By David Hields
1. Exercises, Sets and Reps – One of the most important factors of weight training, and one that can be the biggest cause of not getting the results you want, is how many exercises, sets and reps to do. For any beginners that are already lost, Bicep Curl is an example of an exercise, reps is short for repetitions and is how many Bicep Curls you should do, and sets is how many times should repeat those reps after a short rest. But how many of each? To build muscle, you will get the best results if you do 4 sets of 10 reps, for 3 different exercises for each body part.
2. Work To Failure – You now know to do 10 reps per set, but not how much weight to lift. Well the answer to this is simple: lift as much weight as you can for 10 reps. If you can do 12 reps or more you haven’t got enough weight, if you can only do 8 reps or less you’ve got too much.
3. Rest Periods – Something that most people are unaware of is how long they should rest between sets. For some people it’s just long enough to get their breath back, for others it’s however long it takes to finish the conversation with their training partner. This can be anything from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, depending how interesting it is! The length of time for a rest period is dictated by how long it takes for the energy system (in this case anaerobic) to recover, without overdoing it and not getting the most benefit for muscle building. Between each set have a 2 minute rest. Use a stopwatch if necessary. It’s that important.
4. Split-Routine Workouts – If you’re serious about weight training then you need to be doing split-routine workouts. This means instead of exercising your whole body each time you go to the gym, train different body parts on different days and repeat this each week. An example four-day split routine is: Monday – Triceps and Biceps, Tuesday – Rest, Wednesday – Legs, Thursday – Rest, Friday – Back and Shoulders, Saturday – Chest, Sunday – Rest
5. Don’t Do Too Much – What I mean by this is if you’re doing the split-routine as above on Monday, when you’ve done 4 sets of 3 exercises on your Triceps and the same for your Biceps – Stop! Don’t think you haven’t done enough or had a lazy weekend and need to make up for it. Doing more than this will not only achieve few benefits in terms of building muscle, it could have the opposite effect and decrease muscle size. It might also lead to overtraining which comes with a whole host of complications.
6. Get Enough Rest – It might show dedication to want to lift weights every day, but your body needs rest. When you’re in the gym you’re not actually building muscles, you’re damaging them. But it’s this microscopic damage, called micro-tears, that causes the body to increase muscle size to prevent it happening in the future. This happens during rest, especially during sleep, so make sure you’re getting enough.
7. Warm Up Properly – While most people want to get straight into their training, even if it’s just to get it over with, warming up properly is too important to miss. A few minutes of light aerobic work and stretching before and after each workout not only helps prevent injuries, it also helps prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), both of which will interfere with training.
8. Protein – Just about everyone that lifts weights knows that good quality protein is essential for healthy lean muscle. But what many don’t know is that you shouldn’t just have as much as you can get. If you don’t exercise you need your weight in kilos multiplied by 0.8 grams. If you do a serious amount of weight or strength training, such as professional bodybuilder, you might multiply your weight in kilos by 2 grams. For most people wanting to build muscle though, a figure somewhere between 1.2 and 1.5 grams is best. Your body can take in so much protein per day anyway, anything in excess of this is just wasted.
9. A Healthy Diet – Whether you need to lower the amount of calories you eat to lose body fat, or increase it to bulk up, supplements have their uses but should not be relied upon. For example, you can get enough protein in your diet without ever touching a protein supplement by eating meat, eggs, fish, cheese and milk, but also nuts, beans, soy, oats, and lentils. Also, the more intense your workouts, the more carbohydrates you use and the more you need to replace them, otherwise you might be too tired to train the next day. And remember your 5-a-day to make sure your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to be at its best for building muscle.
10. Log Your Workouts – Achieving 10 reps for each set means using the correct weights, but given all the different exercises you’ll be doing it’s very difficult to remember what you lifted last time. Especially if you’re getting stronger and your weights are always changing. Making notes means you’ll know what you’re going to lift before you even get to the gym, and will help you see how far you’ve come since you started.
David Hields is a qualified Personal Trainer and writer who has 20 years experience of dieting, exercising and fitness. He has also studied psychology for over 10 years and uses all of this knowledge to help people achieve their health & fitness goals.
Visit his blog at http://thedreambodydiet.com/blog/category/muscle-building/