Over the past weekend I was thinking about how to simplify the fundamentals of training to maximize muscle growth.
I mean, is there one rule that can sum it all up?
This 1 principle should contain all others and should be simple enough to be understood by ANYONE that wants to real deal on how to build muscle.
Before we really get into this, let’s look at WHY the body builds muscle in the first place.
Did you realize that building muscle is a DEFENSE mechanism that the body employs?
If the proper stimulation is not given, the body WILL NOT build any new muscle. Basically, your body needs to be brought to its 100% maximum strength limit which prompts it to ‘think’….
“Hey I better protect myself from more of these brutal onslaughts. In order for this same intensity of exercise to feel easier next time, I’ll synthesize more muscle tissue.”
However, next time (if you’re smart and read MuscleHack.com 😉 ) you don’t lift the same weights or complete the same amount of reps; you INCREASE the intensity and once again push the body to it’s MAXIMUM, and now higher, strength limit.
By this time the body is wondering what the hell is going on and once again builds more mass to cope better with your intense workouts.
Repeat this cycle over and over and you have the simple logic of building muscle mass. You’d think it would be obvious to most gym-goers, but surprisingly it’s not.
Now, if your answer to my question in the second sentence of this article was ‘Progressive Overload‘, your answer was incomplete.
Yes, you absolutely MUST increase weight and/or reps over time to continuously build muscle. Simply put, you NEED to get stronger to get bigger. A good muscle building program is, in essence, a strength training program.
HOWEVER, strength gains are a means to an end for us Muscle Hackers, NOT the end itself.
But progressive overload doesn’t describe it all…
What about intensity? Should we train to failure?
Should we reach failure on the 2nd, 10th, 20th, 100th rep?
What we need is a concept that sums up the following…
- Get stronger by lifting progressively heavier weights
- Train to failure to ensure 100% maximum intensity
- Reach failure at progressively heavier weights to force the body into ongoing adaptation
- Work in a rep range that activates the ANAEROBIC pathways, NOT the aerobic ones
After a few hours lying in my back yard catching some rays and mulling this over, I got it!
Here it is. Drum roll please…
The principle of Progressively Maximizing Anaerobic Intensity
In a nutshell, the above principle states that in order to maximize muscle growth you have to force the body to grow/adapt by pushing it to ever-increasing strength limits by working with 100% intensity of effort in an anabolic rep range. Phew!!!
This one phrase encompasses all the following…
- You must get stronger to get bigger
- Your effort must be maximal AND ever-increasing i.e. working to failure at higher and higher weights
- You must stimulate muscle GROWTH above all else i.e. reps should not be too low where strength gains take precedence, and reps cannot be too high which is essentially an aerobic workout
If you memorize this concept you’ll NEVER go far wrong my friends. No gym rat or muscle rag will ever lead you astray again.
P.M.A.I. – Please pass on this concept to any beginners you know or anyone that you know who’s doing it all wrong.
Can I give you my free muscle-building workout?
Join thousands over the world who are packing on slabs of new muscle for free with Targeted Hypertrophy Training (THT)