Muscle Building – Summary:
Bodybuilders often reach a plateau which is frustatingly difficult to travel beyond. Introducing techniques that significantly raise exercise intensity can stimulate further muscle growth very quickly.
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One of the biggest difficulties facing bodybuilders is how can they be sure that all muscle fibers have been recruited and exhausted during a given exercise and it is only by achieving this that muscle gains can be maximised.
The simple answer is, you have work beyond failure and experience a higher level of training intensity than before. This also ensures that workouts remain challenging and continue to engender progress over time thus reducing the likelihood of regression.
But how do you go about intensifying your training for muscle building? Fortunately there is a tried and tested path to follow as outlined below:
1. Increase resistance and muscle building – increasing the weight lifted in meaningful increments ensures the muscle is pushed beyond its previous point of failure thus maintaining the muscle building process. Aim to increase the weight when you reach six to eight reps and failure does not occur.
2. Change the exercise – to achieve maximal gains all muscle fibers in a body part must be trained. Changing the angle (e.g to incline bench press) or introducing a new exercise will stimulate growth.
3. Reduce rest intervals – giving the muscles less time to recover before exposing them to further work has the effect of increasing intensity.
4. Pre-exhaustion – when an exercise involves two or more muscles the weakest will prevent you from working the primary muscle to failure. The answer is to first isolate and tire the primary muscle before immediately moving to another exercise that works the set of muscles to failure for muscle building.
5. Introduce supersets – this involves performing two exercises for the same muscle building group without a rest interval. This means you have to utilize different muscle fibers which stimulate greater growth.
6. Use partial reps – at the point of failure you will not be able to complete the full range of movement for a given exercise. Completing a partial muscle building rep that uses only a segment of the lift will still work your muscles beyond the point of failure. This technique is especially useful to advanced bodybuilders as it allows them to increase intensity without adding extra routines that could cause overtraining.
7. Use isometric contractions – this involves holding the weight still at the point of failure to stimulate a static contraction in the muscle building.
8. Employ forced reps – this involves completing one or more final reps after the point of failure has been reached. You will need the assistance of an experienced helper to attempt this.
Once you have added these techniques to your training regimen you’ll know you’ve done your best to maximize muscle building.
You can only build muscle if your body is in the correct anabolic balance to allow growth to take place. Intensive exercise is clearly an important part of the muscle building process but achieving the maximum muscle mass depends on putting the building blocks in place. This is achieved through sound nutritional practices so you need to be aware of the following anabolic enhancing principles:
1. Protein is the basic raw material needed to build muscle. Protein supplies the amino acids that the body uses to repair and build muscle following intensive exercise. Aim to consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day from food like beef, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and whey. Spread the load over at least six meals to derive the optimum benefit and avoid overloading the liver.
2. Carbohydrates are needed to energize the muscle building process. Carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin which pushes the amino acids into muscle cells to begin the process of repair. The body uses carbohydrates as a source of energy – consume too little and the body will steal protein that would otherwise be used for repairing and building muscle. Aim to consume 1.5 to 2 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight each day from foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, vegetables and whole wheat bread.
3. Boost your calories. Unless your main aim is to reduce fat you need a positive caloric balance if you want to build muscle. Make sure that your daily calorie intake is 10% higher than your energy expenditure for daily maintenance and that the calories are acquired from a diet characterized by a ratio of 50% carbohydrates, 40% proteins and 10% fat.
4. Get plenty of rest both in terms of adequate rest days between training sessions and sufficient sleep. Your muscles won’t grow if you don’t build adequate recovery time into your training program. Similarly, you can only optimize your body’s levels of testosterone and growth hormone if you spend enough time sleeping.
5. Consume quality supplements to support a sound nutritious diet. For most people it should be enough to add whey protein, creatine and l-glutamine to your daily diet.
6. Don’t overdo the aerobic exercise. Your aim is to increase muscle mass therefore you don’t want to burn excessive calories that could be utilized for bulking up.
7. Drink plenty of water. Failure to drink sufficient quantities of water will lead to dehydration and adversely affect your muscle mass. Don’t forget that muscle is 70% water so a generous intake will maintain muscle volume and help growth.
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