Dr Jacob Wilson is The Muscle Prof (www.themuscleprof.com). In a video posted on social media the other day he shows an EMG analysis comparing the bicep activation of a sloppy, ‘flick-and-drop’, dumbbell hammer curl with a slow, artificially ‘flexed’, supinating dumbbell bicep curl. Spoiler alert: the EMG showed a greater duration of bicep activation when the bicep was artificially activated for longer! Amazing! But I personally saw a whole lot more from the EMG data. Read on and discover the holy grail of muscle growing unicorns…
You can find the video here on Facebook:
Several points to notice:
- the actual magnitude of activation is almost equal on both curls. The significant difference is in the duration of activation on the curl which is paused
- peak activation on both curls occurs with the dumbbell at the top of the movement, where the bicep reaches the most contracted position. This is even despite the sloppy hammer curl requiring significantly less bicep contraction due to the pronated position of the forearm.
- peak activation on the sloppy hammer curl also occurs at the top position where the lifter appears to be exerting virtually no force against the dumbbell at all. the peak activation on the sloppy curl occurs at the point of maximum momentum and minimum ‘intent’
- peak activation occurs with a very low load that appears to require no strain or effort on behalf of the lifter. It is questionable whether the weight is necessary at all?
- on both strict and sloppy curl, activation drops off almost completely at the start of the eccentric (lowering) phase and is almost non-existent throughout the eccentric phase.
- there is virtually no activation in the first half to 2/3rds of either curl, on either the concentric or eccentric phase. All significant activation occurs in the very last portions of the contracted position, irrespective of momentum or speed of the curl.
Based on the theory that the muscle activation (as measured by the EMG) is the key to growing muscle like a pro then the above observations suggest:
- the best exercises for maximum muscle gain are exercises which load the contracted position. For example: leg extension, tricep kickbacks, concentration curls and cable crossovers would be the best exercises for maximum muscle mass
- Use minimal weights, if any. Flexing your muscles in their most contracted position achieves maximal activation, irrespective of whether you use weight or flex hard. Just flex the contracted position.
- avoid using compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and presses. These exercises distract from flexing the contracted position and primarily load the middle range of a muscle’s movement where no significant activation occurs. Therefore, squats, deadlifts and presses cannot grow muscle effectively. Do not do them.
- a full range of motion is a waste of time. Only work the muscle’s peak contracted position
- moving a weight through either the eccentric or concentric phase (lowering and raising) of an exercise is a waste of time. Don’t lift weights. Just hold them in the contracted position
- sloppy or strict movement is irrelevant. Just hold the contracted position.
So there you have it. The very best advice you can get from the most reliable source of practical, applicable advice: an academic in a university. To grow muscles you should exercise with as little mass and little acceleration as possible! Then the body will be forced to adapt by growing muscles whose sole function is to move greater mass with greater acceleration. I don’t know whether this conclusion is based on chaos theory or complexity theory? But its so damn crazy and illogical that it must be brilliant genius! And it’s proven by the readings on the computer… if you ignore that it kinda isn’t.
According to this theory of activation, and according to the demonstration, if you want to grow maximum muscle, don’t worry about lifting weights. Certainly don’t waste your time moving the weights up and down! That would be, like, hard! And moving your muscles appears to deactivate them! Thats bad! You don’t want deactivated muscles! Real hardcore activation comes from contrived and pointless flexing! Contrived and pointless flexing achieves maximum muscle activation and therefore will make you massive like a pro.
So, really, probably the very best way to “grow like a pro” is simply to spend many hours practicing posing like a pro. All that flexing will cause huge activation which always equals huge muscles. Always. Look around the gym at all the people lifting the lightest weights through the smallest range of motion on the easiest exercises. Thats right. They are all huge! Every time you see a skinny person walk in the gym you know you think “Oh here we go. Here comes another idiot who is probably going to do some 400kg deep squats and 300kg bench presses. When are these skinny dudes going to realise that the way they are going to get massive is by lifting much lighter weights than everyone else? Anyone can deadlift 400kg if they just do it sloppy and with momentum. But where is the activation??”
Achieving the ability to hold imaginary weights in a flexed position cannot fail to grow muscle. Think about it. How awesome do you feel when you flex? Awesome, right? Thats because you are causing awesome protein synthesis! Think about the biggest pro bodybuilders and what they all have in common. They all flex their muscles in poses! Look in the magazines: always flexing. Thats the secret. Thats why they are huge! Flexing! Thats the key to looking like a bodybuilder. Flex like a bodybuilder! While you are waiting to get huge you can even call it ‘activation’ so then you sound like you really know what you are doing too.
So cancel your gym membership and buy an EMG! Plug yourself into your laptop and flex! Growing muscle is not about progressive resistance; its about constant activation. Your body just keeps growing and growing and growing because you do the same activation over and over and over. Forget Seyle’s theory of adaption. Forget about needing a greater stress to induce further adaptive change. No! You just need activation. So don’t test whether you’ve grown muscle by seeing if your weights are going up in the gym. Just keep plugging yourself into an EMG and keep achieving the same activation. As Einstein said: doing the same thing over and over is the way to expect a constant changing result! That’s the definition of genius! Einstein said so; or something similar.
Good luck with training this new way! God knows, if you believe this, you are going to need a LOT of luck! Many many CC’s and IU’s of it!