In bodybuilding, there are two things we must familiarize and concern ourselves with when it comes to our muscles: atrophy and hypertrophy.
When a person says that their muscles are atrophying, that means their muscles are shrinking. When muscular hypertrophy occurs, that means the muscles are growing.
What you do in the weight room, what you eat, and how much rest you get influences both hypertrophy and atrophy. In this article I’m going to look at the lifting part, and just what you need to do to stimulate muscle growth.
Some people believe growth occurs in the weight room, and while you may get a temporary pump (created by extra blood being forced into the muscle) you do not grow a single mm of additional muscle in the gym.
What you do in the gym is convince your muscles that they need to grow, and you force them to do this by lifting progressively heavier weights. Progressive resistance is the single, solitary factor which you must lift by. The moment you stop lifting heavier weights, you stop growing – it’s as simple as that.
Now, you may well be wondering how many sets and reps you need to do to stimulate growth, and how long you need to train for. Well, I will say you should train for no longer than 1 hour, as I feel a good session from a good program will be intense enough that you can get several body parts worked out sufficiently within that time, while your testosterone and energy levels are still high.
As for sets and reps, there really is no magic formula. All will work providing progressive resistance is used. But, as a general rule of thumb, higher rep ranges of 7 – 15, tend to provide the best muscle growth. You may well choose to do as little as 3 sets, and this may work very well for you, and if that’s the case, why do more?
On the other hand, some people may do as many sets as 10, with 10 reps in each, and have great results. I advise you start with 3 – 5 sets and reps of 7 – 15, if you are working out for maximum muscle size.
How do you know you’ve done enough?
You’ll know you’ve had a good session because your muscles will be very, very fatigued. That’s when you know you’ve gotten very good work out of them and done all you can to break down the fibres and stimulate growth. Now is time for the eating and resting to allow the actual growth to take place…