Okay so not all of us want to look like this, however I'd hedge a bet most of us want a little more muscle.
My last few blogs have been very mindset heavy so I thought I'd change it up a little today.
Disclaimer- Even if 'Fat Loss' is your goal you'll still want to keep reading. I'm going to put it all together over the next few weeks through a series of emails on training and nutrition.
There are 3 main methods of muscle building. I am going to give a 'science' explanation of each, followed by hopefully putting it in more layman terms and then giving an example of things you can do in your training that involves this mechanism.
1- Mechanical Tension:
Mechanical tension is created by using a heavy load(relative to the individual) and performing exercises through a full range of motion for a decent period of time(not as quick as possible). The time the muscle spends under tension provided by the external load (barbell, dumbbell etc) creates Mechanical Tension in the muscle. The more time spent under load, the more mechanical tension provided.
However, tension alone won’t cause maximal muscle growth. In order to cause further hypertrophy(muscle building) stimulation, the muscle has to also go through a full range of motion. So, in other words, lift heavy weights in a controlled manner, through a full range of motion to promote muscle growth.
What This Means- In basic terms this is your compound movements performed with good technique at a controlled pace. Think movements like squats and deadlifts where you aren't trying to move as quick as possible but instead with optimal technique.
2- Muscle Damage:
Muscle damage is an essential component of the muscle-building process. Muscle damage is sustained during resistance training, largely coming from eccentric and concentric contractions. D.O.Ms (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) is a very common sensation experienced by individuals after undertaking exercise, this is a result of micro tears in the muscle as a result of damage.
Both types of contractions cause muscle damage, but eccentric contractions cause more damage to the muscle than concentric contractions. Hence why bodybuilders incorporate ‘negative’ reps into their training regimes. This onset of muscle damage triggers mTor pathways that then activates protein synthesis to occur and the rebuilding of the damaged muscle begin.
What this means- This style of training is less about performing the exercise 'optimally'(however good technique is still imperative) and more about stimulating as much actual damage to the muscle fibres as possible.
Mechanical tension is more about doing the exercise well for the sake of getting better(i.e. progressing your squats over an 8 week block) whereas during the muscle damage block we are less worried about the exercise itself and more about the damage we can cause to the muscle fibres which, provided we fuel correctly, will lead to muscle gain in the long term.
3- Metabolic Stress:
Along with lifting heavy weights to create mechanical tension, it is also well researched that lifting moderate to light weights for higher repetitions will also promote muscle growth.
For those that have performed any sort of resistance training will have more than likely experienced, ‘the burn’ or ‘the pump’ as you reach the higher reps that’s then followed by short rest periods. A number of things are happening during the end stages of the set. With the muscles continually contracting and relaxing a blood pooling effect is created within the muscle (cell swelling – the pump). This, in turn, results in restricted blood flow to the muscle (occlusion) and with the lack of oxygenated blood being able to fuel the muscle (hypoxia) during the continual contractions. This leads to a large build-up of metabolites like lactate, hydrogen ions etc. The resulting metabolic stress placed on the muscles has an anabolic effect leading to molecular signalling and an increasing hormonal response by the body. What this means- This is the part most likely to be experienced towards the end of sessions or in things like classes. Typically in a finisher at Elevate98 we will do something like: -2 Strength movements -1 Bodyweight movement/carry -1 Cardio/Heart rate raiser. This is the intent behind this process. Remember we still need some form of weight/progressive overload to make it muscle building. Cardio alone(while amazing for you and should be done) with only basic bodyweight exercises won't stimulate muscle growth. So an example of all 3 within a workout would be... Mechanical Tension- 5x5 Controlled Back Squats with plenty rest. Muscle Damage- 4x8 RDL with 4 sec lower and a quick explosion back up. Metabolic Stress- 4x20 weighted Lunges and 10 Cal Bike with 60 secs rest between(Bike isn't imperative but just an example). Next week I am going to explain how we need to fuel(protein) to ensure this process actually does what we want it too and build muscle so as our training efforts aren't in vain. Very different topic this week so let me know your thoughts or questions. *Some of my phrases are paraphrased from Ion Cardiff so thanks to them.