Keys to Building Muscle Mass
The 9 Keys to Muscle Mass
1. Lift in a Low Reps Range
Your muscles are made up of two types of muscle fibers, Type 1, and Type 2. Type 1 muscle fibers are also known as red muscle fibers, or slow-twitching muscle fibers. These fibers respond best to a high rep range of 10 or more. Type 2 muscle fibers, also known as white muscle fibers, or fast-twitching, respond best to a low rep range of 4-6. Type 1 muscle fibers are used mostly when there is a need for endurance, a long distance runnerís legs will be mostly composed of these muscle fibers. Type 2 fibers on the other hand, are required for explosive movements such as a sprint or lifting a heavy weight. Type 2 fibers are also much larger than Type 2 fibers, and are therefore the obvious choice in deciding which fibers to stimulate growth in. Lifting in a low rep range (4-6 reps) will call for the most Type 2 muscle fibers to be recruited of any type of rep scheme and are therefore the best option for gaining maximum muscle mass.
2. Lift to Complete Failure
How often do you go to the gym and see people stop their set as soon as they start to feel the slightest bit of difficulty? These are the people who will NEVER be big, not matter what else they may do. Bodybuilders have always used lifting to a point of extreme difficulty during their workouts, but what we now know as lifting to failure was popularized by Dorian Yates in the 90ís. Lifting to failure means that you continue doing rep after rep until you canít get the weight up without the assistance of a training partner. This is the ultimate training key to stimulating growth in your muscles. After all, muscles rebuild themselves to handle the stress that was placed upon them; if you stop before placing maximum stress for that set then you are losing out on possible growth.
3. Limit Overtraining
The number one reason that most people in the gym donít make great gains is because of a little thing called overtraining. People do too many sets for too many exercises. As Dorian Yates said in his book, ďLifting is like hitting a nail into a board. You keep hitting the nail until it is all the way in, and then you stop. If you continue to hit it you just damage the nail and the board.Ē This is also true for lifting, you should simply do enough sets of enough exercises to fully stimulate the muscle into growth, and if you go over this boundary you are actually limiting your gains. In bodybuilding, sometimes less equals more.
4. Emphasize Compound Lifts
In order to stimulate the most muscle possible you must stimulate as many muscle fibers as possible. Sounds obvious right? But many people will tell you that a bodybuilder needs to focus on exercises that isolate the particular muscle thatís being worked that day. And this is true at times, but when trying to build mass you are best off focusing on compound lifts such as the three ďCore ExercisesĒ (bench press, deadlifts, and squats). There are also many variations of these exercises such as incline bench press, decline bench press, front squats, stiff-leg deadlifts, military press, etc. These exercises will require the most possible muscle fibers to be used to move the weight, and will therefore stimulate the most growth. Isolation exercises such as lateral raises and cable crossovers have their place in bodybuilding, but they are not the best choice for building mass.
5. Consume Alot of Calories
No matter what your training routine looks like, you cannot grow without the right kinds and right amounts of the nutrients you need. Think of building your body like you would build a house. The exercises you do in the gym are like the architects and builders. They are essential to construct the house, but they canít do anything if they donít have the raw materials that they need. The raw materials for building your body are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. You must consume enough of each of these three if you wish to grow as quickly as possible. A good way to determine your calorie needs is to use the (40-40-20) diet. To use this diet you take your bodyweight and multiply it by a certain number depending on your goals at the time (x10-12 for cutting), (x13-15 for maintenance), (x16-18 for bulking). The reason itís called the (40-40-20) diet is because 40% of the calories come from protein, 40% from carbohydrates, and 20% from fats. I will go into greater detail on the (40-40-20) diet in a later article.
6. Avoid Excessive Cardio
Cardio is a key to weight loss; it burns up the calories that your body stores for energy (bodyfat). But it can also be hazardous to your muscles. When done in short spurts cardio can be very beneficial to you, but because some muscle is burned up for energy as well, it should be as limited as possible during the time your trying to gain a lot of muscle mass. If you still must have some form of cardio because of a sport, job, or some other daily activity, then try to take in more calories so that your body will have more to burn and wonít attack your muscles.
7. Get Enough Sleep Each Night
As you probably know, your muscles do not grow in the gym. They grow when your body is resting! Getting enough sleep each night (8-9 hours), will boast the time your body has to rebuild muscle fibers. Just make sure to consume a slow-digesting protein such as casein, along with carbohydrates before you go to sleep. Cottage cheese is a good option before bed.
8. Use Supplements
Some IFBB Pros such as Ronnie Coleman consume 600+ grams of protein and carbohydrates alone each day. It would be nearly impossible to take all that in, along with all the necessary vitamins and minerals. This is why supplements are a very popular option for todayís bodybuilders. They are usually cheaper than real food and much more convenient and easy to consume. Ofcourse, its still best to get as many of your nutrients as possible from real food, but you can still take supplements to get the rest that you canít get from real food. And not only are supplements good to make up for nutrients, but you can also take supplements such as creatine or glutamine which will boast your proformance in the gym as well as aid in recovery.
9. Have a Motivated Training Partner
ďThe body follows the mindĒ. How many times have you heard this famous sang? Well it could never be truer then in the world of bodybuilding, where the key to success is consistency and proper motivation. But sometimes itís hard to stay motivated by yourself, and itís good to have someone who has similar aspirations as you do to help you out when you need some motivation, whether it be to push out that last rep on squats, or to eat that can of tuna instead of a burger, a motivating training partner is a must. Also, when applying the principles of lifting to complete failure, you must have a training partner to both help spot you on the weight, and to help you surpass your previous bests.
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