Another Article On DFT
Dual Factor Hypertrophy Training:
Note: first off, I'd like to thank AngelFace, JohnSmith, and Gavin for contributing to this article.
There are basically two accepted theories in the world of weight training. One is called Supercompensation (or Single Factor Theory), and the other is called the Fitness Fatigue Theory (or Dual Factor Theory). Bodybuilding tends to follow the Supercompensation way of thinking, while virtually every field of strength and conditioning, athletics, etc. follows the Dual Factor Theory. The reasoning that almost everyone involved in strength training adheres to the Dual Factor Theory is because there is scientific proof that it works, not to mention that the eastern bloc countries that have adhered to this theory have kicked America's ass at every Olympics since the 1950s.
Bodybuilding, for years, has basically ignored Dual Factor Theory and opted for Single Factor Theory training. In the following paragraphs, I hope to prove to you why Dual Factor Theory should be accepted, taught, and adhered to in the world of bodybuilding as well as all other athletes concerned with strength and conditioning.
Note: The one exception to the rule of "all bodybuilding programs based on Supercompensation" is Bryan Haycock's HST, which, from Bryan's own mouth, says that it wasn't based on dual factor theory, although he hit it dead-on, on all points. What I didn't care for personally with HST is that the same amount of importance is placed on the 15-rep phase and the negative rep phase as with the 10 rep and 5 rep phases. The thickness that rep ranges in the 3-8 range provide are far more impressive to me personally than those who focus on 12-15 rep schemes and countless negatives. I also wasn't excited about working the entire body in one workout. The CNS drain was unbelievable. However, in saying that, HST is the best I've seen compared to everything else out there, and I did make good progress on it.
The Supercompensation Theory has been, in the bodybuilding community, the most widely accepted school of thought. However, people are beginning to see it as a bit too simplistic (the strength and conditioning and athletic movements have never accepted this practice). The theory itself is based on the fact that training depletes certain substances (like glycogen, and slowing protein synthesis). Training is seen as catabolic, draining the body of its necessary nutrients and fun stuff. So to grow, according to the theory, the body must then be rested for the appropriate/ optimal amount of time, AND, it (the body) must be supplied with all the nutrients it lost. If both of these things are done correctly, then theoretically your body will increase protein synthesis and store more nutrients than it originally had! (i.e. your muscles will be bigger!)
So obviously the most important part of this theory is TIMING! (Specifically concerning the rest period). But that's where the problem comes in. "If the rest period was too short, then the individual would not be completely recovered and as such the training would deplete the substance even more, which over a period of time would result in overtraining and a loss of performance. If the rest interval were too long then the training would lose its stimulus property, and the individual would recover completely and lose the window of opportunity to provide the stimulus again. If the interval is optimal then improvements surely follow" (AF).
"So, given the one factor theory (Supercompensation), which looks at physical ability as, of course, one factor, you are left with the problem of timing workouts to correspond to the supercompensation wave... anything sooner or later will lead to a useless workout"(JS).
Another issue concerning the Supercompensation/ Single Factor Theory is that of FAILURE. Almost every program that utilizes this type of training advocates the use of muscle/ CNS failure, and then fully rest, and then beat the crap out of your muscles again, then rest, etc (I'm referring to the "work one bodypart per day, six days per week" program as well as HIT, popularized by Mike Mentzer). The issue is that it has now been proven that total failure is not necessarily needed for optimal growth. It has been shown that leaving a rep or two in the tank can and will yield the same results AND therefore a shorter rest period will be needed and less accumulation of fatigue will still be present by the time the next training session rolls around.
A Better Way
The Dual Factor Theory, also called Fitness Fatigue Theory is somewhat more complex than the Supercompensation Theory. The theory is based on the fact that an individual's fitness and fatigue are totally independent of each other. This theory is entirely dependant on one's base conditioning (or physical preparedness or fitness). The thing is, when you have a high level of fitness (or conditioning/ preparedness) this level changes fairly slowly. This is because over the short term fitness does not fluctuate often. (However, fatigue can change (increase or decrease) fairly quickly when compared to fitness).
"The theory works like an equilibrium in that training will have an immediate effect on the body (similar to supercompensation). This effect is the combination of fatigue and gain (again, remember the equilibrium thing). So after a workout, because of the stimulus that training provides, preparedness/conditioning/fitness increases (gain) but at the same time will decrease due to fatigue from the training."
"So, the outcome of the training session is the result of both the positive and negative consequences of the training session. These two outcomes depend on time. By striking the correct balance, fatigue should be large in extent but short in how long it lasts. Gain on the other hand should be moderate, however, and is longer in duration. Typically the relationship is 1:3; if fatigue lasts x amount of time, then gain lasts 3x amount of time."
"Given the two factor theory, which separates physical fitness or preparedness and fatigue, you see that the timing of individual workouts is unimportant to long term gains (unlike Supercompensation)... in other words regardless of whether or not fatigue is or is not present, fitness can and will still be increased" (which is the goal)...
So what you get concerning the two-factor theory is a period of peaking fatigue (maybe 6 weeks), followed by a period of rest (maybe 2 weeks deloading, then one or two weeks of total rest). You view entire weeks and maybe months as you would have viewed just one workout with the single factor theory. For example, in the single factor theory, one workout represents a period of fatigue. But, in the two-factor theory, 6 weeks would represent a period of fatigue. In the single factor theory, a day or two (up to a week) represents a period of rest. But in the two-factor theory, up to four weeks may represent a period rest.
"What is important to note is there is almost universal agreement among scientists and athletes and coaches in all sports EXCEPT bodybuilding that the two factor theory is correct and the single factor theory is not correct and is in fact suitable only for beginners to follow when planning training."
"It is also important to note that most athletes in most sports are experiencing some level of constant fatigue ALWAYS, except for maybe a couple of weekends a year, when they are peaking. Training takes place daily against a backdrop of fatigue". Therefore, you should be able to see why, concerning the single factor theory, it would be very hard to ever fully recover, unless you sat on your ass for two weeks and did nothing."
Applying it to the real world
When setting up dual factor periodization for the bodybuilder, it is important to remember to plan for periods of fatigue and periods of rest. During a fatigue period (say, 3 weeks), you slowly build up fatigue, and never fully recover. Then you have a period of recovery (another 1-3 weeks) where you train with reduced frequency, volume, or intensity. (My preference is to keep intensity high, while drastically lowering volume and slightly lowering frequency.) At any rate, the fatiguing and recovery periods most likely won't be as drastic for a bodybuilder as it would for a strength athlete because there will be no peaking phase for performance (at no point are you required as a bodybuilder to perform a competition based on strength). Additionally, bodybuilders need less fatigue and more recovery present at any given time (outside of the actual training sessions) when compared to strength athletes.
So here's what I've come up with
The general layout of the program will be to train upper body twice per week and lower body twice per week (so, we'll be providing double the training stimulus of typical one bodypart per day programs). The workouts will be fairly intense, heavy on free weight compound exercises, lower volume (per workout, and drastically lower volume per bodypart), and higher frequency than normal bodybuilding workouts. (Now, again, this is individual). Some of you won't be able to handle this amount of frequency yet, because your fitness level sucks. Some powerlifters, OLY lifters, and other strength athletes train up to 20 or 30 times each week (and most of them a minimum of 10 times per week) because their fitness level is so high. If you find this level of frequency is too high, shorten the loading period and lengthen the recovery period, at first. Or, reduce the frequency to training three times per week, on a Mon, Wed, Fri, scheme, etc. until your preparedness is increased, and your body can handle the frequency.)
The real difference is in failure and periodization (this is so each body part can be trained twice per week as opposed to only once)
No exercise should be taken to failure when using submaximal reps, however, all exercises should be taken to within one or two reps of failure by the final set of the exercise. If muscular failure is reached, there is no way you can train with an increased frequency without overtraining.
Periodization will be individual to the lifter. However, for the sake of this program a 3-week period of loading followed by one week of recovery is given. (Additionally, if one isn't fully recovered after the one week recovery period, and fatigue still builds, increase the recovery period to two weeks, or have a "recovery month" every 4 or 5 months where you'll have one week of loading and three weeks of recovery during that month to allow your body to fully recover.)
Progressive Overload is absolutely imperative in every exercise, making sure that load or reps are increased, or that rest periods are decreased to keep intensity high (during loading phases). (Of course, during the recovery phases, if volume is lowered, and frequency reduced slightly, then intensity can and should still be kept high, although the load should be reduced just slightly (approx. 10%) as there is no reason to attempt to set records through progressive overload during this time of recovery.)
Many different rep ranges will be used. I am partial to the use of rep ranges in the 3-10 range, as it tends to give the lifter a great balance of extreme muscle thickness (like the look of a bodybuilder with a powerlifting background) as well as great neural efficiency.
A. Use of Neural Efficiency (as well as some Myofibral Hypertrophy) occurs in rep ranges of 1-3. (Neural Efficiency increases the percentage of motor units that can be activated at any given time. There is little to no effect on size but increases strength will be great. Little to no protein turnover occurs in this rep range as load is too high and mechanical work is too low.)
B. Mostly Myofibral and Sarcomere Hypertrophy and very little Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy occur with rep ranges of 3-5. (Sarcomere hypertrophy increases contractile proteins in muscle thereby increasing strength directly and also size. Book knowledge suggests that growth here will be mostly myofibral/ sarcomere hypertrophy and will be accompanied with strength gains in other rep ranges and improvements in neural efficiency. Therefore this is perhaps the best rep range for increasing strength. Better balance of load / work done for hypertrophy so no surprises there.)
C. Myofibral, Sarcomere, and Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy (lots of growth as well strength gain within this rep range with little transfer to 1rm) occur with rep ranges of 5-10. (Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy does not directly increase strength but can affect it by increasing tendon angle at the attachment - but of course it increases size.)
D. Some Sarcoplasmic with little Myofibral and Sarcomere Hypertrophy occur in rep ranges of 10-15. (More fatigue and a greater extent of waste products are associated with this rep range. Possible increase in capillary density.)
E. Capillary density increases with little Sarcoplasmic growth with rep ranges above 15. (Muscle endurace begins to become a factor (but who needs that?). Also, waste products are intense lactic acid buildup to the point of making some individuals sick.)