Here’s a quick list of a dozen simple muscle building tips that you can start using immediately.
1) Do Full Body Workouts for Your First Year of Training
As a newbie you need frequent exposure to strength training for two reasons. The first is that you will be too weak to do any kind of damage that will demand longer recovery. The second is that you need to learn the lifts. When learning anything you want to do it more often than less.
2) After That You Can Split Your Training Up
After your first year you have the choice between full body and upper/lower splits. It really depends on how strong you are, how beat up you are and what exercises you will be using. If you are including squats and deads you most likely need an upper/lower split. If not you could probably do full body. To keep things simple in my gym I have everyone just move over to upper/lower at year two.
3) When in Doubt do More Chin Ups, Dips and Pushups
These are still three of the best upper body mass builders around and nothing is bound to replace them any time soon. Use chains or weight vest for added resistance or find ways to make them harder, such as doing advanced variations on rings.
4) Do no More Than Four Big Workouts Per Week
Most guys will make great progress with a max of four big strength training workouts per week. By big I mean workouts that include exercises like standing presses, squats, deads, bent over rows, etc. More than that may lead to recovery issues for some people. Also, remember that mental recovery is just as important as physical. You will usually be more excited and fired up to go to the gym three or four days a week than five or six. Especially if this is something you plan on doing for the rest of your life.
5) Schedule Your Sessions Optimally
If you train four days per week it’s best to not have two back to back training days more than once. So train on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat or Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat. If this option if physically impossible for you don’t let it be a deal breaker.
6) Go Heavy
As the great strength coach, Ethan Reeve once said, “I have yet to find a better way to get strong than lifting heavy.” Load up the bar, keep adding weight over time, and you will get strong. Eat enough calories while doing that and you will get very big as well. A simple muscle building tip that works every time.
7) But Not On Everything
Having said that, it should be noted that certain exercises aren’t meant to be done heavy. Some of these are split squats, external rotations and neck work. Exercise caution with any movement that puts you in an unfavorable joint position. But for the big exercises like presses, squats, rows and deads, go heavy.
8) Do Soft Tissue Work
The foam roller is your friend. Use it often and you will see a great improvement in tissue quality and will feel better all around. Same for tennis balls, lacrosse balls and other forms of self massage. Getting a smokin hot stripper looking chick to assist from time to time is also highly recommended.
9) Use the Appropriate Number of Total Reps Per Workout
A lot of people like specifics. They want numbers. I don’t always believe in that but to appease them I will say this… Twenty five to fifty total reps per body part, two to three times per week will lead to significant mass gains in most lifters. Any more than that is not usually needed.
10) Use the Appropriate Number of Total Reps Per Set
All reps are not created equal. One set of 25 is not the same as five sets of five. Heavier weights will bring about an earlier recruitment of the fast twitch fibers and create more microtrauma. In simple terms you will build “real muscle” faster with lower rep sets.
11) If Maximal Size is Your Only Goal Do Some Pump Sets
Higher rep sets of 10-15 will lead to size gains through increased glycogen/water/energy storage. This is usually considered “non functional” tissue and training like this can also lead to more soreness and systemic fatigue. But if you are only training for size and strength and not a power sport, who cares? Getting a pump has some anabolic effects so sse both rep ranges to get the best of both worlds (but only if you’ve trained properly for at least a year or two).
12) Use the Right Squat Stance
To find your optimal squat stance get in the exact same position you would play linebacker or guard a guy in basketball in. That is usually pretty damn close. Note the angle of your upper body. That is the angle you want to be at while squatting down. If you are more upright than that you will be very weak and there will usually be too much stress on your knees. If you are leaning forward any further there will be too much stress on your lower back.
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