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Welcome to the Home Page of

Accelerated Inroad Training or simply ACIT


ACIT is a new and revolutionary training method that will enable all resistance training athletes,
especially the natural lifter, to work with greater intensity than ever before without risking the dreaded
burnout.

In most sets, the workload on the muscles fluctuates constantly and only reaches a maximum during the
positive or “concentric” phase of the exercise. As we will see, this has highly undesirable consequences
and makes it necessary to drain valuable recovery resources if one wishes to achieve a deep state of
inroading. ACIT eliminates this workload fluctuation and keeps a constant demand for tension on the
muscle throughout the set (without resorting to the use of specially designed machines) enabling the
lifter to thoroughly exhaust his muscles in a shorter period of time. This results in much smaller
demands on the valuable resources of the body and better recovery between workouts.

To better understand how you can use this groundbreaking method in your workouts, please read the
links in the order in which they appear on the left hand side starting with The Fundamentals. ACIT is
intended for athletes who have at least a year of lifting experience as some muscle and neural control
and mastery of basic lifts is necessary. As an intermediate or advanced athlete, you may find some of the
introduction presented here somewhat simple, but spending an extra 20 minutes to go over this material
will ensure that we are on the same page and help you understand the logic and science behind the
method. So please make an effort to read the material in its entirety.

Also notice that this is a non-commercial web site and you will not be asked to purchase books,
supplements or special equipments. The sole purpose of this information is to help trainees all around
the world enhance the efficiency of their workouts and foster intelligent discussion about resistance
training techniques. The method was recently developed by Hunkar Ozyasar and Ron Sowers and is
used by numerous amateur athletes with great results. We encourage all visitors to contact us with any
feedback they may have. There are plans to add more material to this site as well as create a discussion
forum for the exchange of ideas related to the theory and application of ACIT-style training. Until then,
please use the CONTACT link to leave feedback. Finally, forgive the rather plain look of the site and the
lack of sufficient scientific references. We are working on making the site visually more appealing and
will add more references to peer-reviewed research papers where appropriate.

Thank you

Hunkar Ozyasar

December 2005,
New York City
Thanks once again to Captain Ron for all his valuable and absolutely brilliant input.
The Fundamentals
The Basics of Resistance Training and Muscle Contractions
What follows is a basic refresher of how muscles work. If you would like a more detailed explanation
about this topic, please contact the author by clicking here . Also notice that some of the information has
been simplified to condense the immense amount of data about muscle physiology.

As you probably know, human skeletal muscle consists of little “teams” or groups of fibers that contract
together. These groups are called Motor Units (MU) and are attached to a single nerve. Therefore, they
get the command to contract (or “flex”) from the same nerve impulse and always act together. Despite
their immense complexity, MUs contract in a rather simplistic “all or none” fashion. In other words,
when a MU receives a signal to turn on, it contracts with full force. Without such a signal, it is off. So
MUs contract with either 100% of their available force or they do not contract at all. However, this does
not mean that the force generated by a MU is always the same. When a fresh MU contracts with full
force, it generates more force than it can when the same MU contracts with full force while it is tired.

Each muscle has different types of MUs ranging from Slow Twitch Motor Units (ST) to Fast Twitch
Motor Units (FT) and some types in between that are mixtures or hybrids of these. The STs do not
produce much force but are very durable. When you are walking for an hour, for example, these are the
perfect kinds of fibers to use. You do not need to generate a lot of force and you need the muscles to last
an entire hour. On the other hand, the FT fibers generate much more force but they don’t have much
endurance. They are utilized only when the force generated by the STs is not enough to do the job.
Please recall the last sentence, as it will become very important in the following paragraphs. When
performing a set of heavy squats, you must generate a lot of force. If the weight is heavy enough, you
would need to generate maximal force. In this case, the body would utilize all the ST and all the FT
fibers together.

The final detail that we must keep in mind is rate coding. MUs do not contract in continuous, long
strokes. Instead, they “twitch” on and of all the time. If you can imagine the many MUs as attached to a
big rope and pulling on a weight, each MU pulls momentarily and then lets go of the rope. Since there
are a very large number of MUs and the pulling and letting go occurs several times every second for
each of the MUs, all you feel is a composite and smooth tugging on the rope. As you are lifting a weight,
you do not suddenly lose power and drop the barbell when some MUs switch off, because at any given
point there are always some other MUs that are in an “on” position. As the demand on the muscles
increase and they have to pull harder, the frequency of the “on” signals increases. This is like revving an
engine higher and higher and results in a lot of MUs being on at any given time. When you are really
forcing yourself to lift the maximal amount of weight, then most MUs will receive lots and lots of “on”
signals all the time. In this case, they will not even have the opportunity to relax, or in other words "let
go of the rope" and will essentially be contracting continuously. This condition is called “tetany”.

To sum this all up let us view what happens in two distinct scenarios: a light set and a heavy set of
barbell curls. In this first instance, imagine taking a very light weight (say a 4 lbs wooden stick) and
performing barbell curls. Since the weight is light, the nervous system does not need to activate all the
MUs. Instead it does the rational thing and uses as few MUs as possible. Since it does also not make
sense to use the strong but easily-tired Fast Twitch fibers, practically all the MUs that are utilized will be
the Slow Twitch MUs. Now the weight is so light that even the Slow Twitch MUs that are used do not
have to work very hard. The Slow Twitch MUs are contracting at a low frequency of rate coding. In
other words, each fiber is letting go of the rope and taking a rest every second. When the work is so
easy, the Slow Twitch fibers can rest while also lifting the weight and do not get tired. Therefore, there
is no need to call their bigger brothers, the bigger and stronger Fast Twitch fibers, for help. As a result,
you can keep curling the weight for hours without getting very tired. This is exactly what happens when
a store clerk takes bottles of Coca Cola from the case down on the floor and lifts them up to stack the
shelves. He can do it for hours without getting very tired or without using his Fast Twitch fibers.
Unfortunately, the Fast Twitch fibers are bigger and grow much larger, while the Slow Twitch fibers
usually cannot get very big. Therefore, the clerk who almost never uses his FT fibers will not get big and
muscular arms, even though he uses the muscles in his arms all day long. Bodybuilders, however, must
use their FT fibers to get large arms.

On the other hand, when you take a heavy barbell, let’s say a weight that you can only lift 8 to 10 times,
and start lifting it, the situation is radically different. Now the ST fibers cannot generate enough force to
lift the weight even if they are constantly on. So the body has to use almost all the available fibers, that
is all ST and all FT fibers (or motor units) at once. The small guys and their big brothers have to pull
together to lift the heavy weight. But after a few repetitions, everybody starts to get tired. At this point
the nervous system makes sure there are no slackers and ensures that even the biggest and strongest
MUs, which are lazy and do not work under normal conditions, are pulling. This is good news because
the biggest and strongest MUs have the greatest potential for growth. After a few more repetitions, let’s
say by the 5th or 6th rep, everybody is pulling but everybody is also getting really tired. As a result, the
MUs cannot generate a lot of power during the pulls. So, in order to be able to lift the weight, the MUs
have to pull ever more frequently. By the end of the set the fibers are so tired that the only way they can
lift the weight is by making sure that every MU is pulling all the time. Ever MU is basically stuck in the
“on” position. Hence, even though you may have lifted the weight only two more times to go from the
7th to the 9th repetition, you have actually done a lot more muscular work (we are not talking about
“work” as would be defined in a physics textbook, but referring to the frequency and severity of
muscular contractions here).

By the end of such a set, you can be sure that you have thoroughly exhausted and worked all of your
fibers, including the large and strong FT fibers which have the most growth potential. This is the reason
you grow more from doing just one set of heavy barbell curls to failure than you would from stacking
the shelves with bottles for hours. This is also the reason those last few reps are the most important.
Doing 3 sets of 6 reps when you could have performed 9 or 10 each time is not going to give you the
same growth as doing just one set but performing as many reps as you possibly could because in the first
instance you do not get the high rate coding and maximal utilization of the all-important FT fibers. In
other words, you will never really work your big and heavy FT fibers hard by stopping short of failure.

The Concept “Inroading”


In the above scenario, we have looked at what is happening during a conventional set of heavy barbell
curls and concluded that failure is really necessary. In simplistic terms, failure refers to the situation
where you are no longer able to lift a weight that you were able to lift at the beginning of a set. So
assuming that you were doing barbell curls with 80 pounds, you were able to generate 80 lbs or more of
force at the beginning of the set but at the end you are no longer able to do so. As we have seen, this is
good news because if you were really trying hard and still couldn’t lift the weight, that means that all of
your fibers, including the FT fibers, which have the greatest potential for growth, have been worked and
exhausted.

Now that’s all good and fine, but is it good enough? Have the FT fibers really been sufficiently
exhausted? Will they really grow as much as they possibly could after that one single set of barbell
curls? If you look around and see what people are doing, you will see that most believe the answer to
this question to be no. If you are just starting out, a single set may be enough, but for anyone with more
than 3-6 months of lifting experience, the muscles must be exhausted more than what can be achieved
with a single set to failure. Most trainees either perform several sets to failure for a given muscle group
or they perform only a few sets but take them way beyond failure with drops sets, forced reps etc…
Another way of looking at it is as follows: When you failed to lift the 80 lbs in the above example, the
amount of force generated by your biceps (and supporting muscles) was probably just barely below 80
lbs. Why? We know that most people who failed to perform another rep with the 80 lbs could have
dropped the 80 lbs barbell, immediately grab the 70 lbs and perform at least one more rep. So your
muscles were not really that exhausted, as they still had a force of at least 70 lbs in them. The degree to
which your muscles are exhausted –or stated differently the amount of force that your muscles have lost
compared to the beginning of the set- is referred to as INROADING.

When I was able to lift 90 lbs at the beginning of the set and terminate the set when I am able to lift only
75 lbs, the amount of inroading I have achieved is 15 lbs (if I can do an entire set with 80 lbs, my
strength during the first rep is likely more than 80 lbs, say 90 lbs for this example). When you think
about it, I have not really worked the heavy and strong FT fibers that much then, have I? So what can I
do? I can simply ask my partner to help me perform 3-5 more reps. He can push the barbell up while I
try to lift so that the actual amount of weight I have to move goes down from 80 to maybe 50 lbs. When
I can not continue to move despite his assistance, I know that I don’t even have 50 lbs of strength left in
me. Good, now I have achieved a deeper state of inroading –namely 40 lbs- and I can be sure that I have
worked my muscles even harder. Those damn FT fibers which are lazy and join in only when absolutely
required had to join in a great deal more and are more likely to grow now. Other methods of achieving
inroading are drop sets where I simply move from an 80 lbs barbell to a 60 or 70 lbs which is very
similar to forced reps. I can also do static holds at the end of the set where, when I am no longer able to
lift the weight, I simply hold it statically in the hardest position along the path of motion for as long as I
can. You will be very tired at the end of such a set and will probably not be able to even lift 50 lbs.
Again, good news because that means I have very nicely worked out the FT fibers, which were my main
target, and I can be sure I did so because those fibers can no longer produce enough force to even lift 50
lbs, let alone 80. What happens in each of these examples is that the FT fibers start working at a very
high rate at the end of the set because everything else (all ST fibers and all intermediate fibers which are
mixtures of ST and FT) is very tired. When I continue the set with drop sets, forced reps etc, I sustain
the high rate coding of FT fibers beyond failure. In other words, I strike the iron while it is hot and
continue to force the FT fibers to work at those very high rates for many more seconds.

If for whatever reason I do not want to use the above techniques or similar ones to achieve a deeper state
of inroading, I can also do multiple sets. Do you remember what my main problem was with doing only
a single set taken to failure? It was the fact that the FT fibers joined in only at the last possible moment
and were highly active (to be more accurate, they achieved a sufficiently high rate coding) only during
the last 1 or two reps. So they worked hard for just around 5 seconds or so; not enough to make them
grow (the exact amount of time the FT fibers will spend at maximal rate coding will depend on a
number of factors). So after finishing such a set, I can put the weight down, rest 1-3 minutes and do
another set just like the one before. Now the FT fibers got another 5 seconds or so of good work. Then
another set taken to failure and so on. In the end, whether I perform only a couple of sets taken beyond
failure or many more sets taken to just failure, I will have worked my FT fibers long enough and hard
enough to force growth. This is precisely what you see in gyms all over the world: People either do a
few very intense sets where they continue to lift beyond the point of failure, or they have longer
workouts and do more sets without taking them much beyond failure. Depending on your experience
and unique circumstances, either method may work. But either method hits that famous wall sooner or
later: overtraining!!!

Hitting a Plateau
Now you may be toughest guy in the world and have more motivation than the Olympic gold medalists,
but the methods above will still take a huge tool on your body. Whether you do many moderately hard
sets or just a few really tough ones, you pay a price: after such hard workouts, it takes a while to recover.
You deplete glycogen inside the muscles which takes a while to replenish, you deplete many
neurotransmitters such as AcetylCholine and you even alter the chemical make-up of the blood in your
entire body. This is why there is so much talk about overtraining: because it is real. Overtraining is not a
hocus-pocus term created by the evil government to keep people out of the gyms. Anyone who has lifted
for a while knows that after a month or two of heavy training and satisfactory growth, one starts to feel
tired, sometimes even nauseous and will have a general sense of having burnt out. People take recovery-
enhancing supplements, refuse to even lift a finger outside of their workouts to conserve valuable
recovery resources, refrain from partying, but at the end of the day, very few can avoid the dreaded
plateau that comes from overtraining.

The Problem
When you look at the picture above, you will see that most of the problem comes from the way our
muscles were designed. As a bodybuilder, my dilemma is that I wish to work the FT fibers because they
are the ones that have the greatest potential for growth. However, those damn FT fibers will not activate
until the ST fibers and all other intermediate fibers have been thoroughly worked and I am in a very
exhausted state, So each time I want to work the FT fibers, even if it is just a little bit, I must spend a
load of time and energy going through all the STs and intermediates because this is just the way we are
designed. As if this wasn't bad enough, those nasty STs can also recover very fast. If I wish to do a very
long set where I continue to lift beyond failure with such means as forced reps, it will probably become
necessary to take a second or two between each rep as I am getting tired, and even such a short pause
will give the ST fibers a chance to start recovering. Such recovery of the ST fibers will of course present
an obstacle to the efficient activation of FT fibers.

The Solution
Now imagine how wonderful it would be if there was a switch attached to the ST and intermediate
fibers, which I could simply turn off so that I could directly and immediately activate the FT fibers.
Would that not absolutely rock? (As an aside, the very gifted athletes have a huge advantage in this
department. While normal people must thoroughly exhaust all ST and intermediate fibers before the FTs
will get involved, the guys who grow very easily have FT fibers that are more ready and willing to join
in. As a result, their FT fibers will start to become active only after the ST and int. fibers have been
slightly exhausted. These guys do not have to bust their backsides. They can do a set where they only
get close to failure and still grow. You will read how many of the guys with outstanding genes will do
half-hearted workouts and still grow.) Well such a switch does not exist, but there is something that
comes close: Occlusion.

Before we get into occlusion, we must remind ourselves of an important pathway in muscle activation.
You will remember that as the set goes on, the fibers that were involved in lifting the weight get tired.
There are many reasons for this as in depletion of ATP and CP stores, neural fatigue and declining
glycogen reserves after extended activity. However a major reason that we have all experienced first-
hand is the accumulation of waste products, such as lactic acid, inside the muscle as the set goes on.
That burning sensation all bodybuilders know comes from waste product accumulation inside the
muscles. We know that if these build up inside the muscle to a sufficient concentration, they have the
effect of simply turning off the muscle. Do you remember the switch that we talked about? Exactly,
waste products act like that switch and simply turn off the fibers. If you have ever done any uphill
sprints, for example, you may have collapsed to the ground after less than a minute of running. Even
people who are capable of squatting 500 lbs for several reps completely fail after a short uphill sprint
and are unable to get up on their feet until the waste products have at least partially cleared. This is quite
remarkable because when you compare the amount of weight moved by using the power of the legs in
either case, the second exercise should be quite easy. A 200 lbs athlete able to move almost 700 lbs (500
lbs on the bar + most of his bodyweight) in the first case, should not fail –let alone collapse- after
moving only his bodyweight of 200 lbs for less than a minute. The reason is in the second case the
exercise is occurring so quickly and the muscles are so tense that the body cannot clear out the lactic
acid and other waste products (more on that a little later) and the accumulated waste simply makes it
impossible for the muscle to continue contracting. In addition, the speed of the contractions also makes
it impossible to replenish ATP stores during the exercise as quickly as one could during squats. This is
the reason you can walk the same hill for maybe half an hour but will collapse in under a minute while
sprinting. This is also is one of the reasons sprinters are much more muscular than long-distance runners.
As the lactic acid accumulates and the ST fibers get shut down, the body has no choice but to ask the FT
fibers to join in. It is not that the ST fibers are as tired as they would be in a set of squats with 500 lbs,
but since the lactic acid is accumulating in them, they simply cannot continue to contract after a while.
So, the body asks the big brothers, the FT fibers, to join in.

Enter Occlusion
So how do we use this knowledge to make our workouts more effective? This is where the occlusion
studies come in. Aware of the mechanism above, researchers in Japan wondered if you could somehow
elicit the same response we saw in uphill sprinting during weight training (please see the bottom of this
page for a list of Occlusion-related studies). The reason occlusion or a similar method is needed is that,
unfortunately, sprinting with weights is not a realistic option; if you try to lift the weights up and down
so fast that the body will not be able to clear out the waste products, you are likely to injure yourself.
Furthermore, you will probably end up bouncing the weights up and down. If you tried to do squats this
quickly you would literally bounce off the bottom position like a rubber ball, because of the energy you
would momentarily store in the tendons, ligaments and the muscles as you drop to the bottom position
like a rock. Not only would this reduce the amount of work done by the muscles, but injury becomes
almost inevitable. So the researchers concluded –very cleverly I must add- that they could achieve the
same effect by placing a cuff, like the ones used when measuring someone’s blood pressure, around the
arms and having subjects perform dumbbell curls with a tight cuffs around their upper arms. But what in
the world does a cuff do? It is simple really; the cuff applies pressure to the veins and restricts the free
flow of the blood into and out of the muscles in the upper arm. So, even when people are exercising
slowly, the body is unable to clear out the waste products from the working muscles because the blood
that needs to remove the waste products from the muscles is unable to flow in and out of the muscle. A
truly brilliant method.... As a result, here is what happens over the course of a set: As you are lifting a
weight and waste products build up, the ST and intermediate fibers that would tire out after 6 or 7 reps
start to shut down much earlier. As lactic acid starts to build up inside them, they simply turn off. This
forces the nervous system to recruit the bigger FT fibers much earlier. Therefore, the need to use very
heavy weights or to carry on a set for a very long period of time is greatly reduced. The trainee achieves
a very deep inroading very quickly.

In fact, the weight that needs to be used to employ FT fibers is so dramatically diminished that
researchers were able to elicit a significant growth response by using only 20% of the 1 Rep Maximum;
a weight so low that a serious trainee would not even use this to warm up (as he could probably perform
more than 30 reps in perfect form with such a low weight). The body of research supporting occlusion is
tremendous and not limited to this one paper. Study after study has found that occlusion training is
capable of achieving significant growth with weights that would normally be enough just to warm up the
muscles. The Japanese researchers even have a name for the occlusion technique: Kaatsu.
An early and highly impressive picture of Mr. Y. Sato, the developer of Kaatsu...

But occlusion is unfortunately a limited tool and more of a thought exercise than a real training aid. First
of all, you need expert supervision to apply it. Sure you can simply try to tie up a rubber band around
your upper arm and perform a set of biceps or triceps exercises in that state. However, no matter how
careful and meticulous you are, there is no way of applying exactly the right amount of pressure with
such a crude tool. If you apply too little, the method will not work; if you apply too much, you put
yourself under a great deal of risk due to numerous reasons. Because of safety concerns, even the
experts have to work with advanced devices that can accurately measure blood pressure while the
subject is moving his arms. Even if you could somehow overcome this significant limitation, you would
be able to apply true occlusion only to the arms and maybe upper legs, but not to other muscle groups.
The reason is that the major arteries supplying the arms are near the surface and their blood supply can
be disrupted by applying pressure from the surface. For torso muscles such as chest back and for
shoulders, the veins are not so close to the surface. Therefore, you cannot apply pressure on them
directly.

And Finally: ACIT


Accelerated Inroad Training or simply ACIT has been developed in order to overcome the limitations of
occlusion training while preserving –and even amplifying- its benefits. ACIT is based on the simple
principle that when we are flexing a muscle hard enough, we are also squeezing the veins and arteries in
and near that muscle, and as a result, preventing the blood from flowing freely. The muscles basically
squish the arteries and veins so hard that blood cannot flow through them. This is by no means
dangerous and if you have ever lifted a weight that is heavy enough (i.e. if you have ever performed a
set of 8-10 reps to failure) you have experienced this. In fact, the veins and arteries of practically all
bodybuilders have, momentarily, gone through this during every hard repetition of every single set they
have done over the years. But if this is already occurring during a hard set, how is occlusion different
from doing a set of heavy barbell curls? The answer is quite simple: During occlusion, the blood flow is
restricted continuously form the beginning to the end of the set. While doing a set of heavy barbell curls,
on the other hand, the blood flow is restricted only when contracting, i.e. flexing, the muscles hard. The
difference may sound trivial but in fact, it is tremendous. Unless you are using ACIT, there is inevitably
a lot of “slack” during your set. In other words, there are many points during the repetition where you
are not flexing the muscles hard enough to actually occlude the blood. During these short periods, the
blood has a chance to flow (relatively) freely and clear out the waste products. Therefore, the waste
products never accumulate to the same extent and never give you the benefits of occlusion. ACIT is a
way of keeping the muscles under constant and high tension, thus preventing the free flow of blood
during the entire set. (please see the discussion entitled “A Little Homework” on the next page for a
more detailed explanation of this concept)

Well, I have seen this already…. No, you didn’t, here is why:
Upon reading the basic description, you may feel that you have already seen and tried “constant-tension”
training. Trust me, there is a world of difference between what you have seen and ACIT. The amount of
muscle tension that we must preserve throughout the ENTIRE set is approximately 60% of the muscle’s
maximal contractile power. In other words, the muscle must be “flexing” (for the lack of a better term)
with at least 60% of its full force at all times during the set. In order to accomplish this, two changes
must be made to the conventional way of performing a set: First the points on the Range of Motion
(ROM) where the muscles experience little tension must be eliminated. Secondly, and more importantly,
you must learn to squeeze the muscles as hard while lowering the weight as you do while lifting it up.
Let’s look at both factors in greater detail.

When performing a set of squats or bench presses, you can simply “lock” the joint in the top position
and take a little rest. In this position the weight is held in place by the bones and the joints with little
tension on the muscle. If we wish to keep the muscle under constant tension, we must obviously
eliminate these “unproductive” points of the ROM. So we must not go all the way up in these exercises
and in some other exercises we need to refrain from coming all the way down to make sure that the
tension is always on the muscle instead of the skeletal structure. This is not an earth-shattering novelty
and has been employed already. However, this is not enough to keep the muscles under constant tension.
We must also learn to squeeze the muscles and lower the weight at the same time. This is where the
devil lies…

The problem with a conventional set is that the muscles inevitably “relax” while you are lowering the
weight. If you select a weight that you can curl up 8 to 10 times, again let’s assume 80 lbs for the barbell
curl, the weight will feel heavy on the way up from the first rep onwards. However, it will not be such a
challenge to lower it in a controlled fashion –at least during the first half of the set. This is due to the
simple fact that we can lower (in a controlled fashion) a much larger weight than we can lift. Different
studies provide different figures, but we can do “negatives” with at least 30-40% more weight than we
can use for positives. So when you start to lift the 80 lbs barbell, it will feel hard on the way up, but on
the way down, the muscles will not have to work so hard. Remember, at the beginning of the set, you
could probably lift even more than 80 lbs, probably you have 100 lbs or more of strength during your
first rep. So applying the (lifted weight + 30-40%) formula, you can see that you could use around 140
lbs for the negative portion of the rep. However, you are lowering only 80 lbs, which is simply not
enough to create the occlusion effect we are looking for* What you must learn is to lower the weight
while flexing your biceps as hard as you do while lifting it up, possibly even harder. If you can master
this technique, you will achieve a very deep inroading -quite possibly like you have never experienced
in your entire life. This degree of inroading can be achieved without having to use anywhere near as
much energy and burning yourself out as you would if were trying to achieve the same kind of inroading
via conventional means.

But how in the world can you flex your biceps as hard –or even harder???- while lowering the weight?
Is that not technically impossible? The role of the biceps in the barbell curl is to lift the weight up, right?
So if you flex it too hard, while trying to lower the weight, will it not simply come up without having a
chance to go down? Great points…. If you are asking such intelligent questions, you are ready to learn
how to perform ACIT. So please go on to the next page.

* Careful readers will notice that 80 lbs is only slightly under 60% of 140 lbs. However, 60% is a bare
minimum that is needed to create an occlusion-like effect. Also, we have worked with relatively
conservative figures here. Anyone who has seriously worked with weights will know that if you can curl
80 lbs for a full set of 8-10 reps, you can probably perform one single negative repetition with more
than 140 lbs. To make matters even worse for the conventional set, the lowering of the weight is a pretty
easy task at the top when you have just begun letting the weight down. The negative really becomes
meaningfully difficult around the midpoint of the ROM where your arms are parallel to the floor. Due to
all these reasons, the 80 lbs on the bar is not nearly sufficient to keep a high degree of tension on the
muscle and essentially achieve occlusion. In any event, you will clearly see what I mean when you try
ACIT and feel the immense difference between that and a conventional set.

A Special Note to the Intellectually Curious


Before we proceed further, allow me to clarify an issue that may have arisen in your mind. Since the
lactic acid and other waste products that accumulate inside the muscle shut it down, you may wonder if
this will hamper your ability to properly exercise your FT fibers, since they too will be shut down
relatively soon. The first good news is that the acidity in the muscles does not leak out from one fiber to
another very efficiently. So the lactic acid that builds up inside the ST fibers at the beginning of the set
will not have already leaked into the FT cells when later during the set you are ready to use your FT
fibers. The FTs will have to put in their own time before they are shut down. The second point here is
that FT fibers seem much more resistant to the acidity that builds up during an ACIT-style set or
occlusion. So, almost magically, the acidity appears to function as that selective key we had dreamt of,
which turns off the ST fibers but not so much the FT fibers. The bottom line is that your FT fibers will
spend plenty of time working at full capacity during an ACIT-style set and get the message to grow.

A Special Note to HIT Proponents


In my explanations above, I have noted that a single set carried only to positive failure may not be
enough for optimal growth. I am fully aware that this may have offended some proponents of High
Intensity Training who follow Mike Mentzer’s teachings. Whether one set is better than multiple sets is
an issue that has been analyzed at length (with no clear conclusions) and is beyond the scope of this
discussion. However, it really matters very little. ACIT has been designed to allow athletes to achieve a
state of deep inroading while spending as little valuable recovery resources as possible. If you have
found that a single set is best for you, just use ACIT for that one set. If you prefer multiple sets, again
use ACIT for as many sets as you would otherwise have taken to positive failure or beyond. The method
can be utilized with great success whether you use HIT, HST or many of the other methods. Keep in
mind that the late Mike Mentzer was more concerned about the dreaded overtraining than almost anyone
else and would have wholeheartedly embraced any method that can help to prevent that condition

SOME OCCLUSION STUDIES


Below you will find some information about the occlusion studies mentioned in the preceding text. Due
to time constraints, we have not yet been able to link the conclusions and theories presented above to the
specific studies as would be expected in a proper piece of intellectual treatise. We apologize for this and
hope to provide the necessary references and a more comprehensive list of studies as soon as possible.

1 )T. Abe, T. Yasuda, T. Midorikawa, Y. Sato, C. F. Kearns, K. Inoue, K. Koizumi, N. Ishii 2005
2) Yudai Takarada, Haruo Takazawa, Yoshiaki Sato, Shigeo Takebayashi3, Yasuhiro Tanaka, and
Naokata Ishii 2000

3) Michael C. Hogan1, L. Bruce Gladden2, Bruno Grassi3, Creed M. Stary1, and Michele Samaja4 1998

4) B. G. Mackie and R. L. Terjung

5) Brian D. Hoelting, Barry W. Scheuermann, and Thomas J. Barstow

6) Jason J. Hamann,1 John B. Buckwalter,1 Philip S. Clifford,1 and J. Kevin Shoemaker2

7) BURGOMASTER, KIRSTEN A.; MOORE, DAN R.; SCHOFIELD, LEE M.; PHILLIPS, STUART
M.; SALE, DIGBY G.; GIBALA, MARTIN J. 2003

8) Yudai Takarada1, Yutaka Nakamura2, Seiji Aruga2, Tetuya Onda2, Seiji Miyazaki2, and Naokata
Ishii3 2000

9) J. S. Petrofsky, C. A. Phillips, M. N. Sawka, D. Hanpeter and D. Stafford 1981


10) Sadamoto T, Bonde-Petersen F, Suzuki Y. 1983

11) F. Bonde-Petersen, A. L. Mørk1 and E. Nielsen 1974Occlusion: What's blood got to do with it?
How To Perform ACIT
ACIT will take some learning and practice to master. Although the technique is easier to perform for
certain muscles and exercises than others, I will explain the basic principles by using the barbell curl
since this is the example I used when talking about the theoretical basis for Accelerated Inroad Training.

Now the main confusion of most athletes lies in the fact that they associate the contraction of the muscle
with the lifting of the weight, but as we will see this doesn’t have to be the case. OK enough talk
already, let’s learn how to use this amazing technique…

Now please lift your right arm so that the upper arm is perpendicular to your torso and your lower arm is
pointing upwards and flex your biceps as hard as you can (basically a front double biceps pose, but only
with the right arm). If you have heavy clothing on, please remove one or two layers so you can feel your
biceps with your left hand. Of course, your biceps is hard as a rock. Now please feel your triceps (touch
it near the elbow) with your left hand. Surprise, surprise… Your triceps is hard, too, even though I didn’t
tell you to flex your triceps. Now try again. In the same pose, please flex your biceps as hard as possible
without contracting your triceps. Impossible. No matter how hard you try, you will never be able to flex
your biceps in that position without contracting the triceps. The reason is simple. You have no weight in
your hand, but the biceps is still pulling your lower arm upwards towards your shoulder while it is
contracting. In your mind, you know that you wish to hold your hand in a steady position, so the nervous
system activates the triceps just enough to counteract the force generated by your biceps and, as result,
the hand is staying in perfect balance. If the nervous system had not been so intelligent and not utilized
the triceps, your hand would have snapped back and hit your shoulder when you flexed your biceps with
no weights in your hand and you would probably have hurt your elbow.

Now let’s go a step further. Can you contract your biceps as hard as you possibly can, but this time
slowly lower your upper arm? Sure you can, bodybuilders do it on stage all the time. Picture Markus
Ruhl or Jay Cutler leaning forward, flexing their biceps as hard as they can and then slowly moving the
upper arm up and down while the crowd is roaring. After no more than a couple of attempts, I am sure
you will be able to do the same thing. What is happening now is that the nervous system knows it has to
contract the triceps just a little more than the biceps so that the net force acting on the lower arm is
outward and as a result, the arm moves down while the biceps is still flexed very hard. If you can flex
your biceps and lower it at the same time without even holding a weight, you can be damn sure that you
could do it even more effectively with a barbell in your hand.

So here we go: Take a barbell that is around 30-40% lighter than what you would normally use for
barbell curls. In order to keep constant tension on the biceps, you will cut out some of Range of Motion
(ROM) by not doing the first 2-3 inches and the last 5-6 inches of the exercise. So you are going from a
position where your upper arm is raised 3-4 inches from a relaxed position up to a point where your
upper arm is only 4 inches or so above parallel. So what you have done is you eliminated the last 10% or
so of the travel at the bottom and the final 25% or so at the top. That still leaves you with a good 65% or
so of the entire ROM to work with. If you have any reservations about this, don’t worry. That is plenty
of space and we know from scientific research that a complete ROM is not necessary to achieve
complete growth.

Now what you need to do is flex the biceps as hard as possible while lowering the weight. This will
require a “reprogramming” of your mind. When you watch most people in the weight room, you will see
that they are more focused while lifting the weight and taking a little mental break while lowering it.
People are concentrated like a laser beam while getting the weight up but their eyes wander, they take
several breaths and maybe even readjust their foot position while lowering the weight. What I want you
to do is to adapt the EXACT OPPOSITE MENTALITY and focus more on the lowering of the weight.
You must make sure that you are actively flexing your biceps while lowering the bar. You also have to
make sure that the biceps is definitely not relaxing at either the top or the bottom of the curls. Almost all
lifters have the habit of taking a little break at either the top or the bottom of almost any lift. Here you
must make absolutely certain that you are not letting the biceps rest or even slightly relax at the top or
the bottom. When I am performing barbell curls or any exercise my mind is focused very sharply on the
muscle during the lowering phase of the exercise and I am constantly assessing whether the muscle is
under sufficient tension. If I should feel that the muscle is loosening up towards the bottom of the range,
I immediately start to curl it back up. (As we have discussed, the action of flexing your biceps while
lowering the weight will necessitate also flexing your triceps very hard. However, there is no need to
consciously think of that, because your nervous system will do this job for you. Just focus on keeping
maximal tension on the biceps while lowering the weight in a controlled fashion. Apply the same
thought process in all other exercises, just focus on the muscle that you are working, not on the
antagonist).

You may be a little worried that by not focusing maximally during the lifting, or concentric phase of the
lift (which you may consider to be the most important and beneficial part of the move) you will miss out
on gains. Such worries are entirely unnecessary due to the universal laws of physics. If you are a lifter
with a year or more of experience and know how to perform an exercise with proper form, the work will
be done by the appropriate muscles regardless of whether you focus or not. In the barbell curls, it is the
biceps (with some assistance from surrounding muscles such as brachialis and forearm muscles, of
course) that is lifting the weight up. There is just no other possibility, so you don't need an immense
amount of focus. However, when lowering the weight, you can make the job of the biceps too easy if
you let the weight come down too fast or neglect to flex your biceps. So just remember that the lowering
phase is where your focus is needed and reprogram your mind.

Also both the positive and negative phases of the exercise have to be performed with absolutely no
bounce whatsoever. It is neither necessary nor desirable to move extremely slowly taking up to 10
seconds to lift the weight up or to lower it as some trainees do. SuperSlow has its merits, but occluding
the muscle is not one of them. (this is likely due to the fact that, no matter what machine is used, some
little segments of the ROM are easier to go through than others and moving very slowly gives the
muscles too much time to rest and lose the occlusive effect during those segments). Most people who
have successfully used ACIT found that spending just a little bit more time to lower the weight than you
do to lift it gets the job done perfectly. Taking approximately 4 seconds or so to lower the weight and
then immediately starting to lift it up with no pause seems optimal. On the way up, you wish to move as
quickly as possible without bouncing the weight and most people found around 2-3 seconds to be the
best cadence to do so. So a 2/4 concentric/eccentric protocol appears ideal (3/4 is also very usable) but
do experiment and feel at liberty to move outside of these parameters if you find it necessary to do so in
order to keep the muscles under constant tension.

Focus and concentration are the most important part and realistically you will need some time to master
the technique. But then again, you need some practice with anything that has any chance at all of
yielding appreciable results, so please don’t give up after one try. In addition to focus and concentration,
there are also a few little tricks that you can use to make the job of your biceps even more difficult while
lowering the weight. I will share a few of them with you and you will have to simply try them out and
see which of these work best for you. The first one is to pull the shoulders as far back as possible and
curl the wrist out slightly while lowering the weight. Both actions will make the job of the biceps harder
and force it to work harder in order to bring the weight down in a controlled manner. However, you still
have to make a conscious effort in order to maintain maximal tension on the muscle. Another trick is
point the elbows to the side just by a little bit while lowering the weight and thinking of bringing the
shoulders and elbows (of the same hand) together. This is mostly a mental trick as the elbow and hand of
the same arm will obviously not come closer. But still worth a shot…
Chest and Lats are Particularly Suitable for ACIT
As I have mentioned, biceps is a good muscle group to start experimenting with ACIT. A lot of people
are very accustomed to flexing their biceps without using weights and have fairly good control of this
muscle. However, chest, lats and quads have other unique properties that make them especially suitable
for ACIT-style training. For chest, get into a chest press machine with L-shaped handles. These are the
handles that you can either grab in a “palms facing down” position or “palms facing each other”
position. Grab the handles at the end where your thumbs and/or index fingers are touching the end of the
handles (your palms pointing down). As you are lowering the weight, simply push the handles towards
each other as if you were doing cable cross-overs for your chest. Of course the handles are fixed in place
and are not going to touch each other. However, what you will accomplish by doing this is that you will
be performing an isometric exercise for your chest while actually lowering the weight. This makes your
life dramatically easier as you will have to worry about fewer things and do not need to be so precise
with the ROM and the feel on the muscle while lowering the weight. Just push the two handles towards
each other as hard as you can with your elbows flared out a bit during the negatives. Then during the
positives, just push the weight up hard. (Some trainees have used a similar technique on the shoulder
press machine, trying to squeezer the handles closer together while lowering the weight, so far it seems
to work, provided that you are careful)

visualize Markus in the "most muscular" pose


as you are lowering the weight in chest presses

Another muscle group where you can utilize similar trick is back (lats, middle and lower trapezius as
well as most other muscles comprising the back will benefit from this). As you certainly know, you can
get a harder contraction in the lat pulldowns by pulling your shoulders down and back, thus squeezing
the shoulder blades together at the bottom. Similarly, you can get a better contraction during any kind of
rowing movement by pulling the shoulders back and squeezing them together at the end of the exercise.
When performing any back exercise (my subjective assessment is that it works best with seated cable or
machine rows) simply squeeze the shoulder blades together as hard as you can and keep them in this
position throughout the entire set. You don’t want to bring your shoulders forward and up in order to get
a good stretch in the lats at the end of the movement because this would completely eliminate the
tension and occlusion you are looking for. So, eliminate the last 4-5 inches of the movement. In case of
seated rows, what this means is that you can let the handle(s) go forward without loosing the squeeze on
your shoulder blades so you will not be doing the last 4-5 inches that result from simply relaxing your
shoulders once your arms are completely straight. I personally also do not let my arms get completely
straight and start pulling the weight back when the arms have an inch or two to go before they would be
completely straight. One note of caution here: When squeezing your shoulder blades together make sure
that you do not tense up your neck too much in the process. Unless you are careful, you may end up
doing that and get either a cramp, sore neck the next day, or end up with a tension headache.

While these little “tricks” are great, they are not mandatory. I strongly recommend that you use them
wherever you find them useful, but do not think that you will not be able to utilize ACIT when these
either turn out to be infeasible (as may be the case if squeezing the shoulder blades gives you a neck
cramp) or you don’t have the equipment (such as chest press machines with L-shaped handles).
Ultimately, what you need to do is to keep a sufficiently high degree of tension on the muscles while
lowering the weight. In many cases you can achieve this through willpower and concentration alone.

(Over the coming weeks, we are planning to add more of these helpful “tricks” to the site.)
What Happens When ACIT Really Works
As I mentioned, legs are another body part that are extremely suitable for the performance of ACIT.
Unlike the biceps where most people have excellent muscle control from years of “making a muscle” in
front of the mirror or chest and back whose functional characteristics enable us to easily keep them
under tension during the negative phase of the exercise, the unique advantage of legs is their immense
size. Legs are huge muscles and are also very strong. That’s why a lot of people can move the greatest
amount of weight in leg exercises. Due to these reasons, all you may need to do during the lowering
phase of any leg exercise is simply to squeeze the muscle as hard as you can. In the cases that I was able
to observe, this was more than sufficient to occlude the muscle and led to an incredible amount of
inroading. I suggest that you try ACIT on leg presses because the action of squeezing your legs while
lowering the weight is an unusual sensation that may feel strange at first. A lot of people may have a
hard time lowering the weight during squats and flexing their quads as hard as they can, while at the
same time keeping perfect balance. You may end up rocking back and forth, which is not safe with all
the weight you will be carrying. Now allow me to share with you what happens in my case during Leg
Presses. I am sure the following numbers will get your attention.

Before I started to use ACIT, I used to perform conventional sets on the leg press machine. I am quite
flexible and like to bring the weight all the way down and then up just shy of lock-up, so with an
extended range like this, I was never able to use a monstrous amount of weight. Right before I started to
use ACIT, I was doing 9 to 10 reps with 430 lbs on the leg press. Since I love to blast legs with
intensity-extending techniques, I would then either ask a partner, or when no one was around to help,
jump up and strip some weight to reduce the load. I would unusually drop the weight to 340 or so and
immediately perform 10 or so more repetitions. Even when I would push myself as hard as I possibly
could with the 430 and had partner to strip some weight off so that the drop would occur ASAP and
would give me basically no time to rest, I would still be able to use at least 310-320 lbs for another 10 or
even more reps.

Now let’s see what happens with ACIT. First of all, I can only use 250 lbs when totally fresh. I am still
going all the way down but never locking out on top. All I am doing is simply squeezing the legs as hard
as possible on the way down (it helps to visualize the pros who first shake their legs left and right to
make them vibrate like a bowl of pudding and then suddenly flex them during the Mr. Olympia). With
250 the set starts relatively easy, but becomes surprisingly more difficult as the blood is trapped and
lactic acid builds up. By the 8th rep it still feels like I could do another 6 or 7 repetitions, but then in a
matter of seconds things start to shut down. It is a feeling like nothing else I have ever experienced and
must be felt to be appreciated. By the 9th rep I am wondering what the hell happened that made the
exercise so difficult all of a sudden and by the 10th rep I am screaming because the weight feels like a
thousand pounds. If I am particularly well rested I get half-way up on the 11th rep, but usually I fail by
10 (though I am getting stronger and expect to be able to complete 12 reps with this weight soon, then I
will up the weight). Here is the interesting part. I then jump up and drop the weight to do a few more
reps. When I first tried this, I was under the mistaken impression that I only needed to drop the weight
by around the same 25% or so as I used to with a set of regular leg presses (from 430 to 310-320). So I
simply reduced the weight to 180 lbs. When I got under the machine, I was able to get only one rep.
During the next leg workout, I reduced the weight to 120 but was able to do 2 reps this time. Just guess
how much weight I settled on after much experimentation. I am now dropping the weight from 250 to 45
lbs. Yes, that’s not a misprint; I must go from 250 lbs to 45 lbs, i.e. one single disc on one side and
nothing else on the other side of the leg press machine. I am neither joking here nor taking my workouts
easy. When I properly flex the quads during the negative portion of the rep, after just one single set of
only 10 repetitions, my legs are finished. There is only enough power left in them to barely lift 45 lbs
(by the way I am unable to even complete 10 reps with the empty machine + 45 lbs, all I can get out is
around 6 reps). In fact, the drop set is basically a meaningless attempt and, recently, I have eliminated it
completely. It is very obvious that one single set of 10 reps wipes out almost the entire power of my
legs. That is the kind of incredible inroading I am talking about.

Let’s take a moment to compare this kind of inroading to what can be achieved with conventional
means. As I pointed out, after completing a set of regular leg presses with 430 lbs, I still have enough
power to immediately perform another set with 310-320 lbs. Just for the sake of experimentation, I have
recently attempted to weaken my quads (without resorting to ACIT) to the point where I could only
press 45 lbs on the leg press machine. I performed a set of conventional leg presses with 430 lbs,
dropped the weight to 320 did another 9 reps, dropped to weight to 180 and performed another set,
managing to get around 9 more repetitions. As you can imagine, my pulse rate was through the roof and
I was in tremendous pain at this stage. Still, without taking a break, I started to do vertical jumps. I was
simply too tired to do proper jumps but continued to jump as high as I possibly could for as many times
as possible. Honestly I was unable to keep count. When I was no longer able to keep jumping, I
immediately got into the leg press machine which I loaded with 45 lbs and started pressing. Although I
was about to die at this stage, the weight didn’t feel that heavy and I pressed it up 12 times at which
point I terminated the experiment as I had already found the answer I was looking for. At this point, my
hands were shaking, my breathing and pulse were perhaps at dangerously high levels and I am sure my
blood pressure had peaked several times over the last three minutes. Still, I was unable to achieve the
kind of inroading for my legs that I can with just one single set of ACIT-style presses.

In other words, ACIT is a tremendously more efficient means of inroading. You can thoroughly work
and greatly weaken the muscles without killing yourself. The price you pay for a deep inroad is small.
You are only performing one single set of around 8-12 reps and your recovery systems do not pay as
great a price. The same kind of inroading with conventional lifting techniques, on the other hand, comes
at a tremendous cost. If you try to weaken the muscles to the same extent by using traditional means
such as drop set, forced reps and supersets, you will end up on the floor, twitching like a frog for
minutes. With ACIT recovery is quick and the same workout can be repeated much more frequently for
much greater cumulative gains. When using conventional means to achieve the same kind of inroading,
you drain your recovery resources so badly that you would either need to take a very long break between
workouts or push yourself into overtraining. This is why ACIT is the most intelligent and most efficient
means of achieving a deep state of inroading…

A little homework
An excellent practice that will give you a better feel and appreciation for ACIT as well as greater
muscle control, especially on your legs, is the Tabata Protocol. The Tabata protocol has been developed
in order to enhance general fitness in as short a time as possible and works nicely if you are feeling
adventurous and are up for a challenge. While the basic idea can be applied in a number of ways, Dr.
Tabata’s method is based on very intense 20 second sprints separated by 10 second rest periods (each
such 30 second block constitutes one set). The idea is to set up a stationary bike or other similar device
at such a resistance that you can only perform 6 to 8 such sets but no more. So if you aim for 7 sets, you
should really be spent and more or less unable to cycle any more by the end of set 7. If you try this
experiment, you will see that by set 3 or 4, your legs will burn like hell. The interesting thing is that this
“fire” so to speak, will be sort of trapped while you are cycling and will start to dissipate as soon as
you stop cycling –or even slowing down. You will be able to literally feel something acidic start to travel
through your veins as soon as you slow down or take a break. The sensation is amazing and outright
spooky, so try it sometime (though, like with any new method, this may take a while to master, so don’t
despair if the protocol doesn’t feel as I have described right away).
You will also notice that one really must cycle as hard as possible to reap the desired benefits as the
dissipation of lactic acid and new blood rushing into the muscle will give the whole area a big rest and
boost of energy as soon as the tension on the muscles is relieved –even slightly. What is happening
during the Tabata protocol is very similar to ACIT. As you are cycling very hard, the acid and other
waste products are building up inside the muscles and the circulatory system is unable to clear them up
because the tension of the quads is restricting blood flow. As soon as you relax the tension, the blood
that has been waiting at the gates takes the opportunity to rush in and you feel the acidic blood travel
through your veins. As this exercise shows, it really is crucial to keep the tension on the muscles as high
as possible during an ACIT-style set because even a second or two of relaxation will bring fresh blood
into the area and negate the effect you are looking for. Now all of this being said, do not let this little
experiment discourage you either. It may sound too difficult to keep the muscles under constant-tension
throughout an entire set, but, as you will see after some practice, this is entirely possible. Keep in mind
that learning to ride a bicycle or jump up and down on one leg require a tremendous amount of neural
skill and are far harder than squeezing a muscle at all times. If you can master those things, you will
certainly be able to master ACIT after some practice.
ACIT FAQ
What are the Benefits of ACIT?
The chief benefit of ACIT is that it enables you to reach a state of very deep inroading very quickly –
hence the name, Accelerated Inroad Training or simply ACIT- and without spending an excessive
amount of your valuable recovery resources. In other words, ACIT will give you most of the benefits of
a giant set incorporating forced reps and drops, by performing only 10-12 repetitions.

However, this is not all. ACIT achieves the state of deep inroading by –among other things- increasing
the acidity inside the muscle. While research in this area is not yet complete, it is believed that
increasing the acidity inside the muscle acts as an independent growth stimulus, thus providing an
additional mechanism for hypertrophy over and above what is achieved by the deep state of inroading.

And still that’s not all. Since a set of ACIT is much shorter than a comparable conventional set that
would achieve the same state of inroading, the muscle glycogen stores are not compromised to the same
extent, making recovery much faster and greatly reducing the amount of carbohydrates that must be
consumed post workout. This makes ACIT an excellent training method for the dieting athlete. Keep in
mind that the energy for anaerobic, bodybuilding-type contractions must almost entirely come from the
muscle glycogen stores. As ACIT uses a lighter weight and an ACIT-style set lasts much shorter, the
amount of energy needed to complete an ACIT-type set is much less. Hence, the amount of muscle
glycogen left inside the muscle after such a set is much greater. While this may not sound like a big deal,
it really is. Bodybuilders often go to great lengths to replenish muscle glycogen after a taxing workout
and consume an immense number of calories during the process. The discussion thread on pre and post
workout nutrition on bodybuilding.com is 73 pages long and has almost 2200 replies thus far. Instead of
trying to put back the depleted glycogen into the muscle after the workout by consuming very calorie-
dense substances such as dextrose, Vitargo or the like, ACIT takes the much simpler route of sparring
muscle glycogen and reducing the need for such interventions.

While sparring muscle glycogen is an excellent idea, some athletes may be reluctant to try ACIT under
the impression that the depletion and replenishment of muscle glycogen is one of the triggers of
muscular growth. A few comments are warranted here. First, the ability of muscles to uptake a greater
amount of glucose and store it as glycogen depends on how intensively they have been worked, not only
on how much they have been emptied during the workout. Therefore, the ideal training routine would
deplete the existing stores as little as possible but still make the muscles contract very hard so that the
new glycogen can enter the muscles with great efficiency and sit on top of the existing stores which have
not been emptied excessively. This is exactly what ACIT accomplishes. Therefore, ACIT leads to the
maximization of the muscular cell volume. In addition, it must be noted that the depletion of ATP, as
opposed to glycogen, appears to be the chief growth trigger for the muscle. While ACIT employs short
sets, it leads to a tremendous depletion and consequent turnover of ATP stores. ATP is replenished all
the time during exercise, except during the most intense of contractions. When performing a
conventional set, one of the things that occurs during the little rests that we inevitably take when we lock
out at the top or at the bottom or slightly relax the muscles during the lowering phase of the weight is the
replenishment of ATP (during this time blood also rushes in and clears waste products). Since ACIT
avoids these “loose points”, the replenishment of ATP is much less during a set employing ACIT and
hence the depletion of ATP stores is much greater.

Finally ACIT is much more joint-friendly than almost any other method. Since the weight on the bar is
less and there is no bouncing, your joints will finally take a break from all the heavy loads you have
been placing on them. Over the long-run, this will prove to be an extremely valuable benefit. Needless to
say, athletes recovering from an injury and therefore unable to place great loads on their joints will love
ACIT. If you are hesitant about the method and also have a particular joint you are nursing, try ACIT
only for that muscle group and see for yourself how thoroughly and deeply you can actually work a
muscle without the monstrous weights that most lifters attempt to use.

Who Can Benefit From ACIT?


ACIT was developed for the athlete who is at the risk of overtraining. This includes practically all
natural athletes as well as a great deal of chemically assisted lifters. It is especially useful during the
cutting phase when the athlete already has less energy and is unable to execute very long sets with drops
or forced reps. During dieting, the post-workout meals are also compromised and the replenishment of
muscle glycogen stores post-workout is suboptimal. ACIT solves this problem by minimizing the
depletion of muscle glycogen stores in the first place.

However, ACIT requires a moderate amount of lifting experience and muscle control. Since mastery of
the basic lifts is necessary in order to be able to contract the muscles throughout the entire exercise,
ACIT should not be attempted by lifters how have less than a year of solid lifting experience.

A Special Note to Athletes Using Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids (AAS)


ACIT can be a tremendous help to all athletes, including those who are using steroids. However, certain
AAS can give you excessive pumps, even making it very hard to complete a regular set due to the huge
volume of blood rushing to the exercised muscle. Superdrol, for example, is just such a drug. Since
ACIT requires you to keep the muscle under constant tension, it provides a huge pump, which may be
difficult to tolerate for chemically-assisted athletes who are already getting such pumps from merely
lifting even the lightest weights a couple of times. These athletes will have to experiment and
incorporate ACIT into their training gradually.

How Much Weight, How Many Sets and How Often…


When using ACIT, your muscles will be performing more work every second than they would by using
a conventional lifting method. During barbell curls, for example, your biceps will not only have to fight
against the weight in your hands, but also against the triceps which is very active and pulling the arms in
the opposite direction. Just as importantly, the accumulation of waste products in your muscles during
the set makes it much harder to contract the muscles. Therefore, you will simply not be able to use as
much weight when employing this method as you otherwise would. Please do not worry excessively
about the weight on the bar (see next question for more on his point). The amount by which you must
reduce the weight depends on the exercise and appears to be somewhere between 30-40% based on
present data. Just experiment and increase the weight gradually. It is more important to master the
technique than to rapidly increase the weight. Just as all advanced training methods in every single sport,
it will take some time to master ACIT (again, present data suggests weeks rather than months) and if
you are not willing to invest some effort, please do not attempt ACIT.

The answer to “how many sets” is basically: “As many as the hardest and most intense sets that you
would normally do for the muscle group in question”. In anaerobic, bodybuilding-type workouts, the set
becomes much more useful as you approach the end. The last rep results in much more growth than the
first. With ACIT, this effect is much more pronounced because you lose strength at a much greater rate
and the last few reps are tremendously more useful than all others. Therefore, I suggest that you carry all
ACIT sets to absolute failure. If you are so inclined you can certainly perform a drop set at the end of an
ACIT-style set, but keep in mind that, if you have performed the set properly, you will have to reduce
the weight by a tremendous amount (In fact, performing such a set for each muscle group once in a
while could be very useful to see if you were able to achieve that deep state of inroading. If you
have performed the set accurately, you should be forced to reduce the weight to a ridiculously low level
to be able to continue doing more reps after reaching failure). My suggestion is that the number of sets
performed in ACIT-style should equal the number of sets that you normally perform at full intensity for
the same muscle group. If, for example, you would normally do 3 warm-up sets with 18, 14 and 12 reps,
then perform 4 sets to failure for biceps using 10, 8, 8 and 6 reps, followed by a “pump” set of 12 reps, I
suggest that you perform at most 4 sets when using ACIT. Since ACIT is less draining on recovery
resources, you may be inclined to do more sets when you switch to ACIT, but I would recommend
against this. The inroading is very deep with this method and you will likely not need more sets. To reap
all the benefits do not perform more sets and if anything reduce the number of sets you do. Also, until
you gain more experience do not increase the frequency with which you exercise each muscle.

If I Must Decrease Weight During ACIT, Will My Results Not Suffer?


No. The weight on the bar is only a means to an end. What you need is simply maximal contractions in
the muscle you are exercising, especially in the FT fibers. Whether you achieve this by using heavy
weights or by weakening the slower-twitch fibers very quickly, makes little difference. Although this
point has been repeated a lot, I will once again point to the fact that heavy singles are usually not the
best way of achieving growth. If the amount of weight on the bar was the most important factor, most
bodybuilders would be training with heavy singles, but in reality very few do.

Another proof that heavy weights are not required to foster growth can be found in the occlusion studies
we have talked about. In one such study (T. Abe, T. Yasuda, T. Midorikawa, Y. Sato, C. F. Kearns, K.
Inoue, K. Koizumi, N. Ishii), trainees who used an amazingly light 20% of 1RM increased strength and
muscle size more than those who used much higher resistances. In this particular study, the quadriceps
CSA increased by a huge 7.7% within only two weeks using a mere 20% of 1RM! Fibril size, glycogen,
GH and IGF1 are also significantly increased during training with occluded blood flow.
Training with the heaviest possible weights at all times is not a necessity...

Is ACIT Not the Same As “Constant-Tension Training”?


Absolutely not. In Constant-Tension Training, al that occurs is the elimination of the easier points on the
Range of Motion (ROM). As you will recall, this is only one of the requirements, and the much easier
one, of ACIT. The much more important point is learning how to keep the muscles under as much if not
more tension while lowering the weight as you do while lifting it. The reason this website is so long and
detailed is the fact that this second point requires a great deal of detailed explanation and practice to get
right.

Now even after reading this, you may still be thinking that you have actually trained in this fashion
because during some earlier workouts you really were taking the lowering phase of the exercise
seriously and used to squeeze the muscles on the way down. Allow me to tell you that in all likelihood
you probably were not doing anything remotely similar to ACIT. As we have seen, one needs to reduce
the weight by 30% or more in order to be able to apply ACIT. Since most trainees live by the amount of
weight on the bar and are not willing to reduce the number of plates they are using under any
circumstances whatsoever, ACIT is not something that you can possibly stumble upon by chance. It may
be true that there perhaps were some individuals out there who may have tried something similar to
ACIT. However, it is extremely unlikely that the individual would have continued to utilize that method
upon realizing that he could lift substantially less weight with it. So my question to you is this: When,
during your earlier constant-tension experiments, you decided to get the most out of the eccentric
portion of your rep and made an attempt to squeeze the muscle while lowering the weight, were you
forced to reduce the resistance that you were using by 30% or more? If you were not, what you have
experimented with was not ACIT. In reality, what happens when people read about the Weider Constant
Tension Principle is that they lower the weight a bit more slowly, maybe taking 4 seconds as opposed to
3 seconds to go from top to bottom; that’s about it. Since the Weider principles are so particular about
the amount of weight on the bar, practically nobody is willing to reduce the weight to be able to achieve
ACIT-like effects, which basically makes it impossible to try ACIT unless the person is consciously
doing so.

How Do I Know If I am Performing ACIT Correctly?


Bodybuilders are sometimes seen as stupid meatheads, and some of the pros who owe a great deal of
their growth to incredibly massive doses of drugs do indeed fit that profile. However, contrary to the
stereotype, most of the amateur lifters, including the chemically assisted ones, are very scientific in their
thinking and wish everything in their routine to be measurable, objective and quantified. I am fully
aware that ACIT will be attacked by some as being too subjective and vague in its application. One may
ask “how do I know if I am squeezing the muscle hard enough?” or “how can I ever be sure that I am
actually occluding the flow of blood and increasing the build-up of waste products?” As an individual
without access to muscle biopsy techniques and other advanced equipment that would be found in an
expensive human performance lab, you cannot know for sure. If, for you, this constitutes a reason not to
use ACIT, you may as well stop weight training altogether because all lifting techniques are plagued by
such subjectivity. At the most fundamental level, all of your decisions such as how many sets to do,
what rep range to use and which exercises to utilize are subjective. Can you now tell me that you have
actually performed an experiment that can be considered anywhere near scientific in order to determine
how many sets to do for your legs? Have you really compared 4 sets to 5 and 6 and 7 while giving each
set and rep scheme enough time and keeping every other constraint constant? For 99% of trainees the
answer is “no”, which is totally fine. You must simply accept the fact that you will have to make many
decisions based on how you feel regardless of whether you use ACIT or not.

As an aside, I also find it rather funny how the same people, who demand 100% scientific proof and
accuracy in bodybuilding, are willing to accept much more subjective orders without reservations when
performing other sports. A bodybuilder who also trains in boxing as a hobby will religiously practice
jabs on the heavy bag for exactly 2 weeks before moving onto hooks and only then start to work on his
defense just because the coach told him so. The fact is that, given the current technology, we have no
choice but to use a great deal of “gut feel” in any physical training and bodybuilding is no exception.
Even the very concept of reaching positive failure in a lift can only be subjectively assessed as there are
no practical machines or measures that I am aware of that will tell you whether you really have reached
failure or not.

All of this being said, when using ACIT, a number of things should happen if you are applying the
model correctly. First, you should be able to reach positive failure with a weight that you would
normally be able to lift a much greater number of times. If, for example, it takes 80 lbs for 10 reps to
reach failure on barbell curls, you should be able to attain failure with no more than 60 to 65 lbs (and
likely even less) when using ACIT. In addition, failure should not result from, or at least be associated
with, the overtaxing of the nervous system. What this means is that the shaking, twitching and
convulsing that comes from forcing yourself to inch the weight up bit by bit during the last reps should
be absent when using ACIT. Failure should result from the inability to contract a given muscle under
that load as opposed to being unable to muster the strength and courage via brute force. Most people
define the sensation at the end of an ACIT-style set as “momentarily losing control over the muscles”.
The buildup of waste products and depletion of ATP reserves result in a state where you don’t feel dead
and believe that you could get out more reps but the muscles simply won’t obey your commands. These
are some of the experiences reported by trainees who have been using ACIT. You may have a slightly
different feel. What you should notice, however, is much less of a burnout and fatigue at the end of your
workout. Upon reaching failure, you should feel surprisingly fresh and wonder if you didn’t try hard
enough. Do your best, best but do not worry that you didn’t try hard enough. That fresh and clean
feeling that is surprising given the amount of lifting you did is the magic and the very reason you are
using ACIT. This is a way of taxing the muscles without being trashed at the end of a workout.

Will the Intense Squeeze During ACIT Not Cause Extreme Blood Pressure?
Resistance Training, Olympic Weightlifting and Bodybuilding all cause some increase in blood pressure
(BP) no matter what training technique you use. The two keys to avoid an undue spike in BP are i) not to
use extreme weights unless there is a very good reason to do so ii) not holding your breath. ACIT is just
what the doctor ordered due to these exact reasons. First of all the weight is lower, which will provide a
great deal of BP relief. Secondly, ACIT will force you not to hold your breath but to take numerous
"smaller" breaths along the path of motion, even if you don’t make a conscious effort to do so. Here is
why:

During a normal set, the weight is so heavy that it can be lifted up the desired number of times only by
relaxing during the lowering phase (at least relaxing compared to when you were lifting it). Since
breathing during heavy exertion is extremely difficult, this often forces you to hold your breath during
the lifting phase and breathe in during the eccentric or lowering phase where you are a little bit more
comfortable. Of course this is not what the muscle magazines tell you to do; they advise you to exhale
during the lift. However, walk into any gym and you will note that at least half of the people are holding
their breath while lifting. This is inevitable if maximizing the weight on the bar is your ultimate mission
in life. When the weight is so high that you need 100% of your willpower and focus to be able to barely
get it up, it becomes almost impossible to also remember to exhale and use part of your focus to do so.
Just as importantly, the stabilizing action of the val salva maneuver (i.e. holding your breath and
"trapping it in the gut") is necessary when the weight on the bar is so high that you need to keep your
midsection stable. This is the reason lifters in the Olympic Games hold their breath to the dismay of
their doctors.

Not only does ACIT reduce the BP by reducing the weight on the bar, it also forces you to learn to take
several short breaths as opposed to holding your breath during the lifting phase and taking a huge breath
while lowering it. Since you will not be relaxed during the lowering phase as you would be with
conventional lifting methods, you will not have the tendency to wait until that point to breathe. You are
under tension at all times, so you simply must learn to breathe throughout the whole exercise. Holding
your breath simply makes no sense when using ACIT and you will see that this tendency, even if you
have had it for years, will disappear.

Can I Use Isometrics Instead of ACIT to Obtain the Same Benefits?


Statics, or Isometrics, sound great on paper. Instead of lifting the weight up and down, you simply hold
it at the (usually) hardest part of the ROM. You have great muscle fiber activation as well as high rate
coding right from the start. If the weight is high enough, you will also occlude the muscle. So far,
great… However, in practical application, there are many problems with statics. First of all, many
people simply do not have access to sufficient amount of weight. Our muscles are capable of holding
much larger weights than we can lift. So someone using 90 lbs dumbbells to do shrugs will likely not be
able to find 150s in a regular gym if he wishes to perform static hold for his trapezius. Another relevant
question becomes, “how is the weight getting up and where will it drop to when it needs to come
down?” If you wish to do static holds for your chest, you may end up needing 400 lb or more and
probably two spotters to get the weight off the hooks and into position where you can statically hold it.
You better hope that the spotters stay around until you are finished because the chances of you being
able to lift that weight back into position when you can no longer even hold it in place at the end of your
set is zero. In exercises such as squats and shoulder presses the end of the exercise can be outright
dangerous, even with spotters.

To make things worse, statics also exercise many muscle groups unevenly. In squats for example, the
glutes, vastus medialis, vastus lateris and rectus femoris are stressed at different rates as you are going
through a full ROM. When you pick one single point to hold the weight at, you will end up stressing
some of these muscles significantly but placing insufficient stress on others. You could of course
perform multiple static sets at many different points along the ROM, but this will likely become very
time consuming, tiring and defeat the purpose of statics.

I am in no way against statics or any other training method that works for you. However, in real life
most trainees find statics to be unpractical. ACIT appears to be a much more realistic, safe, and useful
method for the majority of lifters while still providing the high utilization, rate coding and occlusion
benefits of static holds.