The Cell Expansion Protocol, or CEP Training for short, is a combination of methods for inducing maximum muscle growth.
CEP Training has been made popular by Ben Pakulski through his training program Mi40x.
This post is a synopsis of the CEP Training Blueprint, an eBook included with the purchase of the Mi40x program.
What is Cell Expansion Protocol Training?
The fundamental process behind muscle growth is called protein synthesis.
After an intense workout session, protein synthesis is the means by which muscle cells repair themselves.
If you have some recollection of middle school science, you will remember that a single nucleus controls most of a cell’s functions.
Protein synthesis even takes place in the cell’s nucleus.
What’s unique about muscle cells is that they can have more than one nucleus.
Multiple nuclei in a muscle cell are associated with an increased rate of protein synthesis.
Increased protein synthesis, in turn, is associated with faster muscle growth and recovery.
CEP Training has one main goal:
To increase the number of nuclei per cell.
CEP Training makes use of a process called satellite cell recruitment in order to achieve this goal.
Research has shown that during times of extreme intensity and tension on a muscle, there is a special type of cell, i.e. satellite cell, that comes along and donates its nucleus to the muscle cell.
Once that nucleus is donated, it stays there for life.
CEP Training focuses on finding the sweet spot for the optimal amount of stress needed for the recruitment of satellite cells.
Ben Pakulski On How CEP Training Was Created
Ben says that the concepts of CEP Training have been a result of analyzing numerous studies and putting theories into practice.
The main objective was to determine the processes which are most effective at putting on quality muscle mass over the long term.
The 4 principles of CEP Training
- Cell Swelling
- Time Under Tension (TUT)
- Intra-set Stretching
- Blood Flow Restriction (BFR)
CEP Training incorporates these 4 principles to maximize the hormonal effects of high intensity exercise.
Cell swelling is the scientific term for “the pump”.
The pump is essentially a build up of metabolites, i.e. lactic acid, being driven into the muscle cell in response to high intensity training.
The body sees this swelling of the muscle cell as a threat.
In response, a series of molecular switches are activated in order to elicit hypertrophy.
Time Under Tension (TUT)
Learning to create tension in the targeted muscle is really what the Mi40x program is based around.
Another term for this would be developing the mind muscle connection.
Ben Pakulski’s mantra is to put stress on how you do the exercise over what exercises you are doing.
He emphasizes that form, technique, and contraction are the three factors that you must focus on in order to induce maximum muscle growth.
The more time your muscle spends under tension the more your muscle will feel the need to start growing.
CEP Training will involve you using lighter weights than usual.
Lifting heavy weight is about generating force and acceleration. A well rested muscle will obviously do better than a tired one.
What is your goal?
Do you want to be able to generate large amounts of force and acceleration or do you want to maximize muscle growth, i.e. hypertrophy.
Using lighter weights for high intensity will result in more muscle fibers being recruited due to muscular fatigue.
Ben advocates that once you have mastered a particular movement, i.e. you are able to complete it with good form without much conscious thought, then you should focus on accelerating during the concentric portion of the movement.
The problem is that when conscious effort is used during the concentric portion of the exercise the entire tempo of the exercise tends to speed up. Instead:
A conscious effort must be made to slow down the eccentric portion of the exercise in order to ensure adequate muscle load.
Less rest and more time under tension is your way to maximize hypertrophy.
Focus on an explosive concentric and slow eccentric, i.e. fast on the way up and slow on the way down.
Intra-Set stretching takes place during intense exercise as you stretch in between sets with a loaded weight.
Intra-Set stretching has been shown to induce further muscle damage and satellite cell activity.
Both of these factors massively accelerate the muscle building process.
As you perform the stretch with a loaded weight it will affect your body in two ways:
1. Your body will attempt to relax during the stretching portion
2. But due to the loaded form of stretching, a contraction will be maintained.
This puts a crazy amount of stress on the targeted muscle.
During intra set stretching you are providing further incentive to drive blood into the muscle.
Metabolites will be held back from exiting the muscle because of the tension provided by the intra-set stretching.
This will result in an insane amount of lactic acid build up.
More time under tension + lactic acid buildup + BFR effect = greater recruitment of type II fibers and increase in anabolic growth factors.
Blood Flow Restriction (BFR)
Blood Flow Restriction is a training technique used to optimize blood flow to the targeted muscle.
BFR does this by restricting blood flow to the veins and leaving the arteries open.
BFR promotes cell swelling and a build up of metabolites.
BFR in practice:
Let’s say you want to perform BFR on your bicep.
You would use a knee wrap and wrap the top portion of you bicep.
You want the tightness level to be at around 7/10.
After securing the wrap, let your arm hang and see how it feels.
You should not be feeling numb or tingly. If you are then loosen the wrap.
Start your bicep curls using a light weight. (Something like 50% of what you usually lift for a set of 8-10 reps).
Do high reps (15-30) per set and keep your focus on squeezing the bicep.
Maximum of 30 seconds rest between sets.
Even during rest your muscle will continue to receive blood and metabolites.
NOS-X is the name Ben Pakulski has given the training methods that combine:
- Proper Technique
- Time Under Tension
- Mechanical Damage
- Intra-set Stretching.
Ben advocates that you should take your time to subconsciously program the CEP training into your mind.
If you do not take the time to perfect the movements and develop the mind muscle connection your results will reflect that.
- Time Under Tension
- Mechanical Damage
- Hyperaemia and Cell Swelling
- Muscle Fiber Recruitment
Time under tension (TUT)
TUT is an old school concept.
The longer your muscle spends in time under tension the more hypertrophy will be induced.
The optimal amount of tension for growth should be compared to the amount of tension that the muscle has been previously accustomed to.
Mechanical damage is the actual breakdown of the muscle.
Muscle soreness is a side effect of mechanical damage.
Once the muscle has been broken down, sufficient nutrient intake and proper rest are vital for proper recovery.
After the recovery period the muscle will come back bigger, stronger, and able to handle more weight.
Inflammation caused by muscle damage is similar to the inflammatory response to infection.
Part of the inflammation response is chemotaxis, i.e. the migration of neutrophils into the muscle. Chemotaxis may be responsible for producing reactive oxygen species, which proceed to elicit hypertrophy.
IGF-1 is an anabolic growth hormone that has clear cause and effect relationship to hypertrophy.
IGF-1 results in mTor activation, the key protein regulator in the anabolic molecular pathways.
Hyperaemia and cell swelling
Hyperaemia and cell swelling are both situations which result in an increase of blood flow to the muscle.
An increase of blood flow, in turn, results in an increase of the flow of nutrients to the muscle, i.e. glycogen and amino acids.
Muscle Fiber Recruitment
Muscles are made up of fast twitch and slow twitch fibers.
Each type of fiber is recruited based on the type of exercise you are doing.
For example doing 6 reps with maximal effort would recruit mostly fast twitch fibers.
Doing 30 reps with moderate effort, on the other hand, would mostly recruit slow twitch fibers.
Where Does This Leave You?
These methods are collectively known as the The Cell Expansion Protocol.
Ben Pakulski has put together his product, Mi40x, to include all of these methods into the CEP Training.
The principles of CEP Training have been outlined for you here.
If you do not want to purchase his product you can incorporate these principles into your own workout regimen.
Mi40x is being sold for a price of $97 online.
Many people cannot afford to drop so much cash on a workout program.
The truth is:
If you are just starting out then you can find ALL the information you need to get in shape for free online.
If you are a completely newbie check out:
If you are looking to bring out a lagging body part check out:
Mi40x is a good program but $97 is a hefty price tag.
An alternative is the Adonis Golden Ratio workout, nutrition, and supplementation program which is being sold for a price of $47.
Hope this overview provided you with the information you were looking for on the CEP Training Blueprint.
Until next time,