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This question kind of seems like the "am I working out too hard?" question, but it's a bit different.

This question asks about whether or not one should trust their body or a timeframe.

I worked my forearms very hard yesterday, but today I did a lot of cardio and got a lot of blood pumping, plus high carb and protein loading -- and I feel completely replenished. I feel as though I should maybe workout again today. I used to go by timeframes before and never listened to my body because people always told me "rest 3-5 days between every used muscle group." I highly doubt I ever overtrain since I always see progress, however small, even if I workout two days in a row. I also use tons of supplements, so I never feel any muscle pain/fatigue/DOMS/etc. no matter how hard I go.

And I go REALLY hard -- no kidding. I can do over 50 sets in 30-45 minutes with little breaks at 50%.

I have never had any injuries and I rarely get DOMS -- usually only in the calves, but don't know why since I'm a 5 year runner and have pushed my calves beyond what most would dare to.

I, instead of feeling pain afterwards (like the next day), usually just feel tightness for a few hours right after highly intense workouts -- and within 48 hours I almost always feel like I go very hard again.

Maybe my body is recovering fast enough, and it's just really hard to overtrain? I don't want to lose any greater results I could theoretically obtain from training more. So should I just listen to my body?

I think it seems to make more sense to workout 1-2 days in a row, and then rest for a few days, also throwing in some light exercises in between. I have more concern under training than over anyways.

So what are some thoughts on this? Go the extra mile or don't be fooled by the green light?

  • 50 sets of what, exactly? – G_H Feb 20 '17 at 5:38
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"rest 3-5 days between every used muscle group."

This is nonsense, to optimize hypertrophy, this review paper recommends a frequency of 2-3 sessions per muscle group a week for novice to moderately trained individuals.

I go REALLY hard -- no kidding. I can do over 50 sets in 30-45 minutes with little breaks at 50%.

50 sets works out at 10 exercises for 5 sets, even if you discount warm-up sets that's only just above the average I see in my gym. 50% intensity is what I use on my deload days!

That's not that hard. Don't keep the intensity the same and at such a low level. You should be really aiming for 60-90% intensity on weight training where at 60% you would be doing 8-15 reps and 1-5 reps at the higher intensity.

It is currently asserted by a lot that people should lift 1-5 reps for strength, 8-12 reps for muscle size increase, and 15-20 reps for muscular endurance (Starting Strength says this). However, more recent research has demonstrated that almost every rep range stimulates the same amount of muscle growth so long as effort per set (i.e. closeness to failure) is the same between sets.

In other words, a set of 50 reps taken to failure stimulates the same amount of muscle growth as a set of 5 reps taken to failure. Currently, evidence exists for loads as low as 20% of 1 repetition maximum and as high as 90% 1RM stimulating the same muscle growth, so long as effort per set and number of sets are similar. This actually concurs with old bodybuilding 'logic' because by utilising high rep schemes and lower weights, they can recover faster and train more. Which produces more muscular growth.

However, performance-wise, you will improve the most in the rep ranges that you practice. If you mostly lift with 1-5 reps, you will mostly improve performance in the 1-5 rep range. If you mostly lift with 15-20 reps, you will mostly improve performance in that rep range. This is likely due to neural adaptations rather than differences in muscle growth; you are “studying” that specific rep range, so your nervous system learns to perform it the best.

Summing up:

You can train up to 6 times a week provided you carefully listen to your body and eat enough. If you work muscles in isolation then give them a day off afterwards. Change up your intensity and rep ranges based on your goals (and to stop things becoming boring).

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