Add lean muscle mass faster by following these seven gym commandments
Have a plan
Walk into the gym without knowing exactly what you want to achieve from your session and you are destined to wander around, doing a few lazy dumbbell curls, before hitting the sauna. Having – and sticking to – a detailed, progressive and challenging training programme that targets all your major muscle groups is therefore essential to you making positive changes to how you look with your shirt off.
Range of motion matters
You should perform moves through their full range of motion (ROM). For example, in a dumbbell biceps curl, you should raise the weights all the way up to shoulder-height then straighten your arm at the bottom by flexing your triceps so your biceps moves through its entire movement range. The greater the ROM your muscles work through, the greater the number of muscle fibres recruited.
Focus on form
Before you even think about picking up a dumbbell or loading up a barbell you need to understand how to perform all the exercises that make up your workout. This is crucial to not only prevent injury, but it also ensures that every single rep of every single lift hits the target muscle or muscle groups effectively so you get better results in less time. Compromise on form and you’ll compromise on results.
Choose the right weight
How do you know you have chosen the right weight? The last couple of reps of the first few sets should feel hard, and the final reps of the final sets should be very challenging. If you finish all the reps and feel like you could have done another five then the weight is too light. If you can only perform half the target number of reps before your muscles fail then the weight is too heavy. Selecting your starting weight for each exercise may require a little trial and error. It’s best to start light if in doubt, then increase the weight in subsequent sets, instead of starting too heavy and not being able to finish the set.
Focus on tempo and tension
Tempo, or the speed in seconds that you lift and lower a weight for each rep, is crucial if you want to improve your physique because it determines how much tension your muscles must manage, which is one of the biggest factors in promoting muscle growth. It is therefore essential you think about tempo when you lift and keep each rep as controlled as possible, without ever jerking the weight around. The smoother you can perform each rep, the more tension you place on your muscles the better – and faster – your results.
Create a mind to muscle link
The mind-to-muscle connection is one of the biggest factors behind muscle growth. All it means is that when you are performing each rep you need to really focus on the muscles that are working to move the weight and really squeeze it at the top of the move and fully stretch it at the bottom. Actually looking at the muscle, either directly or in a mirror, is a great way to focus your mind on connecting to the muscle to make it work as hard as possible. Simply slinging a weight around won’t give you the results you want.
Execute with intent
Start every session with the mentality that this is going to be the best workout you’ve ever had. Attacking each set with a sense of intent, purpose and positivity goes a long way in pushing your outside of your comfort zone, which is where you need to be if you want to transform your body. Shut out thoughts about problems at work, an argument with the missus or the want-away striker who’s departure will spell relegation this season. Instead stick on your headphones, turn up the volume and lift like your life depends on it.