271 – Dr. James Fisher – Do Different Loading Ranges Matter for Strength, Hypertrophy and Muscle Endurance?

Dr James Fisher

James Fisher PhD (james.fisher @ solent.ac.uk) is a Course Leader and Senior Lecturer for the School of Sport, Health, and Social Sciences at Southampton Solent University in the UK. He is regarded as one of the leading researchers in exercise science, and in particular, resistance training.

Listen to my other podcasts with James HERE

In this week’s podcast, Dr. James Fisher talks about his scientific paper The Strength-Endurance Continuum Revisited: A Critical Commentary of the Recommendation of Different Loading Ranges for Different Muscular Adaptations which challenged the repetition-maximum continuum concept. James explains Thomas DeLorme’s strength-endurance continuum, why heavy load isn’t necessarily the key to hypertrophy, and much more.

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Show Notes

  • 3:12 – Genesis of ‘The Strength-Endurance Continuum’ commentary
  • 12:02 – DeLorme’s strength-endurance continuum 
  • 15:10 – Misinterpretations of the strength-endurance continuum
  • 19:11 – Thoughts on double progression and progressive overload 
  • 26:25 – Challenging the repetition-maximum continuum idea
  • 39:18 – Support for a repetition-maximum continuum
  • 59:42 – Effort and discomfort  
  • 1:02:59 – Are high-loads necessary for hypertrophy?
  • 1:07:45 – Maximal strength and muscular endurance 
  • 1:14:08 – Feedback & reviews
  • 1:21:21 – Impact on exercise programming

Selected Links from the Episode

People Mentioned

Comments 14

  • Question for James … he said that the HIT crowd wound’t like the fact that in the studies more volume leads to greater muscle mass increase … does that greater volume include going to failure on each set or not.


    • Hi John, I’ve asked James to respond, but he’s a busy lad, so they may need to email him direct james.fisher @ solent.ac.uk

    • John, that’s really the key question isn’t it. Like I’ve said previously – if volume wasn’t a key stimulus then some studies would show lower volumes to be better and other studies would support higher volumes. However, the evidence (regarding muscle mass; not strength, increases) shows either no difference or that higher volumes are better. More recently studies I have confidence in have supported higher volumes. Now the next logical question is well, how much more volume gives you how much more adaptation… that one I can’t answer. Let’s say that 1 set might give 80-98% of hypertrophy gains, and the next set more, and the next set more, etc. up to a point. But whether you are getting 80% or 98% from that single set (or less, or more) might be down to genetic factors. Put simply, I believe volume (which ultimately drives metabolic stress) is a key stimulus for optimising muscle mass. BUT… I think of it in the form of number of sets /muscle group/week, not sets/exercise.

  • Another great podcast. I love listening to James. Always seems to look at reality and what really happens, as in – a strength increase on 1RM is almost definitely going mean more repetitions on a lower weight.

  • Looking strong and determined there James! 👍 I downloaded the transcript and have just done a quick overview of this. I find this topic to be very liberating and motivating. Me be ing someone that is big on the feel of resistance. This stuff speaks to me. I also get the appeal the 1rm range, which for me, is probably not a true 1rm capability. I often do these during a workout especially if i’m using a selectorized weight stack machine. With a lighter load, I like the feel of “repping out”. I aim for failure, or maybe better put for me, a well worked feel. Above all, not venturing into what for me, feels just too heavy but not too light either. If that is vague enough lol.

    • Thank you Donnie. What did you think of the transcript? Are you happy with the accuracy?

      • Hi Lawrence. I tried to submit a response last night. Not sure if it went through or not. My connection seemed to be having some issues. To answer your question, the transcripts I’ve read here are great. There seems to be an occasional word that doesn’t translate correctly or it shows that a word or words were inaudible, if memory serves me correctly. But that is probably the case with any audio put through a program/app such as that?

        Again, not sure what has me keep visiting the strength training blogs and what not. My training seems to usually go something like this: Find a decent amount of weight to contract against and do this until the muscle(s) feel worked enough. Here I still am lol.

        • Thank you for the feedback. I actually use a service provider who uses real humans to transcribe the podcast! How unusual in today’s world! Haha. I have used Otter.ai before which is software based but it’s even less accurate for podcasts.

          Donnie, I think you said it all in regards to strength training. Maybe that is all that really matters. We can then discuss the nuances because it’s fun. But to argue about them in an aggressive manner is just a waste of time.

          • You are welcome Sir 👍 Wow!…You mean us humans are still able to translate?!? Now THAT is just crazy talk Lawrence! Lol!

            Regarding discussing the nuances: You hit the nail on the head! As far as discussing in an aggressive manner. If I can’t say it to your face I probably don’t need to type it ✌

  • Hi Lawrence, how’s things? Just query for James (or yourself) if he sees this, and you touched on it a bit…assuming there is not much difference to be worried about re heavy, moderate and light loads, and we make sure intensity and effort is high…I struggle to see it fully working with light loads (how light is light?!) as if too light then surely the rep range/TUL would get too long…e.g. you could do 50 or 100 (1/2 tempo) fairly intense high effort light load squats (or say a wall hold for 3 minutes), but would Dr McGuff and others say that after about the 90s or 120s mark it’s falling outside of a meaningful range. So basically I’m just thinking how light is feasible to go…or to put it another way, what rep range / time under tension is feasible to go at the longer end / lighter load. I like the idea of mixing it up a little between heavy to light, but I don’t want to lose sight of what rep / time ranges “work” either. In short, when is light too light?
    PS, James, you look very ripped in that photo! More so than previous ones maybe? Either way, inspiring photo!

  • I’ve only just caught up with this particular podcast.
    I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it , and in no small part due to James’s ability to explain the complexity of scientific studies in simple laymens terms.
    There was a wry smile on my face when certain established certification companies and their “selective” use of studies , along with the “old boys” clubs in the scientific community .
    This brought back memories from the 90s and early 2000s when I used to look at studies and their calibre and relevance along with all the vested interests and wonder to myself how so many intelligent people were hoodwinked by them .
    I am now looking forward to reading the whole study.
    Mark Houghton

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