I was tired of doing the same old workouts I had been doing. The same strength training programs laid out in magazines and books. It seemed that as I added more exercises I wound up not making any gains in muscle.
Putting on muscle is not hard. All it takes is learning simple exercises and techniques in a strength training program in order to see a difference.
Back when I was just starting out and for years after that I made a common mistake. I figured that adding muscle meant adding more exercises, more sets, spending a long time in the gym and going as heavy as possible. The more sore I was, the better my results in the future right?
Well I was wrong.
You can probably relate. Chances are you have been in this situation or are going through it right now.
You have gone through the drill of super heavy long workouts and done all the exercises that others recommend that you do and still you don’t make noticeable gains. Well the best ways to see improvements is by changing your strength training workouts right now and go back to basics.
Simple Workouts Regardless of Skill Level
This is the misconception most of us have. When you hear the words BASIC or SIMPLE we think it applies for the beginner. You think that you will not benefit from trying a simple approach because you have some workouts or many workouts under your belt.
Honestly, going back to basics is often all you need to make progress no matter what your skill level, whether you have been lifting weights for 1 week or many years.
Basic Does Not Equal Easy
When it comes to putting on muscle you will get the best results using basic exercises. The exercises should be easy to do but not so easy that you are coasting by with each set. Effort is important if you expect to see progress.
In order to see results in muscle building you need to make sure you do the following:
- Lift heavier with every workout
- Do more reps with each workout
It is important to go in and come out aiming to do personal bests. It is not possible to lift heavier and heavier week after week, at some point you will hit a wall or a plateau, but you definitely need to improve either by going heavier than the week before or doing more repetitions each week. Those are the two things you need to aim for if you want to see muscle gains.
If you are looking to gain muscle start by lifting heavy at a weight you can only lift for 5 repetitions. The aim is to try and increase the number of repetitions you can complete with each set. Try to increase your reps until you can do 10 reps in a set.
Once you are able to complete 10 repetitions per set increase the weight by 5 to 10 pounds. Once you increase the weight you should be able to complete a maximum of 5 reps. Again, try to increase your reps and once you can do 10 reps increase the weight again.
It is important to follow this type of progression. In order for the muscle to grow it needs to experience more stress or progressive overload. As the muscle experiences heavier weight it then has to adapt and grow.
Build A Solid Foundation Of Exercises
If you want to see results you will have to do exercises that are the backbone of a good muscle building program. A handful of compound movements should be the exercises that you focus on in order to see the best results and quickest gains.
The following exercises should be part of your routine:
Your focus should be primarily on working with these exercises and making consistent gains. I know you want to do certain exercises like a series of biceps curls and triceps extensions so you can get bigger arms but if you want to gain muscle mass those exercises will not help you very much. Don’t worry, they can be included in your strength training program but they should not be your primary focus.
The exercises mentioned above are known as compound movements. These types of exercises will work a maximum number of muscle groups and muscle fibers and help you increase levels of testosterone if you are a guy.
Avoid Overtraining By Working Out Less
I always thought that being in the gym as many days out of the week as possible was best when trying to put on mass. But you have noticed that working out more has never lead to massive gains. Unless you have amazing genetics (and 95 percent of us don’t) then chances are this did not work for you either.
If you want to see muscle gains you will have to structure your strength training workouts in a way that will allow more rest days.
Rather than working out every day it is best if you do 3 to 4 workouts in a span of 7 days. Allow at least one day in between workouts for rest and recuperation.
It may be tempting to do strength training on consecutive days but if your goal is to gain muscle it is best to resist and stay from the weights, rest and allow the muscle to recover and grow.
It is important to remember that the process of muscle growth does not rely solely on workouts, it is also important to rest so that the muscle can handle heavier loads.
Getting Back In the Swing of Things
You can easily structure a workout program on 3 basic lifts:
- Bench Press
For a beginne and for someone who has been away from weight training for a while or someone who wants to get back to basics a workout consisting of just these 3 exercises will help you put on mass and prepare you for working with heavier weight.
Your training schedule using 3 basic lifts should be broken down to 3 days a week with a day break in between. So your workouts schedule can look like this:
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday
- Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
You are leaving a day or two of rest in between to allow the muscle to recover.
Perform each exercise for 5 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions and rest 3 minutes between sets.
Make sure you complete your all sets of one exercise before you move on to the next.
Make sure to start with a relatively heavy weight you can complete for 5 repetitions and work on trying to do more reps with every workout. Once you reach 10 reps it is time to increase the weight enough so you can do 5 reps.
Stick with this for a maximum of 6 to 8 weeks and take one week off at the end of this cycle.
Make sure that you take the needed one week off if you want to avoid overtraining, otherwise you will risk interrupting any gains you have made.
Some people choose to train using only these exercises 3 days a week for a long period of time but if you want to maximize your gains it is best to add what are called assistive exercises. You can add assistive exercises once you are done with your first cycle of workouts using the 3 basic lifts along with other compound movements.
For someone who is more at an intermediate or advanced level you can include assistive exercises along with your compound lifts. You can feel free to move beyond the 3 days/ 3 lifts I outlined above.
A More Advanced Strength Training Program
I really wish I had learned some of the tips I am showing here. Unfortunately it is common for anyone to fall for more complicated workouts using a long sequence of single joint movements that are unnecessary.
If you have been training for a while and people still ask you if you lift weights after all this time it is an embarrassing feeling. I know because I have been there.
If this is your case then it is time to switch it up and constantly challenge your body.
The following workout is a sample of a mass gaining and simple strength training program for men you can start using today. This is a perfect workout for someone who has been training for a while or is beyond the beginning stages.
Here we will follow a 4 day split
Workout schedule should allow at least one day rest in between each day.
- Day 1: Barbell Military Press, Chin Ups, Dumbbell Bench Press, Cable Rows and Barbell Curl
- Day 2: Squats, Back Extension, Barbell or Dumbbell Shrugs, Calf Raise
- Day 3: Incline Bench Press, Barbell Rows, Pull Ups, Dumbbell Biceps Curl
- Day 4: Deadlift, Lunges, Calf Raises
Rest periods will be 2 minutes per set on all exercises except for the Squat on Day 2 and the Deadlift on Day 4.
Each exercise will be of 5-8 reps and 2 sets each. Start with a weight that is your 5 rep max and aim for 8 reps. Once you can complete 8 reps increase the weight. Just like the 3 day/ 3 exercises split your goal should be to increase the weight you can lift over time.
After doing this workout program for a total of 6 to 8 weeks make sure you take 1 week off.
Include cardio, specifically intervals on your off ideas in order to keep the muscle and maintain your fat percentage as low as possible.
This sample workout will work very well and there are other long term plans like Muscle Gaining Secrets by Jason Ferruggia.
If you want to see results like never before and want to eliminate the stigma of being a hardgainer the strength training program workouts I have shown above are way for you to get started.
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