5. Train with high volume to induce muscle damage
Volume is the main training variable that will be the single most important factor to how much muscle you will build and it should be your main priority. Intensity is measured as a percentage of your one rep max, so in order to stimulate optimal muscle hypertrophy, you should train within the 65-85% range of your 1RM, with some periods of heavier lifting interspersed. When you only do 1-3 sets, or you use weights that are below the 65% threshold or the maximum amount of weight you can lift, you are simply not giving your body enough stimulus to force it to build more muscle, unless your muscle mass is minimal and you’re totally out of shape.
The general recommendation is that you do 4-8 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise. This is the optimal range for hypertrophy. In 70% of your workout sessions use the 65-85% of 1RM intensity range, and in the other 30% use weights that are above the 85% limit.
6. Train to complete failure
Failure happens when you’re lifting a weight to the point where you’re no longer capable of handling the weight with proper form. It causes significant muscle damage as well as a dramatic protein synthesis response which ultimately leads to an increased rate of muscle growth. Lifting to complete failure has been used by many professional athletes worldwide because it’s proven its efficiency many times over. So, you should keep lifting the weight until your form starts to break. Don’t try to cheat or use momentum to lift the weights. The only ones allowed to do this are advanced lifters who typically use intentional cheating methods to put additional stress on their muscles.
7. Keep your rest periods short
In addition to muscle damage, the main reason behind increased muscle tissue growth is metabolic stress, which is achieved with high training volume and short rest periods, within the range of no rest at all to 2 minutes. Working out to produce metabolic stress also has the added benefit of improving fat loss since it increases the release of fat-burning hormones as well as post-workout calorie expenditure.
Sometimes it can be really boring and tiresome to time your rest periods between each set, which is why many lifters ignore this completely. However, it’s an absolute must because the rest period is a key variable in the muscle building process. So, get a watch and measure your rest. You’ll find yourself getting shredded a lot faster than other lifters in the gym who wing it, or even worse, socialize or play with their phones during rest periods.
8. Count the execution tempo. Go for longer tempos for increased time under tension.
Tempo is the speed at which you perform the concentric (positive) and eccentric (negative) phases of the lift. A general recommendation for building muscle mass is to do moderate eccentric (3-5 seconds) and fast concentric tempos, in order to increase the time under tension, i.e. the time spent “under” the weight.
This training variable which is also known as “TUT” is a key factor in muscle growth. In general, the more time you spend under tension the more muscle you build and the more fat you lose, whilst shorter time under tension builds more strength. That is why it is very important that you count the tempo. You can try training with an emphasis on the eccentric phase by using a longer tempo whilst you’re lowering the weight and a shorter tempo (1-2 seconds) while you’re in the concentric phase.
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