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The most essential and inventive work in bodybuilding isn't just being done in laboratories; much of it is examining the border between hard science and "bro-science," or what has been proven to work in the gym for centuries. Hard science is frequently the one coming up to what lifters have been saying all along!

Let's take this sport—and your training—to the next level by distributing knowledge on how muscle is developed and how to maximize your gains through exercise.

What Causes Muscle Growth?

The scientific literature has narrowed down how muscle grows to at least three to four separate pathways at this moment. "Oh, such-and-such is the ideal training method," people will remark, yet that strategy may only maximize one of those mechanisms.

Different experts classify them differently, but these are the fundamental pathways of muscle growth in my opinion. Arrange or "periodize" your workout to maximise each of these mechanisms when training for maximal growth.

Swelling of Cells

Your muscle cells perceive swelling as a threat when you train and receive a pump, similar to what Arnold memorably discussed in "Pumping Iron." "OK, I have to grow or die," they effectively say. As a result, they reorganize and grow in size.

What strategies are there for increasing blood flow to the muscle? One is to work in the 8-12 rep range for hypertrophy, especially with brief rest periods. Strip sets, supersets, and working to failure are all good overload tactics if done correctly.

Tension in the Mechanical System

Focusing on cell swelling isn't enough if you want to grow muscle that's as strong as it looks. You must also increase the tension, as this is how the larger and more powerful muscle fibers are recruited.

You may have heard that humans have slow-twitch muscle fibers for endurance and larger fast-twitch muscle fibers for strength. Those who can do more heavy lifting are recruited. I'm not talking about powerlifting, so that repetition range might still be around 6-8 reps.

Of course, if you lift with brief rest times, you won't be able to lift as much weight, therefore the mechanical stress will be reduced. Rest for 3-5 minutes throughout your heavy days to enhance your mechanical load.

Creatine monohydrate promotes strength and size growth, making it ideal for heavy-lifting sessions. When your goal is to expand, take 5 grams per day, every day.

Trauma caused through mechanical means

You've probably heard that when you train for hypertrophy, your muscles develop "micro tears" and microscopic abrasions, and that the healing from these minor injuries is how muscle grows. True, but it's not the only approach to train for growth; it's just the one that leaves us with the most vivid memories of delayed-onset muscle soreness in the days thereafter.

When you lower a weight or hit the eccentric section of a lift forcefully, you get mechanical trauma, commonly known as muscle injury. When you do things like forced eccentrics or negative reps, or when you work your muscles in a new range of motion, this can happen. This is the time when you concentrate solely on killing the muscle.

Training with a focus on muscle damage and straining to failure is useful, but it may be overdone like everything else. If you use it as one of several tools in a well-balanced program, you'll get the most out of it.

Metabolic Stress

Everyone is familiar with the burning sensation that occurs during exercise. That is metabolic stress, which is the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscle.

David Gundermann, Ph.D., one of my colleagues, pioneered the technique of separating muscle cells and exposing them to lactic acid. What's more, guess what? They progressed! The process that induces muscle growth is the same one that creates the burning feeling. On a hypertrophy day, this is one reason to keep your rest periods short.

Resting for 5 minutes clears off all of the metabolic stress. This is one of the reasons why you should keep rest times short, like 60 seconds or less, or remove them entirely and practice supersets or strip sets instead.

With fatigue-fighting compounds like beta-alanine and caffeine, the greatest pre-workouts assist induce metabolic stress. It's an essential on a pump-focused day.

Cardio for Muscle Gains with HIIT Workouts

Gaining size while shedding fat is one of the most fundamental contradictions in bodybuilding. Lifting weights will help you increase muscle mass, while exercise will help you reduce fat. Isn't it simple enough? Except that many bodybuilders put in hours of cardio per day, comparable to that of high-level endurance athletes.

In our experiment, we discovered that the longer you exercise cardio, the more muscle you lose. Why would you devote so much time in the off-season to building muscle only to put it in jeopardy? This is precisely the issue we've been attempting to resolve.

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT as it's often known, is the answer. When I say high intensity, I'm referring about sprinting at full speed for 10-30 seconds. You should have nothing left at the end if you do it for 10 seconds. You should feel as if you're going to die after 30 seconds of effort.

Isn't that depressing? But you had best believe it works. We discovered that doing 10-30 seconds of all-out sprints burns more fat in just a few minutes than doing 30-60 minutes of cardio—while maintaining your size. We conducted a study in our lab that compared low-intensity exercise versus high-intensity cardio, and the sprinters not only lost more fat, but they also grew muscle in their quads!

To avoid injury, periodize your workouts.

One of the secrets to avoiding injuries in the gym is periodization, which is defined as "planned change." The following is how it works: You could do traditional hypertrophy training one day a week, such as 8-12 reps with 30-60 second rests; another day, you could train heavy, in the 6-8 rep range with longer rests; another day, you could do a hypertrophy superset; and finally, if your joints hurt, you could try blood flow restriction training one day.

You can also periodize your cardio, doing high-intensity interval training on some days and more restorative steady-state cardio on others.

Simply put, keep your eye on the prize and mix up your training methods. You'll recover—and keep growing—if you give your joints and muscles scheduled rest intervals.



My name is Steven Goldstein

With over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. From professional athletes to individuals aiming to lose weight, I have helped countless people achieve their goals and improve their overall health through customized training and nutrition plans.

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Consistency leaves clues

Hundreds of clients of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities have put their health in our hands over the years and achieved truly remarkable results. 

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