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Gain More Muscle Mass in Less Time with Adaptive Resistance Training
 // BY JIM KEEN

How To Build Muscle Fast

The speed of your muscle growth depends on the quality of your workouts.

The quality of your workouts depends on the quality of the resistance you’re using.

This is true whether you’re training for athletic performance, metabolic adaptations, or gains in muscle mass. Up until recently there were no complete solutions, only trade-offs.

But with ARX’s Adaptive Resistance technology, there is a solution without compromise.

The Mismatch Problem Slows Down Your Gains

If you recall from one of our previous articles, the main principle of resistance exercise is that the target muscles are made to contract against resistance for the purpose of delivering a stimulus to the body, which then produces the adaptation of skeletal muscle hypertrophy (growth).

Any time there is a difference between the strength of the muscles and the magnitude of the resistance against which the muscles are made to contract, we can say that a mismatch has been created between the two.

If the chosen resistance is below the momentary strength capacity of the muscles, this represents an inefficiency. More sets, more reps, and an overall greater time commitment are required to accumulate the desired workout volume because the mismatch has underloaded the target muscles.

The take-home: the greater the mismatch between the resistance you’re using and the strength of the target muscles, the longer it will take you to simulate lean mass gains.

Types of Resistance Training Programs That Can Help to Increase Muscle Mass

Option #1: Weight Lifting

Imagine you want to go do some strength training, and you decide you’re going to use weights for this purpose because you either don’t know any better, or weights are the only tool available to you. How do you stimulate the desired neural and metabolic adaptations without excessive inefficiency? Well, weight-lifting enthusiasts have developed some workarounds intuitively, even though they might not be able to articulate why they are making these compromises. They include—but are not limited to—things like:
  • Workaround 1: Purposely using less than the maximum amount of weight than you can lift, typically designated as some percentage of your “one-rep max.” You need your set to last for some target number of repetitions, but a weight that matches your fresh strength—your one-rep max—would only permit one repetition, and at great personal risk of injury. Bummer.
  • Workaround 2: The unavoidable underloading described above means you need to lift and lower the weight many, many times in order to accumulate the necessary workout volume. This undesirable necessity to perform so many sets per muscle group is turned from a “bug” into a “feature,” as you retroactively identify the undesirable time-suck as “high-volume workouts” that are actually desirable per se.
  • Workaround 3: The advanced lifters will even acknowledge the mismatch problem, correctly identifying that, for example, they’re stronger on the way down than on the way up. They can lower more than they can lift, in other words. So they’ll load up more weight than they can lift, have their buddies help lift it into place, then lower the weight by themselves to more closely match the amount of resistance to their momentary strength capacity. This yields improved results.
Weight lifting—and other gravity-based forms of resistance like calisthenics—represent the greatest mismatch between resistance and momentary muscle strength, making it the most time-consuming method for acquiring gains in muscle mass.

Option #2: Variable Resistance via Elastic Bands

Back in 1895 a guy in Switzerland named Gustav Gossweiler received a patent for a stretchy, handled rope-type thing that provided elastic resistance in the same way that modern elastic bands do. As the band is stretched, the resistance increases. In movements like the chest press and the squat, for example, this means that the user is loaded with greater resistance as the repetition moves into mechanical advantage and lesser resistance when the repetition moves out of mechanical advantage, allowing for greater mechanical loading and greater set duration at the same time, which provokes more muscle growth more quickly. In the bicep curl, as another example, the resistance increases in magnitude as the user moves into a more contracted position:

In modern times, people use elastic bands on their barbells to either vary the resistance in addition to the weights they’re using, or simply connect the bands directly to the barbells for this purpose. While this form of resistance still suffers from the mismatch problem, it is still a safer tool than weights for the purpose of stimulating gains in muscle mass.

Option #3: Variable Resistance via Shaped Cam

Invented and popularized by Nautilus inventor Arthur Jones, these devices work by lifting a weight stack using a cable that is wrapped around a pulley, just like at the gym. Except this is a special pulley called a cam. And it turns out that the larger the radius of the cam—the distance from the axis to the cable—the greater the multiplication of the resistance at the end of the cable—the weight stack.

This gives the user more resistance at the points of mechanical advantage and greater leverage, and less resistance at the points of lesser mechanical advantage. More efficient than a regular weight, but still fails to solve the mismatch problem since it doesn’t match the user’s muscular strength from the concentric to eccentric phase, and from the beginning of the set to the end of the set.

Honorable Mentions

  • Chains attached to barbells that gather on the floor when the weight is lowered to reduce the resistance during weaker ranges of motion, then add to the resistance when pulled up off the floor as the user moves the barbell into the stronger ranges of motion.
  • Pneumatic/hydraulic resistance that provides air pressure in direct proportion to the pushing—concentric—force production of the user. Only an honorable mention because, unfortunately, pneumatic resistance does not provide any meaningful resistance in the very-important eccentric phase of contraction.

What Is Adaptive Resistance Training?

To review, there are a total of three ways that our muscular strength capacity changes during a set of exercises:

  • From joint angles of mechanical advantage to joint angles of mechanical disadvantage
  • From eccentric to concentric muscle contractions
  • From the beginning of the set to the end

If your resistance doesn’t account for each of these three factors, your resistance suffers from the mismatch problem. This means that your workouts will take longer, and your body’s adaptive response to muscle mass gains will arrive more slowly.

ARX’s Adaptive Resistance accounts for each of these factors perfectly and automatically, every time no matter what, for every person regardless of age, limb length, training status, or any other variable.

ARX applies perfectly-matched resistance that

  • Rises during the strong part of the range of motion and decreases during the weak part of the range of motion, never too much or too little
  • Perfectly accommodates the increased muscular strength capacity of both eccentric contractions and concentric contractions
  • Matches the user’s muscular strength pound-for-pound at all times, from the very first repetition to the final repetition, without compromise

No mismatch = no inefficiency = faster results with less time commitment.

Additional read: The Best Tool For Resistance Exercise

Gain More Muscle By Training Less

Our technology changes the landscape of strength training in the same way that weights did when they became readily available over a century ago.

Instead of hours per week in a weight room, ARX users are getting better results in about a half-hour per week.

You can read about the research test conducted on ARX’s technology.

Instead of spending months learning the multi-joint exercises before adding meaningful levels of resistance, ARX allows even novice users to harness high levels of mechanical tension safely and quickly, with a minimum learning curve.

The progress of three years is now available in one year, and the progress of ten years is now available in three or four.

It almost feels like cheating.

The Bottom Line

There is simply no way around it. The form of resistance that perfectly matches the user’s muscular strength must be the best and fastest way to stimulate skeletal muscle hypertrophy.

Maximum efficiency. Maximum effectiveness.

Pure, responsive resistance with zero limits.

If you’re not making use of variable resistance in your exercise regimen, you should be.

If you already are a fan of variable resistance in your exercise regimen, then the logical conclusion to your search for the best tool for rapid muscle growth is ARX.

ARX simplifies the most comprehensive full-body workout through perfectly matched, motorized resistance. Short for Adaptive Resistance Exercise, ARX is scientifically proven to deliver quantifiable results in less time. The all-in-one strength training machine dynamically adjusts resistance in real-time to personalize every workout. ARX empowers and challenges individuals to achieve their fitness goals one perfectly calibrated repetition at a time. No dangerous weights to drop and no adjustments to make, just exact resistance. Founded in 2016, ARX is headquartered in Austin, Texas.

For more information, please visit ARXFit.com and join the community on FacebookInstagram and YouTube.