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Rep Range Technique Question for Mike Caviston

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  • Rep Range Technique Question for Mike Caviston

    Mr. Caviston,

    Sir, I have a question in regard to the training philosophy of doing 8 - 12 reps. I have taken as much consideration as possible with what you have posted in your thread "Strenth Training: Start Here". I understand that it's a good idea to systematically switch up the rep range occasionally, doing 15 - 20 reps or 5 - 7, but for about 60% of the time, the rep range of 8 - 12 should be used. I also saw that you mentioned how basically most strength training methods are adequate for preparing for BUD/S, if they are safe, as well as your lifting recommendations are for those with a low level of fitness or novices to weight lifting. I think I am in the novice - intermediate rage if it helps to answer my question.

    My Question/Confusion: Based on my research and prior limited knowledge of strength training, I was under the impression that the 8 - 12 rep range aids in maximizing muscular hypertrophy, specifically, sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, (for others reading this who do not know what sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is, here's a quick definition: which isn't a desirable trait in BUD/S, I'm told (I can't help but think of that huge, muscular guy who can barely lift his own body weight over a pull up bar). I admit I don't fully understand the relationship between sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibrillated hypertrophy and how that relates to strength training/how overlapped they are when developing hypertrophy in general. I was under the impression that myofibrillated hypertrophy was more desirable (strength to weight to size ratio = high to low to low, for those who do not know) and that in order to achieve that, lower reps with a higher weight is needed... I also suppose this kind of training is very dangerous and the risks might outweigh the reward(?). Does periodization come into play at all? Any opinion or clarifying you wish to extend would be greatly appreciated.

    Also: I apologize if this post seems like I am calling "********" on, or question your knowledge and expertise. I assure you I mean to not do that in every possible way and I apologize sincerely if that was indeed the case. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this.

    - anyone please feel free to comment on this post -

  • #2
    Re: Rep Range Technique Question for Mike Caviston

    I researched into this about a month ago because i was curious. I learned from several credible places 6-8 rep range was your "best bang for your buck" rep range. But I completely trust and will do whatever Mr. Caviston says best for our particular field of interest. He has been doing this for years, maybe decades. I do only add higher rep (15-20) for lower lifts, i learned that the lower lifts are better for higher reps, and i add in the 4-6 reps for upper lifts. Ill give my best shot at trying to clear up some confusion about the whole Hypertrophy deal. Please correct me if any of this is wrong!

    When i studied some of this, I learned to categorize these rep ranges as "Non-Functional/Functional Hypertrophy" ranges. Non-Functional hypertrophy refers to gains in muscle size that aren't associated with an improved capacity to produce force. "Functional" hypertrophy is the gains in muscular size that improve maximal force production. In a muscle cell you have the actual protein content in the cell, or the myofibrils, and you also have fluid surrounding the protein, the sarcoplasm. Strength is primarily influenced by the amount of protein contained in the myofibrils.

    There is a belief that heavy low rep weight training leans towards growth of the myofibrils and builds muscles that are as strong and "functional" as they look. In contrast, higher volume/higher rep training (bodybuilding methods), are often believed to favor growth of the sarcoplasm. The sarcoplasm consists of non-contractual fluid it is supposedly possible to gain large amounts of size without any increase in strength. This is deemed to be responsible for the so called non-functional strength or "bodybuilding fluff" lended to bodybuilding methods. Muscles that aren't as strong as they look or muscles that are slow and nonathletic. For this reason, many athletes are encouraged to stay in the low rep range and not go much higher reps as it only improves sarcoplasm growth.

    Really, A cell can only hold so much sarcoplasm and that amount is limited by the size of the myofibril within it. Alot of studies tried to differentiate these types of Hypertrophy and give them different protocols and loading parameters. But, basically every single one of them myofibrillar growth comes out way in front. Thus, with the previous statement, it would seem impossible to increase sarcoplasm growth without any myofibrillar growth. This just makes sarcoplasm hypertrophy look like a myth. But, technically it does exist, just not in ways others think of it. Basiclly it is simply extra glycogen storage. A muscle that has it's energy stores taxed (through higher volume training) will adapt to store more glycogen, or carbohydrate energy, and this can add a significant amount of extra weight and size.

    For all practical purposes what determines whether you're functional or not is what you do outside the weight room - your movement and skill work. Train with 10 + reps, practice your sport (in our case, our training for BUD/S, witch includes running, swimming,pt,ect..), and stay mobile and you'll likely be as functional as they come. Train with 1-6 reps and do nothing else and you can easily be as non-functional as a muscled up hippo.

    \Hopefully i remembered everything correctly, I studied this almost a month ago so it seems fresh in my mind still. I might of missed out some parts, anyone else that is knowledgeable can add, or correct anything that is wrong up here, please do so.
    "What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists...and it becomes available only when you are in that state of mind in which you know exactly what you want...and are fully determined not to quit until you get it." - Graham Bell

    "Most people who fail in their dream fail not from lack of ability but from lack of commitment"


    • #3
      Re: Rep Range Technique Question for Mike Caviston

      Periodization is a science and art in and of itself (linear, reverse linear, undulating, etc), along with how to focus on strength, hypertrophy, muscular endurance, and power. That being said, I'm not sure what EXACTLY it is that your'e asking. Are you asking whether the PTG targets sarcoplasmic or myfibrillated hypertrophy? In that wikipedia article you linked to it says that they often occur simultaneously and I can't imagine someone increasing their muscle volume without ANY strength increase, or vice-versa.

      In my personal opinion, unless you want to hire a training coach who will give you training schedules on how to focus for a mostly aerobic and muscular endurance oriented performance set with 2-6 week periodizations and volume programming based on when you have tests/competitions/races/whatever... you should just vary it up and push past your comfort limit. You can get as technical as you want to, but I think so long as you're leaning against the boundaries of your abilities, you will consistently be making gains, and if you can orient those towards the goals you need for success at BUD/S then you are 95% on track, with that last 5% attainable with a higher level of coaching, diet, and so on. But there are lots of resources on this site. There is a literal textbook on diet and nutrition specifically written for special operations forces in the U.S. military, there are numerous links to exercise science journals, and there are a few forum gems out there waiting to be discovered if you haven't already delved into them.

      My personal recommendation based on your question is to try to study more, but put more faith in the process of training while keeping this key aspect in mind:

      The act of resistance training itself does not result in health-promoting benefits unless the training stimulus exceeds the individual’s fitness threshold. Progression in program design entails gradual progressive overload, specificity, and variation in the training stimulus in order for the individual to improve one’s level of fitness.

      That is HUGE-FONT quote from the last page of one of Mr. Caviston's articles posted on Strength Training: Start Here! In short it is saying that your body adapts to the stressed you put it under... put it under the same stress, and it will adapt no longer. Good luck, hope my rambling helps you in some way.


      • #4
        Re: Rep Range Technique Question for Mike Caviston

        Atromos - My question is: Based on my limited understanding of what certain loads and repetition ranges target in your muscles, is there a risk with using an 8 - 12 rep range where one could basically become huge and not as functional as if one used a lower rep range with higher weight?
        Sorry for not being clearer... I get what you're saying. The strength to size ratio isn't really that big of a deal. I didn't mean to overcomplicate anything. I agree with you, we are training for BUD/S here and we have to hit it from all angles and in the spirit of train smarter, not harder, I figured I might as well ask about this. Thanks for your imput, it helped a lot and kept me in perspective.

        Shark - yeah man that's what I found online as well, but I didn't know what you wrote in the 4th paragraph. You would think that the ratio between the size and strength in the early stages of weightlifting wouldn't be that big of a deal I guess. Thanks for your response and advice.


        • #5
          Re: Rep Range Technique Question for Mike Caviston

          The PTG is far from a body building program. While some of the exercises are the same, you won't blow up like Arnold unless you are specifically trying to.

          My guess to why they chose the 8-12 rep range is that it is a midpoint between the endurance range and strength range. You will get stronger and your endurance will increase by doing 8-12 reps, but it will not be totally optimal. You are sacrifing to have a little of both instead of just being good at one area.

          To build muscle you need increased caloric intake and you don't even need that much. As you workout more, you need to eat more to maintain baseline. If you eat slightly more than what you expend (usually in the range of 200-500kcal) you will start building up muscle. To truly build muscle and pack on fat, it takes a while and you'll be lucky to add 10-15 lbs of muscle a year. In most cases this will do nothing but help.

          However if you start overconsuming and "bulking" up then you'll pack on fat and muscle quicker and it will most likely way you down. Do not be afraid of increasing your muscle mass. As long as you are not losing any ROM and still maintain or improve the other areas of your fitness you will be fine.


          • #6
            Re: Rep Range Technique Question for Mike Caviston

            I recommend that a majority of sets during resistance training be in the 8-12 rep range (with some sets fewer and some more) as the best compromise for developing muscular strength and endurance with relatively little time spent training. In general, sets for the lower extremity should probably average a couple more reps than sets for the upper extremity. It’s unfortunate that the 8-12 range has become so closely associated with hypertrophy, because that’s a gross oversimplification. Three things would probably be necessary to stimulate significant hypertrophy:
            1. A certain genetic predisposition (some people just respond more to resistance training).
            2. Multiple submaximal sets (rather than one set to failure).
            3. Limited cardio/endurance/LSD training (candidates should be focusing most of their energy on running and swimming, which will to some extent inhibit any stimulus for hypertrophy).
            I’ve provided plenty of info covering these issues in more detail, so keep researching and good luck.
            Mike Caviston
            Director of Fitness, NSWCEN


            • #7
              Re: Rep Range Technique Question for Mike Caviston

              Thanks for taking the time to answer that question Mr. Caviston, I didn't realize it was mostly a generalization.