The goal of Occam’s Protocol aims to utilise the Minimum Effective Dose (MED)1 of resistance exercise to stimulate muscle hypertrophy (growth)
My aim for December was to gain as much Lean Body Mass (LBM) as possible, whilst keeping any associated increase in Body Fat (BF) percentage to a minimum.
The protocol I followed can be summarised as follows:
- I followed the ‘Slow-Carb’ diet plan detailed in last month’s experiment – The only modification to this was the addition of starchy carbs, milk and almond butter to increase caloric intake – I eventually opted out of the milk due to a perceived intolerance
- The resistance sessions were split into two; an A and a B day – A: Standing Overhead Barbell Press & Yates’ Row B: Back Squat & Incline Dumbbell Press
- All movements were performed for a single set of 7 repetitions (10 for the squats)
- All movements were performed at a slow 5/5 cadence – That is a count of 5 seconds up and 5 seconds down
- This gave a total time under load to between 70-100s
- The load for each movement was set so that the final repetition was a struggle
- Once a weight had been cleared for 7 repetitions, it was increased by the greater of 5kg or 10% at the next session.
- I supplemented with whey protein, creatine monohydrate, l-glutamine, alpha lopoic acid and cissus quadrangularis – For the purpose of these, please refer to “The 4-Hour Body”
For more information regarding this protocol, I recommend a copy of “The 4-Hour Body”, which can be found at most book retailers.
As a method of gauging progress, I used the following three metrics:
- Body Fat Analysis – Skin-fold Callipers
- Body Mass – Also Lean Body Mass (LBM), by inference
- Circumferences around key body parts – Chest, waist, upper arm and thigh
From the start to the finish of December, I added 1.6kg of LBM, whilst adding around 2% body fat2.
Key circumference increases are as follows
- Upper arm +1.6cm
- Waist +0.7cm
- Thigh +4.5cm
- Chest +2.3cm
A secondary result from the experiment is an increase in strength; by ramping the resistance up each session, I have far exceeded previous plateaus.
In conclusion, most importantly, I am not a doctor and I would recommend consulting a medical professional before attempting this protocol.
An important point to note is that it is almost impossible to say how much of the LBM increase is due to muscle hypertrophy and how much is down to water retention etc, especially when performed back to back with a fat loss protocol and its associated dehydrated state.
Whilst the results from this protocol are good, they are not as drastic as would be expected from “The 4-Hour Body”. There is a combination of reasons why this is so
- I didn’t eat enough
- The lifting regime was not heavy/intense enough to elicit a adaptive response from my body
- The expectations presented may not be realistic
With further experimentation, I should be able to form a better idea as to how much each of these factors contributed.
Geek to Freak – Now this cycle is complete, I am going to continue my hypertrophy phase with an adjustment to the training aspect of the regime. The intention being to illicit a stronger response from my body. Look out for the write up of the experiment at the end of January 2012.
1 – The principle described by the analogy that once a cup is full adding any more water does not make it any fuller; it is simply wasted water.
2 – Calculated via skin fold measurement and Durnin Womersley 4-point algorithm