Monday, December 15, 2008

Gain Muslce Mass Quickly - Part 1

I have received quite a few requests on how to gain muscle mass quickly, so I thought this will be a valuable post to guys out there who do not want to look like anime characters but want to look big and buff. Gaining muscle mass basically depends on 2 things – Your work out and your eating / Nutrition.

Due to how much material there is to cover, I thought I would break it up into 2 posts so you don’t get lost in the literature and fall asleep. The first one is on training and how you need to train. But to sustain that training technique, you will need to eat the right foods, and I will cover that in my next post.




Train heavy

The basic science of building muscle is to train heavy. How fast your muscles grow depends on how much you can break down your muscles (catabolism) and then giving it enough nutrition / rest to recover (anabolism) from the breakdown before you trash it again and break it down. Whenever you lift weights, you are essentially causing your muscles to “breakdown”. What experts mean by breakdown is that tiny micro fissures and tears appear in your muscle during your weight training sessions. The heavier you lift, the more of these micro fissures are formed in your muscles. When you rest, your body works hard on patching up or filling those little micro fissures with new muscle tissue, hence allowing you to gain more muscle mass. Also, by patching it up with new muscle tissue and increasing the size of it, your body is essentially preparing itself to withstand further strain in future. And that is how and why your muscle grows with intense weight training.

But be warned, if you over train or lift more than your muscles can handle, then the micro fissures and tears might become bigger and cause serious injury such as muscle tears (when the tears actually get big enough to cause severe pain and loss of use of the muscle). So make sure you are always training within your means and never over train. It is also important to remember that you should progress slowly and not be too eager to add on weights when you are not ready for it.

When training heavy, there are a few basic rules that you must follow

1) Only train each body part once a week – because you are training your muscles with such intensity, you need to allow ample time for your muscles to recover and for your body to patch up those micro fissures. Training more doesn’t always mean more muscle gained… it only means more risk for injury. So assign a day for 1 or 2 muscle groups and only train those muscles on that day. The other days are for other muscle groups. When you train those muscles, train it hard because you are giving them ample time for recovery after that.

2) 6 to 8 reps – Each set for whatever muscles you are training should consist of 6 to 8 reps. If you can reach 8 reps for all your sets, its time to add weight. If you can’t even reach 6 on the first set, then it is obviously too heavy for you. So make sure every muscle and every set you do falls within the range of 6 to 8 reps. Doing it otherwise will only be a waste of time (too light) or increasing your risk of injury (too heavy)

3) Get a spot – I cannot emphasize this enough. You must get a spot when training heavy. A spot is not only good to help you lift up the weights when you can’t lift anymore, but is also essential in helping you train till failure. Because you have a spot, you can really push yourself to the limit and not have to worry about whether you can complete the rep or not. If you don’t have a regular workout partner, get some one in the gym to give you a quick spot in between their own sets.

4) 3 to 4 sets – I usually like to do 3 sets of each exercise, but that is because I am usually short on time. If you have a bit more time to spare, I recommend doing at least 4 sets for each of your exercise. You will see a big difference in the amount you gain by just adding that one extra set. But again, don’t think that 3 is good, 4 is better so 5 should be even better. It doesn’t work that way. Limit your sets to 4 and do only 4 sets. 5 sets will be over doing it.

5) 2 to 3 minutes rest – When I lift heavy, I usually take about 2 minutes rest time between sets. Sometimes if it is my last set, it may even be 3 minutes. That’s ok. The point is, you need a minimum of 2 to 3 minutes rest before doing another set. Never push for another heavy set when you have less than 2 minutes rest. You will not be able to push as much for your next set, and you are more likely to injure your muscles by giving your muscles such short breaks

6) Breathe in and breath out – This is one of the basic rules of lifting, yet most people when lifting heavy forget how important breathing is. A lot of them end up holding their breath. You need to breathe in when you are lowering or bringing the weights to the rest position and breathe out when you are actually using the most amount of effort to lift or move the weights up. Breathing is important because breathing properly actually makes the difference between doing one more rep and not doing it. Since every rep counts, you better make every breath count as well

7) Warm up – oh yes… another important rule which is usually forgotten because there is not enough time or I don’t want to be caught lifting an empty bar. Warm ups are essential to reduce the risk of injury as well as increase the potential of your muscles during a heavy lift. Our muscles are like a car engine and just like a car engine performs at its peak once it is warmed up, the same works for our muscles as well.

Resting
As mentioned earlier, the principle for muscle growth is how much you can break it down and how much time you give it to recover from the breakdown. Since heavy lifting causes a lot of micro fissures and micro tears, it is essential for you to give your muscles enough time to recuperate before you break them down again. In essence, if your muscles still hurt when it is time to hit it again, it means that the muscles are still not ready for another breakdown. So you need to be vigilant of this and not push yourself more than necessary. This is why I recommend one week a part between the same muscle groups so that they have ample time to recover from the previous workout. Remember, your muscle actually grow while it’s at rest and not while it is working out. Resting is important for you to add muscle mass. No rest only equals small puny over trained / burnt out muscles which are at high risk of injury if not already injured.

Do squats
Many of the body builders I have met swear by it. If you don’t do squats, you can forget about getting really big. Yeah sure you will be a bit bigger than you were before… but if you want to unleash your full potential, you need to do squats.

Why? Because squats are one of those exercises that involves a lot of other muscles and more importantly, squats help to strengthen your core muscles. Strong core muscles are essential in ensuring that your other muscles can lift heavy. If you don’t have strong core muscles, all your other muscles will not be able to lift heavy as well. This is why doing squats helps you gain muscle mass for the other parts of your body as well and not just your legs. The stronger your core muscles, the stronger your other muscles will be. The stronger those muscles are, the heavier you can lift and as you know, the heavier you can lift, the more muscle mass you are going to gain. So if you are serious about gaining muscle mass, just do it. No excuses.

Beginners
If you are beginner and lifting for the time, please do not do this routine. Reason is, it takes time for your muscles to adjust and be able to handle the weights and abuse of heavy training. You will need a good 3 months under your belt before you can attempt this routine and make it work. For the first 3 months, train all your muscles twice a week, but using much lighter weights and keeping the reps at 12 to 15 reps. This is important to season your muscle for the heavy training you will be exposing it to later. So train steadily for 3 months at least before attempting this.

If you have any questions, please let me know and most importantly, look out for Part 2 of this article in the next post.

9 comments:

FatLouie Lee Cole said...

so far so good. Can't wait to read Part 2 - Nutrition/Diet. I fail at this part. Geez... do take women's diet into consideration ok? :)

Rajan said...

FLLC: Yes, the nutrition part is very important to this whole equation.

However, i am not too sure how the nutrition part will be helpful to women... unless you are talking about women who want to bulk up, then yes. Will take this into consideration.

Cheers

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

good info, chief. only that, i'm a no-hoper la when it comes to working out to become a beefcake. this is ONLY the exercise part, the worst part is yet to come (diet)....ehehehee...

Rajan said...

Kerp: Ok... me do my best to post more tips on diet and nutrition so you can follow.

anfield devotee said...

helpful . . . so what you are saying is start with a tiny pilsner glass before moving onto mugs, then pint glasses & finally the HUGE Oktoberfest-style tankards.

Will bear this in mind when going fer thani next . . .

Rajan said...

AD: Hehehehe... yes yes... that's the basic message.

Anba said...

reading your article just reminded me that i havent done my routine fer one month..aiyak...

Thnx for the article...very informative... but after like doing some work out on and off fer 10 year plus....
body still the same...
other than work out routine...
i come to believe that food and nutrition plays a very important part..that if you really want to look ripped like Arnie..coleman...
all the protein powder..whey creatine plus the pills to reduce fats and all just plain mind numbing..

Personally i jsut stick to some physical exercise...
Next time will try to incorporate some of the things i read here..
Ciao Bro

Rajan said...

Anba: Thanks fer your comments. Actually i also agree, supplements are an important part in this whole equation because the quality of protein we get from our food, just ain't enough. i will be covering this in next posting.

Also, i think its important to highlight here that this guide will be more for people who are skinny and trying to bulk up. Hence the nutrition part which i will be featuring next week is aimed at this group of people.

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