Thursday, January 31, 2008

How To Build More Muscle In Less Time

In order to make muscle gains in the gym, you need to understand what causes a muscle to grow and become stronger.

There is one and only one reason a muscle has for getting bigger and stronger. Progressively increased overload.

The only reason a muscle will get bigger and become stronger is by increasing the amount of overload, or "work" on that muscle.

A muscle responds to stress (weight training) by adapting and growing to handle the future stress that will be placed upon it. Continue to train a muscle with the same weight and you will get the same results.

You need to progressively "force" the muscle into growing stronger or it will not. So in order to increase overload, you need to increase resistance. In order to increase resistance, you need to increase the amount of weight, or work, you are doing.

Lower repetitions of an exercise will allow you to increase the overload to that muscle instantaneously. This forces the stimulation of new muscle fibers that will be recruited to handle the additional stresses that will be placed upon the muscle.

The repetition range for optimal muscle fiber stimulation will be between four and six repetitions for just about every heavy set of an exercise you do. Now, contradictory to myths I've heard, this low repetition range will not increase the likelihood of injury.

If anything, it will reduce the chance of injury because your muscles are becoming accustomed to handling additional forces not normally subjected upon them, therefore strengthening them. The less reps you do, the less chance of injury.

The less times you get in your car to drive, the less likelihood of having a car accident. Low reps will not cause you to "bulk" up unwantedly. Low reps will strengthen and "tone" your muscles quicker than higher reps.

Lighter weights and higher reps will basically keep you from making optimal gains. It is easier to train more intensely if you are focusing on only four to six repetitions instead of ten to fifteen. If you can do ten repetitions of an exercise, the weight is too light to achieve overload If you are new to an exercise and are just learning how to do an exercise, ten repetitions are fine. When you become more experienced, start lowering your reps and increasing your weights. How do you know what weight to use?

The first week or two of your routine will be more or less a trial and error period. You will quickly learn which weight you should be using.

If you can do more than six repetitions on your heavy sets for an exercise, the weight is too light.

If you cannot do at least four, the weight is too heavy. That is how you tell. It is extremely important to keep a written log or chart of what weights you are using.

This will cut out a lot of guesswork. When you are doing more than six repetitions with ease, time to move the weight, or "work" up to the next level.

Depending on which exercise you are doing, this could range from one pound on the single dumbbell arm curls to five pounds on the bench press.

Here is where the progressive overload occurs. Remember, in order for a muscle to respond by growing, it needs to be forced.

Here is where efficiency also comes into play. Four to six reps, if performed with extreme intensity, will be more effective than ten reps of lighter weight and less intensity. That is efficiency.

The amount of heavy, intense sets per exercise will either be one set or two sets, depending on the order of the exercise.

For more information on building the most muscle in the least amount of time....


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