Building muscle is a process that takes time and proper training. There is more to it than just showing up at the gym, lifting some weight, and expecting results. You must push your muscles to the limit during time in the gym and then let them recover and grow while not in the gym.
With so many variables affecting muscle growth, there’s always a debate as to what works best. The simple answer is it depends on your goal and your experience level. There are many ways to construct a strength-training program and many variables that will determine your success.
Here are 6 tips you can use in the gym to cut through the confusion and start seeing some gains.
1. Lift heavy.
Too many people stay within their comfort zone when lifting. As a general rule of thumb, if you can comfortably perform three sets of 10 repetitions at a certain resistance, you probably need to add resistance and lower the amount of reps. Lifting a comfortable amount of weight without increasing the load doesn’t trigger hypertrophy. Heavy lifting is uncomfortable.
It’s often hard to know you push yourself in the gym. Training with a coach that will challenge your limits while keeping you safe will maximize your time in the gym.
2. Challenge yourself with progressive overload.
Pushing your muscles to handle progressively greater challenges, known as progressive overload, is key to muscle building. This simply means to do more each time you lift.
Training with high focus and progressively adding weight to the bar or bells will create the anabolic response necessary for growth. It is not realistic to think you can lift more weight each time you work out but you can increase progressive overload by increasing reps with a certain weight, adding more sets, or adjusting tempo. In short, don’t do the same exercise with the same weight and same reps each time you workout.
3. Slow down.
The majority of people, in my experience, need to rest more between sets. Rushing through training sessions and rest periods to save time won’t allow for the biggest lifts. Moving too quickly to keep the heart rate high does not produce the time under tension needed to best build muscle.
Time under tension can be used as a form of progressive overload. By slowing down your reps, increasing your reps, or moving at a tempo you increase time under tension and aid in muscle growth.
4. Perform Full-Body Strength Training.
When it comes to structuring a training plan my first choice is full-body strength training over a body part split for many reasons. Lower time commitment is a big reason. Training 3 full-body days per week is a reasonable goal that people can fit into their lifestyle and also enough to produce significant muscle gains.
Full-body training tends to see fewer injuries also. Targeting multiple muscle groups in a workout decreases the possibility of putting too much stress on one muscle or joint and instead includes many compound movements.
5. UTILIZE COMPOUND MOVEMENT.
Compound exercises involve multiple muscle groups in one movement. Think squat, deadlift, bench, pull-ups. The more muscle worked, the more neural and physiological demand, the more growth hormone and testosterone released. These hormones aid significantly in muscle growth and fat loss.
Compound exercises are king for time efficiency. They recruit many muscle groups with single exercises vs. individual exercises for each muscle group while often increasing heart rate enough to get a cardio benefit.
6. WORK WITH A TRAINER.
Ensuring you are training with enough intensity and progressing properly with the weights can be tough when going it alone. A good coach will keep you safe while pushing you to get the most out of your time in the gym. Most of us work harder in the presence of others. Having a trainer by your side can provide the encouragement, energy, and motivation you need to jumpstart your routine.
A trainer can also help you set goals, create a plan to accomplish them, and celebrate the day you reach them. Your unique body mechanics, experience, goals, fitness level, likes, and dislikes can guide your trainer in creating a plan that is specific to your needs. With a program that fits, you are more likely to maintain the habit and see results.
Building muscle is not one-size-fits-all but one-size-fits-most. These basic principles can help almost everyone build more muscle. Try out these tips during your next training session to maximize your gains.