You hit the weights for a reason. The goal is to cause muscle growth, whether the physique you are after is 200 pounds of finely sculpted perfection, or 250 pounds of powerful mass. You don’t go to the gym several times a week and bust your ass just to spin your wheels and look the same, yet this is the reality for the majority of trainers. Too many give up on their physique goals and dreams because they incorrectly assume that they have maxed out their genetic potential, or that they need to use illegal and dangerous steroids to coax any further growth out of their bodies. In nearly every case, they are wrong. Putting on lean muscle mass is not a mystery, nor is it rocket science. But nonetheless, there is so much widespread confusion and misinformation out there that only a small percentage of people really know how to go about it. Since fitnessrxformen.com is here to make sure you get results from your training and you do achieve your goals, I have distilled six simple rules that, if followed, will assure that you do indeed grow, and continue to keep growing for years to come.
Rule # 1: Get Stronger
The core principle of all weight training is progressive resistance. That is, you become stronger and are able to handle more weight over time. For instance, you may only be able to bench press a 45-pound bar the first time you try, but a year later you might put up 185 pounds or more. The longer you have been training, the harder this is to do, of course. When you first started pumping iron, it was almost frightening the way you could use more weight at virtually every workout, wasn’t it? And not coincidentally, this is also the time when most people put on size at the fastest rate. The muscles are struggling to adapt to the new stresses being imposed on them, and they do this by increasing in cross-sectional diameter – they grow larger. But as the months and years go by and it takes more effort to increase your weights than before, many lifters stop trying to. Instead, they rationalize that this is as strong as they were meant to be, and they can keep getting results by focusing more on a skintight pump and techniques like supersets and drop sets – making less weight feel like more. Yes, they get great pumps and they may even get sore this way, but rarely do they get much bigger. To do that, they would have to get stronger. It’s a fundamental fact that there is just no way around. There are a few ways to increase your strength. Trying to handle more weight or do more reps every workout with the same exercises would see you hitting a plateau very soon. Instead, try improving one basic lift at a time for periods of six to 10 weeks, such as your squat, deadlift, bench press, chin-ups, dips, overhead presses or barbell rows. Or, you could rotate different exercises for the same body parts and strive to do a little more for them each time. For your chest, you could rotate incline, flat and decline presses as your first pressing movement each time you train, and try to use a bit more weight than you did the time before. The point is, doing the same things you’ve always done won’t result in changes to your physique. The human body is a stubborn organism that wants to remain the same (a state of homeostasis, if you remember your high school biology), so changes must be forced.
Rule # 2: Provide the Nutritional Fuel
All the best training won’t yield much in the way of results unless you are providing the correct nutritional support for muscle repair and growth. You must eat every two to three hours from the time you wake up until the time you hit the hay at night – no exceptions! Without a steady stream of nutrients, especially protein, your body goes into a catabolic state where it leeches amino acids from your muscle tissue for fuel. This is definitely not something you want to happen if you are trying to get bigger. The meals should be moderate in portions, not all-out binges, so that your body has a chance to properly digest and assimilate what you are eating. Aim to get 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight from high-quality sources like red meat, chicken, eggs, turkey and fish. Depending on whether you tend to gain fat easily or not, take in between 1 to 3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight a day from complex sources like potatoes, rice and oatmeal. Also add in plenty of raw vegetables for their vitamins and minerals as well as their “Roto-Rooter” effect of keeping your lower digestive tract clean. Supplements can certainly boost your progress, but never delude yourself into thinking that they can make up for a poor diet. Good food at regularly spaced intervals every day is what your muscles truly need.
Rule # 3: Know When Enough Is Enough, and Get Your Rest
Most of us have the “more is better” attitude when it comes to many things in life like money and sex. That can carry over into thinking that doing more exercises and sets and working out longer will make you grow faster, or that training more days in a week is more productive. Hardcore lifters may train six days a week for two hours or more at a time, or even train twice a day. While the enthusiasm behind that line of thinking is admirable, it’s a recipe for failure due to the law of diminishing returns. After a certain point, too much training will actually cause you to lose muscle size and strength. Your muscles grow only when they are allowed to rest and repair the damage at the cellular level caused by hard training. If you never give them that chance to heal and rebuild, growth is impossible. Workouts should never take much more than an hour, though back and legs may occasionally go a bit beyond that mark. Also, you should not train more than two days in a row with weights without taking a day off. Four days a week seems to work best for most seasoned lifters, such as training on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, and take naps when you can.
Rule # 4: Have a Plan
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It may be a worn cliché, but it still rings true, particularly with regards to weight training. You should know which exercises you’ll be doing when you get to the gym on any given day, and you should have a clear goal of the weights you’ll use and the reps you will get per set. You need to have meals and shakes made ahead of time so that you are never scrambling and trying to figure out where your next meal is coming from. And finally, you need to have very specific goals to work toward and a plan for how you will achieve them. For instance, putting an inch on your arms might require a gain of 10 pounds of bodyweight, plus increases in all the exercises you do for your arms. Devise a plan to gradually increase your food intake as well as the weights you use.
Rule # 5: Be Consistent
Muscle growth is never as fast as we wish it were, especially once you have advanced past the beginner and intermediate stages and have been training for a few years. Still, you need to understand that gains are built one good workout and one good meal at a time. Every day of great training and eating brings you one step closer to your goals. Of course, we all have “off days” where we are forced to skip a workout or a meal or two due to unavoidable circumstances. The key is to make those off days the rare exception, and the “perfect” days your rule. Muscle gains are often so miniscule that they don’t register, but they add up over time. A pound of pure muscle gained each month doesn’t sound very impressive, but doing that every month for a year yields 12 pounds, which I assure you is a very significant and noticeable gain to anybody’s physique. It’s often amazing to see the dramatic transformations that dedicated lifters make over 10 or more years of very consistent training and eating.
Rule # 6: Vary Your Reps
Most of us have heard that 8-12 reps is the optimal range for muscle growth. It’s true that this is a good target number, but many lifters have found they get even better results by doing heavier sets of 6-8 reps for muscle fiber growth, and higher reps in the 12-20 range for mitochondria and capillary growth. This is in effect “covering all the bases,” and should allow you to continue making progress practically indefinitely.
6 Rules to Grow By
There you have it, six simple rules that will guarantee muscle growth if you follow them diligently. Surprisingly, even very few professional physique athletes do, and that’s why most reach a certain level of development and never surpass it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to be stuck in a rut – I want to make progress. Now you can.