No, those are not odds, but odds are you will be 100% satisfied with the results of this unique training method. 50/50’s are perfect for both improving stubborn muscle groups that are lagging behind in development, and for those who have a limited amount of time to train.
What are 50/50’s?
50/50’s are a pretty simple concept where you pair two exercises and perform them for 50 reps. To perform 50/50’s you will choose one exercise for a muscle group that has been difficult to get to respond to your previous training methods. For example, if you have been training for years but, try as you might, you just can’t get your arms to grow another inch, then this is how you can use 50/50’s to get past the barrier. There are a number of different bicep and tricep exercises to choose from, but here we will use the standing barbell curl for biceps and dumbbell kickbacks for triceps.
Next, choose a weight that will allow you to do 50 continuous reps. You should not have to overly struggle, taking breaks in between, to reach the full 50 reps, nor should it be so easy that you feel you could have done 20 more reps. It may take a couple of sessions to determine the weight that is just right. Depending on your strength level, this may just be the bar for standing curls and a pair of very light dumbbells for the kickbacks.
You will do 50 reps of your chosen exercise in the morning and then another 50 reps 8-12 hours later in the day. Repeat this process every day for up to 8 weeks. Your first thought may be, “Wait a second, training the same muscle twice a day, every day! Isn’t that overtraining?” And it would be if you were using heavier weight and more volume than just 2 sets a day. To understand more, let’s take a look at how 50/50’s work on a cellular level.
How do 50/50’s work?
There are two main processes by which muscles can grow. (Refer to my previous article, Myofibrillar vs. Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy: Think Small to Get Big, for an in depth analysis of these two processes.) Since 50/50’s involve training with light weight for high repetitions, it takes advantage of the process known as sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, in which the fluid and non-contractile components of muscle increases. This also includes the increase of capillary density which is responsible for nutrient, anabolic hormones and gas exchange between the blood and muscle cells. Basically, you are filling up the spaces between muscle fibers with more important muscle supporting components that contributes to further growth, faster recovery and increased muscle endurance.
Myofibrillar hypertrophy, on the other hand, is an increase in the growth of the actual muscle fibers. This kind of growth is experienced more by training with heavier weights and low-reps, and can actually lower the capillary density as the muscle tissue takes up more space. Therefore, the extra growth you get from the 50/50 training method might be due to the fact that, up to this point, you have been mainly training for myofibrillar hypertrophy and 50/50 training will now both fill in the spaces between the muscle fibers (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy) and provide the muscle fibers with components that will allow for further myofibrillar hypertrophy. You can see a balance here, between both growth processes, and in order to continue growing you need to train with multiple rep ranges and varying weight loads.
I am a strong proponent of multi-modal training. Continually introducing new training techniques ensures that you attain a well-rounded development that is both functional and strong. Additionally, introducing new training methods not only helps spur new growth and improvement, but also keeps you from becoming bored with the same daily routine. And the more enthusiastic you approach your workout, the more likely you will be able to perform at the level of intensity needed to obtain maximal results.
I plan on writing more articles that will introduce various training methods that you may not have heard of before, that will add variety to your training and motivate you to reach your optimum potential. This 50/50 method is a great tool to add to your knowledge box, and because it only takes a couple of minutes to perform, it can be used by anyone regardless of how busy their schedule is. Again, even though this method has you training a muscle group twice a day, daily, you don’t need to worry about overtraining with this method as long as you choose a weight that allows you to do the 50 reps consecutively without pausing in between. You will feel sore, but as long as the soreness is not severe, continue with this method for no more than eight weeks at a time, and be sure to get plenty of protein in your diet to aid in muscle repair (between 1 to 1.5 grams of protein a day per pound of body weight). You can also continue to train other muscle groups, which you are not training with the 50/50 method, as you normally would while using this method.