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The Matrix Corner
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

Much of what you're talking about... in regard to 'feel,' is very much in line with freestyling. It's not the same thing (in that I move in and out of various positions based on feedback at the time), but certainly shows a common direction in advanced training and paying attention to our reactions and what works best as a result.
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Brian, thank you for your comments. With my training models, a certain local physiological state is pursued. This state, near constant chronic intramuscular pressure to produce blocked venous return which in turn is associated with inducing a lowering of local pH with metabolic buildup is what we strive for. Movement patterns are organized and utilized that appear to optimize this local physiological condition. This may differ from your training approach because it requires lesser loads and greater training volume and the most simple equipment.

As far as "freestyle", it is used in experimenting and developing the patterns. But, once the core model pattern proves successful, the trainee does not need to speculate where to go.
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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

I know exactly where you're coming from. I include (not always, but often enough) similar techniques of that constant tension you spoke about (and even longer than usual TUTs). Combining this with heavier cluster sets (done in multi-angle and Zone fashion) has created the best effect for me (I'll be detailing and demonstrating this next conference if I'm invited back).

I recall seeing this one guy with huge arms years ago (I was in my early 20s)... he loved training arms, whereas the rest of his body was mediocre. He performed a large volume of sets, but each were relatively short, but also very short rests between... a constant barrage of activity. And he focused only on the sweet spot (around the middle third). Tension + pump.
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In my early years of training, over 40 years ago, I remember seeing older trainees at the gyms who were in fantastic shape using lower loads and performing set after set. They would develop amazing "pumps". This was counter to what I would read in Strength and Health and other magazines at the time which emphasized big loads for big muscles. In conversations with them, they would tell me that they had been training this way for many years and believed that this style of training allowed them to continue to lift and maintain their mass.

They told me that the magazines were bodybuilding fiction which was heresy to my young ears. Some, who claimed to have had experience with those who dealt with Reeves said this was his preferred way to train.

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Brian Johnston

Ontario, CAN

I certainly have nothing against heavier training, and I would say 30% of my training is 'heavy' relative to traditional bodybuilding training. Having said that, I include enough lighter load challenges (Zone Training and Matrix Training certainly help in that regard, as you well know) to allow my tissues to heal.

It's not just an issue of recovering from training, but allowing the tissues (particularly around the joints) to get in that recovery time... otherwise, a person can get messed up by the time he's in his 40s or 50s, and certainly into the 60s. It's inescapable, and so a person might as well train smart and include challenging applications that do not involve heavy loads. I'm preaching to the choir right now, but I'm saying this in support of your thread as opposed to telling you something you don't already know.
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overfiftylifter wrote:
International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 2013, 4, 114-121

Low-Load Bench Press Training to Fatigue Results in Muscle Hypertrophy Similar to High-Load Bench Press Training
Riki Ogasawara, Jeremy P. Loenneke, Robert S. Thiebaud, Takashi Abe

Received December 20th, 2012; revised January 20th, 2013; accepted January 27th, 2013
The purpose of this study was to determine whether the training responses observed with low-load resistance exercise to volitional fatigue translates into significant muscle hypertrophy, and compare that response to high-load resistance training. Nine previously untrained men (aged 25 [SD 3] years at the beginning of the study, standing height 1.73 [SD 0.07] m, body mass 68.9 [SD 8.1] kg) completed 6-week of high load-resistance training (HL-RT) (75% of one repeti- tion maximal [1RM], 3-sets, 3x/wk) followed by 12 months of detraining. Following this, subjects completed 6 weeks of low load-resistance training (LL-RT) to volitional fatigue (30% 1 RM, 4 sets, 3x/wk). Increases (p < 0.05) in mag-netic resonance imaging-measured triceps brachii and pectorals major muscle cross-sectional areas were similar for both HL-RT (11.9% and 17.6%, respectively) and LL-RT (9.8% and 21.1%, respectively). In addition, both groups in-creased (p < 0.05) 1RM and maximal elbow extension strength following training; however, the percent increases in 1RM (8.6% vs. 21.0%) and elbow extension strength (6.5% vs. 13.9%) were significantly (p < 0.05) lower with LL-RT. Both protocols elicited similar increases in muscle cross-sectional area, however differences were observed in strength. An explanation of the smaller relative increases in strength may be due to the fact that detraining after HL-RT did not cause strength values to return to baseline levels thereby producing smaller changes in strength. In addition, the results may also suggest that the consistent practice of lifting a heavy load is necessary to maximize gains in muscular strength of the trained movement. These results demonstrate that significant muscle hypertrophy can occur without high-load resistance training and suggests that the focus on percentage of external load as the important deciding factor on muscle hypertrophy is too simplistic and inappropriate.

The value of this study is that they didn't use legs as the exercised muscle group.The main criticism for all the previous low load load studies was that legs might respond better at higher reps but probably the result would be different for the upper body.
This study proved that was not the case.
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Bill Sekerak

California, USA

HeavyHitter32 wrote:

Can you perhaps describe an example application of MFT with a particular exercise(s)? I am curious about the static hold although in the past statics did little for me.

Try a static at every 10 % of ROM all out IM for a few seconds , followed by full ROM at about 4/4 cadence.

If you do, let me know what happened.
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I believe that the static hold produces greater stimulus when it is performed nearer the mid-range of a movement. There also seems to be even greater stimulus if oscillating isometric actions are performed following the static or applied hold. The OI is done in a slow, short, and strict contraction with each action started from a complete stop. You should feel muscular tension in the target musculature during the oscillations.

Some trainees don't seem to like applied holds so I have them shift to oscillating isometrics instead. Trainees who have also requested more simple patterns perform a series of OI at the mid-point of the exercise working range and followup with half reps from this position, to the bottom of the tension range. A second set is executed, 30 sec. later, again at the mid-point of the tension range, with the OI's followed by half movements that are worked to the top of the tension range. The number of OI's recommended is between 20 to 30. This seems to develop a great deal of intramuscular pressure and the following half reps done with the tonic cadence are icing on the cake.

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For those who have no problems with isometric holds or as I call "applied holds", another form of MFT has been developed that is simple to apply. The name for this form of MFT is FI-MFT or Functional Isometrics MFT. FI is mentioned in research and represents a isometric contraction before commencing dynamic movements. This FI-MFT uses a 20 sec. applied hold at different locations before performing any Matrix patterns, again using the found tension range of the movement.

Example: Find the tension range in the squat. Using the first Matrix principle, Conventional Matrix, take the load to the bottom of the tension range and hold the weight at that position for 20 sec. and then perform the rest of the pattern. Set two, take the load to the half point in the tension range and hold 20 sec..

Then, return to the bottom and perform the Matrix pattern. Set three, go to the top of the tension range and hold the weight for 20 sec. before starting the pattern. You should notice quite a bit more local metabolic stimulus than just using the pattern without the FI.
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Professor Laura has discussed for over forty years the influence of different patterns of movement, including isometrics, on muscle stimulation. This recent study may relate.

Somatosensory & Motor Research
Posted online on April 5, 2013

Different motor learning effects on excitability changes of motor cortex in muscle contraction state


We aimed to investigate whether motor learning induces different excitability changes in the human motor cortex (M1) between two different muscle contraction states (before voluntary contraction [static] or during voluntary contraction [dynamic]). For the same, using motor evoked potentials (MEPs) obtained by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), we compared excitability changes during these two states after pinch-grip motor skill learning. The participants performed a force output tracking task by pinch grip on a computer screen. TMS was applied prior to the pinch grip (static) and after initiation of voluntary contraction (dynamic). MEPs of the following muscles were recorded: first dorsal interosseous (FDI), thenar muscle (Thenar), flexor carpi radialis (FCR), and extensor carpi radialis (ECR) muscles. During both the states, motor skill training led to significant improvement of motor performance. During the static state, MEPs of the FDI muscle were significantly facilitated after motor learning; however, during the dynamic state, MEPs of the FDI, Thenar, and FCR muscles were significantly decreased. Based on the results of this study, we concluded that excitability changes in the human M1 are differentially influenced during different voluntary contraction states (static and dynamic) after motor learning.
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