The Quiz (answers appear at end of quiz)

Part I: General Training Science

1. Strength training can stimulate both functional adaptations and structural adaptations. Briefly describe both types and explain the difference between the two.

2. How can you use the following training parameters to ensure the greatest proportion of functional adaptations?

Frequency

Intensity

Type of exercises

Volume

Training Split

Rest Intervals

3. How can you use the following training parameters to ensure the greatest proportion of structural adaptations?

Frequency

Intensity

Type of exercises

Volume

Training Split

Rest Intervals

4. To make long-term improvements, one needs to apply the law of progressive overload which states that the demands of a training program should become more difficult as the body adapts to training. Typically, the double progression system is used where the demands of a program are increased either by lifting more weight for the same amount of reps or performing more reps with the same amount of weight. This is rather limitative. Give and explain at least five other ways of increasing training difficulty.

5. Force = Mass x Acceleration: this is one of the keys to strength training success. Explain the three ways to increase force production during an exercise according to this formula and provide at least one example of an application of each method.

Part II: Training for Maximum Strength and Power

6. The three key players when it comes to limit strength and power production are the central nervous system, the muscles and the tendons. Explain their role and how each one of them can limit performance.

7. To maximize one's potential to produce force, it becomes necessary to strongly stimulate the fast-twitch motor units. Knowing that a motor unit that isn't recruited isn't trained, what are the three methods of maximum motor-unit recruitment according to Zatsiorsky? Give a brief explanation of each method.

8. A person can produce more force at certain joint angles. For example, individuals are stronger in a quarter squat than in a full squat. So when performing a regular squat (or any other lift), the weight you can use is limited by the weakest link in the chain, thus the strongest links receive little stimulation. Name and explain three training techniques that will allow you to develop force production potential equally during the whole range of motion of an exercise.

9. When training for limit strength or power, physical fatigue from a set goes away quickly. The athlete will feel ready to go for another set within 60 to 90 seconds (when ATP-CP reserves are restored). Why should the athlete wait at least 2-3 times that before performing another set?

10. Is it possible to gain strength or power while losing weight or even muscle mass?

Part III: Training for Bodybuilding or Maximum Muscle Mass

11. Hypertrophy stimulation is a result of the total amount of rebound protein synthesis in response to protein degradation during training. Total protein degradation is itself the result of the rate of protein degradation and the time spent degrading. The time under tension of a set (duration of a set) will determine the time spent degrading proteins. What factor has the greatest influence on the rate of degradation?

12. The eccentric portion of an exercise is often described as the most effective part of a lift. Which of the following is not a benefit of eccentric training?

a) Increased hypertrophy of the distal portion of the muscle

b) Improved blood flow to the muscle and increased number of capillaries

c) Strengthening of the tendons

d) Preferential recruitment of the fast-twitch muscle fibers

13. What is the difference between the pre-fatigue method and the post-fatigue method? Which one is best and why?

14. What is the iso-dynamic contrast method? Name three reasons why it's a superior way of stimulating hypertrophy.

15. To stimulate maximum muscle growth, a high training density is one of the most important things. Training density is the amount of work performed per unit of time. In a bodybuilding program, it is increased by taking shorter rest intervals. Which one of these is not a benefit of a high training density?

a) Improved blood flow to the muscle and increased number of capillaries

b) Increase in growth hormone production

c) Improved capacity to remove metabolic waste products from the muscle

d) Significant increase in limit strength after each set

Part IV: Training for an Improved Body Composition (Fat loss/muscle maintenance or slight gain)

16. Which of these benefits is not associated with strength training during a fat loss program?

a) To prevent muscle loss while on a restricted calories diet

b) To increase satiety and thus reduce excessive cravings

c) To increase energy expenditure

d) To reduce the amount of carbohydrates stored as body fat

17. Is performing energy systems work ("cardio" for the layman) first thing in the morning on an empty stomach the most effective way of improving your appearance? Which one of these statements best answers this question?

a) Yes, it means that more calories are burned in the form of fat because of the empty stomach and a greater level of free-fatty acids in the blood stream.

b) No, the body is in a catabolic state so muscle will be broken down while performing cardio on an empty stomach.

c) A and B are both correct: a fatter individual will tend to use more fat for fuel and protect muscle while performing cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. A lean individual will catabolize/breakdown more muscle while protecting fat stores.

d) A and B are both correct: a lean individual will use more fat for fuel and protect muscle while performing morning cardio on an empty stomach because of a more efficient system. A fatter person will use less fat and break down more muscle tissue because his system is efficient at storing body fat.

18. Two individuals perform treadmill work. Subject A walks for 40 minutes and uses 300 kilocalories. Subject B performs interval work for 18 minutes (12 intervals of 1 minute walk; 30 seconds running) and also uses 300 kilocalories. Which one will stimulate the most fat loss and why?

19. A client is overly fat (20% body fat) and under-muscled (weak and soft) and he wants to become lean and muscular. What is the best strategy to use?

a) Gain a lot of muscle first and lose the fat afterwards; the greater muscle mass will facilitate later fat loss due to a higher metabolic rate.

b) Lose all the fat first and gain muscle afterwards; leaner individuals tend to gain less fat while on a high calorie diet than fatter individuals. Losing the fat will allow the client to eat more while bulking up without gaining as much fat.

c) Do both at the same time by training hard and consuming a super clean diet with only a slight caloric deficit.

d) Alternate between short phases (3-4 weeks) of muscle gain and fat loss periods. Have as your objective a gain of 2-3 pounds per four week "bulking cycle" and a loss of 6-8 pounds per four week "cutting cycle." This will allow your client to gain around 4-6 pounds of muscle and lose 12-16 pounds of fat in 16 weeks. This will cause a drastic change in appearance and will prevent any metabolic decline associated with long term dieting.

20. Altering body composition isn't only for good looks. For example, the elderly can greatly benefit from a shift in body composition. Give three reasons why gaining muscle and losing fat is beneficial for elderly folks.

Answers

Part I: General Training Science

1. Strength training can stimulate both functional adaptations and structural adaptations. Briefly describe both types and explain the difference between the two.

Functional gains refer to improvements in physical qualities which can be transferred to sport actions. In other words, the body will work more efficiently. Functional gains are mostly due to improved neural factors and can thus happen without a change in muscle mass.

Structural gains refer to improvements in the quantity (hypertrophy) or quality (adaptive reconstruction) on the musculoskeletal structures. Increases in muscle size and strengthening of tendon structure would be examples of structural improvements.

2. How can you use the following training parameters to ensure the greatest proportion of functional adaptations?

Frequency

Intensity

Type of exercises

Volume

Training Split

Rest Intervals

Frequency of Training (per muscle group): 2-6 times per week (high)

Intensity of Training: 85-100% (heavy lifting), 45-65% (explosive lifting), 10-25% (ballistic lifting)

Type of Exercises: Multi-joint only

Number of Exercises: 2-4 per session

Type of Training Split: Whole body or upper/lower body split

Volume: 5-25 total reps/exercise/session (low volume)

Rest Periods Between Sets: 3-5 minutes (long rest intervals)

3. How can you use the following training parameters to ensure the greatest proportion of structural adaptations?

Frequency

Intensity

Type of exercises

Volume

Training Split

Rest Intervals

Frequency of Training (per muscle group): 1-2 times per week (low)

Intensity of Training: 60-85% (moderate)

Type of Contractions: Slow eccentric (yielding) tempo, isometric pauses, fast concentric (overcoming) tempo

Type of Exercises: Multi-joints and isolation

Number of Exercises: 2-4 per muscle group

Type of Training Split: A) Push/pull/lower body; B) Push/pull/quads dominant/hips dominant; C) Chest-back/quads-hams/bi's-tri's/shoulders

Volume: 20-40 total reps/exercise/session (high volume)

Rest Periods Between Sets: 1-2 minutes (short rest intervals)

4. To make long-term improvements, one needs to apply the law of progressive overload, which states that the demands of a training program should become more difficult as the body adapts to training. Typically, the double progression system is used where the demands of a program are increased either by lifting more weight for the same amount of reps or performing more reps with the same amount of weight. This is rather limiting. Give and explain at least five other ways of increasing training difficulty.

Weight Used (intensity): Increasing the amount of stimulation by lifting more weight than before.

Repetitions Completed (volume): Doing more reps than before at a set weight. Drop sets, clusters and other such methods can be used to overload using the repetition variable.

Density: Increasing the amount of work done per unit of time. In other words, do more in less time (which is basically the overload method used in Coach Staley's EDT).

Time Under Load: Similar to the repetition overload method, increasing the duration of a set by doing the same number of reps but by increasing the time it takes to complete each rep. When training, athletes only aim for an increase in eccentric time under load, while maintaining or decreasing concentric time under load.

Acceleration: Force equals mass times acceleration. If you're lifting the same weight, but doing so with more speed and acceleration, you're producing more force. If you increase force output, you increase the amount of overload.

Number of Sets (volume): This used to be the preferred method of overload: increasing the volume of training gradually as the athlete progressed in his career. However, for the natural athlete this is probably the least effective overload method. It can be used for short shock training cycles, but shouldn't constitute the bulk of your method of progression. If anything, high level athletes need to do less work because the demands on their CNS is so high from the high quality of their training.

Number of Session per Week (frequency): This is probably the oldest form of overload known in the sporting world. You want to improve? Simply train more! Does it work? Sure, but only for a brief period of time.

However, overload by increased frequency can quickly lead to stagnation and overtraining. It's best used as part of a shock cycle of 1-3 weeks in which training frequency and/or volume is significantly increased (50-100% more work) followed by a restorative week during which the volume and frequency is drastically reduced.

This method can be quite effective with athletes who are going on a planned vacation: you overstress the body for 1-3 weeks, and the athlete only performs active recovery work during his vacation. By preceding his vacation with a shock cycle, the athlete will spend his vacation supercompensating instead of detraining!

Ratio of Work per Unit of Time (density): Increase the difficulty by doing more work in less time. By reducing the rest intervals between sets you increase training density and thus difficulty.

5. Force = Mass x Acceleration: this is one of the keys to strength training success. Explain the three ways to increase force production during an exercise according to this formula and provide at least one example of an application of each method.

1) Maximizing the "mass" factor: Lifting heavy weights on basic exercises.

2) Maximizing the "acceleration" factor: Ballistic exercises with an actual projection of the resistance (e.g. med ball throws); plyometric drills.

3) Using both a relatively high "mass" and a relatively high "acceleration": The variations of the Olympic lifts; basic strength lifts (bench, squat, deadlift, etc.) performed with loads of 40 to 70% lifted with maximum speed.

Part II: Training for Maximum Strength and Power

6. The three key players when it comes to limit strength and power production are the central nervous system, the muscles and the tendons. Explain their role and how each can limit performance.

Central Nervous System (CNS): The CNS is the command center. It's responsible for recruiting and innervating motor units as well as establishing the motor patterns to be used. It regulates inter and intra muscular coordination. An inefficient CNS won't make optimal use of the muscular resources available. Someone might have huge muscles, but if he has an inefficient CNS he might only be able to use 20 to 30% of them.

Muscles: The muscles are like a factory. The bigger a factory is, the greater its production potential. A bigger muscle has the potential to produce more force (it's up to the CNS to make optimal use of that potential). If a muscle is underdeveloped and weak, even with a super efficient CNS, the force production will be low because of the lack of potential production (small factory).

Tendons: We're specifically talking about the protective mechanisms involved in force limitation as well as the structural integrity of the tendons. A tendon joins the muscle belly to the bone structure. A weak tendon won't allow for maximum force production because of the potential for injury.

This is partially regulated by the Golgi tendon organs (GTO) which inhibit (stop) force production if the tension in the muscle is perceived as excessive for the structure. Stronger tendons mean a higher threshold of GTO activation, thus a greater force production potential. Weaker tendons mean a lower threshold of GTO activation and, as a result, a lower force production.

7. To maximize one's potential to produce force, it becomes necessary to strongly stimulate the fast-twitch motor units. Knowing that a motor unit that isn't recruited isn't trained, what are the three methods of maximum motor-unit recruitment according to Zatsiorsky? Give a brief explanation of each of these three methods.

The Maximum Effort Method: The size principle of motor unit recruitment states that the more powerful motor units are recruited only when the intensity is high enough (in other words, when the task to perform requires a high force production). So using very heavy weights (90-100%) for few reps requires the activation of these more powerful motor units.

The Dynamic Effort Method: Force production can also be high due to a maximization of the acceleration imparted to the bar. When you lift explosively you must produce a lot of force; when you need to produce a lot of force your CNS has to recruit the most powerful motor units. So by lifting explosively you maximize motor units recruitment.

The Repetitive Effort Method: The high threshold/most powerful motor units can also be recruited as a last alternative even if the external load is apparently too light to warrant their activation. This occurs when the effort lasts long enough (while still being relatively intense) so that the amount of fatigue requires the activation of the powerful motor units to be able to complete the action. We're talking about performing relatively long sets (8-15 reps, time under tension of around 40-70 seconds) to muscle failure.

8. A person can produce more force at certain joint angles. For example, individuals are stronger in a quarter squat than in a full squat. So when performing a regular squat (or any other lift), the weight you can use is limited by the weakest link in the chain, thus the strongest links receive little stimulation. Name and explain three training techniques that will allow you to develop force production potential equally during the whole range of motion of an exercise.

Accommodating Resistance: Adding resistance bands to the free weight will increase the amount of resistance at the strongest points of a lift. Chains hanging from the bar can also be used (half the chains should be on the floor at the lowest portion of the movement and none of it at the end of the movement). These techniques overload the end of the range of motion (strongest point) and under-load the bottom position (weakest point).

Partial Movements: Adding a few sets of heavier partial movements after you've completed your sets of full ROM lifting can help you place more stress on a portion of the range of motion that didn't receive maximum stimulation during the full ROM movement. For example, you can perform 1-3 sets of quarter squats after your 3-4 sets of full squats.

Isometrics: Isometrics are very effective at increasing maximum strength, but they're vastly joint angle-specific: strength is gained mostly at the worked angle. You can thus use isometrics to overload a certain portion of the range of motion of an exercise. While we normally use this technique to strengthen a sticking point in a lift, it can also be used to make sure that the strongest portion of a lift indeed receives optimal stimulation.

9. When training for limit strength or power, physical fatigue from a set goes away quickly. The athlete will feel ready to go for another set within 60 to 90 seconds (when ATP-CP reserves are restored). Why should the athlete wait at least 2-3 times that before performing another set?

When training for maximum strength and power, it's important that the CNS has recovered at the beginning of a set to maximize lifting performance. After an intense effort (heavy lifting) or an explosive effort, the CNS can require as much as 3-6 times the amount of rest needed by the muscles to recover. So rest intervals of 3 to 6 minutes are best to maximize strength performance.

10. Is it possible to gain strength or power while losing weight or even muscle mass?

Yes it is. Strength and power are mostly limited by the CNS. If an athlete vastly improves his CNS efficiency, he can gain both strength and power even if he loses some muscle mass.

For the same reason, an individual can't estimate how much muscle he gained by how much strength he gained (e.g. increasing strength by 15% doesn't necessarily yield an increase of 15% in muscle mass).

Part III: Training for Bodybuilding or Maximum Muscle Mass

11. Hypertrophy stimulation is a result of the total amount of rebound protein synthesis in response to protein degradation during training. Total protein degradation is itself the result of the rate of protein degradation and the time spent degrading. The time under tension of a set (duration of a set) will determine the time spent degrading proteins. What factor has the greatest influence of the rate of degradation?

The rate of protein degradation is influenced mostly by the amount of tension present in the muscle. The intramuscular tension refers to the effort of the muscle necessary to produce a certain force output. We already know that force is equal to mass x acceleration, so it should also be evident that intramuscular tension will be influenced by the magnitude of the load and the acceleration one has to transfer to the resistance. In simpler words, you can increase intramuscular tension by increasing the weight or the acceleration (or both).

It's important to comprehend that muscular tension isn't the same thing as "the burn" or the feeling of the muscles tiring. Many people believe that a slow contraction puts a greater amount of tension on the muscles simply because they "feel" a burn or a tensed sensation. This isn't always the case!

12. The eccentric portion of an exercise is often described as the most effective part of a lift. Which of the following is not a benefit of eccentric training?

b) Improved blood flow to the muscle and increased number of capillaries

13. What is the difference between the pre-fatigue method and the post-fatigue method? Which one is best and why?

Pre-fatigue: Performing two exercises in a row targeting the same muscle group–first an isolation exercise to "pre-fatigue" the target muscle and then a multi-joint exercise, e.g. performing a set of dumbbell flies followed by a set of bench press.

Post-fatigue: Performing two exercises in a row targeting the same muscle group–first a multi-joint exercise and then an isolation exercise to "post-fatigue" the target muscle, e.g. performing a set of bench press followed by a set of dumbbell flies.

The post-fatigue method is best in most cases as it allows for the use of more weight in the multi-joint exercise. The pre-fatigue method can be useful mostly when an individual has trouble recruiting a certain muscle group during a multi-joint exercise. In that case, the pre-fatigue of the hard-to-hit muscle group will help the athlete use that muscle better because he "feels it" more.

14. What is the iso-dynamic contrast method? Name three reasons why it's a superior way of stimulating hypertrophy.

An iso-dynamic contrast consists of adding a pause (or static hold) at a point during a dynamic exercise. For example, performing a regular barbell curl with a five second pause when the elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.

This method can help stimulate more hypertrophy because:

- It increases time under tension without having to use less weight.

- Up to 10% more motor-units/muscle fibers can be recruited during an isometric action. Including a pause while flexing as hard as possible will thus stimulate hypertrophy gains in a greater number of fibers.

- You can place a more thorough growth stimulus on the muscle by increasing the time under tension at the strongest point of a lift, making sure that the whole range of motion is fully stimulated when you reach muscle failure.

15. To stimulate maximum muscle growth, a high training density is one of the most important things. Training density is the amount of work performed per unit of time. In a bodybuilding program it is increased by taking shorter rest intervals. Which one of these is not a benefit of a high training density?

d) Significant increase in limit strength after each set

Part IV: Training for an Improved Body Composition (Fat loss/muscle maintenance or slight gain)

16. Which of these benefits is not associated with strength training during a fat loss program?

b) To increase satiety and thus reduce excessive cravings

17. Is performing energy systems work (cardio) first thing in the morning on an empty stomach the most effective way of improving your appearance? Which one of these statements is best to answer this question?

c) A and B are both correct. A fatter individual will tend to use more fat for fuel and protect muscle while performing cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. A lean individual will catabolize/breakdown more muscle while protecting fat stores.

18. Two individuals perform treadmill work. Subject A walks for 40 minutes and uses 300 kilocalories. Subject B performs interval work for 18 minutes (12 intervals of 1 minute walk; 30 seconds running) and also uses 300 kilocalories. Which one will stimulate the most fat loss and why?

Subject A will use a greater proportion of fat for energy during the exercise. However, Subject B will have an elevated metabolism for a much longer period after the conclusion of the workout. As a result, subject B will "burn" a much greater number of total calories than subject A.

So in that regard, subject B will stimulate more fat loss because he can cause a greater caloric deficit at the end of the day. Furthermore, high intensity energy system work of a shorter duration tends to spare muscle better than "slow-mo," long duration work. So in the long run, intervals will help maintain an elevated metabolism which will also facilitate long term fat loss success.

19. A client is overly fat (20% body fat) and under-muscled (weak and soft) and he wants to become lean and muscular. What is the best strategy to use?

d) Alternate between short phases (3-4 weeks) of muscle gain and fat loss periods. Have as your objective a gain of 2-3 pounds per four week "bulking cycle" and a loss of 6-8 pounds per four week "cutting cycle." This will allow your client to gain around 4-6 pounds of muscle and lose 12-16 pounds of fat in 16 weeks. This will cause a drastic change in appearance and will prevent any metabolic decline associated with long term dieting.

20. Altering body composition is not only for good looks. For example, the elderly can greatly benefit from a shift in body composition. Give three reasons why gaining muscle and losing fat is beneficial for elderly folks.

- Reduction in the risk of osteoporosis (in women)

- Reduction in the risk of cardiovascular problems

- Increased capacity to perform everyday tasks

- Improved mental health

- Protection against falls

- Greater joint stability

- Overall improvement in the quality of life

- Improved glucose disposal

Scoring

If you'd like to get an idea of how you scored, questions are worth five points apiece. So you can miss a maximum of six questions and still pass. Of course, if you learned something cool along the way, we'll give you an E for effort!