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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Oct 23. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002171. [Epub ahead of print]

The Basics of Training for Muscle Size and Strength: A Brief Review on the Theory.

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USF Muscle Lab, Exercise Science Program, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.
Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management, University of Mississippi, University, MS.
Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, Troy University, Troy, AL.
Department of Health and Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ.
Exercise Science, Lindenwood University, Belleville, IL.
Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management, Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory, University of Mississippi, University, MS.


The periodization of resistance exercise is often touted as the most effective strategy for optimizing muscle size and strength adaptations. This narrative persists despite a lack of experimental evidence to demonstrate its superiority. In addition, the general adaptation syndrome, which provides the theoretical framework underlying periodization, does not appear to provide a strong physiological rationale that periodization is necessary. Hans Selye conducted a series of rodent studies which used toxic stressors to facilitate the development of the general adaptation syndrome. To our knowledge, normal exercise in humans has never been shown to produce a general adaptation syndrome. We question whether there is any physiological rationale that a periodized training approach would facilitate greater adaptations compared to non-periodized approaches employing progressive overload. The purpose of this paper is to briefly review currently debated topics within strength and conditioning and provide some practical insight regarding the implications these re-evaluations of the literature may have for resistance exercise and periodization. In addition, we provide some suggestions for the continued advancement within the field of strength and conditioning.

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