View Full Version : Maximum Stimulation Lifts?

george nesrallah
07-17-2009, 10:22 PM
Hi all. I just finished reading "Serious Strength Training" by Tudor O. Bompa and Lorenzo J. Cornacchia and there is a section in the book where they have a list called maximum stimulation lifts. What they dud was through EMG recordings, tested different kinds of lifts and seeing which exercises stimulated most of the intended area; this supposesdly will then correlate to which exercises are best for building size and strength. Some results are:

Pectoralis Major:

Decline Dumbell Bench Press-93%
Decline Barbell Bench Press-89%
Push Ups Between Benches-88%

Pectoralis Minor:

Incline Dumbell Bench Press-91%
Incline Barbell Bench Press-85%

Medial Deltoids:

Incline Dumbell Side Laterals-66%
Standing Side Laterals-63%

Posterior Deltoids:

Standing Dumbell Bent Laterals-85%
Seated Dumbell Bent Laterals-83%

Anterior Deltoids:

Seated Front Dumbell Press-79%
Standing Front Dumbell Raise-73%

Biceps Brachii:

Barbell Preacher Curls-90%
Alternate Incline Seated Dumbell Curls-88%

Triceps Brachii:

Decline Triceps Extension-92%
Triceps Pressdown with Angled Bar-90%
Triceps Dips Between Benches-87%

Latissimus Dorsi:

Bent Over Barbell Rows-93%
Bent Dumbell Rows-91%
T-Bar Rows-89%


Safety Squats-88%
Leg Extensions-86%
Hack Squats-78%

Biceps Femoris (Hamstring):

Standing Leg Curl-82%
Lying Leg Curl-71%

Semitendinosus (Hamstring):

Seated leg curl-88%
Standing Leg Curl-79%

Gastrocnemius (Calf):

Donkey Calf Raise-80%
Standing One Legged Calf Raise-79%

Does anyone agree with these exercises as being the best in terms of increasing size and strength for the particular muscle groups? If what is said here is true, tried and tested compound movement mass/strength programs would be second rate and prgrams based on these exercises would be the way to go; however, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Just curious what people think.

Patrick Donnelly
07-17-2009, 11:02 PM
Just deadlift more and don't worry about it.

Robert Callahan
07-18-2009, 12:11 AM
Most of the exercises you have listed there are isolation movements. These are rather poor for getting big since you are using a specific bit of muscle in isolation and thus have a reduced CNS and hormonal stimulation to grow.

I agree with Pat, just deadlift more and don't worry so much.

Matthias Becker
07-18-2009, 12:51 AM
I read bench, row, squat and some smaller exercises if you want to focus on small isolated parts of muscles like "medial deltoids". How can a deltoid be medial? Medial means near the midline of the left-right axis but the middle deltoids are the furthest away from that, so if anything they would be the lateral deltoids.

Steven Low
07-18-2009, 01:06 AM
Yeah, it's lateral deltoid.

Anyway, EMG studies are nice... but they didn't test any bodyweight exercises which IMO are superior for building strength in the upper body. Where's the pullups for example? Actual parallel bar dips?

Lift heavy weights and you'll get stronger and bigger (if you eat). No need to worry too much about this stuff unless you're looking for added stress if you're like bodybuilding or something. But even then if you're a novice/intermediate you wanna stick with the core lifts and then MAYBE add some isolation.

The biggest bodybuilders are the strongest bodybuilders if you didn't realize it. Ronnie Coleman for example deadlifts 800+ lbs IIRC.

Mike ODonnell
07-18-2009, 05:42 AM
You can do leg extensions till you are blue in the face...but it aint gonna get your testosterone levels up. Most iso work is only successful in building mass through a steady diet of Test injections. But I've never seen anyone not make progress just by lifting heavy sh*t off the floor.

Grissim Connery
07-18-2009, 10:51 PM
if we did actions in our daily lives with only one muscle group at a time, then maybe those would be nice. the truth is though that our bodies contract many muscles at once to get tasks done. if individual muscles were used to carry out tasks by themselves, then we would have developed limbs with very different physical characteristics such as how long our lever arms are in torque production as a result of muscle contraction and tendon tension. but, if there is a 500lb weight on the ground, theres only one way for humans to move it, and that is with every muscle group we can recruit for the job. thus the goal is to not contract one really hard, but to develop the ability to contract many for the purpose of one task.

just focus on tasks. for example, a pullup is a pull with the arms from a deadhang to get the chest/chin above the bar. do not think of the pullup as a lat burner. that does nothing for our development. we can push and we can pull. that's what we do. just try to push and pull with different parts of your body, and try to generate a lot of force in the process. knowing all the exact muscles groups won't necessarily make you stronger. it may help you stretch and prevent injuries, but if you tell a three year old to run as fast as possible, and then you tell the three year old that they have calves, they're not going to run faster. the task was never to have calves and feel them burn. the goal was to run really fast. thus figure out how to do that. don't figure out how to get a big muscle. if you really just want a big muscle, take steroids. if you actually want to accomplish anything, learn skills.

Grissim Connery
07-18-2009, 10:54 PM
or you can try out isolation workouts, have minor progress in the beginning, plateau for many years, realize you're not actually strong, and then try doing real tasks.

Neill Smith
07-19-2009, 12:10 AM
This is one of the interesting disparities between theoretical and empirical exercise science. Maximum stimulation of a certain muscle doesn't even seem to optimally develop strength and hypertrophy in that muscle. Heavy, compound lifts do. Hormonal and CNS stimulus (as previously mentioned) are probably the reason, but I don't know if anybody has done the research to support that yet.

Donald Lee
08-26-2009, 03:58 PM
I found this and remembered this thread.

Dr Siff wrote:

<<Bompa cites no convincing references for this comment...... (about building
bicep size) >>

"Dmitry Voronov" <dvoronov@...> wrote:

<That's not true. Ch. 11 has EMG data on the most popular movements and the
preacher curl with an Olympic bar has a reading of 90% IEMG max - up to 90%
motor unit activation. That sounds convincing to me.>

*** I have studied that research carefully and it is far from being
convincing - that research did not examine the differences in IEMG and peak
EMG, as well as duration of near peak EMG between the major components of the
elbow flexors at various joint angles, namely biceps brachii, brachialis and
brachioradialis. One's upper arm size is not determined only by one head of
the biceps, but by the combined bulk of all of the elbow flexors. It is also
known scientifically that brachioradialis produces greater output under rapid
or explosive conditions and many other muscles in the body react in different
accordnning to the rate and duration of loading (see Basmajian "Muscles Alive").

It only examined the long head of biceps brachii and even then, there was
minimal difference between preacher curls, seated incline DB curls, standing
BB curls and alternate DB standing curls.

That research stated that the exercise that yielded the highest integrated
(IEMG) determined at 1RM as the IEMG max in exercises that were carried out
like this: warm-up with 50% 1RM, 5 reps at 80%1RM, 2 reps at 90%1RM, with 5
minutes rests between sets, before moving on to a 1RM performed 3 times
(p128). IEMG at 80% 1RM was determined by taking the average of the five 80%
1RM trials. By the way, those EMG figures do not mean "up to 90% motor unit
activation", but 90 percent relative to a convenient arbitrary scale that was
chosen by the researchers - big difference!

No information was provided about EMG during the different phases of the
movement (eccentric, concentric or isometric), so we may have to assumed that
the 1RM referred solely to concentric action, which clearly neglects the
facts that many bodybuilders deliberately try to accentuate the eccentric
phase of some exercises. The manner of execution of any exercise exerts a
profound influence on the EMG and it is highly misleading to imply that each
exercise yields a specific integrated EMG output. That is nonsense,
because I have taken similar EMGs during many bodybuilding exercises and
found that, if a quick ballistic prestretch is used, the EMG findings
reported in Bompa's book can easily be exceed, even with submaximal or light
loads. Moreover, recent research has shown that different motor strategies
may be used from rep to rep and from person to person.

If you read the introduction to those EMG tables (apparently carried out by
co-author, Lorenzo Cornacchia) , this is what appears in his book (p129):

"Exercises that produce the greatest amount of electrical activity during
muscular contraction will produce the greatest amount of muscular efficiency.
These exercises must be clearly recognized for their potential to increase
muscular strength and size."

This is also totally incorrect - greater EMG activity is often reported when
the subject is unskilled and producing a lot of spurious, inefficient muscle
action. Very commonly, a decrease in EMG indicates a greater efficiency and
economy of action, so that, if one wishes to obtain greater stimulation, it
is necessary to increase the load or manner of loading (e.g. via ballistics).
This sort of remark also implies that exercises like high and broad jumps,
as well as sprints, which produce very large EMGs, must then be the best
activities for increasing strength and size.

To rely on non-invasive EMGs of gross muscle activity, we have to ensure that
it is associated with the effective increase in tension of the precise muscle
groups concerned, as well as the duration of an adequately stimulating
magnitude of muscle tension over a sufficient range of joint movement.
Moreover, magnitude of EMG or IEMG does not necessarily correlate with force
or torque produced at every stage of a movement and generation of force (and
RFD) is very important in the enhancement of strength.

If you are relying on those EMG tables in Bompa's book to guide your choice
of exercise, then you need to understand the serious limitations of the
research used to produce them. In several cases, some very important
exercises have been entirely omitted in the comparison charts, for example,
the front and back squats are not even mentioned, yet the tables imply that
the best quads exercise is safety squats to 90 degrees. That sort of
comparison is selective and biased. Note, too, that the EMGs suggest that
the best way of enhancing hamstring strength is to do standing or seated leg
curls and to relegate "modified" deadlifts to a very minor role, since they
stimulate the various hamstring muscles by up to 25 percent less! We had
better educate all of our powerlifters about this!

You might also find it interesting to see how those EMGs change when one uses
isokinetic resistance devices or combined free weights, elastics and chain
systems - they inevitably make one realise that those charts may look rather
convincing in a book, but bear little relevance to what happens in serious
training situations (Ch 7.3 of "Supertraining" provides graphs to show which
systems produce the greatest force, power and velocity.)

Many of the exercises cited in his book do not describe the different ways in
which every exercise may be executed to achieve different results or to
enhance safety, so it is essential that it not be regarded as being in any
way definitive. That is why it is very important to study many books and
articles from many sources.

Dr Mel C Siff
Denver, USA

Martin Bonn
08-27-2009, 03:47 AM
or you can try out isolation workouts, have minor progress in the beginning, plateau for many years, realize you're not actually strong, and then try doing real tasks.

that is so true...happened to me...then i saw the light and started to squat, DL, B press, press etc.....and guess what? it worked!

also, these studies aren t new, in fact they have been around for quite a while. if this was the best way to build strength i m sure lots of PLs and Strong men would be doing it....but it seems they aren't! there must be something about those squats!
i supose what might work is doing squats and then do preacher curls....but thats for someone else to find out i m gonna stick to picking stuff up and putting stuff overhead.
Dan John said it quite nicely: you need to be able to pick it up, carry it and put it back down again...train like it! wise words!