Five Simple Ways We Can All Win the Game of Building Muscle

Gaining muscle (naturally, of course) is not easy for anyone, especially women

Some of us are genetically blessed to put on muscle, but the truth is that if you are not exercising effectively, you could run the risk of completely wasting your time at the gym. For many years, I completely wasted my own time, and it wasn’t until I learnt the basics of weight training and implemented them consistently into my programs I started seeing results. I won’t lie, though; I did work in conjunction with a couple of great trainers. But, of course, I also did my experimentation and research. We can all make some good progress by doing this and adapting to a muscle-building diet. The catch is that you need time and patience and train every week consistently. I train even when I’m on holiday. It’s a part of my lifestyle, and I never make excuses for the necessary effort. When I’m on holiday, I’m relaxed and get better results. However, if I’m working, it’s always a workout where I can only do as much as I have time to — which is frustrating. Commitments to training are necessary to sustain and grow your muscle-building potential. Here are some more tips that might be useful for you during your building phase. 

One: Always use the correct technique with every repetition

The truth is, unless you have had a great coach or personal trainer, you probably don’t know how to use impeccable techniques within your training. This skill is priceless if you want to make gains and sustain them long term. This is a sure-fire reason you are probably not making progress right now. Some other reasons are:-

  • The range of motion you are using is not complete. Therefore, you are not allocating enough stimulus to the muscle for growth.
  • You are lifting very lightweight and not challenging yourself enough (or worst still, have been using the same weight for years on end!)
  • Your posture could be way off, increasing the risk of injury and training the incorrect muscles.
  • You are lowering and lifting the weights without enough awareness of the speed of muscular contraction.

Two: Always train the bigger lifts first, followed by isolated training

Isolation exercises are best for breaking through a plateau and aid in progression, but only after you have put in the hard work after sweating it out from deadlifts, pull-ups, squats and presses. Always write down your progression with every training session. For example, write down the KGs and amount of reps performed. It’s essential to monitor what strength increases and decreases are happening on a day to day basis. Doing this will uncover how particular events in your life manifest through your energy levels, sleep quality, and enthusiasm for training. It’s essential to write these down too. Progress requires self-awareness of your inner well-being too. We can learn a lot about ourselves through monitoring our bodies. Our body tends to give us signs and signal’s that most ignore. 

Three: Always change your workout program to prevent boredom

Here is a great way to set up your training program if you are doing it yourself;-

Accumulation phase

This is doing more reps and sets, so you spend time lifting the weight. This change increases muscle mass and decreases body fat.

Intensification phase

This means lifting heavier weights close to your max amount, so you get stronger. Intensification helps you develop more strength so you can lift heavier loads. If you want to be ripped and not phased about strength gains, alternate between these two phases to avoid hitting a wall with your training. Your body composition will get better as you progress. In addition, this intensification will allow you to use heavier weights once you go back to pushing volume. You have the best of both worlds here! Use these methods to your advantage and watch your body transform. 

Four: Varying your speed lifts and counting tempo

Tempo is high on the importance factor, as it’s all about upward and downward movement speed. The general rule is that eccentric (lowering) is 3–6 seconds, whilst concentric (lifting) is faster, for a longer time under tension. I always count to either 3 or 4 during the eccentric phase, and it’s served me well. Change up your program once in a while, as it does pay to speed up the movement, adding to more muscular development. Variety is always crucial to new gains. 

Five: 1 1/4 movements during the most challenging part of the exercise

Pulse training produces high tension levels without changing the muscle’s length or joint angle. This moving contraction increases the neural drive to maximise the strength & potential of newly developed muscle. An example is the one and a quarter contraction applied to the regular squat. You go all the way down, come up 20 or 30 degrees, pause for one second, descend back to the bottom and come up quickly. To add even more intensity, do not lock the knees. It’s intense, and if you have bad knees, please don’t go there. A movement like this will test you! You can use these for leg and bicep curls or bench pressing. I also use it when on the leg press. This move is guaranteed to produce growth and a good amount of DOMS for you! 

Key take away

You may have now developed an understanding of how many different alterations you can make to any movement to change your body shape. I know I’ve gone a bit technical on you, and it might be a bit confusing — but do take the time to search for these online and get the help of a reputable personal trainer. I would not have understood these terms if I hadn’t read and applied the learnings to my program. Not to mention getting the help of a personal trainer myself. It saved me years of frustration and lack of progression. We all should invest in a mentor because they will point out things that perhaps didn’t occur to us ourselves and help us excel. I can’t talk highly enough about them (the right ones, that is.)

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