Building muscle is the holy grail for the majority of gym goers and fitness enthusiasm alike. Many sage pieces of wisdom have been passed down from generation to generation, with some being way ahead of science and right on the nose and some being a waste of time, effort and money. In this series of article I will give you my top 4 facts on how to build muscle and hopefully bust some myth.
1. The most important thing is to increase volume (slightly) over time. (Fact)
The science of building muscle is complicated, and you would need a PHD to truly understand the complexities and mechanisms of muscle growth- but as world renown powerlifting coach Louie Simmons would say “you don’t have to have invented toilet paper to know how to use it” The truth is growing muscle is relatively simple if you ignore all the noise, false clams and gimmicks that surround the subject. All you do is stay in the muscle building rep range 5-20 Reps (Yes its what wide) and slowly push up volume over time according to (Schoenfeld et al 2017)
Volume being Sets x Reps x Weight.
4 Sets of 10 Reps at 100kg = 4000kg
Then for your next work-out
4 Sets of 10 at 100.5kg = 4020kg
5 Sets of 10 at 100kg= 5000kg
4 Sets of 11 at 100.5kg = 4400kg
Increase one variable in the equation, slightly over …. boom new muscle. Or over the course of months increase set, then reps, then load, there IS no strict rules apart from, increase SOMETHING
A word of warming, if you intend to increase sets, which isn’t a bad idea at all, and is my go to ,then don’t go above 6-7 Sets . According to Amirthalingam et al (2017) sets above 6-7 induces overtraining and going above 6-7 don’t increase muscle growth for the average trainee
Eat some food. (Fact)
This is simply thermodynamicx, you cannot create or destroy matter only merely change it. So how does this apply to muscle growth, muscles don’t come out of nowhere, you need to be a slight calorie surplus with about 2g of protein of every kg of BW. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked “why aren’t are growing, only you ask “how much to eating” followed by a shrug of the shoulders. Understanding what you need to eat if most of battle when it comes to growing that every converted muscle. Put that work in the kitchen or least have a plan.
3.Light weight will make you toned (Myth)
Toned is not a thing! If your consulting with a trainer and you decide to say to the coach, I want to get toned, congregations, you have just made the fitness coach want to jump from a window and face planet the or poke their own eyes on with scissors. Don’t worry, they won’t.
“Toned” is a body fat% around
10-12% for men and
15-18% of woman with a certain amount of muscle development.
Lights weights will not achieve this.
If this is your goal, then the question is, where am I starting from?
If you have muscle- but a layer of fat covering that glistening six pack , then fat lose, and muscle maintenance is your path.
You must lift some reasonable heavy weights and be in a slight calorie deficit to achieve this goal.
If you have low body fat but no muscle then, yes you need to build some muscle without putting on fat, once again you need to lift some reasonable heavy weight and manipulate your food intake.
But please but the 2kg pink dumbbell away it won’t help.
4.Time under tension. (Myth)
I heard this mantra repeat by a lot of iron freaks and even other personal trainers. It was populated by the Charles Poliquin, the legendary strength coach. It has been prophesized that that optimal way to build muscle is that every rep has to last between 4-8 seconds with a agonizing downward phase. Unfortunately this isn’t echoed in the science research, with a meta analyse from Brad Schoenfeld (2016) demonstrating that increasing the downward phase, anything past 0.6 second doesn’t make any different
So the moral of the story is just control the downwards phase.
Although standardizing every rep with a specific tempo dose mean standizing, tand this recoding your workout more precise .
And another cavete about time under tension is great for strengthen corrective tissues, ligament and tendon according to Mel Stiff (1973). Making this method great for bullet proofing your body, but not so great gor building muscle.
5. Change up your exercise every workout (Myth)
The ADD to approach to exercise selection is a sure-fire way to hold back your progress. Switching to what every the fab of week exercise is by your favourite Instagram influencers.
Look, human nature to be to novelty and some new shiny thing. But some of best progress I’ve seen is clients get better for rep of 8-12 on squats, pull-ups, bench, bent over rows, overhead press and bent over rows (the classics if you will) not cable kick back and frog pumps and box jumps . These no need to reinvent the wheel, keep it simple, track your progress and change the exercise every 12 weeks as the least. Muscle confusion is pure bro science.
· Increase Volume Load Over Time
· Be in slight calorie surplus, make sure you get 2g of every kg of body weight.
· Light weight don’t make you toned
· Controlling the downward phase of lift is good enough
· Change up your exercise every 8-12 weeks and track your progress
1.Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sports sciences, 35, 1073-1082.
2.Amirthalingam, T., Mavros, Y., Wilson, G. C., Clarke, J. L., Mitchell, L., & Hackett, D. A. (2017). Effects of a modified German volume training program on muscular hypertrophy and strength. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 31(11), 3109-3119.
2.Schoenfeld, B. J., Aragon, A. A., & Krieger, J. W. (2013). The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10, 53.
3. Stone, M. H., Stone, M., & Sands, W. A. (2007). Principles and practice of resistance training. Human Kinetics. (Different between beginners and other)
4. Dedrick, G. S., Sizer, P. S., Merkle, J. N., Hounshell, T. R., Robert-McComb, J. J., Sawyer, S. F., … & James, C. R. (2008). Effect of sex hormones on neuromuscular control patterns during landing. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 18(1), 68-78. ( Difference in volume and frequencies are individual and different between sexes)