Training to build muscle, it’s simple, right?
Well let me ask you a question…
How much muscle have you built this year?
Happy with your results? Or feel you could have made more progress?
If you’re like most gym goers you have probably made some gains, but nowhere near as many as you could have.
Want to maximise your results? Of course you do and I’m here to help.
Recently, there has been a lot more research on the mechanisms and training principles of hypertrophy. I have sifted through the research to provide you with the KEY takeaway guidelines.
Follow these and you will grow as fast as humanly possible!
First up – what causes muscle to grow…
Brad Schoenfeld’s research gives us an insight into the optimal training strategies for hypertrophy. He has identified the three key training mechanisms which drive muscle gain.
2.] Metabolic stress (the pump)
3.] Muscle damage (often felt as soreness)
In my opinion 75-80% of your results will come from mechanical tension.
If you focus on progressively lifting more weight in the 6-12 rep range, on the big lifts, then a lot of your muscle gains will be taken care of.
Recent research actually calls into question the exact influence of Metabolic Stress and Muscle Damage. Based on the current evidence it appears likely that muscle damage does not directly contribute significantly to muscle growth, but rather is a symptom of training that does cause hypertrophy. As such, rather than actively seeking muscle damage you would be best served focusing on mechanical tension and metabolic stress and accept that muscle damage will occur via these pathways.
On top of that, it appears that metabolic stress may contribute to hypertrophy in a different manner to what was previously thought. This mechanism may not rely so much on cell swelling (aka the pump) causing growth through the stress placed on the cell membrane and mechanoreceptors sensing increased pressure, but that the fatigue and metabolites accumulated cause increased activation of fibres. Whatever, the truth (plenty more research is required before definitive answers are possible) it is a useful pathway for growth and should make up some (probably around 10-15%) of your training time. Thus, to maximize your muscular potential it is wise to use isolation exercises and techniques aimed at metabolic stress.
So, you know that your training has to focus on mechanical tension, and include both metabolic stress and muscle damage, but what are the practical guidelines to achieve this?
I’ve done the leg work for you…
Mathias Wernborn investigated the key drivers of hypertrophy in his paper “The influence of Frequency, Intensity, Volume and Mode on Muscle Hypertrophy.”
Based on the findings from this research it is possible to make the following recommendations:
- Do 40-70reps/muscle group/session
- For a total of 80-210reps/muscle group/week
- Lift loads heavier than 60% 1RM
- Train each muscle group 2-3xweek
- 66-75% of your sets should be in the 6-12 rep range
- Most of those should be for sets of 8-10 close to, or to failure
- Use 1-3 exercises per body part (1 for smaller muscle groups)
- Begin with 2-3 sets per exercise
- Progress to 3-6 sets per exercise
- Lift with a moderate tempo (about a 2 second eccentric and 1 second concentric)
It has been established that there is a dose response relationship between volume and hypertrophy. This means that the more volume (up until a point) you do the more size you build. Now, the point at which this stops occurring is when you overreach and can no longer recover. As Dr. Mike Israetel calls it – your Maximum Recoverable Volume. So, if more volume = more gains then you should do more volume. You cannot just jump straight in at the deep end though. You should methodically and intelligently increase volume over time until you hit your MRV and have to deload. Here is an outline of how I suggest you do this:
There you have it. A framework to plug in and play when it comes to training for size.
I’ve done the research for you. Now you just need to get in the gym and follow the experts advice to build a tonne of muscle.
What are you waiting for? Get growing!
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