Here's what you need to know...

  1. Much of what you've heard about muscle recovery and rest days is a myth.
  2. You can train the same muscle group two days in a row. In fact, that's best for optimal gains.
  3. Double Stimulation Training prolongs muscle protein synthesis, leads to enhanced feedback in muscle, and triggers greater muscle responsiveness.
  4. This "feeder" method works for bodybuilding goals or for bringing up a weak muscle group that's holding back a big lift.
  5. Workout nutrition is critical when using this method.

Training Myths That Hurt Your Gains

"Hit a muscle hard, then let it recover. Train it again 5-7 days later."
"After training a muscle, don't hit it directly or indirectly for at least 3 days."
"A muscle needs 72 hours of recovery after intense strength training."

Do these statements sound familiar? They should. And chances are, you probably believe one of them.

But what if this belief was actually holding back your muscle gains and strength development? What if you could progress faster by disregarding this belief?

Here's the truth: You can.

A "New" Way

Olympic lifters snatch, clean & jerk, and squat pretty much every day. Top CrossFit athletes hit the whole body daily to some extent. Russian powerlifters do the bench, deadlift, and squat multiple times per week.

In short, it's simplistic to believe in the "train, rest the muscle for 72-96 hours, train again" model.

Adaptation is a continuous process. It doesn't have distinct catabolic-then-anabolic periods. The body is constantly breaking down and building-up muscle tissue. And the ratio will vary depending on various elements like training status, nutrition, and rest.

I'm here to present a training technique that I've tested extensively – a method that will help you build muscle at a much faster rate and also blast through strength plateaus.

How It All Started

I'm a frequency guy. I like to train a few basic movements and do them often. So I've experimented with various schemes, including training the same movement as often as 12 times per week!

Here's what I've found. When I hit the same muscle group two days in a row, I would always feel a much better contraction on the second day and get a better pump. Afterwards, the muscle stayed pumped-looking for a lot longer. But if I did a third day in a row for the same muscle I'd feel flat.

A few years ago I got to work with bodybuilder Daryl Gee, preparing him for the Mr. Olympia. Daryl needed to bring his back up, and fast.

I had Daryl hit the back super hard on day one. The very next day I "broke the rules" and had him begin his workout by again training his back, only this time with light "pump work."

The results shocked me! I started using that approach for all the major muscles: heavier work for the big compound exercises on day one, then 15-20 minutes of pump work for that same muscle the next day.

I called these mini-sessions at the beginning of a workout "feeder sessions."

Since then, I've tested this system on myself and many of my athletes and bodybuilders. There's no question: the system works.

T Nation Gym

Three Reasons Why It Works

There are three main advantages to doing a second bout of resistance training 24-36 hours after the first stimulation.

1 – Prolonged Protein Synthesis

This system prolongs the duration of the period of increased protein synthesis after the main stimulation (the day-one workout.)

Simply put, after a training session, protein synthesis and breakdown are both elevated. For the first four hours, protein breakdown can be elevated more than synthesis. But for the rest of the duration, synthesis becomes higher up to 24 hours and returns to normal within 24-36 hours of the first stimulation.

So you basically have 20 hours of very high protein synthesis/muscle building. By doing a second session 24 hours after the first one you can extend that by 12 or even 24 more hours.

The caveat here is that it only works optimally when proper workout nutrition is used. And if you do the right kind of workout along with good workout nutrition, protein degradation will be low to non-existent, resulting in a lot more protein synthesis. That means muscle gain.

Furthermore, if the second workout is more of a "pumping or bringing blood into the muscle" workout, you enhance nutrient delivery to the still-recovering muscle.

The more nutrients you shuttle to the muscles involved in the first workout, the more they'll grow. Not to mention that a boost in amino acid uptake will itself increase protein synthesis.

Take-Home Message: The second session is there to enhance the anabolic response to the first session. It does this by prolonging the period of increased protein synthesis and also increasing nutrient transport to the muscles.

2 – Enhanced Feedback

Enhanced feedback is a great method to improve mind-muscle connection.

When you train a muscle hard you'll be more aware of it the next day. This increase in awareness could range from "harder, with a slight increase in tenderness" to "sore."

If you train a muscle again while it's in this state of increased awareness, you'll feel that muscle to a much greater extent. This can be a very useful for those who have a harder time contracting a specific muscle.

For example, if you don't recruit your pectorals as well as your triceps or deltoids when bench pressing, doing isolated pectoral work the day after you bench press can help you improve your mind-muscle connection with that muscle.

Over time, as you improve that mind-muscle connection, you'll become better and better at involving the pecs in the bench press.

Remember that if you can't feel a muscle properly when lifting, you likely aren't stimulating it optimally. So investing in improving your mind-muscle connection with a lagging muscle is very important for your future gains.

3 – Enhanced Muscle Responsiveness

The day after being stimulated with heavy work, a muscle is more responsive to training.

Of course, your force production potential is likely lower because the muscle might not be fully recovered or the stiffness/soreness might somewhat hamper your capacity to perform.

However, if you train that muscle with less traumatic training methods – lighter weights, focusing on the quality of the contraction and on muscle fatigue/pump instead of performance – you will actually get a better response than you would if you did the same work with a completely fresh muscle.

This is a great tool for bringing up a lagging muscle group. By "lagging" I mean either a muscle that's visually smaller or a weak muscle holding back your strength in a big lift.

If you're a focusing mostly on strength, a good way to strengthen a weak link is to do some lighter hypertrophy work for that lagging muscle group the day after you trained the main lift.

For example, let's say that you bench pressed heavy on Monday and found that you could blast the weight off your chest but grinded the lockout. Using this method, the next day you'd perform bodybuilding-type work for the triceps to start your workout.

Do 10-15 minutes of triceps work at the beginning of your Tuesday workout and then move on to your normal workout for that day (squats for example).

By the same token, if you're focused more on building muscle mass and you have a lagging muscle group, train it two days in a row. In the first (harder) session do your regular workout. Start the next day's workout by doing 10-15 minutes of isolation pump-style work for the lagging muscle.

Machine Fly

How to Put the Double Stimulation Method to Work

You can use this approach for three main purposes:

1 – For Faster Overall Size Gains

This is the application to use if you want to increase the gains you get from your main workouts. It requires that you split your training into synergist groups:

  • Day 1: Pressing muscles (pecs, triceps, delts)
  • Day 2: Pulling muscles (back, traps, biceps)
  • Day 3: Legs (quads, hamstrings, calves)

It ideally requires training every day or using a 4-on/1-off schedule.

If you train daily it would look like this:

  • Day 1: Legs (low intensity pump work); Pressing muscles (main workout)
  • Day 2: Pressing muscles (pump work); Pulling muscles (main workout)
  • Day 3: Pulling muscles (pump work); Legs (main workout)
  • Day 4: Legs (pump work); Pressing muscles (main workout)
  • Day 5: Pressing muscles (pump work); Pulling muscles (main workout)
  • Day 6: Pulling muscles (pump work); Legs (main workout)
  • Day 7: Legs (pump work); Pressing muscles (main workout)

Note that you could take days off during the week. If you do, don't do the pump work at the beginning of the workout. You have to do it within 24-36 hours of the main session.

If you want to do a 4-on/1-off split it would look like this:

  • Day 1: Pressing muscles (main workout)
  • Day 2: Pressing muscles (pump work); Pulling muscles (main workout)
  • Day 3: Pulling muscles (pump work); Legs (main workout)
  • Day 4: Legs (pump work); Abs, conditioning (optional)
  • Day 5: OFF
  • Repeat

Low intensity pump work should be just that. The goal is not to kill yourself or go balls out. Save that for your main workout.

It's simply to drive more nutrient-rich blood into the muscles worked the previous day. You also want to keep this first part of your workout under 15 minutes.

If you're using this first approach, it means that you'll need to pump all the muscles trained the previous day. Since you must do this in less than 15 minutes I suggest doing it as a circuit with one exercise for each of the muscles trained the day before.

For example, if your main workout Monday was pressing muscles, on Tuesday you'd start with a circuit like this:

  1. One isolation exercise for the pectorals (pec deck machine, cable crossover, squeeze press, cable flyes, etc.)
  2. One isolation exercise for the deltoids (front raise, lateral raise, 3-way laterals, etc.)
  3. One isolation exercise for the triceps (dumbbell triceps extension, cable pressdown, etc.)

The reps should be between 8 and 12.

The type of contraction should be "constant tension" meaning that you control the movement, flexing the target muscle as hard as you can on every inch of every rep, never relaxing the muscle before the end of the set.

If you do 8-12 reps with the constant tension method, it means that each set should last at least 30 seconds and up to 50 seconds.

So the pump portion would look like this:

  • Pec deck machine, 8-12 reps with constant tension
  • 15 seconds of rest
  • Dumbbell lateral raise, 8-12 reps with constant tension
  • 15 seconds of rest
  • Rope pressdown 8-12 reps with constant tension
  • 30-45 seconds of rest

Do this 3 to 5 times, as long as you're done in 15 minutes or less.

2 – To Bring Up a Slow-to-Grow Muscle Group

This is an easier approach to plan since you'll only do the feeder workout in one or two sessions a week. It'll be easier to include rest days and will allow you more leeway in selecting your training split.

It's fairly simple. First, choose one or two stubborn muscle groups in a training cycle. Then, every time you train one of these muscle groups, do a second stimulation session 24-36 hours later.

Since you're only doing one muscle group in your stim session, you don't have to do a circuit. In 15 minutes you can do two exercises using either straight sets of 8-12 reps with the constant tension rep style, or intensity techniques like drop sets, rest-pause, partials, etc.

It'll look like this:

  • Reps per set: 8 to 12
  • Sets: 3 or 4 per exercise
  • Number of exercises: 2 or 3 (if doing a superset)
  • Basic style of repetition: Constant tension (hard flex during reps)
  • Possible intensity methods: drop set, rest-pause, full reps with added partial reps, or occlusion training

Remember, the goal of these stimulation workouts for slow-to-grow muscles is to engorge the muscle with as much blood as possible. The weight is irrelevant since you'll have done your heavier work the day prior.

3 – To Strengthen a Weak Muscle Group

Your focus here isn't so much on a muscle that's visually smaller than the others, but one that's a weak link in a big compound movement. For example, your triceps could be your weak muscle in the bench press, or weak glutes could be a limiting factor in the deadlift.

This approach is obviously for individuals training mostly for strength or doing a strength phase in which you focus on one main lift per workout.

Every time you perform a big lift, ask yourself which muscle is the weakest of the prime movers. Now, begin the next day's workout with isolation work for that muscle.

Since our goal is to develop strength and not necessarily size, we use slightly different loading parameters to correct the weakness:

  • Reps per set: 6 to 8
  • Sets: 6 to 8
  • Number of exercises: 1 (Pick the exercise where you feel the target muscle group the most.)
  • Basic style of repetition: Control the eccentric or lowering phase, accelerate during the concentric or lifting phase.
  • Possible intensity method: Rest-pause, but stick mostly to normal sets.
Drinking Plazma

Workout Nutrition: Mandatory

Remember, feeder sessions work by increasing nutrient transport to the muscles that were trained hard 24 hours earlier. This is to extend the anabolic period and maximize protein accretion as muscle mass when anabolism/protein synthesis is increased.

The ample supply of amino acids and carbohydrates – to volumize the muscle cells and increase protein uptake by the muscles – prior and during the feeder workout is of prime importance.

Plazma™ is the best supplement for this. Surge® Workout Fuel is a close second. This isn't a sales pitch. Feeder workouts simply will not work if your blood isn't loaded with the nutrients required to build new muscle.

After the session, I'd recommend a serving of Mag-10® followed by a solid meal of fairly easily digested protein and carbs (chicken/fish and rice for example) about 90 minutes after. This will dramatically speed up your gains.

Christian Thibaudeau specializes in building bodies that perform as well as they look. He is one of the most sought-after coaches by the world's top athletes and bodybuilders. Check out the Christian Thibaudeau Coaching Forum.