The Path of Least Training Resistance


Even when attempting to build strength and push one’s limits some people look for the easiest way to reach their goals. This isn’t really the point of exercise. It’s meant to be work and effortful. Exercise can also be enjoyable and fun, but, there needs to be a method to the “madness”.

Are popular exercises effective?

Photo by Shrawan Kalyan on Unsplash

The answer to this question depends on why people choose certain exercises. Some choose an exercise because it is easy to maintain good form and it does not require much energy to do. On the other hand, some choose an exercise because they know it is effective even though it requires mental toughness to endure the discomfort and control the path of motion.

Unfortunately, since the late 1960’s, bodybuilders have increasingly chosen the path of greatest ease.  This explains why most get poor results for their time in the gym. The following statement by world-famous training expert and author of many books, Stuart McRobert, may explain this phenomenon of decreasing results while weight training has grown at a fantastic geometric rate:

“Not only has drug use greatly tarnished the image of bodybuilding and strength training, but it has simultaneously contributed to the popular promotion of training methods that are utterly ineffective for the typical person.”

The principle training methods Stuart McRobert is referring to are isolation exercises, “pumping” methods, body part days, and the practice of using more than one exercise (sometimes as many as four or five) for each body part which creates the necessity for as many as six to seven workouts each week.

Why has this over-training become popular?

The typical male bodybuilder or female “body-shaper” who achieves good success is so pleased that they decide to add more exercises and increase their time in the gym, not realizing that too much training can cause progress to slow down or even stop completely.

They do not understand that only HARDER exercise, not more exercise, will stimulate continued growth.  Also, beginning bodybuilders who achieve very little success make the same mistake. They add more exercises and make their workouts more complicated.

In both cases, they cause their progress to stagnate and begin to get over-use injuries and eventually become so discouraged that they quit training or finally give in to the temptation to use STEROIDS!

The pumping methods are usually done by using high repetitions with isolation movements following a compound movement or doing different movements working the same muscle back to back. The result is that their muscles get more blood-engorged than a tick on your pet dog.

Once the blood drains back out of the muscle, the size has not changed.  But, you may ask, doesn’t that cause more growth in the next few days? The simple answer is NO! This is due to the fact that the pump is caused by the gorging of used, de-oxygenated blood.

During this time, fresh blood with oxygen cannot get into the muscle.  Therefore, the muscle stops contracting.  It cannot continue working without oxygen! In order to stimulate muscle growth, you need to work the muscle to true failure while ensuring that it has the necessary fuel – Oxygen!

You need to inflict maximum damage to the muscle in order for it to adapt by growing bigger. By pumping the muscle tight with used-up blood and lactic acid, you are causing the muscle to quit before it can be worked hard enough to produce enough minute muscle “tears” to induce growth!  Scientific studies demonstrate that a pump doesn’t make your muscles bigger.  Pumping can’t even burn off fat or change your genetic muscle shape.

Body part days, isolation exercises, and multiple exercises for the same muscles will be covered in a later article. In the meantime, open up a book written by a bodybuilder with a college degree in exercise physiology.

Gary Knepper is certified as Advanced Weight Training Specialist and Advanced Endurance Training Specialist by the National Federation of Professional Trainers.

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  1. Green, Nate and Schuler, Lou; Built for Show, Penguin Group, Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York, 10014 © 2008, p. 26.


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