Depending on whom you ask certain muscle building techniques are more respected than others. Some items can increase your risk of injury, while others are said to have no actual physical benefits to you and basically have you spinning your wheels. What follows is a look at some muscle building techniques that can help you to get the results you’re looking for when you’re training!
A Look At The 10 Most Popular Muscle Building Techniques
The first technique people will often look at is called the super set. This is where you do two sets of exercises back to back, without taking any breaks. It is important that these exercises workout
opposing muscle groups, as this will help to boost your efforts. Think of doing pull-ups and pull-downs for example as these tend to work the opposing muscles. When done, you take a normal break before you continue on your next set of muscles.
A staggered set is when you perform a set of an exercise for one body part and immediately perform another set of an exercise for another body part. The way I see it, there’s a couple different benefits from utilizing staggered sets. The first being that you will get through your workout much quicker. The second being the cariovasular benefit you achieve from your super-set (staggered sets are essentially a modified super-set). I have a buddy who trains almost exclusively with staggered sets and says he likes them because “when you’re working one muscle group the other is resting.” He’s not wrong and this allows him to use maximum weight for each body part.
Another type of muscle building technique some people will focus on are the drop sets. If you choose to go this route, you need to be very careful. When doing these routines, you take the heaviest weight you can handle and do as many reps as you possibly can, until you come to failure or as I call it success. This is then followed by you dropping down the amount of weight you are doing and do this a second time and continuing the process for your desired amount of sets.
Slow Lifts With Emphasis On Negatives
This one that pro bodybuilders (natural & otherwise) lift extremely slow with emphasis on the “negative rep” This is the super slow lift, which has you lift your weights for a count of 20 seconds and then lower in a 20 second motion. This requires you to move slower and to ensure that you are allowing the muscles to work when doing the movement. What is interesting about this technique is the fact that it can actually be a better approach to working out for those who have muscle, bone and joint issues as it seems to have less stress placed on these areas of the body.
Full Body Routine
When you hit full body workouts you’ll typically hit each muscle group 3-4 times weekly. That’s a huge amount of stimulation. If you want to achieve this same frequency of muscle stimulation with split routines you’ll be hitting 3-4 sessions daily… Not gonna happen.
Now, you’ll obviously be expending more energy per workout compared to split training as well. One other major factor about full body routines is the greater anabolic hormone stimulation during the workouts. When you tax a large amount of muscle in a given training session, you’ll see a greater increase in plasma anabolic hormone concentration.
With the split routines you are going to be able to move more weight with your desired muscle group compared to full body routines. This is because you will inevitably experience less fatigue due to the demanding nature of full body routines. Another beneift of split routines is the greater attention you can pay to each muscle group. Think about it, if you only have 1 or 2 muscle groups to hit rather than the entire body in a given session, those 2 muscle groups are going to recieve more concentrated attention, which in my opinion will result in more specific microtrauma and adaptation. What I notice in my gyms are a tendency for people to take a more half-assed approach to their full body lifts because there is simply too much going on.
Low Reps With Heavy Weight
In most training circles, you will find the topic of low reps with heavier weight coming up with regards to bulking. Now, I do partially agree with this. However, to maximize your training and in order to truly be at your best, It’s my belief that you need to incorporate both styles into your training. When you do slow, heavy reps exclusively you are predominantly working you fast twitch muscle fibers. You need to hit the slow twitch muscle fibers as well. I’ve also found that this style of training is great for burning a few extra calories.
High Reps With Light Weight
The commonly accepted belief is that a high number of repetitions with relatively light weight will tone the muscles and increase endurance, while low reps with heavier weight will bulk you up and increase strength. There is research that supports these claims but it’s important to note that you can increase your strength with both approaches. The most important factor is understanding your muscle fiber types. Higher reps develop Type 1 muscle fibers (slow twitch) which are endurance based and slower to fatigue. Lower reps activate Type 2 muscle fibers (fast twitch), which have greater power but fatigue quickly.
TRX training is also referred to as “suspension training” or simply TRX. TRX is essentially a fitness tool made from high quality nylon “straps.” They (the straps) hold up to 1400 lbs. TRX is portable, so you can set it up virtually anywhere and it’s considered a full body training system that allows you to do all sorts of exercises with only your bodyweight. This style of training incorporates a great deal of your stabilizer muscles, so you’re able to significantly improve your core, strength, balance, agility & power.
There are six basic body positions with TRX which allows 100s of exercises – regardless of skill/fitness level. You’ll hear/see top level athletes incorporating this relatively new style of training into their regimen. One thing I will emphasize about TRX is the fact that it’s “All core, all the time!”
1. Facing Anchor Point
2. Facing Away From Anchor Point
3. Facing Sideways to Anchor
On The Ground
1. Laying Face Down
2. Laying Face Up
3. Laying On Your Side
You might hear somebody refer to plyometrics as “jump training” because plyometric training conditions the body with dynamic resistance exercises that rapidly stretch a muscle (eccentric phase) and then rapidly shorten it (concentric phase) which is exactly what happens when you’re jumping and hopping. This syle of training is widely popular with athletes because it subjects your quadriceps to a stretch-shortening cycle that strengthens muscles, increase vertical jump, and reduces the force of impact on your joints.
Remember, that while these muscle building techniques can prove to be effective, you need to combine them with a healthy diet to maximize your results. A balanced diet is going to help you get the muscles you’re looking for, while keeping the rest of your body healthier so you can actually enjoy the way you look & feel.
Keep training hard,
-David “Muscle Building Techniques” McCready
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