Thursday, December 08, 2005

Why Less Is More When Trying To Build Muscle

One of the biggest myths I deal with as a personal trainer is that many people still believe it takes hours in the gym to build muscle and get a lean, muscular physique.

Not true. In fact, the best results I've seen, both with my own training as well as clients, come from spending no more than 3 to 4 hours a week in the gym. And that's the time spent weight training and doing cardio each week.

I spend no more than 3 hours a week weight training and my online clients spend the same amount. And we achieve great results. So if you're currently spending more than 3 hours a week weight training, you may be seriously limiting your gains by overtraining. You see, when trying to build muscle, its not the amount of time spent that matters. It's how you spend that time.

Muscle growth occurs from stimulating the muscle with heavy weight (overload) then allowing the muscle to rest and recover. Proper rest and nutrition during this time is vital. By working out too much and too often, you don't allow your muscles the needed rest.

And this is the time in which the muscle repairs itself from the effects of intense training. And if a muscle does not recover, it does not grow or get stronger. So it's important you spend no more time than necessary for muscle stimulation to occur. I've used this analogy a lot before with clients, but let's do it again.

Suppose you want to get a tan. There's a certain amount of sun you need. Too little sun and you will not get a tan. But too much sun and you'll get a burn and not the nice dark tan you wanted.

And what happens if you get a burn but keep going out in the sun anyways, still trying to get a tan.


You can seriously get injured with 3rd degree burns. You don't increase your chances of getting a tan. Too much sun in this case does not bring about the desired result.

So if you're after more muscle growth and you're already lifting a lot, the last thing you want to do is spend even more time in the gym.

The main goal of all the human body's systems is to keep the body in equilibrium, or balance. By lifting too much too often, you throw off this balance mechanism and as a result, your body will actually start working against you.

So you have to find that balance that works for you.With your weight training, too much lifting will prevent your muscles from recovering and they will not get bigger. Too little and they will not grow either.

Again, you have to find that balance that works for you.

You can use the "3 hour a week" time limit as a guideline, but learn to "listen" to your body. If you're weight lifting 3 hours a week but you feel drained, tired, sore, or sluggish, that may be too much time.

Others can work out longer and still get results. Everyone's different so the time spent in the gym will vary. You have to do what's right for you.

So start making better use of your time spent in the gym. Shoot for quality over quantity and you'll build more muscle in less time spent.


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