If told that to build muscle you need to perform lightweights and many, many repetitions, they sold you a lie. The only way to build muscle mass is to lift heavy weights.
Now, before you check out and lose interest, lifting heavy weights is fun. It is empowering and amazing at how quick you improve your strength. One reason that many people avoid strength training is that they are hesitant to set foot into the free weights area of a gym. The barbells and weight plates can be intimidating.
Think about it this way. Do you lift heavy stuff from the ground, lift heavy things over your head to place them on a shelf or carry heavy items in your hands repeatedly? Odds are you do. If you have lift furniture, picked up a fifty-pound bag of dog food or carried bags of groceries into the house you are performing the same movements you will do with weights.
Basic Free Weight Equipment
The free-weight equipment in a gym is basic. Start with the barbell. The selection spans a 15-pound training barbell, or a 35 or 45-pound barbell. If you have never lifted a barbell in your life, you might start out doing exercises using the barbell, with no added weights.
Next, you have the plates. They have their weight stamped on them, which will be in kilograms, or pounds. The plates start at 10 pounds, and in increments of 15, 25, and 45-pounds. Then they have the smaller 2.5 and 5-pound plates. You have clips you place on the end of your barbell to keep the plates in place. That is it.
Sets And Reps For Strength Training
The next concept to learn is the basics of a strength-training workout. Here goes:
After doing, low-intensity cardio for five minutes to warm up your muscles and get your blood pumping, next, you want to warm up specific lifting muscles.
Warm up to about 50 percent – 60 percent your max. An example, if your max deadlift were 150 pounds, then warm up by doing deadlifts close to 75-85 pounds. Warm up with small sets and gradually increase your weight until you are at about 80 percent of your max. You are now ready to start the workout.
Your sets will be for max effort. Max effort workouts look like this:
One x 1x1x1x1 – For a one-rep max, the heaviest weight you can lift one time.
Three x 3x3x3x3 – For a three-rep max, the heaviest weight you can lift three times consecutively. It will be less than your one rep max
There are 5 and 10 rep max workouts and workouts to failure. It works like this; lift the weight as many times until you cannot lift it anymore.
Crossfit Muscle Building
Crossfit workouts build muscle fast because of the rotation and the variations. Crossfitters do several high intensity workouts each week coupled with heavy lifting workouts, which helps burn the fat and build muscle mass. If your emphasis is on building muscle mass, each week do one or two high intensity workouts and spend the remainder of your time strength training.
A High Intensity Workout
Here is a quick example of a high intensity workout:
Ten sprints for time:
- Run 100 meters
- Rest the time you took to run the 100 meters between each round.
Different Compound Movements
There are different movements one can do. Compound movements are the most effective. They utilize more muscles.
For example when you do a bicep curl, the focus is on your biceps. Great! When you do a chin up or a weighted chin up you use your biceps, shoulder muscles, chest muscles, back muscles and abdominals. You get more bang for your buck.
So let us look at a few core weight lifting movements.
Squats – Your leg muscles are your largest muscles. As you squat, you use the large muscles of the legs, hamstrings and quads. As well, the lower leg muscle, core muscles and glutes.
There are three different squats and the difference depends on where you position the barbell.
Front – The barbell is resting on your deltoids and held against the front side of your body as you squat.
Overhead – With a wide grip, the barbell held overhead as you squat.
Back – The barbell rests on your shoulders and positioned behind your neck. You squat with weight on your back.
Deadlifts – This may be the heaviest weight you lift. Start with the barbell on the ground and lift using your hips and leg muscles. Correct form is critical to prevent back injury.
Cleans and Snatch – These two are the most difficult movements in weight lifting. They are Olympic weight lifting movements. They are fun to do, and suggest you watch a few videos or get help from a trainer before you try these movements. In addition, always practice and learn with an empty barbell.
Shoulder Press and Jerk – To work your upper body – including your core muscles, your arms, shoulders and upper back – the shoulder press, push press, and push jerk will get the task done.
Shoulder press is a strict movement. You execute this movement by moving the barbell from the front rack position to overhead. With a push press, you have a small dip so you can gain momentum and lift more. Movement is the same, from shoulders to overhead. With the jerk, you can dip your body to drive up the bar. You will drop down below it positioning you to lift more. Someone with a 90-pound strict press might have a 115-push press and a 125-push jerk.
Pull-ups – Work the full upper body, plus the core muscles in your abs and back. Once you have mastered pull-ups, add weight to make them more challenging. If you cannot do a pull-up, you can build strength with modifications. You might do a jumping pull-up to assist you get over the bar. You may slowly lower your body from the top of the bar; these are call negatives, and they help increase strength.
Pushups– Another upper body and core muscle builder. Yet again, you can add weight when you have mastered the pushup. Do them from your knees if you do not have the strength to do a traditional pushup just yet.
Thruster – This movement combines a front squat with a push press, and the bar held before of you in your front rack. Squat just as you reach standing and push the barbell overhead. Doing a set of ten with moderate weight and you will feel the burn.
What About Abs Workout
You might have noticed no abdominal movements listed above, that is because we are talking about compound movements and each of the movements we have discussed works your abs and your back muscles. Still, if you want that six-pack, you can also perform sit-ups on the floor. Add weight to the movement or ask your gym to show you how to use the GHD (Glute Hamstring Developer) apparatus to work your abdominals and back muscles.
Free Weights And Barbells
We have already talked about getting comfortable with free weights and barbells. If you are not in the market to buy your own set of weights (and you can buy them used for a good price) then consider joining a gym.
If you join a gym, get a tour and ask about the rules. Some gyms require a spotter to assist with movements like the back squat and bench press. Build friendship, workout with a friend, you will most time have a spotter. Consider signing up for a personal training session and tell them your goals.
Keep in mind that your goal is to build muscle mass, tons of reps at a low weight will not help. Make an effort to know the proper form for each movement. Learn by watching video tutorials online or take a weight-lifting basics course. Good form averts injuries and helps you maximize the movement.
Why Is It Important To Train Regularly
Strength training once a week is not enough to see results. The key to building muscle mass is to develop a schedule that have you working your muscles regularly. 1-2 days of cardio plus some time off to let your body rest. A sample schedule might look like this:
- Day 1: Upper Body – Bench Press, Shoulder Press, Pull-ups and/or Pushups (Choose one or two movements and focus on those)
- Day 2: Lower Body – Squats, Deadlift, Lunges (Choose one or two movements and focus on those)
- Day 3: Cardio – Run, cycle, jump rope, swim, dance, row.
- Day 4: Upper Body – Focus on movements you did not do on Day 1
- Day 5: Lower Body – Focus on movements you did not do on Day 2
- Day 6 – Cardio
- Day 7 – Rest
Track Your Weight Lifting
Keep track of your weights. For example, if you begin strength training and you are working out with an empty barbell for shoulder press, add a small amount of weight the second week of your work out.
You might be surprised to notice you have already gained some strength. In addition, remember, some days will be better than others will. Poor diet, poor sleep, and stress can all impact performance. Stay strong and be persistent and patient.
How Long Before Seeing Results Of Strength Training
When you combine nutrition and self-care with a consistent strength-training program, you will see results. It is common to increase your muscle mass and gain weight in the first few months. The reason is; muscle weighs more than fat.
You may notice that your clothes fit in a different way as you get stronger. Ignore the scale and tape measure for at least a month. Be patient. Work with your genetics not against them. In about three months, you should see a noticeable difference.