Today I’ll give you 5 tips that will undoubtedly improve your gains…if you use them.
My training has hardly changed over last 5 years. It’s still intense with enough rest between workouts for full recovery and growth.
However, the 5 points below are relatively new changes for me (over the past year or 2).
My advice…use this stuff!
(1) I Use Constant tension
Stimulating muscle growth is not easy. Your body is actually not that keen on adding muscle as it’s “metabolically expensive”.
So you need to give your muscles NO CHOICE but to grow. In order to do this, you DO NOT focus on using the heaviest weights possible – that’s “ego lifting”.
Your job is to pick a weight that allows you to:
- Move the weight through a full range of motion
- Keep constant tension on the muscle
- Perform your negatives/lowering quite slowly
- Take the set to failure between a low of 6 and a high of 12 reps
We talk about “lifting”. We call ourselves “weight lifters”. But really our goal is “muscle stimulation”. If you really want to stimulate the muscle to grow…then stimulate it! Train according the bullet points above and feel the difference. Then I promise it won’t be long until you SEE the difference. Leave your ego at the door. My first MuscleHack podcast covers this point really well.
(2) I Mostly Train 3-Days/Wk (Full-Body Workouts)
I train full-body style 3 days a week.
In a recent Musclehack article (here) I demonstrated how 3-days per week was equally effective to training 5-days per week for building muscle i.e. a 3-day full body routine VS a 5-day split routine.
In THT training we use:
- A 3-day full body plan for 10 weeks
- Then take a week off. Then…
- A 5-day split routine for 10 weeks.
- Then take a week off. Then…
- Back to the 3-day plan (and so on back and forth as you continue to get bigger and stronger)
But a newer study  suggests that perhaps the 3-day full-body plan is actually superior (at least for actual SIZE gains).
Also, don’t get it wrong: the time in the gym is about equal.
In THT, a single session from the 5-day routine takes about 40 minutes (working 2 muscle groups).
A single full-body 3-day session takes about 65-70 minutes to complete.
Add it up: 40 x 5, and 70 x 3…
That’s 200 minutes for the 5-day plan and 195-210 minutes for the 3-day plan. So stop with this “5-days must be better than 3″ nonsense.
When training your full-body, you’ll benefit from 300% increased frequency i.e. each muscle is worked directly 3 times per week, not once.
If you want the 3-day full body THT training routine, you can download it FREE below. You’ll also get the 5-day training plan and free bodybuilding meal plans. Start packing on mass like these guys did. You don’t have to go to your email to confirm anything. Once you click the button, you’ll be taken straight to the download page 😀 I operate a ‘Strictly Zero Spam‘ policy.
(3) I Eat 3 or 4 Times A Day (not 6 or more)
In bodybuilding circles, it used to be widely believed that only about 20-25g protein could be absorbed by the body at any one time. Therefore, for maximum protein intake, we had to eat more than 6 small meals every day.
Apart from being a major pain in the rear-end, you DON’T need to worry about overconsuming protein in a single meal. Your body can and WILL use it.
If you ate a steak containing 60g protein, your body will use it. This is because protein from a whole food source digests pretty slowly. You’d still be getting the benefit from that steak many hours from now.
An educated guess for the rate for absorption here would be 4-5g per hour for the steak. However, couple it with the fibrous veggies and whatever else might have been on the plate, and you’re probably talking around just 3-4g of protein being delivered per hour.
A whey protein shake in water on an empty stomach will deliver your protein much faster at about 10g per hour.
Either way you slice it, the idea that you’ll turn catabolic if you don’t eat 25g of protein every 3 hrs is just not true. And thank God! Life does not need to be that hard 🙂
You will still be in an anabolic environment long after 3 hours has passed if you have consumed enough protein i.e. amino acids will still be being released and shuttled to your muscles.You don't need to eat protein every 3 hrs to build muscle. It's unnecessary. Click here for more Click To Tweet
For more on this, see my article ‘How Much Protein Can The Body Absorb In 1 Sitting?‘. And for some top-notch scientific research to prove this point, check out Alan Aragon’s article on protein absorption here.
(4) I Supplement With Beta-Alanine
During my first years if training, I didn’t use this supplement.
But supplements that work and can give the natural lifter an edge are rare!
Beta alanine has been shown to increase muscle mass by about an extra pound over an 8-week period in trained athletes .
Take 2g grams every day. The timing is not important. However, for convenience, it’s handy to take it as part of your cheap-but-powerful MuscleHack pre-workout formula.
I get my beta-alaine from MyProtein. And you can also get it in the US here.
Watch a video on how to make my cheap homemade pre-workout below. It was made by MuscleHack fan Juanito Taveras. Subscribe to the MuscleHack YouTube channel here.
Discover how to make a cheap & potent pre-workout. 3 ingredients. $43 for year's supply here Click To Tweet
NOTE: A lot of guys and girls on my cutting program Total Six Pack Abs also tell me they LOVE this pre-workout, especially when they start getting under 10% body fat and the Calories are getting lower. This helps POWER them through awesome workouts and still HAMMER out personal bests!
(5) I Don’t Get Caught Up In The Numbers Game
Since our goal is actually “muscle stimulation”, the “absolute numbers” don’t matter so much.
As an extension of point (1), what other people lift is none of your business. We all know people that bench 80kg with a big chest, then other guys who can almost double that lift with extremely unimpressive pecs. In this case, 80kg is the “absolute number”, and as you can see…it doesn’t really matter.
The “relative numbers” do. The relative number simply means YOUR weight lifted compared to what you had been previously lifting. You are in competition ONLY with yourself. If you were benching 80kg 6 months ago and you are still benching 80kg for the same number of reps, something is very wrong.
The way we progress in THT training is to use 12 reps as our upper limit i.e. once we hit 12 reps on any given set, we know that next time we will use a heavier weight – increasing by the smallest increment available.
Workout 1 – I get 10 reps at 80kg on my 1st set of bench press
Workout 2 – I get 12 reps at 80kg on my 1st set of bench press
Workout 3 – I use 81kg (if the plates at my gym allow this) and I hit 10 reps at 81kg
This is how we progress up in size and strength on THT training. A simple, methodical, and scientific method for guaranteeing success in the iron game.
So remember that the “numbers game” will ruin you. Only the relative numbers matter i.e. relative to what you used to lift.
Are you using all 5 of these? If so, great! If not, why not? Have you got questions? Concerns? Something I can help you with? Ask me below 😀
Train With Intensity!
 Influence of Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men.
 Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. Kern BD, Robinson TL. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jul;25(7):1804-15.
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Very valuable info. Mark is there a video on the constant tension tip? To demonstrate it? Thanks
Constant Tension: It’s basically what it sounds like; always have tension on the muscle group you’re working. This is where the slow eccentric and slight pause near the bottom comes in to play (eliminate the little helper, “momentum”). When I say “near the bottom,” I say this because if you’re doing presses of some variety, you don’t rest the bar on your chest or the back of your shoulders/neck at the full down part of the movement–try to stop a little above that and pause for even just a second or less.
You can press/curl/etc. the weight fast or slow or even vary it since you’re fighting gravity either way. But on the “down” part of the movement fight against gravity there too–don’t just let it drop–that keeps tension on the muscle then too.
If you don’t do this already, don’t expect to keep the same weight/reps that you do–it’s much harder.
Mark, quick question, How long have you been training for and are you still experiencing the shaping of your body, reason why I’m asking is because I’ve been doing the THT now for 4 years consistently and only noticing now the shape of my calf muscles (the upside down heart shape) I’m ecto so not big calves at all.
@ethan.. If you are doing a set of leg presses and you are locking out at the top to catch a breather, you are losing that tension on the quads. For constant tension throughout the set all you need to do is not lock out, It makes the set a lot harder.
I am taking l-glutamine, BCAA, creatine and whey protein isolate. Would you still suggest taking beta alanine?
I came back to tht 6 weeks ago; I am doing the 3 day workout and have noticed it helps me in not overtraining so I get enough time to recover and I can see the gains already. My question to Mark is, sometimes I train really intense but don’t feel pumped or sore so I get concerned about not hitting the muscle hard enough for optimal growth.. What do you think about that?
Mark, would you consider 6 meals detrimental or just unnecessary? I am eating 6 meals at the moment plus on protein shake during my workout. I have three “meals” and three smaller “feedings”. Having come off TSPA three weeks ago I am following Petter’s advice to eat at maintenance for a month or so while my body readjusts. If I eat less frequently I am ravenous by the next time I eat. It is a little onerous at first but I have come up with meal ideas that make it easy to manage. Maybe I actually need to start eating above maintenance already?
@Doug. Great answer 😀
@Jason. Actually taking training seriously, I’d sat it’s about 8 years now, maybe pushing 9. Yes, changes still come, but at this stage of the game and with my genetics, it’s a slow process. Good job I’m in this for a lifetime 😉
@Travis. Yes. Totally different supplement with different effects.
@David. Most people with training experience don’t experience much soreness on a regular basis. Don’t worry about it. Keep progressing in the gym and record your weight and reps.
@Twitch. Nothing detrimental about it, just a waste of time and effort. 3 weeks is fine to eat above maintenance now.
Hi Mark. Awesome tips and great info overall. Have been following your THT programme for 6 months now. 44 years old and still making gains. One quick question: your estimate on time to complete sessions; mine are usually longer. Do you include warm up and warm down time?
@Abubakr. Hey, buddy. No I’m not including warming up or down as part of the actual workout time.