For all the skinny guys out there; we’ve been there before. And for all you natural-born giants just looking to get more gigantic, we may have something you’re missing that stalled your growth.
1. Track Your Workouts
There is nothing more important that tracking what you did and when you did it. Not only the exercises, sets and repetitions, but tracking the weight you used and how you felt that day will allow you to look back when you come back to that workout to know where to start and where you’ve come from. Tracking your workouts also allows you to determine what is working and what you’re wasting your time on. One week you may have done 4 sets of 10 squats at 315 pounds and 3 weeks later you do 3 sets of 10 squats at 300 pounds. If it wasn’t written down, you may not be able to remember exactly what you did. The more you write down, the more you will be able to remember and see if you are making progress.
2. Set Goals
Setting goals is the first step to keep you on track to where you want to go. These goals shouldn’t be set in stone, they should be specific and reasonable. For example, if you’re looking to lose 50 pounds in 4 weeks and have tendonitis, your goal may need to be re-evaluated.
3. Focus on Hypertrophy
Hypertrophy is the increase of volume of an organ or tissue due to the enlargement of the cells that make it up. Muscles will increase volume to adapt to progressive overload. What this means is in order to build muscle, you must focus on progressively overloading the muscle in order to make them increase in size. Strength training has multiple different types of training including Strength, Hypertrophy, Power and Endurance. Each one of these types include a different amount of reps, effective sets and rest. The hypertrophic range of strength training focuses around 8 – 12 repetitions with :60 seconds of rest between 3-6 sets. When you train for hypertrophy, you should train around this hypertrophic range.
4. Get the Right Macros
You can never out exercise poor nutrition. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how many workouts you track or how many days you hit the gym – if you don’t take in the right nutrition, you will find it almost impossible to get your optimal gains. These macros – protein, carbohydrates and fats – will be different for every person. If you don’t know where to start, look towards a couple professionals to give you some starting advice based on your goals and where you currently are and find one that works best for you.
5. Stay Anabolic
The right nutrition is crucial, but so is the timing. Anabolic is the process of how your body produces growth of cells that involves the synthesis of molecules. The opposing process of this is catabolism, or the breaking down of cells in order to produce energy. Hormones play a large role in this growth process along with glucose metabolism. Maintaining this glucose metabolism, or energy, requires the consumption of calories to provide this energy. If a person does not consume enough energy, the body will enter a higher rate of catabolism. In order to keep this anabolic state, giving your body the proper amount of energy at the right times, recovery, growth and performance will continue to improve.
6. Stay Hydrated
By now we all know that the body is made up of over 70 percent water and muscles are no different. Even if you aren’t thirsty, your muscles and body may be, especially when you increase your training in order to pack on the muscle. Water not only aids in the circulation through your body but also in the cooling of your body, so as you’re sweating, you’re losing even more water. Research has shown that when you don’t consume enough water, your cells lose size and the synthesis of protein in the muscle repair also suffers even if the breakdown continues.1 When that muscle breakdown is happening faster than the production of protein, your performance begins to decrease. If your performance is decreased, you are not able to reach your maximum potential of growth. So grab water, and stay hydrated!
7. Rest and Recovery
When you exercise you are breaking down your muscle and stressing your body. If you continue to break down your body without giving it an opportunity to recover, you can put yourself in more risk than reward. Overtraining leads to a higher risk of injury, long term effects, and decreased performance. It’s not only important to have rest between workouts, but the amount of recovery you give yourself during your workout is important. The maximum amount of recovery during strength training shouldn’t be more than :90 seconds. If your recovery frequently exceeds this time, you can lose the benefit of multiple sets. One reason for multiple sets within a workout is to exhaust a set of muscles, give it a slight – but not complete – recovery in order for your body to realize it needs to recruit more fibers for that next set. When too much recovery is given, the amount of muscle breakdown can be compromised. This can cause your gains to not reach their maximum potential.
8. Switch it Up!
When we spoke about the hypertrophic range of strength training as being an important way to add muscle, a second important note is to switch it up. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine of going into the gym, having your notes from last week and doing the same routine you did 7 days ago. While this can be a great start, it likely won’t last long. It’s important to also switch up your workout, this can be in the order you do the exercises, the reps you do, the rest you take in between, the equipment you use or a combination of these. By increasing your reps to the 12 – 15 rep range with very short recovery periods of under 30 seconds, you can use lighter weights and keep your heart rate up. You can also work through a range of repetitions with your first set of 15 followed by 12, 9 then 6 adding a slight amount of rest as the weight increases. By switching your workout routine up, you will keep your body guessing and be able to increase your performance and increase your gains.
9. Keep Your Form
Regardless of what rep range your are working through, it’s one of the most important tips to maintain your form – especially when you are getting towards the end of your exercise or your workout. When you compromise your form to get a rep, exercise or weight that you may not have been able to without, you increase your risk of injury. That extra weight and extra rep isn’t worth getting injured over and losing what progress you have already made. Maintain your proper form for every rep of every exercise, if you come up short on your repetitions or sets, make a note of it and get it next time!
10. Focus on the Movement
As you keep your form through every rep of every exercise, focus on every part of each rep. Mentally focus on the contraction of the muscles you are training as you raise and lower the weight. By focusing on each phase of your movement, even though you are using weights to increase the load on your muscles, the ultimate idea is that you are contracting your muscles through this progressive overload to produce a hypertrophic reaction.
1.Wildman, Robert. “Your Muscles Are Thirsty: Here’s Why – Bodybuilding.com.” Bodybuilding.com. 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 27 July 2015.