We all want to know what the secrets are to building massive muscle mass. Many of us are lead into thinking that the secret comes in the form of a special bodybuilding training routine. Or possibly a magic protein powder or muscle gaining pill. The reality is that for building massive muscle mass, you need to follow the ten simple bodybuilding training secrets that I’m about to disclose below:
1) SURPRISE YOUR BODY
The best bodybuilding workout routine is the one that your body is not used to. Your body gets used to any bodybuilding training routine that you subject it to. The more advanced you are, the quicker this adaptation happens. Thus, to achieve consistent results for muscle building you need to vary your workouts. The best way to vary your workouts is to cycle the exercises used in the training routine.
You should also use an orderly and logical variation of sets, reps, and rest periods between sets. That is why I am a huge proponent of periodization. By varying the training variables in the correct manner, you can achieve consistent results in muscle mass and strength. Thius is because you will constantly push the body to the brink of over-training and then back off in order to allow it to catch up and grow.
2) KEEP YOUR WORKOUTS SHORT
While you would think that to gain muscle a marathon 3 hour session would work best. This could not be farther from the truth. After 45 minutes your testosterone levels begin to decline while your cortisol levels begin to rise.
Why is this bad? Because testosterone builds muscle and burns fat. While cortisol destroys muscle and stores/protects fat tissue. Thus, a situation where your cortisol rises and your testosterone declines will have the exact opposite effect of what you are looking to accomplish.
3) PUMP UP THE VOLUME & INTENSITY
You need to use both high volume and high intensity training. For years there have been huge wars fought over the Net about which training style works best. In reality, a combination of both training styles provides you with the best gains. For the best muscle gains you need to alternate periods of high volume with periods of high intensity training.
High volume training will push your body to the limits and force it to adapt through hypertrophy (increase in size of the muscle cell through an increase in intracellular nutrients). High intensity lower set/lower rep training will allow the body to recover from the high volume training. Using both allows for new muscle strength and growth to occur. For more information on this subject, please take a look at this article: https://www.labrada.com/blog/workouts/periodization-techniques-for-gaining-muscle-mass/
4) VARY YOUR REST BETWEEN SETS
Believe it or not, varying the rest between sets is another way you can prompt your body to adapt. If you have been resting 2-3 minutes between sets and then change to resting only 1 minute, even though initially your strength levels will suffer, you will see renewed growth from the change.
Again, an orderly and planned variation in the rest periods that is in line with the proper repetition and set scheme will provide you with the best gains in muscle mass and strength.
5) DON’T OVER-COMPLICATE THINGS
Stick to basic exercises. Use barbells or dumbbells and move your body through space. If your training routine is composed mainly of machine work, do not expect much growth to happen. Your body is designed to operate in a 3-dimensional universe. So if you just train using machines, there are many stabilizing muscles that never get activated. This is because the machine is stabilizing the weight for you. The end result is that much less growth is stimulated! However, if your routine is made up of dumbbell and barbell multi-jointed exercises, your body will need to engage every muscle fiber possible to balance and control the weight.
Furthermore, if you are doing exercises like squats, lunges, dips, and pull-ups then you will engage as many muscle fibers as possible. Every time you need to do a movement that moves your torso through space your body needs to activate an enormous amount of muscle. So even though these exercises are the most challenging ones, they are also the most result-producing ones. One set of squats will elicit more growth than 5-7 sets of leg extensions. For more information on this topic, please take a look at this article: https://www.labrada.com/blog/workouts/machines-vs-free-weights-which-one-is-better-for-faster-muscle-growth-bodybuilding-gains/
6) KEEP CARDIO TO A MINIMUM
I believe in regular cardiovascular exercise. But those of you who are looking to focus on gaining muscle should minimize it to 3-4 sessions at the most of 20-30 minutes per week. Focus on activities like a recumbent bike, walking, or an elliptical rider. Keep your heart rate between 130-150. More cardiovascular activity than that will start compromising your ability to gain muscle mass.
This is because your body will have to use nutrients that would otherwise be used for muscle growth to support the extra activity. To be honest, my clients and I do very little traditional cardio. I focus on fast paced weight training. That has enhanced my cardiovascular efficiency even more than traditional cardio ever did for me. So if you are short on time, you may want to consider this alternative!
7) FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!
Focus on perfect form and on contracting the muscle. As obvious as this statement sounds, how many people do not follow it? Remember, this is bodybuilding. You need to focus on perfect execution of the exercises so that your muscles (and not your tendons or joints) are the ones doing the work.
Never sacrifice form in the name of using more weight! Remember that muscle stimulation is the name of the game. You need to contract the muscle as you move the weights. Moving the weight from A to B is not good enough. Really focus on squeezing and contracting the muscle being trained. The more you squeeze during the set the better results you will get out of it. Even though you will not be able to use as much weight if you do this, I promise you that the results will be well worth it.
8) KNOW YOUR BODY TYPE & TRAIN FOR THAT
Your body type will determine your training frequency. This is an area that is seldom discussed in training articles. For the best gains to happen, you need to adapt your training frequency based on your body type. For example, a guy like me who is naturally an endomorph (slower metabolism) can train 5-6 days a week. Yet, a naturally skinny guy with a raging metabolism (a “hard gainer”) is better served with 3-4 sessions a week.
With that said, if you are a endomorph like me but can only train 3 days a week, that is not a problem! You will make incredible results with the proper program. Simply modify the diet so that you have a bit less carbs on your non training days. 0.8 grams of carbs x lean mass for an endomorph is a good guideline for the grams of grams to consume on off days.
9) CHOOSE A TRAINING SCHEDULE & STICK TO IT
This is one of those “secrets” that sound obvious but is disregarded over and over. Some programs may look good in paper, but if you cannot stick to it, then you need to choose a different routine. Life may get in the way; work, family, etc… If you know that all you can do is 3-4 sessions a week, then follow that training frequency.
There is no sense in trying to follow a 5-6 day a week program if you will always end up missing 1-2 sessions a week. At the end of the day, that will only lead to frustration and to reduced gains.
Be sure to choose a program that you know you can follow consistently. Consistency is the key to major muscle gains! Most of my clients only train 3 days a week, and they have all achieved wonderful results with that training frequency. At the end, it is all about quality over quantity!
10) RECORD YOUR SESSIONS & TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Keeping a training journal is a great tool! Recording your workouts is great not only for accountability, planning, and motivation, but it also helps you to see where you are and where you have been. Imagine if you follow a program, get in the best shape of your life, and then you don’t remember how you got there. Could you imagine how you would feel if for whatever reason you lose your shape and then do not know how to get back to it? In addition, a training log allows you to easily see where your progress is going. Are you gaining strength? Are you losing body fat? These items can be easily looked at when you keep a training log.
Finally, a log allows you to troubleshoot the program if your progress is not moving forward. If you keep detailed accounts of your workouts and nutrition plan, if you are losing strength and you notice in your training log that you have been missing a meal or two each day, then you know what the fix to the problem is.
Now you know the 10 training secrets to building massive muscles. The most important thing is to start implementing each and every one of these in your bodybuilding program so that you can see those muscle mass gains pile up!
Take care and train hard!
About the Author
Hugo Rivera is an International best selling fitness author certified in personal training and nutrition with a computer engineering degree from the University of South Florida. Hugo is owner of www.hugorivera.net, an informational, free fitness and nutrition website. He is author of over 10 fitness books (with over a million copies sold) including his best sellers: Body Re-Engineering, The Body Sculpting Bible for Men, The Body Sculpting Bible for Women, the Weight Training Diary, and the Hardgainers Handbook of Bodybuilding. Today via his website HugoRivera.net, numerous articles, book publications, TV and radio appearances Hugo continues to educate the public on how to achieve the body of their dreams via the use of weight training exercise, good nutrition and correct supplementation. You can follow Hugo at his:
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