The Coolest Way to Get Bigger Biceps

Brazilian researchers have discovered the absolute coolest way to build massive muscles.

In their study, 16 men were subjected to a laboratory workout consisting of 4 sets of bicep curls at 80% of their 1 RM. The men were asked to perform repetitions to voluntary fatigue and the number of reps were recorded.

In between sets, researchers applied wet bags of ice to the biceps of 8 of the men.

RESULTS?

The 8 men who received the inter-set cooling protocol were able to complete 21% more reps than the control group.

And if that wasn’t cool enough, blood tests indicated that those extra reps were achieved without inducing any additional muscle damage.

Conclusion

  • Hypertrophy is primarily a function of load, volume and recovery.
  • Bodybuilders spend thousands of dollars on drugs and supplements to achieve a 20% increase in training volume
  • The first guy who tries this at your gym is going to look like a freak

Reference

13 comments

  1. What is the physiological reason behind this? It’s just
    ice would reduce circulation and a muscle requires a
    good flow of blood to contract. It’s an interesting finding
    just curious as why it works?

  2. This is an interesting finding but it just seems like it would put a damper on the workout. Maybe if I were harder core…. (literally perhaps)

  3. Could it be that the cold reduced perception of pain/discomfort, thereby allowing them to push beyond the control group?

  4. There is a bunch of science indicating how cooling therapies help athletic performance – most of these are systemic rather than local – ice baths, slurpees, etc

    I know for these techniques, the idea is that a lower body core temp and/or brain temp does something to counteract the natural speed governor we have in our brains that keeps us from overheating and dying due to physical activity

    I have no idea how this localized cooling works, but it seems kind of cool and I’m sure there will be additional research

  5. Hmmmm, sounds interesting.

    Biceps would be a good choice to test this hypothesis. Ice one down between sets, but not the other

  6. I tried this last week. Workout 1 I evaluated my 1RM for curls, then performed 4 sets to positive failure with 80% of 1RM. Four days later I once again evaluated my 1RM and performed 4 sets to positive failure with 80% of 1RM, except this time I iced between sets. To my surprise, I added 15% to my total repetitions completed. Everything else was the same. Pre-workout nutrition and rest, same rest periods etc.
    I noticed a couple of things: I felt recovered faster between sets and had absolutely no pump. That got me thinking that maybe the icing helped with the removal of exercise related metabolites (lactase, etc.), thereby enabling me to complete more reps. Gonna try this with leg extensions (unilateral). It’s gonna be a bit impractical to do this with multi-joint movements

  7. Thanks for doing this Chad.

    Re the leg extensions – would you be willing to ice only one of your legs as an experiment?

    Does icing one leg provide a benefit for only that specific leg?
    Or is the effect systemic – giving a benefit to the non-iced leg?

    I am going to try this with biceps tomorrow

  8. I performed unilateral leg extensions today, icing only the right leg during rest periods. No difference in performance between iced and non-iced leg so I’m favouring the theory that it’s a systemic effect. To be thorough though, I will repeat the experiment in a few days time, icing only the left leg this time.

  9. You’re awesome Chad!!!

    I did the same experiment with biceps last night. No difference in performance, so I am leaning in your direction of a systemic effect.

    The Australian Olympic teams are big proponents of cryotherapy to boost performance. They have been using pre-competition ice baths for years, but at the last Olympics they used pre-performance slushies to great effect. It may have something to do with the brain and how it monitors body temp to avoid overheating.

  10. I wonder what kind of affect icing down after intense weightlifting workouts has for allowing for more intense workouts with shorter rest intervals.

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