If you’ve ever seen the body of an Olympic swimmer or a gymnast before, to the untrained eye (those who take muscle mass and size for granted) they may look spindly and slim. To those who know a thing or two about muscle mass and size, they will probably look to the average gym-goer as in phenomenal shape. And they are.
If you compare sports from the past to the present, you’ll notice sportsmen now in all sports have a greater amount of muscle mass by far compared to back then. They are leaner, and they are more muscular. Why? It’s not just to look good for the cameras. It’s because athletes figured out not so long ago that the more muscle mass you have (of the correct type and up to a point) the more advantageous it is to their sport. It gives them an edge.
So what does it take to have your body look like that of a gymnast or swimmer?
If you think very little, because they have ‘very little muscle mass’ then you are dead wrong. If you stood next to most in a bar and they had short-sleeved shirts on, they’d probably make most other people in the place look puny.
To get a body like a gymnast or swimmer (although I can’t promise you’ll outs-swim Phelps or perform incredible back flips – in fact, I’ll promise you that you won’t) then you need two things:
- Ultra-low body fat
- A good amount of muscle mass
You would achieve this by using a training method known as ‘periodization.’ Periodization simply means you work towards one goal at a time, as this is the optimal (and really, the only way) to get anywhere. You are either overweight and need to lose fat before beginning muscle training, or you have very little fat, and can jump right into muscle training. In each situation, you will put on some amount of fat during muscle building, but, you simply try to keep it to a minimal by tight eating, and diet to lose the fat after you’ve finished bulking.
Ok, as for the workouts themselves…
I would recommend working out no more than 4 times a week, leaving 2 consecutive days of rest at least. My preference is to work out 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday.)
The secret to building good muscle mass is to have a program which allows each body part to be worked once, and, gives at least 72 hours of recuperation time. A good program will separate each muscle group in such a way that interference from ‘premature usage’ is kept to a minimal.
I highly advocate basing any weight training program on compound exercises such as squats, dead lifts, bench presses, shoulder presses, bent over rows, upright rows, etc. From this foundation, other things such as triceps and bicep isolation exercises can be added in.