Understanding of the 3 Principals in “How it works” provides the framework for the practical application of the program. Here is a review of the 3 principals outlined for NIP™:
1) To Stimulate Change Overload is required.
2) Stimulus must be specific.
3) Change occurs during rest.
Each of these 3 principals and there practical application will be discussed below.
The Overload Principal is in play in many areas in our lives. Extending beyond the context of exercise science. As the Overload Principal relates to our how our body has the ability to adapt to stress.
Everyday the human body is adapting to stress from the environment. Whether that be changes in temperature, diet or lifestyle. On a daily basis our body is hard at work replacing thousands of new cells. Yet it is in the body interest to maintain a sense of continuity or stability. Being well protected from the stresses of the environment. This state of balance is known as Homeostasis. The technical definition of Homeostasis is as follows :
“Homeostasis, also spelled homoeostasis or homœostasis, is the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant”
Some practical examples of where our body adapts to stress is listed below :
Sun Tanning – The fact you can get Skin Cancer from excessive sunlight is indicative of the potential harmfulness of the sun. Building a Sun Tan is way the body builds better resistance to the sun. Hence why people with darker skin pigmentation have a stronger resistance to the ultraviolet rays. Applying both to those with developed and genetically darkened skin pigmentation.
Calluses – Abrasive material handled on the hands or feet tends to build a tougher layer of skin. Where the layer of skin is thickened to not break down as easily.
Immunity from Sickness – The act of recovering from sickness and building a better resistance is adaptation to a stress.
Flexibility – Stretching your muscles and growing more flexible is the resulting adjustment to applied stress. Extending your range of motion upon the demands.
Alchohol (Or any Pharmaceutical) Resistence – It is known those who drink the most tend to have the highest tolerance resistance to alcohol. Requiring more alcohol to become intoxicated.
As part of adaptation to stress your muscles need to be Overloaded. This provides the stimulus to grow. Most athletes embrace this principal either consciously or unconsciously. Making the motto popular “No pain, no gain”.
So Strength Athletes usually will lift weights in the gym to get stronger. Utilizing techniques like Supersets, Drop Sets and Training until failure. Indicating they are overloading their muscles. However the real question is if the overload is SPECIFIC to their goals?
STIMULUS MUST BE SPECIFIC
It’s important to clearly to define the goal to verify the appropriate stimulus is being made. Since the body can be overloaded in a multitude of ways in exercise science. Yet the exercise might not be specific to the goals of the individual.
The specific definition of overload for the NIP™ program needs to be defined twice. Since there are two components of the program. Namely building Power and Strength. So we will tackle each definition individually.
Stimulus for Strength
There are a number of factors which contribute to the strength of an athlete. Such as the structural advantages in body type and tendon strength. NIP™ looks specifically at increasing the strength of the muscles. Providing a nice side effect of bigger muscles.
A stronger muscle is one that provides a higher level of TENSION. As ultimately when we flex or contract a muscle, the muscle fibers increase in tension. This process is the opposite of the relaxation of muscles. The given is the function of muscles, they tense when they’re working harder.
So the question is how do you Overload your muscles with the highest level of tension?
For starters tension employs with the act of will. The mind decide that it wants to contract the muscles. You can control the level of intensity with the contraction, without moving your body. Similar to how you can flex your abs while you are driving. Ideally you want to conduct your exercises in a concentrated place. So your will is applying the highest level of tension from your current position.
Positioning is the second factor determining the level of tension in a muscular contraction. How close the position is to the anatomical function of the muscle contributes to this.
Here is an experiment to demonstrate this principal of anatomical function. Extend out your right arm and place your left hand over your right bicep. Your left hand is placed here to feel the amount of tension in your bicep. Take notice of how relaxed your bicep feels in this extended position. Following this apply the highest level of concentration and flex your bicep as hard as you can. You might notice the level of tension in the bicep is not very strong. In fact depending on how large are your hands, you might notice a great level of tension in your triceps instead. This is because this extended arm position is favorable to the anatomical positioning of your tricep. It is actually the stretched position for the bicep. The stretched position of the muscle is the opposite of the anatomical function of the muscle.
Now try this exercise again with a change in positioning. Change the extended arm and curl your forearm toward your shoulder. Similar to how you would conduct a bicep curl exercise. You might notice even while transitioning in this motion your bicep will become more tense. Now apply the strongest contraction with your will.
If you compare the two positions you will notice the latter position produced more tension in the bicep. This is because the position is closer to the anatomical function of the bicep.
So as a general principal, to provide the highest level tension in the muscle it should be closest to the anatomical function. This is what is required to OVERLOAD the muscle. Since you are trying to increase the body’s capacity to produce a greater level of muscular tension. So you must challenge the output of your muscle. Performed at the position where it’s capable of the strongest contraction and tension level.
This is why exercises like Supersets (Depending on how you do them) might not be the best for building stronger muscles. It is true that they overload the system. Since most people do find them challenging and feel the “burn”. But it may not be specifically overloading your muscular strength. Since you might feel more of a “burn” than actual muscular tension. This could be beneficial for building muscular endurance and your lactic acid threshold. But may do little for actually building muscular strength. The reality is you can develop bigger muscles without feeling any “burn” at all.
This concludes that the definition for Overload for strength is :
The specific overload for building stronger muscles is found at the strongest anatomical position of the muscle
Now we would move onto the………
Stimulus for Power
The definition of power has been discussed in the “How it works” page. As a review, power is how much strength you can generate in a unit of time. So you need to overload your system by producing MAXIMUM strength in the shortest unit of time.
We just previously defined how to output maximum strength in the muscle. Which is related to the anatomical positioning of the muscle. So by the same token an exercise relating to power would need to be done at the strongest anatomical position. This helps to ensure maximum power output. Along with the exercise to be completed in the shortest unit of time possible. So the exercise would need to be done with suddenness in the timing.
The most practical way to accomplish this is variation of negative exercises done with machines. Particularly with Cable machines since they allow flexibility in motion. You can conduct these exercises with Free weights. However there is a danger to that since the weight is unguided and can lose control.
These are no regular negative exercises. They are done with an explosive element to them. So for example of how you may train the quadriceps muscles. You would find yourself seated at a leg extension machine. Decide whether you will train the left or right leg. Then begin by lifting the weight up with both legs while holding the top of the position. You would then try to to relax one of the leg muscles that you are attempting to train. Ideally you will relax the muscle enough so the weight will not be dropped. Once you achieved relaxation with the target leg you would release the weight with the other leg. This will cause a sudden explosive contraction, close to the anatomical position of the muscle.
As a result this exercise would appropriately overload your power output. Challenging you to produce the most amount of strength in a short unit of time. As maximum strength at the anatomical position is applied in a quick time frame.
Now we have a firm understanding of Overload for both Power and Strength. However it should be asked how much do you specifically need? How many sets are required per exercise?
You only need 1 set per bodypart. That is right, that was not a typo and you read that correctly. One set per body is all that is needed. This controversial idea was started by Mike Mentzer.
The reason for this is exercise is a taxing activity. It uses up precious resources in your body. Which is evident since your body feels tired after workouts. Doing any more than required once you appropriately stimulated the muscles only lengthens your recovery time. Moreover you are training the intensity of your muscle contractions. Not in how long you can train, since power and strength are done in quick burst. So you want to start at the MINIMUM duration required to stimulate growth. So one set is enough to provide the appropriate duration of exercise. If for whatever reasons you want to increase to two or three sets you can do so. At least this way you are using your resources conservatively. But in all cases that Mentzer and I have noted, one set is sufficient.
This aspect will make more sense when we delve into the details of the final principal. Exploring how Growth occurs during Rest.
GROWTH OCCURS DURING REST
It was previously mentioned that exercise is a form of stress. So in order to adapt to stress, recovery must ensue first. As one must recover initially before you can grow. As you can’t build more until you have replaced what has been use. Once your body has recovered it can then OVERCOMPENSATE and build its protective layer. Granting you more strength and power than you had before. So it is a requirement for this process that adequate rest is given. Adequate rest means the following :
1) Enough hours of sleep each night.
2) Enough time for rest and relaxation.
3) Enough time between workouts.
With inadequate rest, you do not recover in between workouts. Leading you into a state known as Overtraining. Which is a common state for most Athletes. Since competitive athletes are motivated and usually trying to push progress faster than it can physiologically occur. Training too frequently can actually be counter productive to your goals. Since you end up pushing your body faster than your system can handle.
So your exercise routine for Strength and Power should actually be infrequent. (This is a different story if you are training for Endurance which is built on frequency) Infrequent enough that you progress in Strength and Power in EVERY workout. Failing to progress in every workout means that likely you are not allowing enough time for rest. (Or you are not Overloading yourself appropriately. This scenario is less likely for motivated athletes) So you should should start off training each body part once per week. You might actually need more time in between workouts. This will depend on how developed you already are.
Don’t worry about losing your gains from not training as frequently as you may think you need. In most cases athletes do not lose their gains in strength and power that quickly. Unless they come to point of being completely inactive. The body wouldn’t go through the trouble of building something only to lose it so quickly. A power and strength is maintained much easier than other athletic aspects like cardiovascular endurance.
Ever notice how some relatively sedentary people can have large muscles in their calves or forearms? This is an indication that inactivity doesn’t cause atrophy abruptly as we are conditioned to believe. In most cases it’s usually only after months, not weeks of inactivity you start to atrophy and regress. Unless of course you have an exceptionally fast metabolism. Train frequently enough, but not too frequently.
As you progress in power and strength, you will actually need MORE rest in between workouts. That’s because stronger and more powerful muscles use more resources. This is evident by the fact you get more tired working your legs than your arms. Since the legs are bigger and more powerful muscles than the arms. Similarly most martial artist know that bigger and more muscular opponents can often tire quickly. So as you progress you will need more time in between workouts to recover and grow.
It should be noted that everyone does have a different rate which they can recover. This is a factor that is dictated by genetics. As some people are very genetically gifted in this area. However the principals of the program will still remain the same. As you develop you will need more recovery time.
With these 3 principals in mind you can now go forth to build the Strength and Power of your desire.
OTHER FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Nutrition is particularly overemphasized in bodybuilding for building strength. Where protein intake is often overdone. This excessive promotion of protein intake is connected with the selling of protein supplements. However excessive protein can be harmful to your kidneys. Moreover consuming too many meat products can make for an acidic environment in your body.
Most people only need the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for protein. As the RDA was designed to account even for edge cases. Accounting for if individuals have diseases or sicknesses.
The truth of the matter is your muscles are about 70% water. The actual protein content of your muscles is less than you think. So only a slight increase in Protein would be required if you built 50 pounds of muscle in the course of a year. Where a 50 pound gain would be a huge feat of accomplishment and transformation of the body. You would only need approximately 13.67 grams extra protein a day, over what is needed for basic maintenance. The calculation would be as follows :
50 Pounds of Muscle
22% of the muscle is potentially protein. (70% is water with the remaining percentage allocated to lipids)
22% of 50 pounds = 11 Protein Pounds (This is generous since the remaining 35% is not wholly consisted of protein)
17.5 Lbs of protein = 4989.52 grams
4989.52 / 365 days a year = 13.67 grams of Protein.
A variation of this rational is well outlined in Mike Mentzer’s “Heavy Duty Nutrition” book. (You can purchase the book here)
On a personal note I am a vegetarian. Done correctly, you can appropriately body build with a vegetarian diet. Just take a look at the Gorilla who is 3 times stronger than the average man. The Gorilla is by majority a vegetarian animal. Did you also know that Roman Gladiators were also vegetarian? Strength and Power CAN be built without eating meat.
We are the only animals that need to cook our meat to eat it. Which indicates our body is not naturally designed to eat meat. Reading the book “Fit For Life” will help you to explore this topic further if you are interested. Along with other useful guidelines like Food Combining to obtain more energy. Rest assured you don’t need as much protein as you likely conditioned to believe. You can be a strong and powerful Vegetarian Athlete.
TESTING YOUR PROGRESS
You should lift weights in the traditional way to test your strength. Traditional weightlifting also allows you to build strength in ways the NIP™ program does not. Such as training your muscles to work in coordination. Along with building the necessary tendon and joint strength.
However for testing purposes, every once in awhile you should do standard exercises like squats, curls and bench presses to test your progress. If each workout is successful, you should be increasing around five percent each workout. Five percent can represent five percent more weight or 2 more reps.
Ie – 100 pounds for 1 rep progressing to 105 pounds for 1 rep.
100 pounds for 6 reps progressing to 100 pounds for 8 reps.
Testing your power on the other hand can be more difficult. However you can use different Force measurement tools to test your progress. But most importantly you will FEEL the difference in each workout. You will notice how must more stronger and crisper your movements will feel as your explosive power increases.