Why Sir Paul Carter Is Wrong About Muscle Damage [why so angry, brah?]

| by Truth Seeker |

Paul Carter is a well-known and respected muscle scholar. He’s been playing the inject-lift-teach game for a long time, and many people are interested in his philosophy.

Lately, he’s been spreading the idea that muscle damage is not a requirement for hypertrophy.

[The guy has also criticized the Mentzer/HIT ideology and most of his points are correct in that regard.]

His hypertrophy thesis is as follows:

  • When the muscle is forced to generate a lot of mechanical tension, it adapts and grows bigger via myofibril protein synthesis. Muscle growth is not a “scarring process” but an adaptive one achieved solely via myofibril protein synthesis.
  • If the muscle damage is high, the recuperating resources of the body go towards the repair of the existing muscular tissue, and protein synthesis of new tissue is limited.

It sounds cute and nice. And this is one of the reasons why that idea got my attention. Sadly, the guy blocked my account when I asked him a question that had a minimal hint of criticism.

So, what is the truth? 

There is no doubt that a certain degree of mechanical tension is required for muscle growth to occur.

If this weren’t the case, one would grow bigger biceps by curling the TV remote control.

However, the painful truth is that you can’t isolate mechanical tension from muscular damage when hypertrophy is the goal.

Why?

A certain amount of volume is needed to trigger growth.

How do I know that?

I’ve studied Olympic weightlifting.

Olympic weightlifters lift maximally heavy weights and their muscles have no choice but to generate insane intramuscular tension during the attempts.

However, many Olympic weightlifters in the lower weight classes aren’t the biggest. They squat scary weights, but their muscles are not nearly as large as one might expect.

Why?

Two reasons:

  1. The calories are kept low (bulking is not done) to keep the lifter in a lower weight class.
  2. The volume is low.
  3. The rest between the sets is enormous.

The goal of Oly lifting is to lift insanely heavy weights for singles. In other words, pure strength rather than endurance is all that matters. For that reason, the competitors perform low-rep sets (1-3 reps) in their training and introduce huge breaks between attempts.

It makes sense as this is the sport.

As a result of the lower reps, the muscles get stronger without augmenting too much.

This is undeniable proof that a certain amount of volume performed within a tight timeframe is needed to maximize hypertrophy.

When an Olympic weightlifter tries to go up a weight class, he is given the following template:

  • More drugs
  • More food
  • More volume
  • More assistance exercises (bodybuilding stuff)

That’s a fact, so don’t bother writing angry comments, although I would like to receive some.

And whenever you boost the volume, you are also increasing the work that a muscle is doing.

More work = more time under tension = more stress = more damage to the muscle

In other words, when muscular growth is the goal, you can’t separate mechanical tension and muscular damage.

Mechanical tension may be the main training-related hypertrophy stimulus, but it’s always accompanied by muscular damage when adequate volume is performed. 

Let me use a simple example for clarification.

Imagine that someone gives the following advice to a student: “Feeling like your head is about to explode after studying is not needed to learn new things.”

That would be correct, technically. But if you’re truly studying a difficult subject and have an exam coming up, the amount of studying hours (volume) will eventually accumulate and affect you.

Headache is not required, technically, but it’s practically unavoidable.


Range Of Motion

Another important factor that needs discussion is the range of motion.

If tension is all that matters, holding the top position of a leg extension (isometrics) would result in massive growth as the tension on the muscle will be extreme.

Yet we know that full range of motion movements (e.g., full squats) with eliminated stretch reflex (no bouncing) generate superior growth results.

In other words, a deep pause squat produces more hypertrophy than isometric leg extensions.

Why? 

  • Extra tension 

The larger the range of motion, the more tension the muscle generates because it’s contracting from a more disadvantageous position (poor leverage).

In simple terms, if you do a full squat (hamstrings to calves), the legs have to produce a lot more force per unit of weight for you to get up. 2 plates may feel like 3 plates.

Therefore, one of the ways to maximize growth while reducing the used weight is to lift with a full range of motion.

The same growth can be acquired with a shorter range of motion, but the lifted weight must go up.

Using less weight and a longer range of motion is the superior choice as there’s less stress on the CNS.

  • Stress/damage

The larger the range of motion, the more likely you are to experience soreness.

Why? Because the muscle is stretched more and has to contract from that stretched position. The result is extra stress on the tissue. Extra stress equals extra damage per 1 rep.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that.

Good luck generating a ton of mechanical tension from a stretched position without “damaging” the area.

It can be done but only if the volume is low. And if the volume is low it could be insufficient to trigger growth.


More Volume = More Progress

Remember this.

In the world of muscle construction, more volume equals more work.

And more work equals more growth/progress in every aspect of life.

If you want to become a better writer, you have to read and write more.

if you want to become a better video editor, you have to edit more videos.

If you want to become a better musician, you have to practice more techniques.

Strength and muscle are not different. If you need more muscles, you need to do more work.

If your arms are lagging, you train them MORE, not less.

Whenever you’re trying to break through a plateau, the volume is almost always increased as work regulation is the strongest lever for generating different results.

And since more volume equals extra stress, muscle damage is always part of the puzzle.

It’s Funny When Roid Abusers Come Up With Theories

Roiders like Paul Carter love to cherry-pick parts from different studies to sound smart.

But ultimately, they will look the same with or without their training voodoo because the “actual actual” driving factor behind their looks and “hypertrophy success” are the roids.

You can be certain that if roids are removed from Paul Carter’s (or another user’s) protocol his looks will change dramatically regardless of how smart he sounds.

A long time ago, when Paul Carter was still powerlifting he looked more impressive than he does today with all that knowledge.

In other words, he was able to build a larger-than-life physique without his updated wisdom.

This is how Paul Carter looked back when he was actively writing for his blog (liftrunbang – some articles on there are pretty cool, btw) and without all the unnecessary analysis.

That physique, my friends, is heavily powered by a ton of roids. I am talking about a really large stack (not some “TRT” nonsense). He’s open about his use and that deserves some respect.

However,  if you remove the roids 100%, no amount of “mechanical tension” and “scientific training” will bring him closer to that appearance.

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22 comments

  1. TruthLover

    @TruthSeeker, what do you think about RPE for the purpose of generating specific adaptations? Some people claim that if you train at RPE 7-8, you get most of the benefits of training at RPE 9-10 with significantly less risk of injury.

    But I’m not sure how you’re supposed to make any progress if you’re not pushing yourself hard at the gym.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      RPE 7-8 is enough for progress when the volume is sufficient too.

  2. Dimitri

    Great post! After hearing your accent I’m thinking Asia (China/Korea etc). Greetings from Belgium

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the support. My recorded voice sounds weird, but it is what it is.

  3. Dimitri

    Great post! After hearing your video I think you might be from Asia (China or Korea etc.) greetings from Belgium

  4. Donny Eldridge

    Its crazy that most pro bodybuilders use a short ROM.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Short ROM works too. But requires more weight.

  5. fanofthesite

    Again, like every single pinner since the dawn of pinning, the only key factor that actually matters is the roids. It’s not by mistake that this is the one thing that the needle masters cite as the key to their physiques; it’s always some double secret special super training technique that they alone have discovered. Their entire business model is built on this foundation of making their followers engage in and succumb to this cognitive dissonance. It’s like the 4 lights episode of ST:TNG. Once a muscle guru convinces an acolyte to believe the myth and deny the reality they see with their own eyes, the acolyte will buy anything the guru sells.

    Because this is the ultimate goal; to transform the injected investment into a financial return. This is the key to living a life that serves no function or benefit to society. Actual contribution is anathema to the type of mind that lives this way.

  6. Truth Seeker Post author

    “Again, like every single pinner since the dawn of pinning, the only key factor that actually matters is the roids. It’s not by mistake that this is the one thing that the needle masters cite as the key to their physiques; it’s always some double secret special super training technique that they alone have discovered. ”

    TRUTH

    1. Aoi

      Hello, Truth Seeker
      I wonder why you’ve never made a post, talking about food? like; sources of food, and what to eat etc?
      Keep the good work!
      Skinny ectomorphs united!

      1. Truth Seeker Post author

        I am a fan of keto diets but don’t become too obsessed. Some people go too hard. It’s ok to eat some carbs once in a while.

  7. Juanjo

    Can it exceed the full travel and volume loads?

  8. Juanjo

    You want to tell me that if I lift 100 kg I will have the same results with 70 kg but with its full range?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Yes. Lower weight + full rom > More Weight + short rom (unless and injury prevents you from doing full rom)

  9. Juanjo

    It is true that when I work with weight for my height the CNS dragged me all week very tired, apart from physical work

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      IF you do physical work, you have to train with lower volume or else you will burn your immune system and CNS into the ground.

  10. mattsk1

    Yesterday I tried for the first time 77kg per had with my farmers walks with half the volume of my 72kg per hand last session.. I had been training with 72hk per hand and progressing my volume for a month and felt ready. I feel the muscle damage to my back, arms, shoulders, core and leggs lol. My goal is 110kg per hand for Farmer Walks.

  11. SamS

    I still used to do some neck bridging few years ago. Although during years I raised the reps to 20 per set and I was doing couple of sets for front, sides and back, my neck never looked like Carter’s 😀 But at least my neck got stronger and healthier. I could change some of that health to muscle if that was possible.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I trained neck hard too once upon a time. I still have two harnesses. Ordered one from Japan as it was of better quality. Neck bridges suck in the long run.

  12. Ex-natty

    Well respected? Bro flip flops every other minutes and he’s still on tren

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