How to Determine the Effectiveness of a Bodybuilding Training Program

By Dane C. Fletcher

The only way that a body builder can successfully recruit his or her motor units is by lifting heavy. The volume of a body building program determines how effectively the body motor units are stimulated to precise growth and development. This term, volume, is specifically used in body building circles to describe or quantify the workload ascribed to a particular body building workout. To determine the volume of a body building workout, one should multiply the number of sets with the reps for each exercise.

However, ten sets of three reps each may equal three sets of ten reps in volume (30). But the garnered stimulus and the metabolic demand placed on muscle cells differs between the two types of workouts. Experts therefore advise that volume should be determined also in terms of heaviness whereby the heaviest volume is that which accrues from more number of reps than sets.

Recruiting motor units in the body requires that the volume of workout be not only large but heavy meaning that the reps should be more than the sets. Essentially, most motor units can only be recruited corresponding to a maxim called the size principle. The principle states that body motor units can and are only recruited respectfully from the smallest to the biggest. Type one slow-twitch muscle fibers occur in small sizes while type two fast-twitch muscle fibers occur in large sizes. That means slow-twitch muscle fibers are recruited first before a body builder can hope to recruit the fast-twitch muscle fibers.

The human body constitutes assorted groups of muscles whereby each individual body builder features very unique combination and composition of muscle tissues in his or her body. When a body builder is lifting reps with a sub-maximal weight load, only the smaller slow-twitch muscle fibers are needed. Small and medium loads only recruit the small muscle fibers which can adequately handle the burden. If the body builder progresses with increasing the weights used in a workout, gradually and progressively, the workload becomes too large for the small slow-twitch muscle fibers with time.

The body has no alternative in that case than to recruit larger fast-twitch muscle fibers. Only if they are needed, do the large muscles come to play and a body builder can live in the gym year after year without ever recruiting any substantial motor unit muscles if the workload remains at the same low level. The interesting thing is, when a body builder is lifting a near maximal or a maximal load, it’s not just the large muscle fibers that are involved as the small ones lay dormant. Rat6her, both the slow-twitch muscle fibers and the fats-twitch muscle fibers are recruited and activated into the exercise so as to complement each other. The heavier the load, the more the motor units will be developed and recruited during a body building workout.

The workload should however not be increased all over a sudden. Rather the body builder should endeavor to increase t5he workload systematically and with patience to allow the body to grow into the challenge gradually. New muscle fibers sometimes have to be created from scratch and it is good for a body builder to give the body time to rise upon to progressively bigger challenges without having to tear the muscle ligaments with loads that are too heavy for the existing muscle network.

Dane Fletcher is the world’s most prolific bodybuilding and fitness expert and is currently the executive editor for If you are looking for more bodybuilding tips or information on weight training, or supplementation, please visit, the bodybuilding and fitness authority site with hundreds of articles available FREE to help you meet your goals.

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