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Maintenance Phase - Point?


Alberta, CAN

I'm hoping that I can get some opinions from some of the knowledgeable guys around here who have been training HIT, and training in general, longer than me.

When someone starts training for the first time, they can generally expect fairly steady gains, but for someone who has reached the intermediate or advanced levels (training natural), I don't think they can realistically expect a 1/2 lb to 1 lb gain EVERY week, indefinitely.

If that was so, then there would be a lot of 300 lb natural bodybuilders.

This brings me to where I'd appreciate some clarification. Throughout Dr. Darden's writings and in several posts aroung here, I keep seeing the word "maintainance." Now, before I started reading about HIT, I had considered gains to be somewhat linear and that as long as you are training consistently, you are always making little gains, be it 1/10 lb, etc. I've recently been considering the idea I've read about here that gains occur more in spurts.

Is this where specialization routines and "maintainance" routines come in? I believe recommendations are to have a two week maintainance routine between specialization routines.

Does "maintainance" mean that you aren't necessarily trying to build muscle but keep what you have while you rest and prepare for the next specialization routine? Or am I missing something here?

I hope this post makes sense. If not, let me know and I'll clarify what I'm asking. Thanks for any input anyone has.

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Ontario, CAN

The body works cyclically, whether speaking of hunger, sleep, sex, or any other factor. The same is true of training (and protein turnover), in that growth comes in spurts, although only if you do something during that spurt that is different or unusual (which is why people notice spurts whenever they do something different or unusual andf little results, even if training to failure if they keep doing the same things).

Once the spurt happens, the body then must adapt to the change (since that change means more burden on the system as a whole) and it will do whatever it can to prevent further change.

Consequently, it is vital to cycle one's training demands, between 'usual' and 'unusual' (I wrote about this in Apex, when speaking of training demands and blitz cycling). This has been the only way for me to make progress as a person who has been training for about 30 years.

I'm currently holding 5 pounds more lean than this time last year, which does not sound like much, but after doing just about everything you can imagine, and considering the mass I accrued thus far, it is a significant amount... and it was gained in 5 weeks, during an up-cycling of demands that were rather unusual for me.
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M Lipowski

New York, USA

Hey Ben,

We just recently had this conversation at the Team H.I.T. Forum.


Some very good points were brought up but ultimately everything boils down to what Brian said above in that everything is cyclical. But YOU can control those cycles and make some great gains as an advanced trainee if you know how to best utilize a "maintenance" program and periods of heavy/unusual demands. Also note (and this was talked about in the Team H.I.T. thread) that maintenance training can begin to take on many different forms depending on what your goals are. Over there, most of us are bodybuilders so a maintnenance program takes on a very different meaning than say a performance driven lifter.

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Alberta, CAN

Thanks for the quick reply. It was definitely one of those terms that when I read it, I went "Huh?" I had known that changing things up was important and I had routinely changed reps numbers, exercises, etc, but I had never before considered having a maintainance phase.

Like I had mentioned before, I used to believe that gains were linear and that as long as you changed things up, then you were constantly gaining muscle. I only recently realized the error of my ways.

Thanks again,

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