Recently signed up at a gym?
I am going to go out on a limb and predict that you probably have a goal of getting jacked (building muscle), or getting shredded (losing body fat). Some of you greedy people out there may even want both. If you are a shredder, hold tight. For now we are going to focus solely on the ‘getting jacked’ community and outline what is required to put some meat on those bones.
TRAINING – What is required?
Contrary to popular belief, building muscle does take more than 3 sets of 12 dumbbell curls in the gym mirror. If you wish to create real mass you need to get all of the training components right. What works for the beginner is definitely not going to work long term. Take the time to read through this information and implement anything you are missing into your program.
Rep range will be the first area of focus for most trainees. Traditionally, 8-12 reps has been prescribed as the rep range within the mythical get-swole formula. Is it wrong? No, not really. Though from various studies, coach insights (including mine) and individual reports, we can probably increase that range to somewhere around the 5-30 rep range.
The recommended sets for muscle growth is going to be a little more variable. If you are a beginner and you walk into the gym and perform 10 sets of 10 reps on the bench press, you will probably be bed ridden for 2 weeks. Whilst a more advanced, long-term lifter will probably be able to handle that kind of volume without excessive amounts of muscle damage or debilitating levels of soreness. 12-20 sets per week, per muscle group will usually be an appropriate starting point from which you can then vary based on your personal rates of recovery.
TRAINING NEAR FAILURE
Not going anywhere near mechanical failure is the one MAJOR training error that I see people making in the gym. Mechanical failure is when you legitimately cannot perform another rep. Whilst you should not go to complete failure often, you should regularly go close. This will ensure that you are stimulating, and more importantly fatiguing all of your muscle fibres. Remember that rep ranges and sets can only take you so far. You need to make sure that you are working hard and putting the muscle tissue under appropriate levels of stress.
Performing exercises with correct form is vitally important to muscle growth. If you are not performing an exercise properly, you may not be stressing the muscle group that you actually want to target. Technique errors may be due to compensation patterns, bad coaching, lifting too heavy or simply cheating to make an exercise easier. No matter the reason, you are limiting your success. Learn how to do exercises correctly and never sacrifice form!
Training frequency for hypertrophy is going to be variable depending on training age, training volume, training intensity and your ability to recover in-between sessions. At LegacyHP we prescribe roughly 72 hours between sessions that train the same muscle group. This will allow most people to recover from the previous session before placing additional stress on the muscles, tendons and joints.
Last but not least, you need to be extremely consistent. Your body will only hold onto the muscle mass that it needs. If you are consistently taking extended breaks from the gym, you are telling your body that you do not need that muscle tissue. The only way to continually improve and eventually maintain significant muscle mass is to keep reminding your body that it needs to grow. 2-3 days, even a week here and there will not kill your hard earned gainz, though 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off, will not get you anywhere.
NUTRITION – What is required?
Considering the fact that everyone is required to eat to survive (and thrive), you would assume that nutritional knowledge is a key area of education in our schools… Unfortunately, that is not the case. Most people struggle to grasp some of the important nutritional principles that dictate how we look and feel. Principles of importance to muscle hypertrophy include (but are not limited to), energy balance, protein intake and to an extent, carbohydrate intake.
Eating more energy than we spend (being in a caloric surplus) is essential to maximising hypertrophy. This is because both weight training and the process of building muscle require extra energy on top of what is necessary for general wellbeing. This does not mean that you need to eat yourself into a coma every meal, it simply means that you need to be eating enough food that your weight is slowly but surely tracking in the right direction. Typically, around 500g of weight gain per week will be a good place to start.
From a nutritional stand point, insufficient protein intake is where most people go wrong. Unless you are a significant meat-eater or supplementing protein powder, you probably aren’t consuming the protein necessary to grow. Increasing intake from roughly 0.9-1.1g/kg of body mass to 2-2.5g/kg of body mass or higher can be the golden ticket to building real mass. This increase in protein provides the key building blocks required to create additional muscle mass.
Carbohydrates have become somewhat of a controversial topic in health and fitness since the emergence of ketogenic diets and the passionate supporters that accompany them. Whilst carbohydrates may not be essential to muscle hypertrophy, they definitely don’t hurt your chances of creating gainz. Carbohydrates allow you to train at higher intensities for longer, which is especially important for hypertrophy training.