Have you been spending hours at the gym, over-training your muscles and obsessing over pumping out 15 reps each day to gain weight? If so, there could be a number of obstacles in your way for achieving your dream body. Gaining mass has more science behind it than meets the eye. Sure, it’s easy to look at gaining as simply taking in more calories than expending, but the “how” is just as important as the “how much” and “how often”. Consider these thoughts when looking to bulk or add a few lean pounds.
· Go BIG
o If you’re looking to add on mass, think fewer reps, and more weight. Starting with a warm-up using 60%-70% strength and energy for about 8 reps will be enough to bring blood flow to the designated muscles and make way for bigger weights. After warming up, performing 3-4 sets per exercise with weight heavy enough to complete 4-6 reps to failure is recommended for strength. The more intense the resistance, the longer resting periods should be between sets. Slowing down during sets and focusing on giving each rep maximum effort is the key to a successful workout.
· Rest on it
o There is no benefit to overworking the body without adequate rest. In fact, sleep and rest in general are key components to any fitness regimen. For the size and strength seeker, working specific target muscles two times a week is sufficient, considering high intensity workouts are done. These large muscles require more time to recover and rebuild after being torn and exhausted. Alternating days of particular muscles, for example, performing resistance exercises using triceps, biceps, shoulders and back musculature Monday and Thursday, while doing exercises focused on legs and abs Tuesdays and Wednesdays, leaving Friday and Saturday for rest or cardio to allow adequate rest time for each muscle before being worked again.
· Eat for strength
o Knowing how to eat is as imperative to building mass as knowing how much to eat. Eating a nutrient-dense meal or snack an hour – hour and a half prior to heavy resistance workout will allow the body adequate time to digest nutrients and redirect blood flow to muscles, using mainly carbohydrates and glucose for energy. Carbohydrates are especially helpful in the strength athlete, as they are easily used in immediate expenditure (immediate- being the next hour or two). Following the workout, rapid consumption of plenty calories is suggested to replenish energy, as heavy resistance workouts will quickly deplete energy from the muscles and encourage catabolism. Metabolism is jump-started in resistance exercises, so it’s important to have access to food quickly to avoid further breakdown of muscle tissue.
· Stay flexible
o Light stretching between sets can help to keep stiffening of muscles to a minimum and allow fuller range of motion. Avoid long periods of stretching during sets, however as the possibility of injury and tearing may occur due to overworking the muscles. Flexibility is often overlooked in the strength athlete, but helps tremendously when applied to the fitness regimen. Spend 10-30 seconds stretching and focusing on each target muscle after the workout to help remove lactic acid build-up and improve circulation, while allowing the muscles to recover and decrease chances of stiffness for the upcoming workouts during the week. In doing so, the individual will find more ability to use muscles to their full potential and gain mass through improved muscle usage.