This guide applies to both men and women; if you take the core values seriously in this guide, you are bound to see changes in your body. These are scientific, therefore universal parts of fitness. The best way to build muscle methods is in 6 sections.
In this guide, we’ll be talking about variables that you can change such as:
- Rep Ranges
- Number of Sets
- Training Splits
- Rest Periods
When it comes to building muscle, we can talk about all kinds of different mechanics such as protein synthesis, motor units, etc.
But let us tell you something, you don’t have to learn anything you can’t change. Stressing about anything that is not changeable is terrible for your mental and psychical health. Let’s set the ground for this guide; there is a limit to your growth! We won’t be talking about unachievable goals; in this guide, we are going to find out what you’ve been doing wrong that is stunning your growth.
The muscle under tension drives growth. Research shows that lifting lighter weights to failure and heavier weights to failure produces the same kinds of results for development. (1) Lifting heavy weights with bad form is worse than lifting light weights, so put your ego aside and focus on what kind of weight you can handle.
The scientific article indicates that there is no magical rep range for maximizing muscle size. Don’t forget to keep in mind:
- For heavy lifts 1 to 5 reps are ideal,
- Medium load lifts 10 to 15 reps and,
- Light lifts 15 to 20 reps are good enough for muscular development.
Take a mental note of this; quality reps that you can keep the body part you want to grow under stress are essential for your muscles. It is by far the most crucial part of fitness when it comes to training sessions. Quality reps are quite the opposite mental image of muscular people lifting weights; in photo-shoots, they are always seen lifting big weights. You definitely don’t have to throw around heavyweight; people won’t be impressed when you are trying to lift weights that you certainly can’t handle. The fitness journey is about taking one step at a time; sometimes it’s a walk; sometimes it’s a jog. We must say that as a whole, it is a marathon.
Let’s look at what would happen if you were to lift heavy weights that you can’t handle:
- You reduce the time under stress because you are cheating yourself by using momentum.
- You are unable to lower the weight under your control, also reducing the tension.
- And, you use different muscles to lift the weight, which reduces the pump of muscle you’re trying to target.
Moving the weight from point A to B is NOT the goal. The goal is to control the entire range of motion.
One of the easiest exercise equipment you can control is a good old dumbbell.
The Point is:
There is no perfect rep range, only balance!
It’s simple. The concentric lifting part of each rep should be done in a normal tempo and control during the lowering part should be maintained around 3 seconds eccentric on each rep. Knowing exactly how your tempo should be is one of the best ways to build muscle.
People who cheat to lift weights also let the weight come down because of gravity. Gravity shouldn’t do the work for you; this applies to momentum as well. If you don’t want to waste your time and focus on significant gains, maintain your control through the motion. We have evidence that the slower (4 seconds) eccentric portion of biceps curls produces more arm development than a 1-second eccentric action (1)
Keep in mind cheating only creates an overload of mechanical tension. That kind of weightlifting will (not “can” our “could”, it is bound to happen!) force your muscles to exceed the structural healthy integrity of your tendons, ligaments in an unnatural way. Injury is something you’d regret definitely.
The Point is:
Maximize your time under stress by good form and a controlled eccentric that lasts around 3 to 5 seconds.
Choose a weight that would eventually tire your muscles; you shouldn’t be leaving any more reps in the tank. Still, you shouldn’t cheat the weight up by momentum. If your program suggests 3 sets and 8 to 12 reps range, your weight of choice shouldn’t be heavy more than you can’t reach 8 repetitions; also you shouldn’t easily exceed the 12 reps range. According to the majority of the lifters, the best way to build muscle goes through how much you can lift.
You might lift less weight each set by lowering the weight because of accumulated fatigue. Also, you can lift the same amount but do one less rep in each set. Both are fine for muscular development.
If you’re looking for convenient exercise equipment to use. Check our Adjustable Dumbbells guide:
The Point is:
The best weight is the weight you can control.
Number of Sets
It is weird to assume that in a so-called balanced training program, having almost the same amount of exercises, total sets/reps, and training days for your all body parts is good enough. Some of your body parts need more focus because they are less developed. If you prioritize muscle growth, lagging muscle parts should be your primary focus. This is seriously one of the best ways to build muscle.
Also lifting for legs versus lifting for arms have a different kind of dynamic. One is, without a doubt, the bigger muscle group, so you should focus more and workout more days for that portion of your body. Lift at least 12 sets per week in that area. If you are already lifting that amount with no problem, then we should add more total sets per week to those muscles.
The Point is:
Lift accordingly to the size of your muscle and focus on lagging parts.
We can only determine which program is better for you by seeing how many days per week, you can train and commit for a period of time. Training splits are built in a way that each week all of your muscle groups are trained enough for hypertrophy. If you can train 2 to 3 times a week, total body workouts are the best for you. If you can afford more, like 4 times per week. An upper body, lower body split like this is one of the best ways to build muscle:
If you can work five and more days a week, a program like:
- Chest Shoulders, triceps
- Lower body and abs
- Back, biceps
If suitable for you, you can change the program to your liking. Focusing more on the abdominal area, glutes and legs are better for women. By the way, don’t worry that working out arms will make you look like Arnold. Muscle growth happens in time; it is not an overnight success. It doesn’t happen to you; you make it happen in time.
The Point is:
The best training split is one you can commit.
The research found that resting between three to five minutes, each set yields better results for strength than having only one-minute rest. (2) Allowing your body for optimal recovery affects how well and effectively you do your next set. It’s important to know that for bigger muscles, take a bit longer rest periods than smaller ones. Taking more than five minutes is a bit overkill, you shouldn’t let your sweat cool off so easily.
The Point is:
Rest the bigger parts more.
There is no fit size all solution for muscular development, which means there isn’t the best way to build muscle. The best thing you can do for building muscle is what is doable for you also keep in mind the law of psychics. You should always try to do more than the week prior, which is hypertrophy. If you do everything right, you will grow muscles and look in shape.
We want to emphasize this once again; fitness is a journey. No result will come out to you overnight; it takes time. But believe us, weightlifting is one of the most rewarding and fair things you can do for yourself.
Take these core principles by heart and share this guide with people who you want to see succeed in this journey. Do you think all of these principles are achievable? Let us know in the comments.
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(1)Pereira PE, Motoyama Y, Esteves G, Carlos Quinelato W, Botter L, Tanaka K, Azevedo P. Resistance training with slow speed of movement is better for hypertrophy and muscle strength gains than fast speed of movement. Int J Appl Exerc Physiol. 2016;5:37-43.
(2) De Salles BF, et al. Rest interval between sets in strength training. Sports Med. 2009;39(9):765- 77.