The Negative Feedback Training System, an overview

By Mark A. Pacheco D.C.

This article deals with the primary objective of all bodybuilders; to gain as much muscle mass as possible in the shortest period of time while maintaining good health in the process. I would also like to take this opportunity to use this article to introduce a system of training, that I am convinced is the most effective means possible to attain this end.

With over thirty years of experience in bodybuilding, my conclusions are based more on personal failures rather than they are successes. I was originally influenced by the teachings of Arthur Jones, and later by proponents of similar styles of training. While still in my twenties I eventually won or placed high in a number of physique contests in the early to mid-eighties. Today, I still compete in natural competitions for my age category.

Using steroids at the time enabled me to work up to some reasonably heavy poundages considering my natural limitations. I reasoned that by constantly pyramiding straight sets for compound movements with heavy weights and then throwing in an isolation movement at the end, would assure that every requirement for obtaining maximum muscle mass had been met.

Though I possessed only slightly better than average genetics, I still managed to gain a fair amount of muscle. This was due primarily to my use of anabolics at the time, which was the only reason I was able to push such heavy weights in the first place.

I followed these hard and heavy systems to the letter, and gained considerable linear strength. The results yielded in the way of muscular development however, were not in equal proportion to my expenditure of effort. In addition, years of heavy training began to eventually take its toll on my musculoskeletal system, particularly affecting my spine and shoulder joints.

Over the years that followed I made numerous failed “post-steroid” attempts to regain my former levels of muscle mass. I eventually realized that without them I could never again achieve the strength levels that I had experienced in the past. If I would ever again have a chance to succeed at gaining anything close to my previous levels of muscle mass; I would have to completely re-define my approach to training.

Some individuals respond well to heavy overload training with compound movements while others do not. In fact, there are some extraordinary individuals who seem to make outstanding progress regardless of what type of programs they use and with seemingly little or no special effort. As for the rest of us “mortals”, we must overcome many obstacles along the way in order to continue making progress. This is particularly true in the case of those who for a number of reasons; are no longer willing to use growth drugs to reach their goals. Many readers can certainly identify with this.

Discouraged at first, I never gave up searching for answers as to how to overcome training obstacles. Eventually however, I was able to obtain results that I would have never previously thought possible without resorting to drastic measures in order to do so.

I determined that when muscles are subjected to overly heavy poundages in excess to that which most efficiently engage the proper contraction of muscles fibers; that auxiliary muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues come into play to absorb the majority of the workload. When the target muscle is so encumbered to the point of rebellion, it calls in the re-enforcements. As a result, the target muscle itself then becomes “heavy weight sensitive” and thereby less responsive. The target muscle itself literally take a back seat and “shuts down” if you will; actually rendering it more resistant to growth stimulation.

While the muscles fibers themselves may very resistance to stress, they are also very sensitive as to what they require to facilitation of growth. Training on heavy linear programs (or on any program for that matter) for an extended period of time will eventually cause a trainee to get into rut causing progress to come to a halt.

With most overly heavy exercise programs, the primary goal is to move resistance for a designated number of repetitions by any means necessary. Intensity levels achieved by training in this fashion are not enough to adequately recruit the greatest possible number of available muscle fibers. Muscle growth then ceases while the tensile, linear, or “burst” strength of the connective tissues increases. This explains why some power and weight lifters become very strong despite exhibiting only slight builds. Training hard and/or heavy does not equal intensity.

If frequency or volume is increased to the point of drawing from the systems overall recovery reserves, then matters can be complicated even further. A paradox now occurs in that fibers that are activated become over trained; whereby the muscle fibers at large remain relatively under stimulated, or under trained. An individual can literally now become over trained and under trained at the same time.

The new system is a breath of fresh air for those who dream of fulfilling their potential without imposing heavy structural overloads to their bodies and risking injury. Only a very few genetically gifted individuals are able to develop the burst strength that comes from heavy over load training without having to rely on anabolic steroids, and these people progress regardless of their training protocol.

The workouts themselves create a “climate” at the target area as it functions synergistically with auxiliary structures. The resistance applied then is “harnessed” in controlled fashion to develop true strength which results in huge increases in muscle mass. The objective being, not just build strong muscles, but muscles that are strong. An increase in the actual strength of a muscle is the true benchmark to increasing muscle mass. The new system emphasizes training to gain true strength to the muscle groups more specifically.

This article is not an anti-steroid platform in an attempt neither to downplay their efficacy nor to discourage their use. The message here is that while anabolic steroids do facilitate dramatic increases in strength levels and muscle mass, reasonable levels of muscle mass is attainable with or without them, and without having to compromise ones health in the process.