5 Principles of Muscle Building

5 Principles of Muscle Building

Getting a lean, hardened physique is not always as simple as reducing fat through diet and cardio. Building the framework for your physique is done by putting on lean muscle mass through strength training. Many misconceptions exist around how this is best achieved, so here I share the five principles that anyone who wants to gain muscle mass must follow.

1. Adherence

You may be in search of the best workout split, best exercises, best rest periods, best supplements, etc., but if you can’t follow a program with consistency over the long term, your goals will never be achieved. Building muscle does not happen overnight—it takes time and dedication so you will need to be in it for the long haul. By choosing a program and setting expectations that realistically suit your lifestyle, you can begin to make progress.

2. Volume

Arguably the most important factor to muscular hypertrophy, volume refers to the number of sets reps and weight used in a workout. There is scientific evidence displaying that higher volume training will induce greater muscular hypertrophy. Sooneste H et. al reported that when using three sets per muscle group vs one set at the same intensity, the subjects who trained with the higher volume elicited greater strength and cross-sectional muscle area then did the group that trained with one set. Utilizing higher weekly total volumes will elicit the greatest amount of muscular hypertrophy, but it should be noted that volume must be advanced progressively, because taking on an extremely high volume program right out of the gate can lead to overtraining, decreased adherence, and an inability to progress once the body adapts.

3. Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during strength training, which results in muscular hypertrophy. In order to continue making progress in a strength program, it is essential that you constantly stimulate a muscle with a new challenge. The new stress leads to micro-trauma or injury of the cellular proteins in muscle. This prompts cell-signaling messages to activate satellite cells to begin a series of events leading to muscle repair and growth. The following variables to training are ways to increase overload.

4. Tempo

Tempo is the rate at which an exercise is performed; it it the ratio of time spent in concentric and eccentric contraction. Tempo determines time under tension (TUT), which is a way of calculating the total amount of work you place on a muscle. It refers to the total time a muscle resists weight during each set. It is often recommended that heavier training intensities (∼70%-80% of maximal strength) be lifted to maximize muscle growth. However, Burd NA et. al reported that intensities as low as 30% of maximum strength, when lifted to complete fatigue, are equally effective at stimulating muscle protein synthesis rates during resistance exercise recovery and result in comparable or greater muscle growth. Additionally, it should be noted that greater time under tension elicits metabolic byproduct accumulation and cellular swelling, otherwise known as the pump, which can greatly influence muscular hypertrophy.

5. Periodization

Periodization is the methodical manipulation of training variables over a period of time from days to years. The idea of periodization is to break down training cycles into different time intervals (microcycles, mesocycles, macrocycles) to expose the body to a particular training style that induces a benefit reaping stimulus but does not allow the body to become adapted to the stimulus. This method allows individuals to maximize training adaptations while also avoiding injury and overtraining which promotes recovery.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23249767

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20711498

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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