Wednesday, September 14, 2016

“STIMULATE, DON’T ANNIHILLATE.” What does that even mean?

What does that even mean?

The quote above is attributed to Lee Haney. Lee retired at the age of 31 after winning 8 consecutive Mr. Olympia Championships (1984 through 1991) beating Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 7 win record. He trained Evander Holyfield in two of Holyfield’s title defenses as Heavy Weight Boxing Champion and a number of other professional athletes in several sports.
 Mr Olympia 1986 | Bodybuilding history | Lee Haney Olympia Winner 1986:

Lee is now 56 years old and has none of the aches and pains of most competitors and never had a major injury.

So when Lee Haney’s training philosophy was “Stimulate. Don’t annihilate” YOU SHOULD PROBABLY LISTEN.

Lee’s philosophy, put another way, was use as much weight as necessary but no more.

Train hard. Sure. But know your limits (or how to recognize your limits). Otherwise you’re killing your own gains.

Here’s Why….


Training is a double-edged sword. You need to create enough stress via overload to get a positive adaptation response from the muscle. But you don’t need to do it every day on every set. And you don’t need to add weight past your limits of good form.

Every time you lift a weight you are putting as much stress on your joints and tendons as you do on the muscle. Joints and connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) don’t stretch and flex like muscle. Lift too much past your limits and injury is an almost certain outcome.

Leave your ego at the door!


Hormone release is what underpins most of the physiological changes in muscle. The amount of training and the intensity of training is a balancing act. Physical and (mental) stress release hormones.

Some are anabolic, triggering protein synthesis.

·        Testosterone stimulates protein synthesis which is what builds muscle tissue
·        Growth Hormone stimulates muscle repair
·        Insulin aids in carrying glycogen (fuel) to the muscle

Some are catatonic meaning they break down muscle; the opposite effect of testosterone. The primary catatonic hormone is Cortisol. Create too much cortisol and it negates the positive effects of testosterone, GH, and Insulin.

All 4 hormones are released during physical and mental stress.

Though cortisol production can’t be eliminated, it can be controlled.

Outside the gym, cortisol can be minimized with:
·        Stress management (mental)
·        Getting sufficient rest and sleep
·        Limiting caffeine (or other stimulant) intake-(that includes sugar so don’t gorge on the free Tootsie Rolls at Planet Fitness!)
·        Improved nutrition especially before and immediately after your workout

But this article is about “Stimulate, don’t annihilate”

·        Use the weight you need to get the job done but not more.
·        Push hard but you don’t have to go “Beast Mode” on every set every day
·        Studies show 45 to 75 minutes should be the maximum length of your workout to keep cortisol under control
·        Chill out immediately following your workout. You don’t have to take a nap but try to do something relaxing for a few minutes. Cortisols (and other hormones) stay elevated for a while after your workout. Relaxing for a few will cut back on the cortisol and let the other hormones do their job.
·        Don’t rush your rest periods. Use the suggested rest periods. It’s ok to use shorter rest periods as a means of progression but don’t overdo it and don’t do it all the time. Let your body “downregulate” between sets.
·        ** A good way to judge if the length of your rest period is adequate is to use your heart rate. It will vary by individual, but rest long enough for your HR to return to 75 to 120 bpm (100 bpm if you are strength training)**

Too often, when we hit a plateau and progress stops, the response is to work harder. Often that’s just the opposite of what you need to do!

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