It wasn’t too long ago that the true secrets on how to build muscle were only known to professional athletes and coaches. If you weren’t part of that exclusive group you were left to try and figure things out for yourself, working hard day in and day out, unsure if you would be successful. Modern science has shown us that there are techniques that can be applied to all areas of muscle building which can greatly impact our results.
Building muscle can be broken down into 2 primary phases. The first phase is the workout. The second phase is the time spent recovering. Each phase is equally important, meaning ignoring one or the other will dramatically decrease your results. Read below to learn about the most effective ways to maximize the effectiveness of both phases.
Workout Triggering Specific Adaptation
During the workout phase, our primary goal is to trigger a biological response called specific adaptation. Put simply, this means that if we over stress our body (workout) it will adapt (build muscle) to be able to better handle that stress next time, ie we become stronger. That’s it! The workout is simply designed to let your body know that it needs to build more muscle.
While this is a simple idea, it’s not quite so simple to implement. Anyone that has experience working out knows there are a whole host of ways that you can modify your workout routine. Let’s explore the ways that give you the most bang for your buck.
Taking Advantage of the Increased Overload Principle
The increased overload principle provides the pathway for continual muscle growth. It tells us that, as a muscle grows stronger it must be stressed by a greater load in order for growth to continue.
It may be best explained through an example. Imagine you are performing the bench press. You complete 10 reps at 125 lbs. As a result, you chest muscles develop and you are able to handle that weight. The next time you workout you perform the same 10 reps at 125 lbs, except this time your body doesn’t stimulate any new muscle growth. Why, because it has already adapted to that level of stress. It doesn’t need to adapt any further. If you want your muscles to grow further you will need to increase the stress level. Adding additional stress is commonly done by adding more weight, more reps, or more sets.
Performing Compound Exercises vs Isometric Exercises
- Compound exercises are exercises that involve multiple muscle groups.
- Isolation exercises are exercises that try to limit all work to a single muscle group.
There has been debate about which type of exercise is better at stimulating muscle growth. These debates have caused many aspiring weight lifters to suffer, believing that couldn’t make any gains when in fact they were just using poor workout techniques.
In almost all situations compound exercises will be the most effective exercises to build muscle. In other words compound exercises will generate the greatest adaptive response. When we over stress our muscles in the gym it’s done in a controlled way so that we don’t hurt ourselves. However, this is not always the case. In fact, over stressing our bodies in uncontrolled environments often involves injury. Our bodies specific adaptation mechanism is designed to protect us from these future injuries, keeping us out of danger.
Well, that’s all well and good, but how does it effect my ability build muscle. Simple, by over stressing a large number of muscles in the gym, your body perceives a higher level of danger, generating a greater adaptive responses. Said another way, compound exercises is the fastest way to build muscle.
Using Proper Rep Ranges to Build Muscle
The way your body adapts will depend on the type of stress you put on it. If you train with high reps, or engage in endurance exercises, then your body will develop greater muscular endurance. If you train with heavy weights, utilizing power movements, then your body will develop more strength. This seems pretty obvious to most people.
So, the question becomes what type of training do I use to develop the maximum amount of muscle. The answer lies somewhere in the middle. If you focus your workouts on one type of muscle then you end up excluding the other. Strength workouts exclude endurance muscles and endurance workouts exclude the strength muscles. By performing exercises in the 8-12 rep range you develop both strength and endurance. Training both types of muscle fibers leads to maximum muscle development.
Get Lots of Rest
Once your workout has triggered an adaptive response, your body will require lots of rest. It is during this rest period that your body actually builds the muscle, which is why it’s so important. Without enough rest our muscle will continually break down, resulting in a loss of muscle. The things you do during your rest periods will have a big impact on how well your body is able to build new muscle.
Your Body Needs Food and Lots of It
In order to make sure you have the calories for your workouts and the necessary nutrients to build muscle, you will want to make sure that you get plenty to eat. Without the proper amount of calories you won’t be able to produce the energy to over stress your muscles. Without the proper amino acids (proteins) you won’t be able to build new lean muscle. Without the proper amounts of fat, carbs, and vitamins your body won’t run as efficiently as it needs to.
Nutrition Quality Directly Effects Muscle Quality
You need to make certain that you eat enough food, however, eating the wrong food can have a negative impact on your results. The food you eat needs to be of the highest quality if you want to develop high quality muscle. Eating the toxins found in fast foods, pesticides, and processed foods can be damaging enough to prevent your body from building new muscle. Whenever possible try and get your calories from real organic foods, such as meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, etc, avoiding refined sugars, chemical additives, and processed foods.
Super Charge Your Results by Following a Plan
There isn’t any need to reinvent the wheel. By following a proven muscle building strategy your can put yourself, and your muscular development, light years ahead of where it would be otherwise. You don’t have to tolerate endless struggle with nothing to show for it. Find a muscle building system that works and start packing on the lean new muscle.