Many people join the gym to shape up their bodies by developing muscles in the best possible way. They smash the gym hard; they don’t miss out on any single gym session, and they perform intensive workouts needed for effective muscle growth. However, they fail to meet their goal despite working so hard to achieve it, primarily because they work hard in the wrong direction.
This article aims at making your muscle-building journey rewarding by sharing the exact three tips that can help you achieve your goal.
1. Focus on Progressive Overload for Continuous Muscle Growth
Progressive overload is when you slowly increase the weight, frequency, or strength in your training routine. Without progressive overload, you cannot build muscle and improve strength; however, too much overload can lead to tension and injury.
Therefore, the challenge lies in getting the right and appropriate balance to keep improving and exceeding the body's capabilities. This will improve your muscle growth and help you achieve your desired goals.
The idea of joining the gym is just a start. It needs to be backed up with proper mindset, guidance, plan, determination, and grit. Gradually uplifting your workout routines and boosting them can bring phenomenal results in developing your muscles.
If you spend many hours in the gym lifting the same weights for the same number of reps, you shouldn’t expect your body to change. You need to beat your usual workouts and increase required demands. The more gradual demands you place on your body during your training, the more strength, endurance, and power you will gradually gain.
Research published in the European Journal of applied physiology, 2011, examined the relationship between volume load used and muscle enlargement and growth.
The researchers observed 83 subjects for 12 weeks as they performed a series of arms exercises with proper emphasis on any subject if they had done strength training or employment requiring repetitive use of the arms within the prior 12 months. They concluded that progressive overload is effective for muscle growth in both men and women.
Adaptations occur gradually and do not come out overnight. You could observe changes in yourself within a single week or a month. After one gym session, you might feel super strong, while in another session, you find yourself going backward and weak. Anyhow, if you are putting your muscles under stress, you will ultimately get stronger. Patience and consistency are important.
While progressive refers to something that improves gradually and steps by step or in stages, overload refers to an excessive amount of something or a load with too great a burden.
How to Overload Your Muscles?
Below are some essential aspects to focus on while packing on muscle. You should be consistent with your workouts; you need to push yourself to the limit with every rep and exercise. It’s easy to give your muscle rest and give up sometimes. Just visualize the physique you desire and go for the best.
Increase Your Reps/Volume
If you are unable to add more weight, you can increase your repetitions. This method is also considered a means of progressive overload because you put extra stress on the muscle, leading to greater muscle gains.
For example, let us say you are doing three sets for an exercise. Your target should be to do more reps than your previous set. Push yourself to the limits and do not stop unless you complete another rep, don’t let pain overcome your goal. The tougher you will make it for yourself, the more you are maximizing your muscle-building eﬀorts.
Increase Your Intensity/Resistance
Adding more weight is challenging, but stepping out of your comfort zone is always good for achieving your targets.
You have to make sure your technique, form, and range of motion are on point. If any of these suﬀer while increasing the intensity, take some weight oﬀ and try maximum reps/more sets. Very soon, you will be able to do a higher intensity.
Meanwhile, if you can keep the proper form and effort while doing an increased weight, it will lower your rep count, but that would keep you in an ideal range for hypertrophy.
Increase Your Frequency/Consistency
Consistency and frequency are the keys to achieving your required physique. You should be regular with your training and nutrition, and if not, you will be unable to lose or gain weight. Without consistency and proper frequency, you will not gain muscle and positively change your body.
Follow your muscle-building program as eﬃciently as you can. We know you are not perfect, but the longer you stick to something, the better you will become at it. Building muscle takes time and eﬀort! You cannot skip days after having two or three good gym sessions thinking that your body will pack in some good size.
You can count yourself changing your body only if you skip your workout for a very good reason (for instance, your loved one’s birthday), and you don’t want to feel guilty about it. That is when you know it is ingrained.
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2. Negative Reps to Rip More Muscle Fibers
What goes up must come down. The same is applied when you lift weights; people normally consume a lot of energy in lifting weight upwards and then just let it drop.
First, you need to understand what negative training is.
One of the most effective techniques that bodybuilders use for quick strength gains is negative reps. If you perform it correctly and incorporate this technique in your training, you will certainly gain size and muscle mass.
The term 'negative' refers to an eccentric movement that involves loading weight in only the muscle-lengthening phase. It is the phase of the move when you are lowering the weight instead of pressing it upwards. Hollander (2007) found that the eccentric force is 20 to 60% more than concentric force in young men.
Eccentric muscle action is a form of muscle activation in which the stress in the muscle increases as the muscle lengthens. Negative repetition overloads the muscles and causes tears in the muscle fibers, which allow the muscle to regenerate a little larger each time you use this method.
How to Train Negative Reps?
You can use negative reps on basically any exercise in the gym. Use your maximum strength to push the weight in your reps. On the way down, go slowly and count between 3 to 5 seconds. You are now achieving muscle hypertrophy because you are overloading them.
If you think the load is too heavy and cannot resist it for at least 3 seconds, take some weight oﬀ. The same goes; if it's too easy, then add more weight!
We advise you to try and do negative rep training on the days you have a training partner. It is because they can spot you to put the weights back to their starting position once you have lowered them down. However, you can go ahead if you get the weights back up with proper form.
You should use negative reps in the last few reps of your sets. Each repetition does not have to be negative but includes a few to feel the burn and tear those muscle fibers.
You will love the strength of eccentric training because the results are addictive. While muscle soreness can occur in the days following your workout, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
3. Consume Dietary Fat for Increasing Testosterone Levels
While proteins are strongly linked to muscle growth because of amino acids, fat consumption is also important for promoting muscle progression.
Many people are fooled into thinking that fats only cause weight gain. On the other hand, dietary fat is essential for the body's function and muscle development.
Fat does not make you fat. Excessive calories make you fat, regardless of which macronutrients they come from.
Dietary fat contains nine calories per gram (more than double what carbs and proteins contain, which is four calories per gram). In this case, dietary fat helps provide the body with energy, fuel, and function throughout the day.
Dietary fat is one of the essential things to consider when attempting to build muscle. It optimizes natural testosterone production, the main muscle-building hormone in both males and females. There will be less muscle growth if your testosterone levels are low.
The article published in the World Journal of Men’s Health (2013) reported an increased level of testosterone in the bloodstream reduces the risk of heart diseases and plays a great role in muscle mass and strength. Moreover, fat plays an important part in hormone regulation.
The various kinds of fat are described below. Remember, fat isn't your enemy! Fat can only be unhealthy if consumed in excessive quantities.
- Saturated fats like red meat, coconut oil, dark chocolate, egg yolks, whole milk & cheese.
- Monounsaturated fats like olive oil, macadamia oil & avocado oil.
- Polyunsaturated fats like sunflower oil, margarine, light spreads, canola oil & walnut oil.
- Trans Fats are fries, cakes, biscuits, crackers & fried fast foods.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthier choices. Some natural fat sources that you can include in your diet:
- Peanut butter
- Canola oil
- Olive oil
- Egg yolks
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are vital for muscle growth and development.
What are EFA's?
You must have heard these primarily referred to as Omega-3 and Omega-6. Other fatty acids, such as Omega-7 and Omega-9, are also essential, though the body can produce them.
They all assist muscle development in numerous ways that are helpful when attempting to bulk up your physique. Here are some of the essential roles they play:
- Assist in the maintenance of natural testosterone levels in the body. It is the primary hormone needed for muscle building, as previously mentioned.
- Improve the body's protein production in muscle cells.
- Increase the body's secretion of growth hormones. It is essential because it stimulates muscle growth, cell reproduction and a safeguard against muscle loss.
These are all essential functions to have when attempting to gain muscle, particularly during intense training.
- Hollander, Daniel B., et al. “Maximal Eccentric and Concentric Strength Discrepancies between Young Men and Women for Dynamic Resistance Exercise.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 21, no. 1, Feb. 2007, pp. 34–40. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1519/R-18725.1.
- Lee, Hyun-Ki, et al. “The Role of Androgen in the Adipose Tissue of Males.” The World Journal of Men’s Health, vol. 31, no. 2, Aug. 2013, pp. 136–40. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.2013.31.2.136.
- Peterson, Mark D., et al. “Progression of Volume Load and Muscular Adaptation during Resistance Exercise.” European Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 111, no. 6, June 2011, pp. 1063–71. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-010-1735-9.
- Tsujimura, Akira. “The Relationship between Testosterone Deficiency and Men’s Health.” The World Journal of Men’s Health, vol. 31, no. 2, Aug. 2013, pp. 126–35. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.2013.31.2.126.