…then I’m gonna break it
Increasing muscle mass and or strength is not magic by any means, it is science. Which is great because sometimes it seems that way like we need some magical potion. The good news is once you have an understanding of the science you can then apply it and start making the gains you are looking for, ‘these are the gains you are looking for’. Just like the title of this post (credit to Echo and the Bunnymen) first you are gonna make it and then you’re gonna break it.
Ok, yes, genetics do play a role. But we can’t change that so let’s not worry about it.
Stress: Our muscles respond to stress, stress that causes damage (breaking down) to our muscle fibers. You have probably felt this the next day after a workout when trying to use your legs after a hard leg workout and you do all you can to avoid stairs. Now, excessive muscle pain the next day or 4 days later is not good as you might have seriously damaged muscle tissue but some uncomfortableness is what you want. This then causes the body to respond and put into process different mechanisms to facilitate muscle growth if the environment is right (more on that in a bit).
Tension: Without putting a load onto your muscles you won’t see growth. And, it has to be an increasing load. If your body has already adapted to the load you are using the load is not enough. The load needs to be greater than what your body is used to. Now, this doesn’t mean that if you squatted 250lbs last time that you need to do at least the same amount the next workout, especially if that amount is new for you to squat, it means the load should be great enough that you are challenged.
Also, try to switch up how the load is applied. Your body will adapt to the same load over time and growth will not happen. This is why we increase loads. But, other things can help too such as number of sets, type of exercise, decreasing the duration of your break between sets, switching from free weights to a machine, pyramids, etc. One more thing, the amount of time the muscle is under stress also plays a role in muscle growth. People tend to rush through their routines. My god if I see one more person bouncing through their pushups I’m going to lose it, ugh. Slow down and keep clean technique and also reduce the risk of injury.
Diet: The more food you consume that is whole food and not processed the more growth you should see. Our body needs the nutrients it requires to rebuild itself from the damage we inflicted on it. Whole Foods plant based will provide your body all that it needs to repair the damage and as an added benefit you’ll feel better and have more energy. Trust me, I know. A colleague of mine switched to eating more whole foods that are plant based and he can’t believe the energy he has.
Rest: You need it although it’s not always there. Let’s talk about 2 types of rest, muscle rest and physical rest. Muscle rest refers to that you need at least 48 hours of rest after working out that muscle group. Did legs today, give your legs 48 hours off. Muscles need time to recover which means time to grow. And let’s talk about you. You need rest too. Without adequate rest you will put your body into a state of being over trained which leads to being tired, feeling run down, lack of focus, getting sick and your friends avoiding you.
Change up your workouts frequently, eat well, properly stress your muscles and rest. Science. No magic. Then sit back and watch the gains happen.
Yours in health,