Muscle Building Workouts - Part 1
By Jason Ferruggia
When you scour the internet looking for muscle building workouts it can be quite easy to get confused. With so much conflicting information how do you ever know what to believe or who to listen to? Should you do full body workouts, body part splits, high volume, low volume, train twice a week or six days a week? And what kind of diet and cardio should accompany your muscle building workouts? It’s all enough to make anyone’s head spin.
After fifteen years of running my own gym and training thousands of clients I feel quite confident that I can provide solid, definitive answers to all of these questions. First of all, let’s cover how many days per week you should lift weights. Across the board, I have found that most people make their best gains on three to four days per week; with three being optimal for most hard gaining skinny guys. As a typical skinny ectomorph with a fast metabolism and hyperactive nervous system you simply don’t have the recovery ability to handle more than three or four workouts per week.
The next thing is exercise selection. Always use big, basic compound exercises like military presses, chin ups, squats, deadlifts and rows. These are the exercises that recruit the most muscle fibers and will help you gain weight faster than all the others. Never waste your time with isolation exercises like triceps kickbacks, leg extensions or pec deck flyes. There is never a time in real life where a muscle works in isolation, therefore you need not try to do it in the gym. This is largely a waste of your time.
Along with using big, compound exercises the other most important factor in your muscle building workouts is that you always lift heavy weights. Forget what you have heard about peak contraction, time under tension, squeezing and feeling the muscle and all that other nonsense. Two hundred pounds is still two hundred pounds. If you want to get significantly bigger you had better turn that two hundred pounds of bar weight into four hundred pounds over the next couple of years. Heavy doesn’t necessarily mean lifting for one to three reps or always testing your max. And heavy is a relative term. What’s heavy for one person may be light for another. What is heavy for me might kill you, or vice versa. The point is to go as heavy as you, personally, can go, with picture perfect form in a muscle building range of somewhere between five and twelve reps (and sometimes as high as twenty for the lower body).
Ok, so far we know that we are going to train three to four days a week, use big movements like squats, presses and deadlifts, and always go heavy. Right there alone, we have enough info to pack on some serious size. But for the rest of the puzzle stay tuned for part two of this article when I reveal the other critical components that must be part of all muscle building workouts.
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