206 – James Fisher PhD – Evidence Based Recommendations for Hypertrophy Part 2

James Fisher PhD working out at Basic Training, Scottsdale, Arizona

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

Contact James via email to james.fisher [@] solent.ac.uk

In this follow up episode (listen to part 1 here), James and I discuss his thoughts on the proposed theory of the key mechanisms behind muscle hypertrophy, if changing intensity, frequency, and volume can help someone overcome a plateau, his favourite exercise for every muscle group, and much more.

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Listen to my other episodes with James Fisher PhD:

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Show Notes

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People Mentioned

Comments 11

  • about biceps curls, just found that:

  • Some info on James Fisher’s latest workouts:


    Here are my most recent workouts (all single set with AOT highlighted):

    1: (full-body [14 exercises]; ~40 mins – commercial gym)

    – Pronated pull-ups
    – Incline chest press (2 x drop set from 6 reps to ~15 reps for the final set)
    – Leg press
    – Knee extension (with a drop set; effectively 2 x 12)
    – Seated row
    – Weighted side bends (25kg plate)
    – Dumbbell Lateral raises
    – Supinated pull-ups
    – Preacher curl (drop-set)
    – Overhand curl
    – Cable Triceps extension (kind of a drop set from a straight bar to a rope)
    – Weighted sit-ups with straight back (e.g. not in abdominal flexion)
    – Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
    – Shrugs

    2: (upper body only because of the volume of cycling I’m doing [11 exercises]; 20-30 mins – Solent gym)

    – Dumbbell overhead press
    – Machine overhead press (treated like a drop-set with a move to the machine for stability)
    – Pronated pull-ups
    – Incline dumbbell press
    – Calf Press
    – Supinated pull-downs (drop-set)
    – Weighted side bends (25kg plate)
    – Incline seated dumbbell curl
    – Prone overhead triceps extension (skullcrushers; drop set)
    – Chest press (drop set)
    – Hanging leg raises

    As you can see, the full body is 14 exercises (9 x upper body, 2 x trunk muscles, 3 x lower body), and the upper body workout is 11 exercises (but actually 8 x upper body, 1 x lower body, 2 x trunk muscles).

    I guess some importance is the rationale: It’s worth saying that I work with what I’ve got. I’m using a lot of dumbbells and free-weights in places because that’s what I have access to. I would also switch out a variation of pull-ups/pull-downs for a pull-over in both workouts and the same for a decent pec fly in place of multi-joint chest, I don’t like dumbbell/cable fly exercises – I’d rather do different presses. If I had access and I would almost certainly use machines for some of the other exercises if they were good machines. I’m enjoying upper body dominant workouts right now because I’m either cycling a lot or cycling fast (for me). I have a 140mile race this Sunday with ~15000ft of climbing so my legs are not recovering well enough from workouts/cycling to train a lot. The move from dumbbells to machines is a nice one (I always think) because you lose stability on the DB and then move to a machine where stability is not a factor – especially nice for the shoulder press.

    • Wow these sessions contain an awful lot of exercises ! I’m currently training twice per week with an upper/lower split which contain three exercises for upper sessions & two for lower sessions .

  • The section about fav exercises is pure gold – even for experienced and knowledgeable people. I think you missed the abs though. Also, for ppl who haven’t got access to an overhead pulling machine – how would one do this exercise best with DBs/BB/plate in terms of grip and lying on/across a bench?

    Lawrence, as someone who also has to manage with a basic setup, instead of wall sits may I suggest doing squats sliding slowly along a fit ball between you and the wall. If you stay in the lower part of the movement all the time and with the weight way behind your feet it’s like a sissy squat. The inroad, for me at least, is excellent after 60-90secs. (One can add DBs to further increase the load.)

    • Thanks Markus. I really enjoyed recording that. I did miss the abs! Thank you! I will ask James to comment on this.

      Excellent advice regarding the fit ball technique. Thanks for that!

    • So… I occasionally do weighted sit-ups with a straight back (e.g. not a crunch where the torso moves through flexion but where the torso stays straight). I also sometimes do McGill crunches, and I quite like hanging leg raises (or knee raises which are actually better to create spinal flexion). I quite like ab roll-outs (or walk outs) and tend to think of this as training all the core musculature rather than training the abs. If I’m honest I don’t think too much about these exercises as they’re always VERY supplementary to anything else I’m doing. Except side-bends which are key.

  • I always enjoy the geek-out discussions on muscle building science. But I’m not holding my breath for any insight that will provide a way around the limitations that are currently built into our bodies. If anything like that comes along, it will probably involve pharmaceutical interventions or genetic manipulations.

    At some point, it might be interesting to get James Fisher’s thoughts on some of Loenekke’s views about the connection between strength and hypertrophy, and the relative importance of each for aging and longevity.

    On the practical side, it was interesting to listen to the discussion about exercise selection. I came away with a couple of useful insights.

    • Wise words regarding limitations.

      That’s a good idea regarding a review of Loenneke’s work. We were supposed to do another Podcast following REC 2019 but I haven’t yet reached out. I’ll add this idea to the list!

      Glad you found this one useful.


  • Great content here from Lawrence and James, especially with the correct body mechanics as I don’t have access to decent machines. Struggling to find a decent gym in South Manchester , currently just with the local Pure Grym. I appreciate you showing your work-out Lawrence very helpful, with drop sets and moving onto machines for joint safety.

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