Isolation movements are priority number three
For any advanced lifter, incorporating single-joint isolation movements can trigger massive changes in their physique since fast and slow-twitch fibers are scattered throughout different individual muscles. To target these two types of fibers maximally, you’ll need to do targeted movements.
What’s more, some muscle can only be activated when trained in specific positions. For example, the biceps are comprised of two “heads”. The lateral, outside part of the long biceps head is activated when you flex the elbow. The middle portion is activated when you’re doing motions when the palm is facing you. Finally, the short head is activated at the last stage of the biceps curl, when the weight reaches the top, while the long head is more active during the lower part of the movement.
We can safely conclude that isolation movements such as chest flyes, biceps curls, leg curls, calf raises, and many others have their place in your training arsenal. If you have time to spare, you can always try out many variations for the biceps, forearms, calves and grip strength once you’ve finished doing the big lifts and your assistance exercises.
Incur muscle damage with high-volume training
When it comes to optimal muscle-building nothing beats high-volume training. This is why you should make it your primary focus. The general intensity range is 60-80% of your 1-rep-max, with several heavier phases interspersed.
Doing one to three sets, or using light weights that are below 60% of your 1-rep-max isn’t going to provide the necessary stimulus for visible muscle growth unless you’ve been completely physically inactive for several years.
The general recommendation is that you do 4-8 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise, which is the standard for bodybuilding-style of training. Also, divide your training in such a way that you train 70% of your workouts in the 60-80% of your 1-rep-max range, and 30% of your workouts in the 80%+ range.
Train to failure
Training to failure can be defined reaching the point after which you’re no longer able to lift the weight using proper technique. It causes micro-damage to the muscle fibers, which in turn triggers a protein synthesis response which will heal the damaged fibers and make them stronger and bigger.
So, if you haven’t tried this before, next time you go to the gym try lifting to the point where your form starts to break. Don’t cheat and use momentum to lift the weight. The only ones who would benefit from “cheating” are advanced lifters who are intentionally using “cheating methods” as a way to further load the muscles.
Rest for short periods
In addition to muscle damage, the other important factor behind muscle growth is metabolic stress, which can be optimally achieved by employing high-volume training and short rest intervals, in the range of zero rest to 2 minutes. Training to cause metabolic stress also has added benefit of supporting fat loss since it increases the release of fat-burning hormones and post-workout energy expenditure.
In the gym, it’s easy to get distracted by your phone and a myriad of other things and not pay attention to the clock and your rest periods. Well, it is of utmost importance that you do. Get yourself a watch and measure how much you rest. You will get more shredded than your buddies who wing it, or worse, use the gym as a place to chat with their friends.
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