Building Up : 10 Advanced Muscle-Building Tips
Here are 20 tips, this time for more advanced athletes, especially if you’ve been training for a couple of years already.
1. No More Than Four
Lifting weights 5 or more days a week is unnecessary and can quickly lead to over-training, especially when engaging in other physical activities, like cardio and sports.
2. Limit Workouts to 40-45 Minutes with 15-20 Total Sets
Gaining strength and building muscle within this time frame will yield optimal results, as long as you keep both intensity and mental focus. Once you’ve trained for 45-minutes or more, you have likely depleted your energy stores and your time spent may become counterproductive.
3. Target the Big Muscles with Big Weight
Exercise basics like military presses, bench presses, squats, deadlifts, rows and chin ups are the cornerstone for dramatically reshaping your body and adding lean, rock-solid muscle.
4. Journal Progress
Accountability is one of the biggest benefits of journaling, even if you are only accountable to yourself. The act of writing everything down, or keeping track or your progress, is a strategy that is well worth the extra time and effort.
5. Change Up Reps and Range
Targeting fast and slow twitch muscle fibers helps you build muscle more effectively. When doing reps 1-20, pace from slow to fast twitch so that you stimulate a higher percentage of muscle fibers and maximize training effectiveness. The most basic, but often overlooked, principle of weight training is progressive overload. This means that the amount of weight lifted should gradually and constantly increase in order to get overcome training plateaus and continue to achieve your goals.
6. Modify your Weight Training Program Every 3 or 4 weeks
In a span of 1 month, with the same program, you may start experiencing burnout and results may begin to plateau. Changing workouts and range of motion frequently will keep your body in an optimal muscle building state.
7. Eat the Right Foods
Building muscle as you probably know starts in the kitchen. Because proper nutrition is needed for effective body building, caloric intake should be monitored and balanced and a workout meal plan should be top priority. Consume most of your calories and carbohydrates during breakfast and limit those calories at dinner, to improve energy for the day and stay lean at night.
8. Sleep 8 Hours and Take Naps When Possible
Remember that muscle building occurs when you are at rest. Sleeping is when muscles recover and grow and depriving yourself of sleep will also negate desired gains. Do not throw away all that hard work in the gym by not getting enough sleep!
9. Promote Muscle Recovery
Proper nutrition, diet and exercise are important elements of explosive muscle growth, but it’s not all that it takes. You should be able to maximize recovery methods to facilitate faster recovery. Post-training massage, icing, stretching, recovery yoga, and even using foam rollers are a few methods to aid in recovery.
10. Find a Rock-Star Training Partner
A good training partner may be most important; you will have the support, accountability, and motivation to push you to your personal best.
11. Take a break
That might sound like contradicting advice for advanced weight lifters but if you are training with dedication and motivation regularly, you are pushing your body hard every time, maybe to its limits and beyond. So give it a well deserved break from time to time. By it, we don’t mean going into hibernation but maybe taking a week or a couple off to do a different kind of physical activity.
Learn to listen to your body. If an exercise doesn’t feel right to you, try to modify it or don’t do it at all. What works for some won’t work for others. Don’t ignore pain, it’s your body’s way to tell you that something is not right. If you feel the usual muscle soreness due to buildup of lactic acid post-training, rest. Don’t rush back into training the same muscle before it is fully recovered. If you feel sharp pain, it could be serious. Don’t ignore it.
13. Full rep range
For maximum muscle suppleness, use the full range of motion of every exercise you do. You also work the muscles thoroughly at every step of the way.
14. Partial reps
Conflicting advice again? No. Use partial reps sparingly to shock your muscles into getting used to heavier weights. The barbell curl is a good example where the biceps are at their weakest when your arms are bent at 90 degrees. So in order to lift heavier, stop lowering your arms before they reach this angle.
You often read in tips for novice that they shouldn’t cheat, that they should do every exercise with perfect form or that cheating can lead to injury. All this is true but what these tips for beginners don’t tell you is that cheating carefully can spur on growth by allowing you to lift heavier than usual. Let’s stick to the barbell curl as example. When you are stuck in the weakest position with your arms at right angle, a little push from the legs or hips can get you right past this sticking point. The great Arnold himself did a lot of cheating reps that way.
Word of warning: use sparingly. You don’t want to develop bad form or lift heavier than you can handle.
Concentration comes at many levels. Maybe you are training for a specific event weeks away. Maybe you are training to fit in a slim shirt from your local market. Or you just turned up at the gym after a stressful day’s work. Or maybe you are about to attempt a new lift at the squat. In all these cases, you need to concentrate and focus on what you are doing and what you want to achieve. Always keep your objective in mind and just before performing an exercise, go through the motion in your mind.
17. Stick to your training
Often when things don’t work and you don’t see any progress, you are tempted to drop one exercise in favour of a new one. Changing exercise every time won’t allow you to make any progress. The very essence of progressing is to perform the same exercise at least twice and see how you have improved or not. So stick to your training.
18. Change your training every time
You should get used to contradictory advice by now!
Some people go through the same motion and do the same exercises for months on end and complain they see no progress. Muscles have the ability to progress because they adapt to stimulus. Because of this very adaptation, you need to keep finding new stimuli for them.
What this means is that you need to change something in your training session every time. Keeping in mind that you should not switch exercise every time as the above tip pointed out, a change can be as simple as the order of exercise, the pace, the weight, the grip, the reps or even the time you train.
19. Train for intensity, not for weights to impress
When lifting weights in the gym, you could be tempted to try and lift heavier in order to progress. Or you could try to lift heavy weights to impress others with your strength.
Here is a very important piece of advice: success in your training is determined by the level of intensity you put in, not how much weight you can lift. So if you push 100kg in the benchpress and then take 10 minutes rest between sets, you’ll be better off benching 50kg and taking 20 sec rest between sets.
20. Priority training – keep cardio last
Don’t do your favourite exercise or the one you are best at in the beginning of your workout. Instead, focus on your weaker muscle groups that need more attention while you are still fresh and full of energy. If cardio is more important to you, then go outdoors and run first. This is called priority training.
If you are really stuck in your training and are making no progress, see how you can bust through your plateau.