Anytime you step foot in a gym you will most likely see people using various types of exercise equipment trying to get in their workout before their hectic lives start up again. You may also see men and women using weights, or “pumping iron.”
What they are trying to do is build their muscle mass, a goal held by many different people for many various reasons. Maybe they are trying to become a bodybuilder, or they may have broken their arm and are working towards regaining their strength through weight training.
The technical term for what they are trying to achieve is called Muscular Hypertrophy, or an increase in muscle mass. They are attempting to build muscle by increasing the size of individual muscle fibers in various parts of their bodies. I say various because someone may be focusing solely on their legs, while someone else may be dedicated to making their arms bigger.
For obvious reasons, you are more likely to see members working to improve muscular hypertrophy in a bodybuilding studio than you are in a regular gym. In order to obtain the large muscles that bodybuilders have, they must focus on developing the hypertrophy of their muscles.
There are many workouts to achieve this, and there are just as many websites out there with people claiming they have the answers on how to achieve this goal in the quickest way possible. While most of them carry at least a grain of truth, you should be careful. This is something that you need to discuss with your doctor and any other fitness professionals you are in contact with. Gathering information from other people who have achieved the goal that you have set for yourself is a great start in weeding out the bad advice from the good.
Genetics are a large determining factor in whether or not you will be able to build muscle easily. Some people are more likely to be able to build muscle quicker and faster than others due to how their body is designed. Those using weight training to increase the size of their muscles are actually trying to affect their muscle fibers. If their parents had larger muscle fibers to start with, they will begin their weight training with an advantage. This will allow them to build their muscles in a quicker fashion, as well as allow them to maintain those muscles longer.
But what happens if you are not swimming in a genetic goldmine? You can still build up your muscle, and can achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. It might be difficult and you may find that it takes you longer to achieve this goal than it would someone who had amazing genetics. There are some muscle building rules that you need to keep in mind as you go on this journey to muscle building. These are things that cannot be changed no matter how badly you want to change them, and the sooner you come to terms with them, the better off you will be.
The Science of Hypertrophy
First and most important, building muscle is a science. Whether you are training with a professional or trying it on your own, you need to know the basics of hypertrophy before you begin a weight training regimen. Experts in the field are divided on how to most effectively build your muscle mass. There are some that believe you only need to focus on increasing the size of your muscle fibers, while there are some that believe you only need to focus on increasing the amount of fluid in your muscles.
Increasing the amount of fluid around your muscles is called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. This increase in the fluid around your muscles mainly consists of water, glycogen, and different minerals. While most experts spend their time debating over which of these two methods are the best for increasing muscle mass, there are some that say you need not worry about separating the two.
Research has been conducted and there are studies that show that using both types of hypertrophy at the same time without separating them can actually have more benefits than other methods. By focusing on both types of muscle growth and using them together you can increase the size of your muscle fibers and increase the amount of fluid around your muscles. Now research has shown that your muscles will not stay stagnant if you increase your muscle fluid at the same time that you are increasing your muscle fibers. Combining the two types of hypertrophy will allow you to work on both at the same time and will add to the increase in your muscles.
Cookie Cutters Don’t Apply
Another very important thing to remember when it comes to building muscle is something that you have certainly heard throughout your life. Everyone is different, and so are their bodies. And in the same way that people grow differently, some being tall and other short, it is the same with muscle hypertrophy.
The workout that your coworker uses may not work on you, and what works for you may not work for him. Weight training is something that you should really consult a professional on. Teaming up with a personal trainer as well will help you create a workout that is specific for you and the goals that you have set for yourself.
Probably the most important thing to remember when you begin your weight training is that nothing happens overnight. In order to achieve the goals that you will set for yourself, you need to make sure that you are looking at these goals from a realistic standpoint and that you are not going to be expecting instant results overnight after your first workout.
Now that you have decided to increase your muscle mass, how do you do that?
According to research, there are three different ways to increase your muscle mass. Muscle tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress. Most will tell you that these are directly related to the amount of weight that you are lifting, but it has more to do with how you are actually lifting the weights and not how heavy the weights are.
Let’s take a look at muscle tension first. Gaining knowledge in this will set you up for an easier workout and will help you gain the knowledge you need to reach your goal. When using muscle tension, you want to make sure that you are using a full range of motion instead of simply trying to lift more weights at one time. Trying to lift more weights at one time can actually cause you more harm than good. While you would be lifting a more impressive number in terms of the weights you use, you are not actually building the proper amount of muscle.
Not using a full range of motion can cause you to falter on your form, which can cause you to injure yourself. Even though you may show signs of increased muscle mass, you will not show signs of increased muscle strength. In this case, you would be doing yourself a great injustice, and you will ultimately be keeping yourself from your overall goal.
While you may enjoy the perks of having larger muscles, if you do not have the strength to go along with it then you have failed in your attempt to truly build muscle with purpose.
Metabolic stress is a state in which your muscles have reached a state of exhaustion. You may associate this feeling with a burning sensation or a heavy sensation. It is caused by a lack of oxygen going to your muscles, and it is what most people use to know that they are training hard and using their muscles.
Once you have reached this feeling in your muscles, you can be sure that your muscles have entered the state where they have been switched into the on position and they are ready for growth. Metabolic stress can also present as an increase in swelling in your muscles on a cellular level, which means that you will begin to see muscle growth in the areas that you are focusing on. This is due to the muscle pulling water into itself to help increase the fluid surrounding the muscles.
Muscular damage may be the most complicated method for muscle growth and development. Muscular damage is caused mostly by lifting weights. Once you have begun to lift weights, you are going to damage your muscles. However, this is the kind of muscle damage that you want. Doing this will rebuild your muscles bigger and better. This helps you to achieve your overall goal of building more muscle mass. However, there is a catch to muscle damage that you need to keep in mind as you go along in this process. Your muscles can become stagnant and no longer continue to grow, but there is something you can do about it.
You will have to utilize a variety of techniques and exercises in order to make sure that you are getting everything you can out of your muscle damage. You want to make sure that you are doing at least some of the following every time you lift weights. First, make sure that you are lifting gradually heavier weights. If you continue to use the same amount of weight that you were using when you first started you are going nowhere fast. By continuously using the same weights, you are allowing your muscles to get used to the weight and it will not cause you to have muscle damage that can repair itself and rebuild your muscles bigger and stronger.
Second, try switching up your routine. Instead of working out your legs on Thursdays, work out your arms. Requiring your muscles to adapt to your routine and making sure you are keeping them on their toes, so to speak, will give you an advantage and help to keep your muscles from becoming stagnant. Try working out from a different angle, or switching around your workout routine. You could even try a different workout a couple of times a week to keep your muscles engaged during all of your workouts. Try talking to a personal trainer to get some pointers and tips on exactly how to keep your muscles engaged.
While you are working out, you want to make sure that your muscles are not taking a break, that they are constant engaged and ready to go. Doing this is called stretching the muscle, or the eccentric part of hypertrophy. This allows you to focus on the stretching part of lifting weights. By doing this you can make sure that you are constantly engaging your muscles and using them to the best of their ability to help you achieve your goals.
If you stretch your muscles while they are being activated in a lift, you are more likely to do good damage to them and then, in turn, create a bigger and a denser muscle to replace the damaged one with. Of course, you always want to make sure that you are stretching out the muscles properly to keep yourself from doing actual harm to your muscles. That would create a situation where you would need time to recover before you could hit the gym again, thus giving your muscles time to deflate and you will have to begin again to make sure that you can pump up your muscles to where they were before.
In order to have the proper amount of muscle growth, you must utilize all three of these methods in your workouts. Creating that first bit of muscle tension will set you up for the proper road to building the type of muscle that you desire. Making sure to factor in for the correct muscle damage that you need to build those muscles is important in making sure that you develop the muscles in the correct way.
Now that you know the basics of what is needed to begin your journey to building muscle, it is important that you have the workout routine to help you achieve your goals. Remember what we discussed about not using cookie cutter routines?
Adding and keeping variety in your workout routine is important if you want to build and maintain muscle. If you continue to use the same weights and use the same workout routine that you did when you first started lifting weights, you will not achieve your goals and you will more than likely experience a setback when it comes to your goals.
Variety is Vital
Variety is said to be the spice of life, but it is also the spice of your workout routines. You may want to set yourself up with a trainer when you first begin working out. They will be able to assess your strengths and weaknesses and help you to create a plan that works best for you. It is always important to remember that the guy lifting weights next to you will more than likely not have the same workout routine that you do. His needs may be a bit different from yours or anyone else’s.
You will want to change up your routine at least every other week to keep your muscles from becoming stagnant. Make sure to focus on low, medium, and high changes in your repetitions to make sure that you are hitting all of your triggers for muscle growth. Your personal trainer will more than likely explain to you that you need a variety of different workouts incorporated into your routine to help you build up not only your muscles but also your overall fitness and strength.
Getting into a routine is going to be more helpful to you than anything else you could do. Switching up your routine every few weeks will give you a break from the harder workouts without sacrificing the tension needed to continuously build your muscles.
You will certainly want to work on your strength during your weight lifting process, especially in the beginning when you may not be as strong as you would like to be. Using strength workouts such as squats or dead lifts will help you to build up strength. To keep your workouts interesting, try changing up your normal strength routine by changing the way you do the exercises.
You can use a wall to help support you during a squat, which would also give you the balance to use the squat position as a way to get an extra leg workout in. Once you have entered the normal squat position against the wall, lift one leg and hold for 10-15 seconds before replacing it and raising the other leg. This will also help you to strengthen your core muscles as you will need to help hold yourself up against the wall during the repetitions.
If you want to start with something lighter and more relaxed, try exercises that focus on more isolated parts of the body. For example, you can do curls, leg curls, and shoulder raises. These will focus on certain parts of the body and help you to create more tension, but you will be able to create that tension using smaller and lighter weights.
These are also great workouts for when you want to take a break from harder exercises, and on days that you may not have a large amount of time to devote to bigger and longer workouts. These lighter workouts will still give you the chance to increase your muscles and your muscle strength without putting too much pressure on your joints and muscles like what you may see with using heavier weights and harder routines.
Remember to Rest
Rest time during your routines is also vitally important to your overall goal. Making sure to take into account the amount of time you will be spending resting is important to keeping on track with your workouts. To help you lift heavier weights and go for longer periods of time while lifting these weights, you want to make sure that you take longer rest times to help your body build up the endurance to keep going when you know you are going to be training harder that day. Shorter rest times will help you to kick your metabolic damage into high gear, which will not only give you the rest that your body needs to keep going, it will also give you the strength you need to keep at it.
Training at a slower pace will give you the strength and muscle that you desire without putting you at an increased risk of developing serious injuries to your muscles. You don’t want to overdo it when you are exercising. Most people believe that if they just push through the pain and continually try to push their workouts to be harder and faster that they will achieve their goals faster. However, this is not the case and it could cause serious damage to your body. Taking the proper time to rest is a key component in allowing muscle damage to heal and develop into bigger and stronger muscle mass.
Your overall goal for weight training and putting on muscle mass is to train slowly over time, working on the parts of your body that you want to see improvement in. Take the time to set up a workout routine for weeks or months in advance and stick to it. Making sure to take into account the rest time needed for your body to prevent any injury is also important. You do not want to cause yourself injury and spend weeks or months trying to recover before you can begin exercising again.
Most importantly, you want to keep track of your exercise to see your improvements over time and keep your exercise changes constant so that you will prevent yourself from injury and from becoming stagnant. Once you have become stagnant, it is very difficult to get yourself out of that rut and back into properly training for your muscle goal.