If you’re on social media—which who are we kidding? Of course you are, then the phrase “train insane or remain the same,” is probably very familiar. The reality is that you don’t necessarily have to train “insane.” However, you do need to shake things up once in a while, and you can get big quick with these 3 tips…
1) Exercise Frequency
A lot of gym goers like to train each muscle group just once per week. While that’s great for recovery, instead of doing around eight sets on each body part once a week with that schedule, what if you only did two to four sets on each muscle group but three times a week? That would mean less volume per workout yet more cumulative workload within any given week.
You’d have to work on more muscle groups per workout, but the overall impact from hitting more body parts during one exercise session means you can actually stimulate more testosterone and growth hormone production through increased training density (how much work you do in a given amount of time).
If you’re currently training each body part just once a week, try this training split for a few weeks and take note of how quickly your body responds to the changes:
Monday: Legs, calves, chest, back, shoulders
Wednesday: Deadlifts, calves, arms, abs
Friday: Legs, calves, chest, back, shoulders
At quick glance, it may look like you’re working your arms just once a week, but they’re getting plenty of indirect workload each time you’re in the gym. On Wednesday, you use direct arm exercises, and on Monday and Friday your arms get indirect work because of the pushing and pulling involved with chest, back, and shoulder exercises.
Legs essentially get a workload three times a week, too, since you’re doing some sort of big pressing movement on Monday and Friday—squats or leg presses, and you do deadlifts on Wednesday.
That combination of direct/indirect work gives you a significant metabolic boost, and starting workouts with a big, lower-body exercise (squats, deadlifts, etc.) also stimulates hormone production. If you’re worried about overtraining with this sort of training split, don’t. Just remember to keep the number of sets per exercise reasonable. You’re still stimulating major potential muscle growth with the extensive muscle fiber involvement, so you can stimulate growth rather than annihilate your muscles and joints.
2) Work Your Warmups
Too many people simply go through the motions during their warm-up sets and don’t use enough weight. While something is better than nothing, especially for injury prevention, you might as well make all of your effort count.
Muscles that are saturated with blood from a proper warmup can generate more force. On big, compound exercises like squats and presses, it’s a good idea to do two warmup sets. Perform at least 10 reps on the first warmup set with fairly slow, concentrated reps of about 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down. Add weight on your second warmup set and do 8 reps at your normal rep cadence of one to two seconds up and about three seconds down. And be sure to maintain constant tension on the muscles, which means no locking out or pausing anywhere in the range of motion. That will help ensure full saturation of the target muscles.
3) Vary Your Rep Speed
A simple training change that many people overlook is rep speed, or rep cadence. Slowing down the negative, or eccentric, stroke can do good things for your muscle gains. Optimal rep cadence for muscle growth is considered to be about one second up and three seconds down.
There are a couple reasons this rep speed works so well:
- The slower negative portion of the rep does more muscle damage (in a good way)
- the semi-explosive start to the one-second positive portion of the rep recruits more muscle fibers.
Keep in mind that the “semi-explosive” one-second positive portion of the rep does NOT mean bouncing the weight. It simply means a controlled explosion, using power to push (or pull) the weight quickly—but under complete control.
Using “speed reps” occasionally is also a great way to stimulate more muscle fibers to come into play. Just use caution with this method. Always maintain complete control of the weight on both the eccentric and concentric portions of the movement. Sloppy form will lead to potential injuries and not involve the right amount of muscle-fiber recruitment.
Try these 3 tips to get big quick and see how well they work for you. It’s variation for muscle creation! Keeping the intensity high is also key, so a good pre-workout formula can help trigger motivation and momentum for more mass, plus some well-timed post-workout protein goes a long way to making all your work worth it.