Muscle building – what to consider when training
An athletic body is not only an attractive eye-catcher. A muscle plus also ensures better fat burning, stronger bones, and better protection against injuries. Therefore, when training for a particularly effective muscle build-up, it is advisable to keep a few things in mind.
This is how muscle building works best
Over the past 20 years, sports science has made many new discoveries on muscle building. Three factors play a crucial role:
- The mechanical tension
- Muscle damage through training
- The metabolic stress
Methods from bodybuilding
If you want to stimulate your muscle growth, it is necessary to perform so-called hypertrophy training. This is a technique that comes from bodybuilding. But this does not mean that you have to be a bodybuilder to benefit from this scientifically proven successful technique. But here are a few tips on what you need to do and what you should instead not do to stimulate your muscle growth.
First tip: You must damage your muscles
This may sound a little strange, but that’s how it works. No matter what exercises you perform to train your muscles, you must provide sufficient tension. Because only with adequate tension in the trained muscle. These so-called microtraumas attract satellite cells that repair the muscle. They provide protein material for repair at the injured site, dividing and fusing with the muscle. This is how muscle growth occurs.
Second tip: You should work with heavy weights
Muscle damage works best with sufficiently high weights. Therefore, you should train with 75 to 95 percent of your maximum strength, depending on your fitness level. Many repetitions with lower weights also lead to muscle growth, but the hypertrophy stimulus is more inadequate. Important: Beginners should still work with lower weights at first and learn to perform the individual exercises technically well. This may take a few weeks of regular training.
Third tip: The optimal time under tension
In addition to using enough weight to create mechanical tension in the muscle, you also need to maintain this tension for a sufficiently long time. This is called Time Under Tension, or TuT for short. This tension causes the production of so-called metabolites like lactate, hydrogen ions, inorganic phosphate, and creatine. This process creates metabolic stress in muscle tissue, triggering muscle growth. In simple terms, it involves subjecting the muscle to an unaccustomed load for a while. Studies show that the duration of this load should be between 30 and 60 seconds.
Fourth tip: The meaning of concentric and eccentric work
Most strength exercises are divided into concentric and eccentric movement phases. Here is a brief explanation using the bench press as an example: When you lift the weight upwards, this is the concentric phase; this is the eccentric phase when you lower the weight again. In both stages, the time under Tension plays a crucial role. Studies on muscle growth have shown that the concentric phase may be slightly shorter at one to two seconds. The eccentric phase should be two to three or even four seconds for optimal results. Of course, this always depends on the amplitude of the movement. This is naturally greater for squats than for biceps curls, for example.
Fifth tip: Rather more sets than only one set
The number of sets completed per exercise is also vital for muscle building. Here, too, several studies have now shown that a workout of three to six sets is better than a single set workout.
Sixth tip: The pauses between the sets
Two, three, or even four to five minutes are still recommended for pauses between sets during an exercise. You can’t go wrong with this, but the latest findings advise shorter breaks of 60 seconds maximum. Again, this has to do with metabolism. The stress for the muscle is higher with more momentary pauses, thus leading to better muscle building.
Seventh tip: Give your muscles enough time to recover
The measures presented for muscle building and growth are pretty stressful for our powerhouses. A previously intensively trained muscle needs 48 to 72 hours to recover optimally and be ready for the following stimuli. If you want to train every two days or even every day, you should use another bodybuilding method. It is called a split routine. It is effortless to implement: You focus only on specific muscles or muscle groups during the individual sessions. An example of a split routine:
- On Monday, you train chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- Your legs are then in the middle of the week.
- On Friday, it’s back, core and biceps.
If you implement all these measures, nothing should stand in the way of effective muscle building. But very important: Genetic factors also play a role. More about that here. And of course the diet. You can find tips here and here.