Whether you are a weekend warrior or one who is on a specific training program, make sure you know how to train to achieve your goals.
Hypertrophy, strength and fat loss are the three main goals when it comes to working out.
Check out the tips in your category of interest and make the most of your training!
Increasing Muscle Hypertrophy
When it comes to adding more muscle to the frame, it might be hard for some, however, if you really work hard and stick to a good plan, you can see great gains in muscle size. For muscle hypertrophy, it is not always about the load of the exercise, but the focus and consistency while working out.
To gain size, use a lighter load and increase your reps. In order to elicit a potential for growth, some damage must be inflicted on the muscle. More repetition will wear muscle fibers down to microscopic tears. These tears will then rebuild themselves into larger fibers. In all, muscle cross-sectional area will be increased and the strength potential will also be enhanced. Remember: Larger muscles equal more strength.
Another important step is to prioritize your lifts. Perform large complex multi-joint movements first. Then, perform single joint isolation exercises. This will allow you to perform exercises such as the squat, with good form and proper weight.
You should be performing isolation exercises such as: Biceps curls, triceps pushdowns, and delt flyes. These should be done with a light weight and high number of reps. Feel the pump and think volume over strength. If you want your arms to be bigger, don’t put the primary focus on your biceps. Your triceps make up two-thirds of your arms and have three sections as opposed to the two found on your biceps.
Don’t leave out squats! Squatting will help with any goal you have. In fact, it has become a trend across the Internet and all over gyms across the world. Squatting every day is helping people set personal records and helping many become bigger, stronger and leaner than ever.
German Volume Training 10 sets x 10 reps
This type of training will help get you big. There are many great programs that incorporate German Volume Training.
Here is a sample workout!
- Deadlifts – 10 x 10
- Explode up, 1 second pause at the top, normal speed down, 1 second pause at the bottom
- Rest periods: 90 seconds
- Bench Press – 10 x 10
- 3 seconds down, 1 second pause, explode up, 1 second at the top.
- Rest periods: 90 seconds
- Bulgarian Weighted Split Squats – 4 x 8-12
- 2 seconds down, 1 second pause, explode up, 1 second at the top.
- Rest periods: 60 seconds after both legs
- Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – 4 x 8-12
- 2 seconds down, 2 second pause, 1 second push, 1 second pause at the top
- Rest periods: 60 seconds
When performing a hypertrophy workout, dividing your weekly schedule into a body part split routine will be the best for adding size. You can then really target one area and give those muscle groups the volume and intensity they need.
Try to aim for at least 300 reps for a workout
Half of those reps need to be less than 65 to 85% of your 1 rep max; this would be for the larger complex exercises. Then you would finish a workout off with a pump exercise. This will really help flood and blow up your muscles, thereby increasing the blood flow for nutrient uptake. To really help with that, you should be consuming a post workout shake or meal.
Diet and Nutrition
In order to really see a large increase in muscle size, you must consume the proper amount of calories. This can’t be a once a week binge type of nutrition schedule. You have to consume more calories than your body needs to increase muscle size.
A great way to add more calories to your diet is to consume a mass gaining supplement immediately post workout, with a real meal 30 to 60 minutes following that. Meal timing is not everything, but it does help before and after intense workouts. Just like your training, you must be consistent with your nutrition. Proper calorie intake over days will lead into weeks and those weeks will lead to months.
How Do I Get Stronger?
Becoming as strong as you want is something a lot of individuals struggle to do. It takes a lot of focus and hard work to get to the strength level one desires. However, with the right programming and lifestyle outside of the gym, you can become much stronger than you were before.
Strength training should be one of the very first things you perform in a workout. Of course, proper warm-up and pre sets is required for maximal strength output. But in all, make sure strength training comes first.
For the sets that lead up to that one final max set, your load should start low and then gradually get heavier. A good example is the following: 10 / 5 / 4 / 3 / 2 / 1 / 1 / 1 / 1. Never go over 90% of your maximum until the singles.
When trying to increase strength, you will want to pick the exercises involving larger movements that are multi-joint exercises. These include: Squats, deadlifts, presses, rows and even core isometric movements such as farmer walks.
You will also want to focus on lifting lower volume, but with higher intensity. Intensity means the percentage of effort being performed on one exercise. This means you will be lifting loads anywhere from 85 to 100% effort. And, of course, proper form is essential.
Often Overlooked Factors In Strength Training
One aspect of increasing strength that often gets overlooked is grip strength. The stronger your grip, the better the potential for an increase in full body strength due to the muscle motor unit recruitment throughout the body.
When your grip is strong, it acts as a foundation for strength. Think of it like this: A stronger grip means approaching each movement with more strength and stability. With that in mind, the result will always be a better, more successful lift.
Sleeping is one of the key things you should be doing if you want to increase your strength. Your brain is turned off during this time of day and it will allow you to refocus for when you are ready to take on your daily tasks. It is during this period that your brain, and all the other muscles in your body, goes through a state of repair. It is also during this time that your muscles grow.
The Big Three for Strength
When it comes to increasing your strength, you’ll undoubtedly want to use squats, deadlifts, and the bench press. Hit these three exercises multiple times throughout the weeks and you will see huge gains in strength over the months and years of training.
With that said, to noticeably get stronger, you still need to be sure that you perform these exercises using the correct exercise technique. Ask any veteran weightlifter and he or she will say that they became stronger when they cleaned up their form. Obviously, when the loads start to become a near max effort, your form will be hindered. Therefore, your progress will stall. But, you’ll find that you will successfully hit a new personal record because your previous training was correct.
Is Getting Stronger a Fitness Goal?
Every program should have a strength phase. No matter your fitness goal, there should be a phase that focuses on strength. Just like increasing muscle cross sectional area leads to greater strength, you will find that increasing your strength will help increase muscle size and lower body fat percentage. They all work together.
Decrease Body Fat
This is one of the most popular reasons that people have for finally making the decision to get in the gym and getting serious about their health. In fact, hypertrophy and strength training are often overlooked and people jump to this as their goal.
But, if you go through with the previously described types of training, you will find that your body fat will actually decrease. In the meantime, you should also check out these tips to decrease your overall body fat.
To decrease body fat percentage, you shouldn’t put the primary focus on burning fat during the workout. The goal of resistance training should be to work on form, strength and breakdown of muscles. Then, you will develop more muscle mass.
Any type of cardio training is good for lowering body fat. However, if you want to maintain your muscle mass while getting the most out of your workout, you need to do muscular conditioning. This type of conditioning takes the word cardio out of the picture. Who likes cardio anyway?
If you’re serious about decreasing your body fat, try the following conditioning workout:
- 12 Minutes @ 10% incline
- 5 to 4.5 speed
- 10-20 seconds on / 10-20 seconds off
- Repeat 4-10 times
c1: Thrusters [variation] x 10 repetitions
c2: Kettlebell / Dumbbell swings x 20 repetitions
c3. Jump rope x 30 seconds
c4. Rest 30 seconds
- Repeat for 12 minutes
What Does Food Have To Do With Getting Stronger?
It goes without saying, but nutrition is key.
What does this mean?
You need to eat the right types of foods that will sustain you. You also need to be concerned about your caloric intake.
Calories consumed over a long period of time must be monitored. Your caloric expenditure should be greater than or equal to your actual caloric needs.
Losing body fat is pure science. If you want to lose weight, don’t consume more calories than your body needs. Once you get down to a certain body fat percentage, you will start to notice the speed of the loss become slower.
Other Tips for Strength..
Pick an exercise plan and stick with it. There are far too many people who try a workout program for two weeks and then quit. Program hopping gets you nowhere. A program should be at least 12 weeks long. Keep that in mind when you start. Also consider these important factors:
If your workout program calls for maximum efforts every day, the truth is that you’ll only be able to do it for so long before you eventually burn out.
Your workout program needs to be balanced. There should be the optimal amount of pushing, pulling, single-joint, isometric, conditioning, etc. in the program. However, if it calls for the bench press every other day, it might not be the best program. Some programs do call for the bench press every other day, however, those programs are usually a micro-cycle of larger training programs.
Remember, there is no perfect workout program. You will find a program that will help you reach your goals. You just need to stick with that program!
When people hate certain exercises or body part days, usually that is what that person needs to work on the most. Neglecting certain areas will slow progress and prevent any muscle and strength gains from occurring.
Killing your body in the gym raises stress hormones over a short period of time. That is good to an extent. Having the proper amount of sleep and nutrition for your body is key. You need to monitor your body. Listen to what it’s telling you and take those physical cues into consideration each day.
Don’t be afraid to back off in weight or call it a day. Sometimes your brain just can’t handle the intensity of a workout. Sometimes we feel immortal in the gym. Then other days, we will feel like we are starting at ground zero. Find the positive out of each workout and don’t be afraid to back off if necessary.
-Patrick Thompson, NSCA-CPT
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