adelante). Si ya entiendes bien esas cosas, eres libre de saltearte la primera sección. La sección 2...

por Greg Nuckols


Imágenes mostradas por 9for9 Media
Dibujos anatómicos por rylynnchelios
Gráficos por Lyndsey Nuckols


La mayoría de la gente debería hacer sentadillas. ¿Quieres piernas más grandes? Te costaría mucho encontrar un mejor ejercicio que la sentadilla. ¿Quieres volverte más atlético mientras disminuyes tu riesgo de lesión en el campo? Las sentadillas probablemente deberían estar en el centro de tu programa.

Y por supuesto, ¿quieres ponerte más fuerte? Si es así, hay pocos ejercicios que pueden desarrollar o testear la fuerza de la cabeza a los pies tan bien como la sentadilla (Pondría al peso muerto/despegue en el mismo escalón, con el push press/fuerza con impulso siguiendo de cerca).

Por supuesto, probablemente no necesito decirte nada de eso. Si buscaste o te topaste con esta guía, probablemente ya sepas que las sentadillas están buenísimas. Principalmente te interesará mejorar tu sentadilla, hacerla con pesos más pesados, o construir un juego de piernas que haría que Tom Platz apruebe.

Si es así, estás de suerte.

Las sentadillas vienen en todas las formas y tamaños, y pueden usarse para una variedad de metas de entrenamiento. Esta guía va a desguazar el movimiento en detalle, te enseñará como optimizar tu técnica de sentadilla, y te enseñará como empezar a maximizar tu entrenamiento de sentadilla.

Si eres nuevo aquí, puedes estar preguntándote, “¿quién es este tipo, y por qué debería importarme lo que tiene para decir sobre las sentadillas?”

Buenas preguntas! Soy un entrenador y un powerlifter sin drogas. He estado entrenando por...

Por Greg Nuckols

Dibujos de anatomía por rylynnchelios
Gráficos por Lyndsey Nuckols

La mayoría de la gente debería hacer peso muerto. ¿Quieres agregarle músculo a tu cadena posterior, ganando masa de calidad desde los trapecios hasta los isquiotibiales? Te será difícil encontrar un mejor ejercicio que el peso muerto (o “despegue”). ¿Quieres volverte más atlético al mismo tiempo que disminuyes tu riesgo de lesión en el campo de juego? Los despegues probablemente deberían estar en el corazón de tu programa.

Y por supuesto, ¿quieres volverte más fuerte? Si es el caso, hay pocos ejercicios que pueden desarrollar fuerza de los pies a la cabeza tan bien como el peso muerto (pondría a las sentadillas en el mismo nivel con el press con impulso siguiendo de cerca).

Por supuesto, probablemente no necesito decirte nada de eso. Si has buscado o te has topado con esta guía, probablemente ya sabes que el peso muerto es genial. Te interesa principalmente mejorar tu técnica de peso muerto, jalar pesos más pesados, o construir una espalda densa y musculosa y un set de trapecios que te rasquen las orejas.

Si es así, estás de suerte.

Los despegues vienen en todas las formas y tamaños y pueden usarse para una variedad de objetivos de entrenamiento. Esta guía desglosará el movimiento en detalle, te enseñará cómo...

By Cody Haun, MA, CSCS

Note from GregThis article comes from my good friend Cody Haun. Cody was the first coach we hired here at Stronger By Science, and he’s now finishing up his PhD in Kinesiology at Auburn University. This article (the first part in a two-part series) provides a thorough but accessible overview of the concurrent training research, while future installments will focus more on mechanisms and implementation.


Concurrent training refers to a training session or program that includes some form of “endurance” exercise and “resistance” exercise.  Practically, when someone mentions concurrent training, they are generally referring to the combination of lifting weights and cycling, rowing, swimming, or running on a regular basis, and within the same training session, on the same day, or within the same training program. The details that go into planning a concurrent training plan become more relevant when specific programming strategies are considered in specific scenarios, particularly when the degree of interference between two modes is a concern. Attempting to balance cardio and strength training isn’t anything new. In fact, history tells us that one of the first formal arguments in exercise science in America was related to this very topic. Further, I’m confident many of you have discussed...

En qué te estás metiendo:

~4000 palabras, 15-30min lectura

Puntos Clave:
  • El potencial muscular sin drogas está influenciado por el tamaño de tu estructura ósea.
  • La fuerza es una función de factores neurales y factores musculares. Una vez que hayas alcanzado un punto de retornos decrecientes de los factores neurales, tu potencial de fuerza estará determinado por cuánto músculo puedes desarrollar.
  • En base a algunos cálculos simples, puedes obtener una idea bastante buena de tu potencial muscular y de fuerza.

Creo que casi todos los levantadores han pensado esto: “¡Solía poder ponerme más grande y más fuerte tan fácilmente! Pero últimamente las ganancias llegan dramáticamente más despacio, y apenas he progresado en el último año. ¿Cuánto más grande y fuerte puedo ponerme, razonablemente?”

Esa es una pregunta difícil de responder objetivamente, pero voy a intentarlo. Este artículo explica los fundamentos de los modelos que uso y hace unas predicciones aproximadas. La parte 2 refina esas predicciones y te permite saber cómo puedes usar esa información para tomar decisiones en tu entrenamiento.

Primero, un poquito de información de trasfondo:

  1. Cuánto músculo puedes ganar depende mayormente del tamaño de tu estructura corporal.
  2. Qué tan fuerte te puedes poner es un producto de cuánto músculo tienes, y de cuán hábil eres con los...
En qué te estás metiendo:

5000 palabras, 25-35 minutos de tiempo de lectura

Puedes encontrar aquí más información acerca de los estudios individuales, ajustes y análisis, si quieres ahondar un poco más en este tema.

Puntos Clave
  1. Al mirar todo el corpus literario científico, simplemente no se ve ninguna gran diferencia en crecimiento muscular cuando se comparan distintos rangos de repeticiones.
  2. Desde un punto de vista práctico, probablemente te convenga realizar la mayoría de tu entrenamiento en el rango de repeticiones que te permita acumular la mayor cantidad de series difíciles por sesión y por semana para cada ejercicio que uses y cada músculo que entrenes. Esto generalmente coincide con una intensidad y rango de reps moderados para la mayoría de los ejercicios y la mayoría de la gente.
  3. Ya que distintos rangos de repeticiones disparan la respuesta hipertrófica en maneras ligeramente distintas, probablemente te convenga más entrenar con toda la gama de rangos de repeticiones en vez de quedarte rígidamente en un solo rango de reps y zona de intensidad.
Introducción al Rango de Hipertrofia

Llevo ya una década entrenando. En ese tiempo, he visto muchas ideas, modas, y tendencias ir y venir. Una que resiste, sin embargo, ha sido la de los “rangos de repeticiones.”

Al menos desde los años 50 (y probablemente más temprano) la gente ha estado promocionando la idea de que las repeticiones bajas eran ideales para el desarrollo de la fuerza, las repeticiones moderadas (aproximadamente entre 6-8 como mínimo, hasta 12-15 como mucho) eran lo mejor para construir músculo, y las...

Note: This article is from a previous issue of MASS, my monthly research review with Eric Helms and Mike Zourdos. Each issue of MASS contains 9 pieces of content.  At least 6 (typically 7) are articles that each break down the findings and application of a recent study, 2 are videos covering broader topics, and we occasionally have guest posts or special features for the last article.

This article is a review of a 2017 study from Androulakis-Korakakis et al. titled The effects of exercise modality during additional ‘high-intensity interval training’ upon aerobic fitness and strength in powerlifting and strongman athletes.

Key Points
  1. HIIT cycling and HIIT lifting (squats and deadlifts for high reps with short rest periods) seem to have similar effects on strength.
  2. HIIT cycling likely improves aerobic conditioning more than HIIT lifting does.
  3. HIIT cycling would probably be the more judicious choice for coaches and athletes, as it’s likely safer and it allows for greater flexibility when structuring a training week.

Cardiovascular training can have a host of benefits.  The benefits that get the most press are health-related, for good reason: cardiorespiratory fitness is a strong predictor of all-cause mortality (2).  However, cardiorespiratory fitness may have some benefits for strength athletes as well.  Higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness may influence how well you can recover between sets, and thus how much volume you can tolerate in a training session.


by Michael C. Zourdos, Ph.D., CSCS

Key Points
  • A flexible template can allow you to “flex” in lighter training days to avoid poor performance on a heavy day when readiness to train is low.
  • Although the concept of a flexible template is simple, there are various ways and degrees of flexibility in which this can be implemented.
  • Finding the right way to assess readiness, and thus make decisions regarding what session-type to perform on a given day, is still new to the literature and may be individualized.

There’s always a day or two during a training cycle (or even every week) when we just don’t feel great; however, the work still needs to get done. Often, we decide to force ourselves to try to perform the prescribed work, which just ends in frustration from missed reps. For example, 5X5 @80% following only 4 hours of sleep might not be that easy. Similarly, 5X5 @80% at 5 a.m. or after a 12-hour workday is quite difficult. The coach in all of us knows performing a difficult session under any of these circumstances is a bad idea, but the athlete in us can’t resist. So, we take a bunch of caffeine and do the session anyways, though we might miss reps or have to significantly lighten the load. After the session, we spend the next 48 hours thinking about how terrible everything is and obsessing over how weak we have instantly become.

Last year, I sent out a survey just to get a big picture overview of the state of powerlifting.  I meant to publish the results a long time ago, but never quite got around to it.  Luckily, my friend Andrew Patton has been going through the data – specifically the data on injuries (Andrew is a part of Cartolytics, a data science and spatial analysis consulting group; if you need help with data analysis, you should definitely get in touch with him).

This article is a cross-sectional analysis of the injury data that we collected.  Unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t be publishable in a journal because I wasn’t specific enough in the way I phrased the questions (I’m not an epidemiologist; live and learn, I suppose). Still, this article should still be interesting and useful, and it gives us a starting point for a more rigorous analysis.  Andrew and I are currently collaborating on a more thorough prospective study on the injury risks of powerlifting.  We’ll keep you guys updated on the results as we’re able.

First, some background about these data:

I asked if people had ever experienced an acute injury when training.  If they had, I asked what types of injuries they’d sustained.  The strength of this approach is that it allows you to get data on less-common types of injuries (for example, if you follow 100 people for one year, you may never see a...

por Greg Nuckols

¿Qué hace falta para alcanzar tu potencial de fuerza? ¿Y cómo se ven los pasos necesarios para hacerlo? No pude encontrar por ningún lado un resumen completo y accesible, así que decidí hacer uno yo mismo. Éste artículo será el ancla del sitio web. Es un marco de referencia comprensible, que pretende dejarte actualizado y listo para absorber el resto de la información que hay en el sitio. Ten en cuenta que también está en camino una guía más práctica (cómo realmente planear tus series/reps/ejercicios). Esta guía es únicamente para darte un resumen de los factores y principios importantes que hay en juego. Si tienes cualquier pregunta, si piensas que algo está incompleto o es confuso, o si simplemente crees que le erré a algo, no dudes en hacerme saber cómo puedo mejorar la guía.

Esto es algo que vengo queriendo escribir desde hace un tiempo, pero venía posponiéndolo porque, honestamente, es monstruoso.

Este artículo cubrirá lo que hace falta para que alcances tu potencial de fuerza, y cómo hacerlo en la forma más eficiente posible. No entrará en demasiado detalle sobre temas específicos; su propósito es darte un resumen de los factores clave para tu travesía desde donde sea que estés ahora, hacia tu máximo potencial. Habrá vínculos a recursos abarcando temas más específicos, pero el propósito de este artículo...

Note from Greg:

This guest post comes from Eric Helms.  If you don’t know Eric, he’s a successful coach for 3D Muscle Journey, an INBA natural pro bodybuilder, a scientist who’s going to defend his Ph.D. dissertation in the next month or two, and an all-around brilliant human being.  If you didn’t know already, he’s one of my partners (along with Dr. Mike Zourdos) for MASS – a monthly research review breaking down the latest science that’s directly relevant to strength and physique athletes.  I reached out to Eric to be a part of MASS because he’s at the forefront of this field, as I think you’ll be able to tell from this article.

Autoregulation has been a buzzword in the powerlifting, S&C, and fitness communities for a while now, and as is often the case when something gains popularity, the hype surrounding it generates misunderstandings and over-complications. Thus, let me just clarify what autoregulation is and isn’t. Autoregulation is not a stand-alone, specific type of training. Autoregulation doesn’t have to be complicated, and autoregulation does not require the use of rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scores (although they can be used, and we’ll discuss them). Rather, autoregulation is simply a systematic approach to implementing something every trainer worth their salt...