Positive Stack Progression May Contract More Muscle Fibers

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Positive Stack Progression May Contract More Muscle Fibers

Post  Fitness Scientist on Fri May 14, 2010 5:07 pm

Positive Stack Progression
May Contract More Muscle Fibers

By Joe Mullen
Fitness Scientist

Positive stack progression is a concept of training that allows you to involve more muscle fibers within a single set of an exercise. To understand why it works superior to a typical exercise set, let us dissect a typical set, using the bench press as an example.

Assume that you are using 100 lbs. for the bench press and you perform 10 reps with it. Using the following formula, we can see how much total weight you lift, and how much work you performed; this is one method of determining what actually happened during the exercise.

A recognized formula for establishing work is “Work equals Force multiplied by the Distance the object travels.” Written another way, in the physics formula sense it is: W=Fxd.

For our rationale, we can use the following rule: Progress = Force (weight) x distance (repetitions). Said another way, we can call it Units of Muscle Contraction. Although, under normal workout situations, we have no exact understanding of how many actual muscles are contracted during a set of any exercise.

The formula gives us a identifiable number that we can reference as “Units of Muscle Contraction.”
When we multiply 100 lbs. (the force) by 10 repetitions (the distance traveled), we obtain a number of 1100. For our use, that equals 1100 Units of Muscle Contraction or: Units of Progress, or Work performed, name it something that makes sense.

We devised a method of exercise allowing you to perform more units of muscle contraction - within a set of the same amount of reps – say, 10 repetitions. You will produced more work, linking more muscle fiber contraction, and potentially, sending a signal to the body that it needs to improve its fitness level.

Here is how Positive Stack Progression works. It requires a few workouts to get the feel of it, but after one or two attempts, you will conquer the technique. Remember, your goal is to produce more muscle force within a set of 10 reps than you did in your preceding workout.

The only requirements are that you will need a training partner, or the ability to be sitting on a high-tech machine with the weight stack within easy reach. When using free weights, you will need two workout partners, in order to increase the resistance on both ends of the barbell.

Begin by having a training partner plug the weight stack at 100 lbs. (as an example). This is the same weight as used during your last workout; however, instead of using that resistance for one complete set, you perform only a few reps with it.

Perform two reps with that weight. As the weight stack touches bottom (meaning, when the plates touch each other), during the second rep; your training partner should immediately pull the pin out of the stack and move the pin into the 110 lb. pin slot.

As soon as this takes place, continue with two more reps with the 110 lbs. After completition of those two more reps, the pin is then moved into the 120 lb. pinhole, and you execute two more reps.

Continue using this procedure, until your muscles fatigue and you reach muscular failure. If all went well, by the time you reached 10 reps, you will have worked your way up to around 140 lbs. for two final reps.

Here is what happened mathematically:

100 2 200
110 2 220
120 2 240
130 2 260
140 2 280
------ --------------
10 1200 Units of Muscle Contraction

Remember, as you review the numbers, that I used those numbers as only numbers that are easy to calculate. Your actual numbers will differ from these; however, your procedures are as outlined.

The figure 1200, represents several ways of evaluating the workout.

• The total weight lifted.
• The amount of physical work performed.
• The total Units of Muscular Contraction that occurred during that set of 10 reps. It is not the actual amount of muscle fibers contracted. It is just something to use as a number that you can use as a reference.

Your previous workout set produced 1100 units. This set produced 1200 units. Simply stated, this set is a more productive set because in theory, it produced more muscle involvement.

The basic premise of Positive Stack Progression, is to produce more work and fire more muscle tissue within a set of repetitions of any exercise. Simple enough?

There are many ways to pursue this concept. You do not have to use two reps as your guide figure. It could be a series of reps starting with two or three. As you exert your way up the stack, and the muscle endurance is dwindling, switch to one rep, as the weight gets very heavy.

Experiment a little; find the series of reps that you enjoy performing. The important thing is to maintain track of the reps, and strive to create more total work within the same 10 rep scheme, or within whatever rep system you use as you base line, guide figure.

Like all advanced training techniques, it requires a few workouts to become precise. However, it is worth the break-in period of trial and error. The best way to get ready for this workout is to observe your present workout card, assuming you use one, note the resistance you typically use, and total the weight you handled on every exercise, during your last workout.

The figures will indicate two goals: 1.) The amount of weight you use to start the set, and 2.) the total Units of Contractions you must surpass to send the demand for improvement to your body.

This gives you an idea to create some weight and rep configurations based on your previous workout. About the only Nautilus machine, or something similar to it, which you may have a problem using within this concept is the pullover machine. The reason is because you may not be flexible enough to touch the stack together as your elbows move behind your head, and enable your training partner to add plates.

In that case, it is OK to have your training partner, take hold of the machine and, as you take your elbows off the elbow pads, he or she can place the machine back into the starting position, as the resistance is changed. Then, your partner can pull the machine into a position that you can replace your elbows into the elbow pads.

In addition, a two pounds or five pounds of resistance for are added to some exercises, like the curl or triceps extension. This is because these muscle groups cannot handle large resistance increases, like some other muscle groups can. The important thing is to INCREASE the resistance so that the total work is more than you performed in previous workout.

The quickest, safest way of changing the pins and moving them into another pinhole is to use two pins, instead of one. As the weight stack is touching, your partner should place the second pin into the next progression. This will be the hole below the one presently in use.

Then, as the weight stack starts to move upward, the training partner can pull the top pin (the one used for the previous reps) and get ready for the next rep change. This manner is continued throughout the entire set.

Above all, as in all advanced training experiences, everyone should focus on the job at hand and always keep safety in mind.

Joe Mullen
Fitness Scientist
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