We all want to know what the secrets are to building massive muscle mass. While many of us are misled into thinking that the secret comes in the form of a secret bodybuilding training routine, magic protein powder or muscle gaining pill, the reality of the situation is that for building massive muscle mass you need to follow the ten simple bodybuilding training secrets that I’m about to disclose below:
THE BEST BODYBUILDING WORKOUT ROUTINE IS THE ONE THAT YOUR BODY IS NOT USED TO.
Your body gets used to any bodybuilding training routine that you subject it to. The more advanced you are, the quicker this adaptation happens. Thus, in order to achieve consistent results in terms of muscle building you need to vary your workouts. The best way to vary your workouts is to cycle the exercises used in the training routine and also to use an orderly and logical variation of sets, reps, and rest periods in between sets. By varying these variables in the correct manner, you can achieve consistent results in terms of muscle mass and strength.
KEEP YOUR BODYBUILDING WORKOUTS SHORT.
While you would think that in order to gain muscle a marathon 3-hour session would work best, this could not be farther from the truth. After 45 minutes your testosterone levels begin to decline while your cortisol levels begin to rise.
Why is this bad? Because in a nutshell, testosterone builds muscle and burns fat while cortisol destroys muscle and stores fat. Therefore, a situation where your cortisol rises and your testosterone declines will have the exact opposite effect of what you are looking to accomplish. To get more comfortable with this, take a look at the article on Cortisol Reducing Strategies.
YOU NEED TO USE BOTH HIGH VOLUME AND HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING.
For years there have been huge wars fought over the Net about which training style works best. In reality, a combination of both training styles provides you with the best gains. For the best muscle gains, you need to alternate periods of high volume with periods of high-intensity training. The high volume training will push your body to the limits and force it to adapt through hypertrophy (increase in size of the muscle cell through an increase in intracellular nutrients) while the high intensity lower set/lower rep training will allow the body to recover from the high volume training and thus allow for new muscle strength and growth to occur.
YOU NEED TO VARY YOUR REST IN BETWEEN SETS.
Believe it or not, varying the rest in between sets is another way in which you can prompt your body to adapt. If you have been resting 2-3 minutes in between sets and then change to resting only 1 minute, even though initially your strength levels will suffer, you will see renewed growth from the change. Again, an orderly and planned variation in the rest periods that is in line with the proper repetition and set scheme will provide you with the best gains in muscle mass and strength.
STICK TO BASIC EXERCISES THAT USE BARBELLS OR DUMBBELLS AND THAT MOVE YOUR BODY THROUGH SPACE.
If your training routine is composed mainly of machine work, do not expect much growth to happen. Your body is designed to operate in a 3-dimensional universe so if you just train using machines there are many stabilizing muscles that never get activated since the machine is stabilizing the weight for you. The end result is that much less growth is stimulated! However, if your routine is made up of dumbbell and barbell multi-jointed exercises, your body will need to engage every muscle fiber possible in order to balance and control the weight. Furthermore, if you are doing exercises like squats, lunges, dips and pull-ups then you will engage as many muscle fibers as possible since every time you need to do a movement that moves your torso through space your body needs to activate an enormous amount of muscle.
So even though these exercises are the most challenging one, they are also the most results-producing ones. 1 set of squats will elicit more growth than 5-7 sets of leg extensions.
KEEP CARDIO TO A MINIMUM.
While I do believe in regular cardiovascular exercise, those of you who are looking to focus on gaining muscle should minimize it to 3-4 sessions of 20-30 minutes per week. Focus on activities like a recumbent bike, walking, or an elliptical rider and keep your heart rate between 130-150. More cardiovascular activity than that will start compromising your ability to gain muscle mass since your body then will have to start utilizing nutrients that would otherwise be used for muscle growth in order to support the extra cardiovascular activity.
FOCUS ON PERFECT FORM AND ON CONTRACTING THE MUSCLE.
As obvious as this statement sounds how many people do not follow it! Remember, this is bodybuilding and thus you need to focus on perfect execution of the exercises so that your muscles (and not your tendons or joints) are the ones doing the work. Never sacrifice form in the name of using more weight! Also remember that because muscle stimulation is the name of the game, you need to contract the muscle as you move the weights. Moving the weight from A to B is not good enough. Really focus on squeezing and contracting the muscle being trained. Even though you will not be able to use as much weight if you do this, I promise you that the results will be well worth it.
For learning to engage the muscles better, take a look at the Zone Tone Technique.
YOUR BODY TYPE WILL DETERMINE YOUR TRAINING FREQUENCY.
This is an area that is seldom discussed in training articles. In order for the best gains to happen, you need to adapt your training frequency based on your body type. So for example, a guy like me who is naturally an endomorph (slower metabolism) can train 5-6 days a week. However, a naturally skinny guy with a raging metabolism (a hardgainer) is better served with 3-4 sessions a week.
CHOOSE A TRAINING SCHEDULE THAT YOU CAN STICK TO.
Again, this is one of those “secrets” that sound really obvious but that is disregarded over and over. While some programs may look really good in paper, if you cannot stick to it due to other time commitments such as family, work, etc then you need to choose a different routine. If you know that all you can do is 3-4 sessions of weights a week, then follow that training frequency. There is no sense in trying to follow a 5-6 day a week program if you will always end up missing 1-2 sessions a week. At the end of the day, that will only lead to frustration and to reduced gains. So be sure to choose a program that you know you can follow consistently since consistency is the key to major muscle gains!
RECORD YOUR SESSIONS AND TRACK YOUR PROGRESS.
Keeping a training journal is a great tool! Recording your workouts is great not only for accountability, planning, and motivation, but it also helps you to see where you are and where you have been.
Imagine if you follow a program, get in the best shape of your life, and then you don’t remember how you got there. Could you imagine how you would feel if for whatever reason you lose your shape and then do not know how to get back to it? In addition, a training log allows you to easily see where your progress is going. Are you gaining strength? Are you losing body fat? All of these items can be easily looked at when you keep a training log. Finally, a log allows you to troubleshoot the program if your progress is not moving forward. If you keep detailed accounts of your workouts and nutrition plan, if you are losing strength and you notice in your training log that you have been consistently missing a meal or two each day, then you know what the fix to the problem is.
Now that you know the 10 training secrets to building massive muscles, start implementing each and every one of these in your bodybuilding program and see those muscle mass gains pile up!