One of my readers wanted to look into a training method which is meant to literally make you blow up as a natural bodybuilder. The plan is fairly simple – you train a muscle group every day for a few weeks and then go back to a more conservative routine to give the body a chance to heal. Supposedly during this downtime period the assaulted muscle groups gets massive.
This type of training is becoming more and more popular thanks to a YouTube channel known as Team 3D Alpha, although I have heard about similar approaches from other sources as well.
Anyway, there were a tons of videos and I couldn’t get through all of them. Even the ones that I watched were a little too long and painful for an experienced lurker like me.
Below are the major flaws I see with this training approach.
Overtraining hinders strength gains.
If you are going to overtrain a muscle group like crazy for a month, you will be lifting sub-maximal weights no matter what. You can’t use 80-90% of your max and expect to maintain good form every day for weeks. This can never happen unless you are a professional athletes who juices and has built up high work capacity over a long period of time.
Try this. Go in the gym and do a 5×5 squat/bench/bench press/overhead press workout with 80% of your max. Then go the VERY NEXT day and try to repeat it. Oh, well……R.I.P.
Guess why that is? First, the body cannot recover from so much stress in less than 24 hours. Secondly, the CNS cannot cool off in such short period of time either. Therefore, you will have to be using weights that are 50-60% of your max. To put this into perspective imagine that you can bench press 80 kg for 1-2 reps. 50% of that are 40 kg. Do you really think bench press sets done with 40 kg will produce some amazing growth or strength increase?
You can lift light weights as much as you want. You ain’t getting stronger doing that. Sure, you don’t have to lift 90% or more to get your strength up. You can stick to 70-80%, but even that will be a ton of work, if you chose to train a muscle group every damn day.
It’s pure bro-science.
In the videos I watched, the expert from Team 3D Alpha tried to be scientific without actually being scientific, which is basically bro-science.
Obviously, using a muscle group more frequently will cause it to adapt somehow. However, there is zero evidence than overtraining will produce faster growth than “normal training” in the grand scheme of things.
Both approaches seem to be equal when it comes to long term progress. The Team 3D Alpha method requires you to overtrain and then rest. According to the mainstream method you don’t overtrain but maintain a steady overload (no downtime), which means that at the end of the day – the overall work that’s done in the same period of time is often the same.
The whole thing reminds me of intermittent fasting – you eat a ton of calories and then you don’t eat anything for hours.
We all know that what counts the most is not how your calories are spread over the course of the day, but their quantity. I know people who eat 1-2 times a day and are fat.
The comments are just ridiculous and don’t really prove anything
A lot of people left comments underneath the videos saying they are going to try this approach, but very few people actually reported back. Also, you can never be certain of the context. Maybe most of the people who got “incredible muscle growth” were just beginners experiencing their initial gains that usually come easily. You can’t really know who is behind a YouTube comment anyway.
Some of the messages underneath the videos are just…hilarious. I copied a few:
“i have been doing this aggressive overtraining for a month i clearly see my muscles grow bigger and bigger every day.
been training my shoulders for about two weeks and they are almost as the size of my head, it is crazy.”
My comment: Are you serious? Even with all the steroids in the world you ain’t getting huge in a month. Sorry, but that’s a fact.
“this is how ex-cons say they got swole….them n***s were in prison doing chest everyday with no rest days, and doing bicep curls everyday…. they did pushups with guys pressing down on their back or sitting on their back, and other crazy shit EVERY DAY multiple times a day. and they got SWOLE.”
My comment: You have been watching way too many movies. It’s a myth that prisoners are massive. It all started because of Hollywood propaganda. In many movies they are using muscular men to play the roles of criminals. The truth is that most prisoners are scrawny, skinny fat and weak as hell. The ones who are not are essentially doing things Kali Muscle style….if you know what I mean.
Overtraining can interfere with other activities outside he gym
Unless your life revolves around lifting weights, you cannot allow yourself to overtrain, especially if you have a physical job. Let’s say that you are a painter who wants to get his shoulders bigger. Do you really think doing stupid exercises like lateral raises will actually do you any good? No. This type of training will just fatigue your shoulders and affect negatively your line of work. While the body can adapt to amazing workload overtime, there are limits that should not be crossed.
Focusing more on a specific body part will definitely give you faster results, but I don’t think the difference is that big when it comes to the long term end result.
I know that people will never stop looking for the cure to being natural, but some overtraining bro-science theory is not giving you gains that are going to floor you.
If you want to try high frequency training, that’s fine. However, make sure that your programming actually makes sense and allows you to recover and get stronger. Thinking that you are somehow going to get massive by doing light workouts ever day is simply daydreaming. Even if you look at the poster boy of this method (the creator of the YouTube channel), you will see that his progress isn’t extraordinary, especially when you account for the fact that in most of his recent videos he does look like a classic permabulker. I am sorry, but that’s how I see things. I don’t believe this “nucleus overload” bro-science thing is the secret to getting big naturally.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that at the end of the day the best approach is to just focus on basic exercises that are well tolerated by your body, get strong using a simple program and call it a day. No need to overthink about stuff like German volume, Bulgarian training, purposeful overtraining, Smolov, nucleus overload…etc.