Jul 14, 2021 in DIS-TANZ-SOLO

As I am currently in the fourth week of my muscle hypertrophy training and am therefore dealing a lot with the underlying mechanisms, I want to take the opportunity to present one of the most important voices in this field: Dr. Brad Schoenfeld.

Brad Schoenfeld is an internationally renowned expert on muscle building and fat loss. A lifelong drug-free bodybuilder himself, he has won a multitude of natural bodybuilding titles. He is a professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Lehman College in the Bronx, NY, is the best-selling author of THE M.A.X. MUSCLE PLAN and SCIENCE AND DEVELOPMENT OF MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY, and has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals as a researcher.

What makes him a unique voice, in my opinion, is his down-to-earth approach and the extremely close connection between theory and practice. In his view, science can offer important guidelines, which should, however, always be applied based on the practical experience of the coach and with a view to the individual requirements of the athlete. In the best case, science and practice are not two separate realities, but they enrich each other through mutual exchange.

I have selected a series of podcasts in which Brad Schoenfeld talks about topics such as training frequency, training intensity, rest periods, training splits, the difference between metabolic stress & muscle damage, the necessity of training to failure, overreaching & overtraining, nutrition, and many more. It stands to reason that some of the podcasts overlap in content, but they all still contain very useful information.

I really hope you’re not put off by the focus on competitive bodybuilding (and the commercials for steaks, in case you’re vegan). By its very nature, muscle hypertrophy is the primary goal of any bodybuilder, but so much of this topic can be applied to our work as performing athletes as well. It would be a shame not to make use of this knowledge.

Selected Podcasts


Mike Bledsoe & Doug Larson from Barbell Shrugged and Dr. Andy Galpin in conversation with Brad Schoenfeld (29. November 2017)

"In this episode, he shared with us scientific insights on gaining muscle and strength. We covered pre and post workout nutrition (including protein intake benefits, optimal time window, amount, and type), the relationship between training frequency and muscle gainz, between keto diets and muscle gainz, recommended rest periods during training, and more."

Duration: 46:35

II. SCIENCE VS BRO SCIENCE (Fouad Abiad's Real Bodybuilding Podcast Ep.90)

Fouad Abiad in conversation with Brad Schoenfeld (13. January 2021)

"Dr.Brad Schoenfeld joins the Real Bodybuilding Podcast to answer some of the age old myths that surround the muscle growth."

Duration: 1:11:08

III. Bro Science Vs Real Science For Muscle Growth (Mark Bell's Power Project EP. 536)

Mark Bell, Nsima Inyang, and Andrew Zaragoza in conversation with Brad Schoenfeld (11. June 2021)

"Dr. Brad Schoenfeld is one of the world’s top researchers and educators on building muscle and fat loss. He is the author of THE MAX MUSCLE PLAN as well as SCIENCE AND DEVELOPMENT OF MUSCLE HYPRERTROPHY. He is also an associate professor at Lehman College where he is the graduate director of the Human Performance & Fitness Program."

Duration: 2:35:49

Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy

In DIS-TANZ DIARY #15: SIZE VS. STRENGTH I have already summarised the different mechanisms of strength training and hypertrophy training. Of course, this cannot replace reading Brad Schoenfeld's seminal textbook, which provides a complete breakdown of the topic. Grab a copy if you can.
Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy Cover

By Brad Schoenfeld

Publisher : Human Kinetics
Language : English
Hardcover : 312 pages
ISBN-10 : 1492597678
ISBN-13 : 978-1492597674
Dimensions : 22.1 x 2.29 x 28.19 cm

"SCIENCE AND DEVELOPMENT OF MUSCLE HYPERTROPHY, Second Edition, is the most comprehensive resource on muscle hypertrophy in the world. Written by Brad Schoenfeld, PhD, an internationally renowned expert on muscle hypertrophy, this book is the definitive resource for strength and conditioning professionals, personal trainers, sport scientists, researchers, and exercise science instructors who are seeking information regarding muscle hypertrophy, including the mechanism of its development, how the body structurally and hormonally changes when exposed to stress, ways to most effectively design training programs, and nutritional guidelines for eliciting hypertrophic changes."

If you are specifically interested in Schoenfeld's muscle building program, you should wait just a little while longer. THE M.A.X. MUSCLE PLAN 2.0 will be released in November 2021.


Here is a small selection of studies in which Brad Schoenfeld has recently been involved. Since research in the field of muscle hypertrophy is moving at an insanely fast pace, I have only included publications from the last year or journal pre-proofs. If you are interested, you can easily find a variety of other texts by Schoenfeld and his colleagues on researchgate.net or other pertinent portals.
Journal of Sport and Health Science Cover

Effects of resistance training performed to repetition failure or non-failure on muscular strength and hypertrophy: a systematic review and meta-analysis

by Jozo Grgic, Brad J. Schoenfeld, John Orazem & Filip Sabol
(Pre-proof, to appear in Journal of Sport and Health Science, 2021)

We aimed to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of training to muscle failure or non-failure on muscular strength and hypertrophy. Meta-analyses of effect sizes (ESs) explored the effects of training to failure vs. non-failure on strength and hypertrophy. Subgroup meta-analyses explored potential moderating effects of variables such as training status (trained vs. untrained), training volume (volume equated vs. non-equated), body region (upper vs. lower), exercise selection (multi- vs. single-joint exercises (only for strength)), and study design (independent vs. dependent groups). Fifteen studies were included in the review. All studies included young adults as participants. Meta-analysis indicated no significant difference between the training conditions for muscular strength (ES = –0.09; 95% confidence interval (CI): –0.22 to 0.05) and for hypertrophy (ES = 0.22; 95%CI: –0.11 to 0.55). Subgroup analyses that stratified the studies according to body region, exercise selection, or study design showed no significant differences between training conditions. In studies that did not equate training volume between the groups, the analysis showed significant favouring of non-failure training on strength gains (ES = –0.32; 95%CI: –0.57 to –0.07). In the subgroup analysis for resistance- trained individuals, the analysis showed a significant effect of training to failure for muscle hypertrophy (ES = 0.15; 95%CI: 0.03 to 0.26). Training to muscle failure does not seem to be required for gains in strength and muscle size. However, training in this manner does not seem to have detrimental effects on these adaptations, either. More studies should be conducted among older adults and highly trained individuals to improve the generalizability of these findings.

Sports Cover

Loading Recommendations for Muscle Strength, Hypertrophy, and Local Endurance: A Re-Examination of the Repetition Continuum

by Brad J. Schoenfeld, Jozo Grgic, Derrick W. Van Every & Daniel L. Plotkin
(Sports 9/2, February 2021)

Loading recommendations for resistance training are typically prescribed along what has come to be known as the “repetition continuum”, which proposes that the number of repetitions performed at a given magnitude of load will result in specific adaptations. Specifically, the theory postulates that heavy load training optimizes increases maximal strength, moderate load training optimizes increases muscle hypertrophy, and low-load training optimizes increases local muscular endurance. However, despite the widespread acceptance of this theory, current research fails to support some of its underlying presumptions. Based on the emerging evidence, we propose a new paradigm whereby muscular adaptations can be obtained, and in some cases optimized, across a wide spectrum of loading zones. The nuances and implications of this paradigm are discussed herein.

Sports Medicine Cover

No Time to Lift? Designing Time-Efficient Training Programs for Strength and Hypertrophy: A Narrative Review

by Vegard M. Iversen, Martin Norum, Brad J. Schoenfeld & Marius S. Fimland
(Sports Medicine, 2021)

Lack of time is among the more commonly reported barriers for abstention from exercise programs. The aim of this review was to determine how strength training can be most effectively carried out in a time-efficient manner by critically evaluating research on acute training variables, advanced training techniques, and the need for warm-up and stretching. When programming strength training for optimum time-efficiency we recommend prioritizing bilateral, multi-joint exercises that include full dynamic movements (i.e. both eccentric and concentric muscle actions), and to perform a minimum of one leg pressing exercise (e.g. squats), one upper-body pulling exercise (e.g. pull-up) and one upper-body pushing exercise (e.g. bench press). Exercises can be performed with machines and/or free weights based on training goals, availability, and personal preferences. Weekly training volume is more important than training frequency and we recommend performing a minimum of 4 weekly sets per muscle group using a 6–15 RM loading range (15–40 repetitions can be used if training is performed to volitional failure). Advanced training techniques, such as supersets, drop sets and rest-pause training roughly halves training time compared to traditional training, while maintaining training volume. However, these methods are probably better at inducing hypertrophy than muscular strength, and more research is needed on longitudinal training effects. Finally, we advise restricting the warm-up to exercise-specific warm-ups, and only prioritize stretching if the goal of training is to increase flexibility. This review shows how acute training variables can be manipulated, and how specific training techniques can be used to optimize the training response: time ratio in regard to improvements in strength and hypertrophy.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Cover

Volume Load Rather Than Resting Interval Influences Muscle Hypertrophy During High-Intensity Resistance Training

by Ariel Roberth Longo, Carla Silva-Batista, Kelly Pedroso, Vitor de Salles Painelli, Thiago Lasevicius, Brad J. Schoenfeld, André Yui Aihara, Bergson de Almeida Peres, Valmor Tricoli & Emerson Luiz Teixeira
(Pre-proof, to appear in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2021)

Interset rest interval has been proposed as an important variable for inducing muscle mass and strength increases during resistance training. However, its influence remains unclear, especially when protocols with differing intervals have equalized volume. We aimed to compare the effects of long (LI) vs. short rest interval (SI) on muscle strength (one repetition maximum [1RM]) and quadriceps cross-sectional area (QCSA), with or without equalized volume load (VL). Twenty-eight subjects trained twice a week for 10 weeks. Each subject's leg was allocated to 1 of 4 unilateral knee extension protocols: LI, SI, SI with VL -matched by LI (VLI-SI), and LI with VL-matched by SI (VSI-LI). A 3-minute rest interval was afforded in LI and VSI-LI protocols, while SI and VLI-SI employed a 1-minute interval. All subjects trained with a load corresponding to 80% 1RM. One repetition maximum and QCSA were measured before and after training. All protocols significantly increased 1RM values in post-training (p < 0.0001; LI: 27.6%, effect size [ES] = 0.90; VLI-SI: 31.1%, ES = 1.00; SI: 26.5%, ES = 1.11; and VSI-LI: 31.2%, ES = 1.28), with no significant differences between protocols. Quadriceps cross-sectional area increased significantly for all protocols in post-training (p < 0.0001). However, absolute changes in QCSA were significantly greater in LI and VLI-SI (13.1%, ES: 0.66 and 12.9%, ES: 0.63) than SI and VSI-LI (6.8%, ES: 0.38 and 6.6%, ES: 0.37) (both comparisons, p < 0.05). These data suggest that maintenance of high loads is more important for strength increases, while a greater VL plays a primary role for hypertrophy, regardless of interset rest interval.

European Journal of Sport Science Cover

What influence does resistance exercise order have on muscular strength gains and muscle hypertrophy? A systematic review and meta-analysis

by João Pedro Nunes, Jozo Grgic, Paolo M. Cunha, Alex S. Ribeiro, Brad J. Schoenfeld, Belmiro F. De Salles & Edilson S. Cyrino
(European Journal of Sport Science 21/2, February 2021)

The objectives of this paper were to: (a) systematically review studies that explored the effects of exercise order (EO) on muscular strength and/or hypertrophy; (b) pool their results using a meta-analysis; and (c) provide recommendations for the prescription of EO in resistance training (RT) programmes. A literature search was performed in four databases. Studies were included if they explored the effects of EO on dynamic muscular strength and/or muscle hypertrophy. The meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model with Hedges' g effect size (ES). The methodological quality of studies was appraised using the TESTEX checklist. Eleven good-to-excellent methodological quality studies were included in the review. When all strength tests, that is, both in multi-joint (MJ) and single-joint (SJ) exercises were considered, there was no difference between the EOs (ES = -0.11; p = 0.306). However, there was a difference between the MJ-to-SJ and SJ-to-MJ orders for strength gains in the MJ exercises, favouring starting the exercise session with MJ exercises (ES = 0.32; p = 0.034), and the strength gains in the SJ exercises, favouring starting the exercise session with SJ exercises (ES = -0.58; p = 0.032). No significant effect of EO was observed for hypertrophy combining site-specific and indirect measures (ES = 0.03; p = 0.862). In conclusion, increases in muscular strength are the largest in the exercises performed at the beginning of an exercise session. For muscle hypertrophy, our meta-analysis indicated that both MJ-to-SJ and SJ-to-MJ EOs may produce similar results.

Last but not least, for all further information on the topic of muscle hypertrophy and more updates on the current state of research, I highly recommend Brad Schoenfeld's website lookgreatnaked.com. Go ahead and check it out.
Header photo by ALL best fitness is HERE on Shutterstock


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Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.

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