Weight lifting workouts are the cornerstone of any successful muscle gain program. Without the proper stimulation, your muscles simply will not grow. If you’re trying to build muscle mass but don’t know how to structure your weight training workouts for muscle growth look no further.
While everybody knows that weight training is the way to go if you want to build muscle mass. Very few people understand the basics of designing a growth stimulating workout. Listed below is the framework that I use to put together 90% of my weight lifting workouts.
Before we get into the workout structure, It’s important to talk about the muscle building process and how it works. Here’s a simplistic overview of how the muscle building process works:
In order to build muscle mass you must first stimulate muscle growth with intense weight lifting workouts. After you have given your body a reason to grow, you must then focus your attention on fueling muscle growth. Just like your car, your body will not function properly without the right fuel (nutrients). After you have put in the hard work to stimulate and fuel muscle growth, you must give your body a chance to actually grow. The fancy term for this process is rest and recovery.
That’s really all there is to the muscle building process. Armed with this knowledge, you should have a better than average idea of what it takes to build muscle.
Here’s the formula for growth stimulating weight lifting workouts
1.) Always perform a complete warm up prior to jumping into any weight lifting workout. If yo decide to skip the warm-up and jump right into your workout, you will get hurt!
2.) limit the duration of your weight lifting workouts to 60 minutes max. I personally like to design them to complete in under 45 minutes. There are two reasons that I strictly follow this methodology.
The first reason is that studies have shown that the muscle building hormones begin to spike within 30 – 45 minutes. If you continue to train past the 60 minute threshold the muscle building effect of your workouts will not be as effective as an intense weight training session during your bodies peak hormonal period.
The second reason is that you’ll have a very hard time maintaining the proper muscle building intensity level for more than 60 minutes. Another way to say it is – If you are able to train for 2 – 3 hours, chances are your workouts are not intense enough to stimulate muscle growth.
Besides, who has the time to commit to 2 -3 hours a day in the gym anyway?
3.) Design the majority of your workouts around compound exercises like squats, bench press, dead lift, rows etc. If you really want to add an isolation exercise into the mix, make sure that you only perform it after you have completed at least 1 heavy compound movement.
4.) Train heavy to stimulate muscle growth. If you’re serious about building as much muscle mass as quickly as possible you need to train with heavy weights through a complete range of motion. I’ve found the 6 – 8 repetition range to be effective for most body parts.
5.) Incorporate stretching and flexibility into your weight training routine by stretching between sets.
6.) Focus on only 1 or 2 body parts per workouts max! If you want to stimulate muscle growth you need to hammer each muscle group with heavy weights. If you’re trying to cram in 3 or 4 different body parts you will not be able to train heavy enough towards the end of your workout.
7.) Perform between 2 – 4 sets of each exercise beginning with your heavy compound exercises first and moving on to your secondary isolation exercises second.
8.) Rest for 2 – 3 minutes between sets. This is enough time to allow for complete muscle recovery, but not so long that your body cools down between sets.
9.) Train each body part only 1 time each week. This will allow for full muscular recovery between workouts.
Here’s what a typical chest and bicep workout looks like following this model:
- Bench Press – 4 warm up sets, then 3 sets of 6 – 8 reps.
- Dumbbell Incline Press – 2 sets of 6 – 8 reps.
- Straight Bar Curl – 4 warm up sets, then 3 sets of 6 – 8 reps.
- Alternating Dumbbell Curl – 2 sets of 6 – 8 reps.
While it may seem counter intuitive to limit your weight lifting workouts to 60 minutes, you’ll soon find that you can actually train with heavier weights and wind up stimulating more growth in the process!