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The B & B Connection: Episode 4 – Variety in Training

By October 31, 2013September 14th, 2016Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth), The B & B Connection

Hi Fitness Folks!

Welcome to the fourth episode of the B & B (Bret & Brad) Connection.

Brad Schoenfeld and I are recording a 30-minute podcast each week where we discuss muscle science and anything else we feel like rambling about. The key is to keep it to 30 minutes so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

In case you missed them, click HERE to listen to episode 1 (hypertrophy science), HERE to listen to episode 2 (HIT vs. HVT), and HERE to listen to episode 3 (periodization).

Episode 4

Click HERE to download the MP3, or just listen below (or watch the YouTube video underneath).




Nonuniform Response of Skeletal Muscle to Heavy Resistance Training: Can Bodybuilders Induce Regional Muscle Hypertrophy?

Non-uniform muscle oxygenation despite uniform neuromuscular activity within the vastus lateralis during fatiguing heavy resistance exercise.

Nonuniform changes in MRI measurements of the thigh muscles after two hamstring strengthening exercises.

Neuromuscular independence of abdominal wall muscles as demonstrated by middle-eastern style dancers

Abdominal muscle activation changes if the purpose is to control pelvis motion or thorax motion.

Association between regional differences in muscle activation in one session of resistance exercise and in muscle hypertrophy after resistance training.

Nonuniform muscle hypertrophy: its relation to muscle activation in training session.

Electromyographic analysis of the three subdivisions of gluteus medius during weight-bearing exercises

Effect of Hand Position on EMG Activity of the Posterior Shoulder Musculature During a Horizontal Abduction Exercise.

Electromyographical analysis of the deltoid between different strength training exercises



  • Kenny Croxdae says:

    “The Killer Bs”

    Bret and Brad, great information.

    This information is reminiscent some of Dr. Tom McLaughlin’s work in his book, Bench Press More Now.

    “Same But Different” Staley

    In McLaughlin’s book, he noted that changing such thing as hand position in the bench press or foot stance in a squat turned it into a different exercise.

    Incline-Decline Belt Squats

    I began utilizing Belt Squats as a means to place more of the workload on my legs back in 1999.

    I had a friend make me basically two “Skies” that would attach in my power rack. There was a foot plate for the “Skies” to stand on to perform Belt Squats.

    The rack pins allowed me to increase the angle in the Belt Squat. In an Incline Belt Squat (Squatting slightly uphill), I had/felt more posterior chain activation.

    A Decline Belt Squat was similar to performing High Bar Squats with a heel or a board under you heels. More quad activation occurred.

    Foot Stance

    Not only do the rack “Skies” allow me to change the angle, they also allowed me to change my foot stance.

    Loading Pin

    The weight was loading onto the IronMind Loading pin and attached to a chain. That allowed me to quickly and easily attach and release it.

    Other Movements

    In addition to Belt Squats, Deadlifts can be trained in the same way.

    Also, a “Hip Extension” movement can be preformed.

    Performing a “Hip Extension” movement (aka “Are All Hip Extension Exercises Created Equal”. Illustrated in Bret’s “Back Extension” video places the workload on the glutes an hamstrings, taking the erectors out of the equation.

    The “Belt Hip Extension” is similar the 45 Degree “Hip Extension” Back Raise. Tension (Metabolic Stress) is maintained throughout the full range of the movement.

    Bench Press More Now

    There is other interesting research and observations make by McLaughlin in this book that can and should be applied to other training movement.

    McLaughlin also wrote a great series of articles in the 1980s in Powerlifting USA, “The Biomechanics of Powerlifting”.

    That information is still applicable today.

    Along with being a Bret and Brad fan, I’m also a McLaughlin one, too.

    Kenny Croxdale

  • Craig says:

    Happy to know that EMG is being included in your study.
    Having designed and built EMG “machines” and using them to perform resistance training analysis for over 15 years , I am fully aware of the value of EMG recordings and the benefits they give to training principles.
    Good luck with your research.

  • Scott says:

    First, GREAT show as always!

    Well you asked for more topic ideas and I’ve got several. I’ll just pick one for now, though it sort of has two aspects to it.

    I was curious how different modes of resistance effect motor unit recruitment. For example I read an article by Dr Jim Stoppani how elastic resistance recruits more motor units with each rep due to the variable resistance (I’m a huge fan of using elastics as one of my modalities). Is there a different recruitment pattern if one is using free weights, cables, machines (don’t know if “cams’ are still used or if that was just an old nautilus thing and how that might change recruitment). I know there is often the ‘ramp like’ recruitment discussed where type 1 fibers are apparently activated first, then type 2 fibers etc.

    Also related to this is the relationship of the strength curve of different joint movements and how those various modalities would also affect motor unit recruitment. For example, I believe one is stronger at the top of a biceps curl. With free weights the top position of the curl seems easier than the bottom (I believe due to the biomechanics/lever position), same with many triceps movement and chest press movements. But how is this different for something like a lat pulldown or rowing movement or something like a lateral raise w/ dumbbells, cables or elastic tubing.

    I don’t know if any of what I’m asking makes sense, but there seems to be a strength curve/modality relationship with the way the different types of resistance act on certain joints.

  • Mark says:

    Hey guys, I’ve got another topic for you:

    I’m perpetually perplexed as to why a lot of trainers like to lump pullups into this “weirdo” category that doesn’t follow any of the same rules as other similar compound exercises. There seems to be a strange paradox where trainers will advise high volume pullup workouts (which are sometimes to be done up to seven days a week) while also admitting that pullups can put a huge stress on the system. Why aren’t we training pullups the same way we’re often advised to train other heavy compound movements like the deadlift?

    I’ve personally set up a plan where I train pullups the same way I do with kettlebells (since I’m making large jumps between weights by using kettlebells and a dip belt to add weight). My first workout is 10 sets of 3, then the next is 9 x 3 + 2, then 8 x 3 + 6, … until I hit 3 sets of 10. Then I add weight and start over.

    My point is, the actual volume of all these workouts is the same (30 reps) and I’ve been getting great results from this program. Am I an anomaly or, as I’m starting to think more likely, is everyone being a bit weird about pullups?

    I’d love to hear your fact-based opinions on this topic.

    • Kenny Croxdale says:


      Chris Thibaudeau

      This Canadian Strength Coach is one of the proponents of training the lats with higher reps and volume.

      Thibaudeau believes the lats and biceps respond better with this type of training because they have more slow twitch muscle fiber.


      Lats and Biceps Fatigue Loading

      There may be something to this.

      An example of this is…

      Gastroc vs Soleus Calf Training

      The gastrocnemius in the calf appears to respond better to seated, high reps training.

      The soleus in the calf development is elicited more effectively in a standing calf raise with a moderate rep range.

      Kenny Croxdale

      • Mark says:

        Hey Kenny,

        Thanks a lot for sending that article my way. I think I’ve been too focused on how particular muscles respond to different periodization patterns rather than how particular movements respond to different periodization patterns. Though Chad Waterbury never explicitly stated it in HFT, which I’ve largely based my current workout on, the end result of both his concepts and those of Chris Thibaudeau are really similar in terms of periodization.

        Thanks for the link,


  • Ondřej says:

    Well, variety clearly is a factor. But if it’s the last 5%, should we, as recreational lifters, be even interested in variety? Maybe the good old compound lifts progressive overload, given that recreational lifters don’t have optimal conditions in other areas as well, is enough. And more variety may mean slower progress – neural adaptations etc., so it may mean that you’ll actually get more benefits with less variety if you are further down the road thanks to focusing on essentials.

  • ggs says:

    Great podcast…great info as always…

  • James Peak Physique says:

    Hi guys

    Great show, kudos!

    I’d be interested if you did an episode looking at the research (if there is much) on ‘intensifier’ techniques (such as negatives, drop sets, pre/post exhaust et cetera…lots of the old school Weider principles). Personally, I find they can be effective when programmed strategically but also know people often use them way too much, especially beginners. Perhaps you can run through the research on this, perhaps Brad can talk about his experience of using these techniques on himself and with clients and how he’s finds it best to plan/periodise them strategically for maximum benefit.



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