If you’ve been looking for some training variables that will help you build dense muscle and strength naturally, then look no further.
Below is a list iv put together to help you get started, I will go into further detail about each variable in future blog posts. Lets get started….
Work In The 4-8 Rep Range (Power Bodybuilding)
- The muscle fibres with the most potential for growth are fast twitch type 2b fibres, to target these fibres you have to lift weights using 80-85% of your one rep maximum, this works out as roughly 4-8 reps. If you would like to learn more about this CLICK HERE to read my article on the subject.
- When you lift weights using 80-85% of your 1REP maximum (4-8 reps), you get 100% muscle fibre recruitment from the very first rep. research shows you eventually need to recruit all of the muscle fibres within a muscle to stimulate maximum muscle growth. CLICK HERE for my article on this subject.
- To build dense muscle mass you need to stimulate myofibrillar muscle growth, if your not sure what this is CLICK HERE for my article dense muscle VS soft muscle. To achieve myofibrillar muscle growth you generally need to lift heavy weights with sets of around 1-8 reps. The higher end of this rep range will also stimulate some sarcoplasmic muscle growth.
Once you start training in this rep range you will start seeing some great results in strength and dense muscle growth, this type of training wont pump you up and leave you deflated 3 days later like high rep bodybuilding type training will. 4-8 rep strength training will build your actual muscle fibres and wont just fill it full of fluid.
Use progressive Tension Overload To Get Stronger Over Time
The most important part and number one priority for any natural weightlifter trying to stimulate maximum muscle growth is progressive tension overload. This means progressively increasing tension levels in the muscle fibres over time. When we are training this is done by lifting progressively heavier loads (weights) over time. If your not adding weight to the bar over time, you wont be maximising muscle growth. If your bench pressing the same weight you benched a year ago, you can bet you wont be growing. The biggest natural bodybuilders you come across are always going to be the strongest.
Your goal should be to lift slightly heavier weights each and every workout to ensure you continue stimulating growth. Of course this wont be possible every workout but you get the idea. Once you complete the required amount of reps with a certain weight, you want to add around 2.5kg/5lb to the bar and then try to achieve the required amount of reps with that new weight. Here’s my article Overloading The Muscle For Maximum Muscle Growth if you would like to learn more.
Focus On Compound Exercises
Isolation exercises definitely have there place in any weightlifting routine, but the majority of your exercises should be compound movements, e.g. Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press etc. Compound movements will help you build muscle and increase your strength the fastest. This is because compound movements utilise multiple joints and muscle groups which allows you to use heavier weights. This means more muscle fibre recruitment, higher nervous system activation, and more stimulus for muscle growth. Gaining more strength will mean more progressive overload, more overload more muscle. Here’s an article I wrote on Compound Weightlifting.
Perform 3-8 Sets Per Direct Muscle Group
The amount of sets you perform will depend on how often you train a muscle group, the more sets you do, the more muscle damage you will cause. More muscle damage will require more recovery time before you train that muscle again. Performing 3-8 sets is considered optimal for stimulating strength and muscle growth. Performing more sets wont necessarily stimulate more gains. What can happen is you can cause to much muscle damage than your body can efficiently repair. This can lead to no progress in strength or muscle growth
This is a great set range to work within but be aware that as you advance in your training you may need to increase the number of sets you perform to see a growth response.
Rest 2-3 Minutes Between Sets
Making sure that you allow sufficient recovery time in between sets is key to maximising your performance. Maximum recovery will allow you to lift the maximum amount of weight in your next set. This will lead to sufficient overload so that the muscle growth can take place. Some people find they can recover much faster than others so you may want to play around with these times. As long as you can lift maximally in your next set, you will be getting maximum results.
Perform Some Warm up Sets Before Your Actual Working Sets
Its very important that you don’t jump straight into your working sets before performing some warm up sets first. These warm up sets will prepare the muscles, joints, mind and central nervous system for heavy lifting. A proper warm up will decrease the risk of injury, maximise central nervous system stimulation and muscle fibre recruitment, without fatiguing your muscles.
The warm up should involve a series of increasingly heavy sets which bring you quite close to the working weight you intend to lift. As the weight increases your reps will decrease to avoid excessive fatigue. If you would like two effective warm up sequences CLICK HERE for my article.
Train For 30-60 Minutes
This one is very simple, try to keep your training session to 60 minutes or under, if its taking you longer than this you may need to re-adjust your program.
Train 3-4 Days A Week
Training 3-4 days a week is highly effective for stimulating muscle growth and strength gains, while having enough time to grow bigger and stronger.
Perform Your Exercises With Perfect Technique
Its very important that you learn the correct techniques when performing any weight lifting movement for your own personal safety. Learning how to execute these movements with perfect form will ensure your safety and will allow you to get the most out of your training. These movements when performed correctly are perfectly safe even when performed with heavy loads, but training with bad form can lead to injuries and can even limit how much weight you can use. The more practice you get at these compound movements the better you will become at them.
Take A Deload Week From Time To Time
A Deload week is a short planned period of recovery that will typically last around one week. The purpose of the Deload week is to let your muscles fully repair and give your central nervous system a rest. This will prevent you from fatigue and overtraining which can slow down your progress. The aim is full body recovery so that you can continue to make gains. CLICK HERE to learn more about deloading.
Don’t Go To Failure All The Time
This is easier said than done because we all want to go for that personal record each workout, going to failure with heavy weight will just leave you fatigued and burnt out. You want to try and leave one or two reps in the tank, a good rule to go by is if you think you wont be able to complete another rep with perfect form just rack the weight and come back next time stronger.
Put Yourself In A Slight Calorie Surplus
To gain weight and build muscle you need to make sure your supplying your body with more calories than it expends (burns) each day. This is known as a calorie surplus. In the body-building world this is called Bulking. For most people this will mean eating around 200-400 calories above maintenance requirements to see steady weight gain. There is only so many calories your body can utilise for muscle growth before it starts to store any excess calories as body fat. If you would like and easy way to find out your bulking calorie and macronutrient requirements based on your body weight then CLICK HERE to read my how to start bulking article.
Aim to get 6-12 Hours Of Sleep Per Night
Muscles grow outside the gym when your resting, so getting enough sleep is crucial for gaining muscle. I cant stress enough how important getting the right amount of good deep sleep is for recovery, repair and your overall health. Your natural testosterone can decrease by a massive percentage from just not getting enough. For some people due to work and social arrangements getting enough sleep just isn’t possible. Try your best to aim for at least 6 hours, also try and minimize any noise and light in your bedroom for a deeper sleep.
Plan And Track Progress
I’m sure you’ve heard “if you don’t plan, you plan to fail” before so remember to track each and every workout so that you know how much weight you lifted in your previous session. This could mean writing it down on a piece of paper, typed on your phone, or download a workout tracking APP. One that I always recommend is JEFIT, is free and very simple to use.
Have A Clear Goal In Mind
Make sure you have a clear goal in mind, weather its a certain look you want to achieve, a body fat percentage you want to get down or up to, or a weight that you want to lift for reps. Remember your goal and why you started every time you don’t feel like training or letting your diet slip.
Thanks for reading guys I hope you found this information useful and put it to good use. If you would like a more in depth look at what it takes to build dense muscle naturally check out my book “Lean Dense Muscle and Strength, simplifying the process of building dense muscle, gaining strength and getting lean” Click the image below for more info on the book.