As the second part of our ‘mass gaining for the winter’ myth busting series we are going to expose some of the most common misconceptions when it comes to training. To add muscle you need to train correctly, if you don’t then you wont make the gains you desire! With so many people making the same mistakes we have put together an article to help you avoid making the same mistakes!
Sure that is a play on words, but when people aim to add ‘muscle mass’ they tend to really start throwing the weight about. However, with the main goal to build new muscle tissue you need to stimulate the target muscle via full muscular contractions! This isn’t to say you shouldn’t lift ‘heavy’ because you should! What we are saying is that by adding 30% to what you would usually lift and swinging the weight around you are holding yourself back! Some people will refer to the form of some IFBB pro bodybuilders, and they are right because some of them use terrible form. However, you cannot compare yourself to these guys because they would grow bicep curling a twig! Genetics!!!
Top Tip – to really stimulate muscle mass through heavy lifting use a repetition range of 6-8 with controlled form, but have a training partner to help you achieve a few forced repetitions. This is where lifting ‘heavy’ really attacks the muscle!
If you are doing a high repetition workout people instantly presume that you are ‘toning up’ or ‘burning’ body fat. Whilst you are, you are also stimulating muscle growth! There is a great misconception that high repetition workouts cannot help you build muscle. Once and for all, we are going to explain exactly why it DOES help you build muscle, and lots of it at that!
Higher repetition workouts take your body to the stage where it is forced to recruit the slow twitch muscle fibres. Considering 95% of ‘bodybuilders’ target their fast twitch muscle fibres, this poses a great opportunity to stimulate growth on a new level. With genetics playing a massive part, your overall muscle mass can be made up of around 40% from slow twitch muscle fibres! So surely common sense says if you develop these muscle fibres you are going to add more mass to your frame! This makes high repetition training ideal for your mass gaining phase this winter. What’s more, high repetition training forces more blood into the target muscle. As a result the fascia is stretched further than usual, potentially creating more room for growth!
Top Tip – to incorporate high rep training into your mass gaining plan, aim to do a high rep week every 3 weeks. This way your joints and connective tissue will also enjoy a much needed rest from the heavy weight you have been lifting, keeping you fresh and injury free!
Exercises like the bench press, leg press, squats, deadlifts and military press all come under the term ‘compound exercises.’ Each of these exercises are fantastic for adding mass on to your frame. However for some reason people tend to think isolation movements are not! By isolating the muscle you want to grow and achieving a full muscle contraction with each repetition, of course you are going to stimulate growth!
The idea that compound movements are only for growth and isolation movements are only for detail and conditioning is outdated and wrong!
Top Tip – to bring stubborn muscles up be sure to isolate them with strict form! The emphasis really needs to be on the contraction as you squeeze the muscle very hard with every repetition you do!
When people become fixated with mass gaining they suddenly feel the urge to spend twice the amount of time in the gym! This isn’t necessarily beneficial though! If you are an average athlete who trains 4 times a week and you start lifting 6 times a week you may find this becomes counter productive. Why? Recovery! The name of the game is recovery, because without fully recovering how can you grow? You can’t, it is scientifically impossible! Don't get caught up training a muscle group more than once every 7 days! Remember, if you can then you didn't train it hard enough earlier in the week!
Top Tip – remember training is about quality not quantity! Therefore you shouldn’t lift more than 5 times a week! To really force growth make sure EVERY workout you absolutely milk the muscles dry with forced repetitions, drop sets and negatives for example!
Hopefully you can spare yourself another unproductive winter and make some real gains in the gym!