We’ve all done it. Scoured fitness websites, magazines, and the like for the perfect routine that will “Give you monster traps in 6 weeks!”
There is useful information in a lot of those articles. Really. Plus some of those shredded, ripped fitness models are really motivational. The symmetry, the definition, and those freakin’ monster traps.
What they inevitability fail to detail, or what the average Joe, (or Jane) does not take into account is: A. Their own genetic disposition B. Diet C. Why 10 – 12 reps? D. All of the above.
Summers ending but your gains don’t have to
If I were to pick one of the most important steps that can help take someone from just going through the stack slamming motions to achieving a ticket on the gains train:
We are all different. For most of us nonfitness model, common folk just trying to build as much lean muscle as possible, it boils down to two (2) basic areas.
Broscience aside, there is such a thing called conventional wisdom. It is called this because over time, study, and a heckuva lot of shrugs, certain methods have been shown to be extremely effective time and again.
No PhD. here, just lots of OJT. This article and the series to follow is meant to be an overview of all you really need to create a plan, expand on it, and:
Dedicate a certain amount of time each week to your plan (and stick to it). For maximum optimization I suggest three (3) times a week. If you can only start with two (2) it’s okay. I also recommend an hour each session. 2 – 3 hours a week?
You’ve got the time.
“There are three types of baseball players: Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen and those who wonder what happens” Tommy Lasorda
Know your natural body type Are you an Meso? Ecto? Endo? “To thine own self.” This is important to know right out of the gate as you can then tailor your amount of sets and reps accordingly. (Keep reading below) Take a good look in the mirror. Know what your strong points are, aso well as what needs to be developed. Maybe you have natural brotraps but need to work the chest more.
Take a focused approach. The three (3) basic types are:
- Ectomorph thin, naturally lean, harder time putting on mass.
- Mesomorph naturally defined, athletic
- Endomorph portly, high body fat, stout
Know some basic lingo A 101 type of approach is really all you need. Over analyzing anything can cause frustration. At the bottom of this article is a checklist ✔ as well as a glossary of terminology you’ll want to become acquainted with. It’s not an encyclopedia, just the basics.
Warm up Always have some sort of a warm up period. Dynamic stretches, a few minutes of cardio, it’s always good to get the blood going as opposed to just relying on preworkout.
Pick a muscle group Unless your session for the day is an all over body workout, avoid aimlessly going from one rando move to the next.
I am a huge advocate of the “Push/Pull” theory. Which I explain as working opposing muscle groups after each other. For example:
- Monday Back/Biceps (Muscles used in “Pulling)
- Tuesday – Off
- Wednesday -Chest/Triceps (Muscles used in “Pushing”)
Start your workout split with a muscle group that’s lagging and that needs the most work. Build from there.
Strategy The real meat and potatoes here. Why 8 – 10 reps? Hypertrophy, or muscle growth stems from stimulation to the slow-twitch or fast- twitch muscle fibers.
So what the hell do I use?!
10, 10, 10?
10 – 12,
12, 10, 10,
12, 10, 10, 8…..and on and on and on.
The most frequent question I get to date is how to build size. Therefore, variations ranging between 8 – 10 reps have been shown to be effective in building muscle. Why? Simply put, using heavier weight in this range gives a good pump utilizing more fast-twitch fibers.
5 x 5 🔥
Five sets of five repetitions is a tried and true, old school technique for packing on size. Typically reserved for compound movement such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, this method really fires up the fast-twitch muscle fibers. Think bodybuilders with MONSTER quads. They are staying in the 3 – 5 rep range. You need spotters, you need experience. You need a few things.
A general rule: Start with a lower weight and focus on form. Who cares what the people around you are lifting. Focus on you. Rest periods in between these sets are longer as you are utilizing more muscle groups and heavier weight.
Drop Sets 💥
Pulling yet another old school technique out of the old hat (that works) these beasties are excellent for building muscle. What is it? A “drop” means starting at a higher weight, doing as many reps as you can, lowering the weight, doing as many years reps as you can, and repeating the process for a third time. That’s one (1) set.
Space your sessions with enough rest in between. A traditional approach would be: 24 – 48 hours between muscle groups. Aim for this.
Desire to Build✔
Set Goals ✔
Towel to wipe the sweat ✔
Keep it Simple. Keep it Real.
Know your body type ✔
Split Your training schedule/routine
Isolation Exercises that are intended to target one specific muscle group i.e. Triceps
Compound Exercises in which multiple muscle groups are worked at the same time. i.e. Deadlifts and Squats
Hypertrophy Muscle growth
Progressive Overload Adding more weight and when to do it.
Rest Periods The time taken in between each set.
Sets The amount of repetitions being performed.
Taking this all into account your ready to get started.
Up next? Part II
“So you wanna get shredded?”