The sixth episode of Generation Iron and BarBend‘s interview series with exercise physiologist and JYM Supplements founder Dr. Jim Stoppani aired on March 28, 2022. Many of the previous episodes thus far dealt with nutrition-related topics such as carb cycling versus keto diets, the pros and cons of caffeine and alcohol on training, and intermittent fasting. He has also expanded on the science of contralateral and pre-exhaust training methods and the effect of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on fat loss in more training-focused segments.
Episode six of the interview series dives further into Stoppani’s expertise in training methodology. More specifically, what kind of training best promotes muscle growth? Check it out in the video below, courtesy of Generation Iron‘s YouTube channel:
Moderator Vlad Yudin asks Stoppani which is most effective for muscle growth: heavier weight and fewer reps or lighter weight and higher reps. It’s a question that asks which of the three metrics for muscle hypertrophy — volume, intensity, and frequency — should be prioritized. Stoppani, as usual, turns to the science and uses an example of an athlete performing three biceps curl with 90 percent of their max lift versus a weight with which that athlete could knock out 20 to 30 reps.
If you look at the research…muscle protein synthesis is the same as long as they reach muscle failure.
While there are other factors for muscle growth and there are benefits for specific weight and rep ranges — heavier weight will likely enable an athlete to increase weight faster, whereas higher reps can increase vascularity — but through the lens of which style of training will lead to more muscle protein synthesis, weight and reps matter only to the extent that muscle failure is reached.
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Stoppani concurs with Yudin that a combination of heavy weight with lower rep training and lower weight with higher rep training is the most likely to be the most beneficial as each offers value to overall muscle growth. Per Stoppani, weightlifting can increase growth hormone release, testosterone, and increase blood vessels, which can allow for improved delivery of nutrients to the muscles.
The stimulation you get from weightlifting is not just about mechanical stimulation.
So gone is the mystery of which type of training is superior to the other regarding higher weight versus higher reps. The key takeaways are a combination of both methodologies is essential for overall muscle growth, and reaching muscle failure should be the target when the goal is muscle protein synthesis.
Featured image: @jimstoppani on Instagram