Are You Smarter Than an IG Trainer – Explanations

Which rep range is the best for hypertrophy (muscular growth) assuming the set is taken close to failure?

Answer: Between 5-30 Reps

It is commonly believed in fitness culture that rep ranges between 8-12 reps are the best for growing muscle, anything less is better for strength and anything greater is best for endurance.  In reality, muscle growth has been shown to be similar across rep ranges between 5 and 30 reps as long as the set was taken close to failure.  While using heavier weights and less reps does translate more to strength, you can still see some muscle growth.  And while using lighter weights and more reps does lead to better gains in muscular endurance, you can still also gain muscle from higher rep ranges.  

Muscular growth is primarily the result of what occurring?

Answer: The increase in volume of individual muscle fibers

  Muscle growth occurs as a result of individual muscle fibers increasing in volume after being exposed to a loading stimulus and mechanical tension.  The stimuli are the forces that are exerted by the individual muscle fibers.  It is important to understand that the tension experienced by the individual fibers is what matters, not the tension felt by the muscle as a whole.  This makes sense because it is the individual muscle fibers that grow as a result of training, not the muscle as a whole. You have to make the things that make up the muscle bigger to make the actual muscle bigger.

Which variable is the most important consideration for hypertrophy training?

Answer: Tension

Tension is the force that is produced within muscles and stimulates growth. Muscle cells have mechanoreceptors that detect force and signal to muscle building machinery to be activated and grow muscle. The more tension that is detected the stronger these signals.

What contraction would lead to the greatest hypertrophic stimulus?

Answer: Contraction that recruits high threshold motor units where the fibers shorten slowly.

We have both low threshold and high threshold motor units and they are recruited in order of the size of the motor neuron. Low threshold motor units are recruited when only low levels of force are required and they only govern a small number of muscle fibers (dozens).  High threshold motor units aren’t recruited until certain recruitment thresholds are met and the force requirement is high enough. This is to help conserve energy and to be more efficient as high threshold motor units govern many muscle fibers (hundreds or thousands) and make up the real meat of all of your muscles.  They are also more responsive to training than low threshold motor units.  It is hypothesized that the reason low threshold motor units don’t contribute much to muscle growth is 1) because they only govern a small number of muscle fibers and 2) because they are recruited first and at low force levels, they are activated many times throughout daily life so it is possible they have already achieved their maximum potential for size.  

The amount of force a muscle fiber can produce when it is not fatigued is determined by the force velocity relationship.  The force velocity relationship shows that when a fiber contracts slowly during the concentric portion of the movement, it can produce higher levels of force.  If a fiber were to contract quickly, it wouldn’t be able to produce as much force.  The reason for this has to do with the contractile proteins that lead to muscle contraction. Actin and myosin interact with each other via crossbridge formation which is what makes muscles shorten to produce force.  At slow contraction speeds, more crossbridges are able to form leading to greater forces.  At fast contraction speeds, you can’t form as many of these crossbridges so force is diminished.

Strength gains occur via a number of different adaptations as a result of training, which of these adaptations leads to gains the fastest? 

Answer: Improvement of coordination

Simply learning how to better perform a movement can drastically increase a person’s ability to show their strength, especially in beginners. You can see a huge increase in strength in just one session in people who are just learning new movements. The other answers in this question all contribute as well but take more time to develop.

What type of contraction leads to the most force produced?

Answer: Eccentric Contractions

Eccentric contractions create greater forces because there is a decreased rate of detachment of the crossbridges between myosin and actin, the sliding filaments of muscle that lead to contraction as well as an increased tension in titin, another muscular protein, that is a result of the stretching of the muscle. This is known as the force-velocity relationship.

Using slow tempo reps is best for strength training because it increases time under tension and facilitates greater strength gains.

Answer: False

Force is equal to mass times acceleration.  In order to move a weight you must create a force with your muscles that is greater than the force that gravity is accelerating the given mass back down towards the earth.  If you were to take a submaximal weight and control the tempo of the repetition so that it was slower in order to increase the time under tension experienced by the muscle fibers, it would require less force than if you were to lift it with a maximal effort.  Because you are performing a submaximal effort and the force needed to complete the repetition is low, motor unit recruitment is also low and only a small number of muscle fibers are activated.  Deliberatley slowing down the speed of the rep of a submaximal load causes the weight to accelerate less and thus leading to less force production as the level of effort is low. Not great for strength gains. The goal is to produce more force.

Where does the majority of oxidized fat go when you utilize it for energy?

Answer: You breathe it out

There is a common misconception that you sweat out the fat.  You do expel a small amount of the weight from your fat and carbohydrate stores in your sweat and urine but the vast majority of it is exhaled out in your breath in the form of carbon dioxide and water. CO2 drives respiration and CO2 is a byproduct of the reactions your body uses to generate energy.

Which energy system is primarily used during a max effort squat attempt?

Answer: Phosphogen System

There are 3 energy systems we use to fuel our movement based on needs. The Phosphogen (ATP-PCr) System is what we use when we need fast energy. We can get ATP from it very quickly but it only lasts about 15 seconds before we need to decrease intensity in order to continue with the exercise.

Which muscle fibers are the most oxidative?

Answer: Type I Fibers

Type I Fibers are your slow twitch muscle fibers. They posses a greater number of mitochondria which allows them to generate more energy from aerobic metabolism.

Assume a 200lb individual with a total daily energy expenditure of 3000 calories. Which situation requires the most protein as a percentage of total calories?

Answer: During a weight loss phase, eating 2500 calories a day, with the goal of losing fat and preserving lean mass.

Protein intake should ideally increase as a percentage of total calories when in a caloric deficit for a few reasons. The most important, protein is muscle sparing so while you are in a catabolic state due to low energy availability, the extra protein can help preserve lean mass. Protein is also the most satiating of the macronutrients making it helpful for those trying to cut back on calories during weight loss. Higher protein diets have been shown in the literature to be the best for weight loss.

For fat loss, it is important to keep your carbohydrate intake under what amount?

Answer: Whatever amount of calories from carbs are leftover after fat and protein requirements are met.

Weight loss is a function of calorie balance, not any individual macronutrient. As long as you maintain a calorie deficit you will lose weight regardless of your carbohydrate intake. The calorie constraint hypothesis states that once the minimum fat and protein requirements are met, the remainder of the calories can be made up of anything, including carbohydrates.

How much protein can a person digest at one time?

Answer: Virtually unlimited

The per meal anabolic ceiling that some gym bros tell you exists is likely much higher than many they believe it to be.  Your body doesn’t just waste extra protein that isn’t used to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.  The extra protein can be used for other protein needs in the body that aren’t related to building muscle and they can also be transaminated and used for energy.  In addition, if you eat other macronutrients with your protein (like in normal eating) it will slow down the digestion of protein and a larger dose may be needed to receive the same stimulus to muscle protein synthesis.  

What muscle group does this exercise aim to target?

Answer: The external rotators of the left leg

Okay this one is kind of hard because it is not obvious but I had to include this exercise in particular because I see so many Fitspos try and do it even though they have no idea what it’s for. Bret Contreras has posted about this movement in the past and because he is the go to guy when it comes to glute training, everyone else will follow what he does and rightfully so. He literally wrote the book on glute training. Most people will probably answer that this exercise works the abductors or external rotators of the right leg. That is incorrect. They will have to isometrically contract to some degree for stability but this movement is a left leg exercise. Stand up and try it for yourself. If you watch the model, her torso follows her leg to bias the movement to the planted left leg. You can do this exercise as an abduction movement for the right (cuffed) leg but the lack of stability makes it a poor choice in my opinion. A seated abduction machine would be a much better choice.

What is the most likely culprit for the fault in this squat?

Answer: Poor ankle mobility

Heels coming off of the ground in a squat is almost a dead giveaway for poor ankle mobility or tight calves. Placing a lift underneath the heels so that the foot can be securely planted will help until full ankle mobility is able to be reached.

During a deadlift, the joint angle at the hips should:

Answer: Remain equal until the bar reaches the knees, then increase

If you were to mime out each movement you would see that this is the correct answer pretty quickly. Changes in joint angle at the hip before the bar passes the knees means that either the butt has to shoot up or the chest rises too quickly putting the lifter in a disadvantageous position.

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