The Four Horsemen: Tension, Stress, Damage, Protein

If we agree that most physique goals typically require the addition of muscle, then it’s helpful to understand what actually drives that.

Adequate Protein
To create a body that’s physiologically ready to increase its muscle mass (and decrease its fat mass), we need to be giving it protein. Likely much more than you’re already eating. It’s ideal for you to consume 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, so if you weigh 165 pounds then you should be eating 165g of protein. For many, that’s a major shock so feel free to work your way up to it. I’ve seen wonders happen with just this very fix, and nothing else. Seriously, commit to this. I guarantee you progress.

Mechanical Tension
A lower rep approach at heavier loads. This is more traditional strength training. Barbell lifts performed at challenging loads where we are creating muscle growth typically in Type -II fibers.

Metabolic Stress
A higher rep approach. The “pump.” More of a bodybuilding approach targeting Type-I fibers. The muscle filling with lactate, hydrogen, and other metabolites on higher rep prescriptions typically exceeding eight or more.

The kicker is that metabolic stress and mechanical tension operate in sort of a yin and yang type of dynamic. As mechanical tension increases, metabolic stress goes down because mechanical tension is dependent upon load or extended duration, so naturally we can’t do as many reps. Meaning, if all we did was focus on mechanical tension we’d neglect metabolic stress. So, we need to focus on lower rep training and higher rep training in order to be most effective.

Muscle Damage
Exercise induced muscle damage (EIMD) is a manifestation of mechanical tension (load) and/or metabolic stress (volume), and is typically produced by a focus on the eccentric portion of a movement (lowering) or more time under tension in an otherwise normal movement. Examples of this might include 1 + 1/4 front squats or tempo prescriptions like @3131 where we keep you in a state of prolonged tension.

Alone, none of these will yield you great results, but starting piecing a few of them together consistently and you’ll start to see your body change for the better. Good news is that we’ve got you covered weekly in our programming with all three components. Focus on that protein intake, and your body will adapt favorably.


Monday, 8.17.20

Bay Park PSC

First, for Muscle:
10 KB SA Front Squats
10 KB Push-Ups
10 DB High Pulls
(x15 Min)

10 SA KB Side Lunges
6 DB Snatch
10 DB Pull Through
(x9 Min)

400m Sprint


8 Back Squats
16 SA DB Rows

3×4 RKB Swings
3×3 Plyo Push-Ups
100m Sprint