Why You Should Lift Heavy And What It Really Takes to Bulk Up

Swim night at 7:30pm at Culver City Plunge.  All levels welcome!

Thursday December 4, 2014


Bird Dogs
Wrist Mobility
Hip Bridges

Warm Up

200m Progressive jog to sprint
:30 standing overhead plate hold in hollow
10 jumping lunges
:30 wall-facing handstand
10 jump and touch
2 wall walks

Cool Down

Work towards your 2 month goal and

:30″ Foam Roll Thoracic-spine
10 Wall Extensions
:30″ Foam Roll calves
1′ calf stretch on plate ea. leg



20 minutes or 3-4 sets of:

L-sit x 20-30 seconds
Handstand Walking Progressions x 90 seconds
Arch Rocks x 15-20 reps

Notes:  Scale the L-sits to try and hold for a full 20 seconds.  That may mean performing this on elevated benches or boxes, but part of this is developing a strong support position and tricep extension.  If you cannot perform a handstand walk, practice holding a handstand for strength or kicking up against the wall with control.


4 Rounds for time:

300 meter Row
200 meter Run
100′ Walking Lunge

-18 min cap-

Notes:  Make sure to touch your knee on the ground for each walking lunge step.


Four sets of:

25 Meter Finger Tip Drag (FTD: Drag your fingertips along the surface of the water as you recover. This drill encourages high elbows.)
Rest 20 seconds between each 25 Meter efforts

Four sets of:

50 Meter Thumb to Thigh (TT: Brush your thumb along your thigh as you finish your arm stroke. This promotes a longer finish and proper hand position.)
Rest 30 seconds between 50 Meter efforts

Four sets of:

25 Meter (½ length closed fist, ½ length swim)
(Closed Fist: Ball your fist up and swim – helps you feel the water with your hand when you un-ball your fist.)
Rest 20 seconds


Choose either Option 1 or Option 2 and try to hold the same time for each set.

Option 1

Every two minutes, for 16 minutes (8 sets) of:
Swim 25 Meters @ 100%
Immediately followed by…
Every three minutes, for 18 minutes (6 sets) of:
Swim 50 Meters @ 100%

Option 2

Every 4 minutes, for 24 minutes (6 sets) of:
Swim 100 Meters @ 100%
200 Meter Cool Down Swim

IMG_0009Big ol’ party before sunrise at MDR!

I have a secret to tell you. Your low weight, high rep “toning” protocol is ALL WRONG! There are hundreds of strength and conditioning studies that fly in the face of the common misconception that you can “tone” by doing high reps at lighter weights, and that lifting heavy will have ladies looking like bodybuilders. In fact, it is quite the opposite! And fellas, if you are looking to “bulk up” you wont get there by just lifting heavy.

Lifting heavy weights for low reps will not make you bulky, and can help you get toned. This is especially true for women.


Pure strength is added with no, or no significant increase in muscle mass, To understand why this is, it is important to establish a definition of strength. Strength is the ability of a muscular unit or group of muscular units to apply force.

Research into why increases in strength can be experienced without measurable hypertrophy (increase in muscle mass) have found that it is due to an increase in neural drive- or the ability of the central nervous system to recruit muscle fibers to apply force. This is why novice weightlifters see such quick gains. It is not because they are adding muscle mass at a faster rate, rather that their central nervous system is learning how to recruit existing muscles.

Women are even less likely than men to get bulky while lifting heavy because you lack the testosterone necessary to put on muscle mass at the rate of men.

How do I get toned while lifting heavy?

The “toned” look is achieved by reduction in fat mass while sparing lean mass. You might be able to lose fat mass through endurance training, but have you seen endurance athlete’s bodies? Many look like they are suffering from an eating disorder. Lifting heavy will not bulk you up, but will help you illicit a hormonal response conducive of fat loss.

To achieve the toned look you desire, lift >85% of your 1 rep-max for 1-6 reps and eat moderately to support fat loss.

If you want to bulk up, do moderate reps with lighter loads.


There are 3 main variables that influence muscular hypertrophy (mass gain): mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress. Moderate rep ranges of 6-12 have been shown in research to provide the most increase in muscle mass, which is why bodybuilders generally operate in this rep range.

This moderate rep range requires mechanical tension, causes significant damage to the muscles because of repeated contraction, and stresses the glycolitic metabolism causing the buildup of metabolites (products of metabolism) which research has shown significantly increases anabolic processes necessary for hypertrophy. German volume training, a protocol popularized in the ’70s to help weightlifters gain lean muscle mass, utilizes 10 sets of 10 reps and is notorious for catapulting lifters into higher weight classes within 12 weeks.

What should I do to gain mass?

A review of the research on training-induced increases in muscle mass concluded that the practical application of the research is to train at rep ranges of 6-12 reps for multiple sets with 60-90 seconds rest between sets. Mixing in sets to absolute failure can be an effective tool, as can tempo training- for example pull ups with a slow negative. Eat at a caloric surplus with higher levels of carbohydrate consumptions (over 40% total calories). Avoid low-intensity long-duration exercise.

Add a caloric surplus diet with an appropriate amount of protein and high intake of starchy carbohydrates and you will be seeing gains in no time.

Eating too much will make you bulky, you need to remove fat to “tone”

This might seem obvious, but many people who start a weightlifting program think they are getting bulky from the lifting, when really it is because they have increased their total food consumption. If you want to avoid getting bulky on a weightlifting program, calculate your estimated daily calorie needs and track your food consumption for the first month of the program to make sure you aren’t overeating.

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