To stimulate a muscle you need to make it work, that doesn’t necessarily mean moving a weight from A to B with an exercise which involves that muscle stimulates it. Rather than focus on moving the weight from A to B focus on the journey between those two points AND at either point. That is what will transform your workout into a typical ‘’move some weight’’ session into a stellar hypertrophy master class! If we could share with you 3 ways to make your muscle work harder during the workout it could be the making of a new you, so we will.
1 – Isometrics aka Pause & Squeeze
An isometric contraction occurs at either end of the rep, at the start and end. In ‘’real’’ words you have a squeeze and you have a stretch. It is at both of these points that you can really turn up the heat on your target muscles and dramatically increase the amount of tension the muscle experiences. There is no set time frame in which is said to be ‘’optimal’’ to promote hypertrophy, instead you should play around with different time limits in both phases. Starting with 2 seconds will make a massive difference; from there why not try 5 or even 10 if you can withstand the burn that will inevitably arrive as a result of your muscle torturing ritual!
2 – Partial Reps
For every article out there which preaches the importance of proper form and full range of motion it has to be said that partial reps can be devastatingly effective at breaking down muscle fibres. One great way to apply this training tool is to near a point of failure on a given exercise and from there go straight into 10-15 controlled partial repetitions. Work from point A (the stretch bit) to roughly 1/3 of the usual range of motion. The constant tension inflicted on the muscle will be enough to teach some new tricks!
3 – Angle of Attack
Thinking outside of the box is crucial if you want to really hit those muscle fibres, make them work and stimulate HTMUs (high threshold motor units!). For example, take a conventional dumbbell chest press and add a twist in the mix. Combine that with prolonged isometrics from point 1 and you have yourself a very potent muscle building tactic.
To further support muscle growth try using Reflex BCAAs to combat catabolism!
A lot of these points focus on things you might not have considered or tried before, great! Muscle stimulation in the gym is king, moving weight is for weight lifters – not necessarily for those who want to carve a physique.