The way you work out to gain muscle will, of course, determine the outcome of your efforts. That’s why it’s so important to find a routine that caters to your body the best. And for that, you need to consider a few things first.
While the general idea is to lift heavy weights for building muscles, you need to start off by strengthening muscle first. If you’re new to all this you may want to engage in some strength and endurance moves before you tackle the weights.
For instance, you can start off with some body weight exercises to strengthen muscles and then move on to lifting weights. And of course, as you make progress you can then add in more weight along with expanding the number of reps as well. Some important considerations when doing so include the following:
Choice of Exercises
For building mass, low volume training is highly recommended. In broad terms, this training technique prescribes 1-8 sets for each muscle group. The sessions can last anywhere from 20-45 minutes.
The basics of low volume training dictate that the workout routine should have the right stimulation/restoration ratio. What this means is that you need to put a stimulus on the body significant enough to increase muscle without exceeding the body’s capacity to tolerate the stress.
So basically, balance is key. You can, of course increase the magnitude of training by adding more volume, training more often or taking rest for a shorter duration between sets. You can also lift heavier weights and train harder on each set.
But since it’s a low volume session, you can only increase the volume by so much. So you focus on how you do the few sets that you do. The sets should be stressful enough so that you can only do a few at a time.
At best, you should be able to 3-6 work sets for most muscle groups and up to 8 for the back, being a more complex structure.
The exercises for beginners, intermediates and experts are different. You can always start with easier workout routines and then progress to the tougher ones.
Number of Sets
Low volume workout One way to engage in a low volume program is to follow is the 5/3/1 approach.
Before you take this approach, know that your one-rep-max is the amount of weight you can lift for one rep without compromising form. So you need to know your one rep max or 1RM for squats, deadlifts, bench presses and military presses.
Once you have the numbers you can move along. You get to train 3-4 times a week and do one of the four workouts on your training days.
1. Squat and assistance work
2. Bench press and assistance work
3. Deadlift and assistance work
4. Overhead and assistance work
You perform each workout once every day with rest days in between. Follow this cycle for 4-6 weeks and then start over again by increasing your stress load.
Now you’re at the stage where you don’t just pick a heavier weight 5 or 3 or 1 times more per set. Instead, you use 90 % of your onerep-max.
This program is best suited for those who are new to weight training and will see the most results. The exercises included here are staples of building strength and starting light will let you progress forward faster.
With this system you can realistically accomplish a goal with every one of your workouts.
High volume workout To take your training to the next level, you can engage in high volume training. This technique allows you to get the most effective pumps with heavier weights.
Three ways to do so include:
Lifting more weights in the same set or rep scheme
Lifting the same weight for more reps per set
Performing more sets per workout
When you increase volume, you may be doing so for gaining size or for strength. At the same time, you’re also flaunting higher levels of muscle with lower levels of body fat.
This technique brings together a combination of compound and isolation exercises. You can prioritize the compound exercises that use multiple joints and lots of muscle mass so that you have the physical and mental capacity to get more plates on the bar.
When you combine compound and isolation exercises, vary your repetitions to focus on multi joint lifts. You can use higher repetition ranges for isolation exercises.
Resistance exercises are extremely helpful in building muscle mass. These are specific moves in which you push against a weight. Using a resistance band is a popular way to create tension through your range of motion. It produces something called Progressive Tension, giving you more tension at the end of every repetition. There are a few resistance exercises that you can add to your workout routine.
Bicep Curls: For this exercise, keep your legs in a parallel position. Using a resistance band for this exercise, stand in the centre. Keep the other ends around your wrists. Your arms must be close to your body. Now, you need to lift and move the band up and down slowly. When the arm is curling up, squeeze your bicep. Do 20 to 30 reps of this exercise.
Oblique Twists: For this exercise, you also have to stand with your legs in a parallel position but they must be more than hip distance apart. Keep your arms straight at your chest level and hold the resistance band. Twist from one side to the other. The trick is to begin this movement from your waist and then twist. As you do so, squeeze your stomach.
Do 20 to 30 reps of this exercise.
Triceps Kickbacks: For this exercise, you have to keep the same stature as the bicep curl. Stand in the centre of your resistance band and keep the other ends around your wrists. This is quite similar to a dumbbell kick back as you have to squeeze your arms and shoulder blades using the resistance band. Start squeezing from the top. You need to do 20 to 30 reps of this exercise too.
The point of doing so many reps is to fatigue the muscles. That’s how resistance works. Once a certain muscle group is fatigued, you move on to the next one. If you want the exercise to be most effective, you have to do one after another.
In this way, all muscle groups get worked to their full potential at the same time. This helps make muscles stronger and induce division in the musculature.
Rest between Sets
When you do sets, you need to rest for some time between successive sets. And while this is true for most types of workouts, things tend to be a little different when you’re trying to gain muscle.
When you rest in between sets when training, you can flex and pose. This helps blood flow to your muscles keeping them pumped and warm. Not only does flexing and posing give you better control over your muscles, it also lowers the risk of injury.
Also, when you flex and pose, you improve the ability to hold a pose for an extended time. This prevents your muscles from cramping as well.
You can also stretch in between sets for serious muscle gain. Stretching increases flexibility which can bring about greater muscle recruitment. Flexibility also improves form and gives you a greater range of motion. The same also reduces the risk of injury, prevents soreness and promotes faster recovery.