Repetition is part and parcel of training for muscle growth; sometimes the repetitive nature becomes a sticking point for some as their progress comes to a grinding halt. There comes a point when you need to reconsider your plan of attack, just like the German teams became used to the Spanish teams ‘’keep ball’’ philosophy in this year’s European cup your muscles will eventually sus you out and stop adapting to the training. In simple terms the stimulus you provide the muscles needs to vary – the best way to achieve this is to challenge the muscle on several different levels on a consistent basis.
In 3 simple steps here is how.
1 – Myofibrillar Hypertrophy
This is a form of hypertrophy which is often dubbed ‘’functional’’ because it increases the size of the muscle fibres which in turn makes them stronger. Your training split should focus on this hypertrophy for both the lower and upper body once a week. Logically starting your week with a strength session for the upper body followed by the lower body (over 2 days/separate workouts) makes sense because you will fire up the high threshold motor units (HTMUs) for your workouts later in the week. Why is this important? If your HTMUs are firing you have the potential to recruit as many as 10 times the number of muscle fibres – heavy, powerful lifting is usually the best way to excite them.
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2) Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy
Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy isn’t functional, however in reality if you get bigger via sarcoplasmic hypertrophy you will get stronger. This form of hypertrophy occurs when the muscle cell fills with sarcoplasm which in turn increases the volume of the muscle. Lifting with higher reps (8-15 and higher) will help achieve this. After you have started your week with low rep heavy lifting it makes sense to finish with two sessions, one upper and one lower – this time with higher reps.
Across these two sessions you have stimulated protein synthesis across the entire body at least twice (it generally remains elevated for 48 hours as a natural athlete) and you have also stimulated both forms of hypertrophy.
There are many different grips you can use during your training to ensure there is a constant change of emphasis on each muscle. Neutral grip, wide grip, reverse grip, wide stance, narrow stance, toes inwards, toes outwards – they are just the basics! Then introduce on top of that thicker bar grips and you have an arsenal of tools to keep your muscles guessing.
Stimulating growth is a puzzle and sometimes it takes time to work it out – these three steps are a good starting point.