Capillary Training & Maintaining The Pump By Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com
If you're a climber you may have heard of capillary training-it's been a staple for years, helping climbers to develop anaerobic endurance.
Lately though, you may hear guys at the gym talking about a different kind of capillary training. This type of capillary training doesn't focus on building anaerobic endurance, but rather on packing on mass. It's gaining popularity not just for this, but also for the fact that it results in an awesome, lasting pump. So in the near future, you'll not only hear guys at the gym talking about capillary training but doing it to-and with great results.
Let's start with an overview. Capillaries are what carry nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to the muscle fibers. You get pumped when the capillaries expand, increasing the blood flow to the muscle fibers, swelling them up beyond their normal size. Lots of different training routines can give you a good pump while you're at the gym. The problem is that not long after you head out the door though, the "pump" is on the decline-soon to disappear almost entirely.
But unlike most common training methods you're likely to see at the gym-like high intensity training or the "train to failure" technique, capillary training helps your body to maintain the pump long after you've left the gym. And how does it accomplish this? To understand how it works, you'll need to be aware of a basic commonality of training techniques such as high intensity training and training to failure. Both focus on "stressing" the muscle-which in itself is not a problem-but at the same time, they're stressing the central nervous system, causing it to go into "high alert" mode. This is what unleashes the unwanted metabolic side effects. The nervous system is forced into an almost constant "emergency mode", which ultimately hampers the gains we could have otherwise achieved.
So here's where capillary training differs. Unlike other training methods, with capillary training, no sets are performed to failure. In fact, you train with a lighter weight than what you're typically used to, performing 10 reps for 5-8 sets. Rest time between sets is kept to a strict 60-90 seconds maximum. So while intensity is reduced, the overall training volume is increased. The benefits of this include bigger, sustainable gains (remember the lasting pump I mentioned earlier?) and no unwanted metabolic side effects.
Natural bodybuilding expert Dan Gallapoo-better known as Doberman Dan-has developed an awesome capillary training system called the Hyper Growth Muscle Mass Training (HGMMT) program. Dan says his program is based on volume and that-combined with good form and the correct time frame is a much, much better and faster way of growing very large and strong muscles than other training methodologies. HGMMT and its underlying principles have proven to be particularly effective for helping hardgainers to pack on lean muscle.
The basic concept of capillary training (HGMMT) is that our muscles have a work capacity that is limited by time. By performing more, but less intense work within that time frame, it stimulates and allows for maximum muscle growth. When the work load becomes too intense, it results in metabolic shock, which results in unwanted side effects-basically, the body cannibalizing itself. It's important to note that capillary training is not a light weight-high repetitions training program. High reps are great for toning, not for building mass. We're not talking about light weight but rather less weight than what you're typically used to lifting.
In order to determine exactly how much weight you should be lifting, you need to first determine the amount of weight you can lift comfortably for 8-10 reps. In HGMMT this is called the "max set point." Knowing this, you generally reduce the weight by 25%. All of your sets are performed using the same weight. It doesn't necessarily make your workouts any easier-in fact, because you're increasing the overall number of reps, you'll actually be pumping more weight than with high intensity or "train to failure" methods.
One of the great things about this type of training is that it is particularly effective for the guys who are genetically average, which is the overwhelming majority of the population. These are the hardgainers and for them, putting on mass can be really tough. With the help of scientific research into the physiology of what really drives muscle growth though, capillary training-and HGMMT-presents a training program that really works, even if you're not genetically gifted.
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