In Sports Illustrated in 1975 a revolutionary training programme was lauded. It involved a limited number of whole body exercises performed on innovative equipment. Training was to momentary muscular failure with workouts lasting less than thirty minutes done three times per week.
It generated a cult-like enthusiasm for Nautilus® machine training developed by innovator and mechanical genius Arthur Jones … the very same training method and machines at the heart of our high intensity strength training programmes at BodyTech today.
So have Jones’ methods stood the test of time?
Over the years almost every imaginable combination of sets, reps and loads have been used by people who want to get stronger to either look better or improve performance in sports. However, recent research from McMaster University in Canada suggests that perhaps all of this is mostly a distraction and the key – as touted by Jones back in the mid-seventies - is going to volitional fatigue (or momentary muscular failure) whatever the sets, reps and load.
In the Canadian study, 49 young men who had been strength training for at least two years were randomised to either a high rep-lower weight program vs. a lower rep-higher weight program of whole body strength training. In short, the results confirmed that training to failure is more important than the load, per se.
There are a lot of implications for this work.
First, these experienced resistance trained subjects showed some pretty big gains in strength. Second, people worried about injury with heavy loads can use lower loads to failure. Third, for the average person looking to simply get stronger, a simple circuit with the exercises performed to failure two or three days per week can return pretty impressive results – as you well know from your own experience at BodyTech.
Which all goes to show that in an industry rife with new-fangled training methods, sometimes the well–established, scientifically-proven ones achieve the best results. And as Arthur Jones said, "The truth cannot be denied."