Muscle growth, also referred to as muscle hypertrophy is an example of muscular adaptations and changes. Resistance training causes neural adaptations, which result in changes in muscular strength, and eventually, the size of the muscles. Some training protocols can produce a significant muscular hypertrophy with little strength gains. When you want to be more muscular, pay attention to the following basic principles.
- Intensity – how much weight are you using. It should be around 70% of your max. If you don’t know how much is that have a look at the next principle.
- Volume – repetitions and sets. Your repetitions should be between 8 and 12 with 3 to 4 sets in order to produce a hypertrophy. To perform this rep range, the intensity need be around 70%.
- Time under tension(tempo) – how fast or slow you should move the weight. Use different tempos when you train. For example: bench press with a “3010” tempo (three seconds to lower the weight, zero seconds pause at the bottom, 1 second to lift it back, zero seconds rest on top. When you find a tempo which looks like this “40×1”, the letter means “eXplosive” and you should lift the weight as fast as you can.
- Rest intervals – time between sets. It should be a low to moderate interval, about 60 sec but if you’re not able to perform at least 8 repetitions, rest more.
- Frequency – how often. For the best results, train every muscle group twice per week using a upper/lower split with a day for recovery in the middle of the week.
- Intensity. This time the weight need to be heavier – 85-100%.
- Volume. Having more intensity, the rep range will be lower, between 1 to 3 or 5 reps. Having less reps, your sets number will increase from 5 to 10 sets/exercise.
- Time under tension. The tempo will be different – as fast as you can but you won’t be able because of the heavy weight.
- Rest intervals. This time the rest should be as long as you need in order to do the rep range.
- Frequency. After a strength workout your body needs to recover up to one week if you were training on maximum intensity.
Tips to use when applying these principles:
- Warm up using a low intensity and high rep range. This will help your neurological system to be ready for lifting heavier loads(high intensity).
Example: warming up sets: 1st: 15 reps@40%, 12 reps@60% before the main sets at 70% or more.
- There is an inverse relationship between reps and sets. An exercise with a lot of reps shouldn’t have more than 4 sets.
Examples: Bench press: 10 reps x 4 sets = 40 reps. Deadlift: 5 reps x 8 sets = 40 reps.
- The rep range and the intensity should to be in an inverse relationship too. If the intensity is high, the number of repetitions should be low.
Example: Power Clean@90% – 3 reps.
- Have an attitude that facilitate muscles/strength gains. You shouldn’t be discouraged if your progress is not as expected. The curve of progress is not always linear and you will experience ups and downs.
If you have any question or suggestion regarding muscle building or other topics related to it, feel free to use the comment section.