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Understanding What Builds MuscleBy Paul Delia In The Quest to Gain Muscle Size and Strength,Many Forget Why They Train!
There is no definite right or wrong way to train. There are however, better and more efficient ways to build muscle. I have developed an approach to building muscle that far exceeds any other training method I have seen to date. It's called Max-OT™ - Maximum Overload Training™.
Max-OT is not a complicated program. It revolves around the basic fundamental physiological factors that make muscle grow. This is what makes Max-OT so effective for everyone that follows it. It does't matter if you are a genetic freak or genetic geek, Max-OT will maximize your muscle growth faster than any other training approach. The only way Max-OT will not work for you is if you don't follow it. If you do, watch out. You're going to experience more muscle growth and strength increases than you ever thought possible.
The More You Know The Less You Grow
Let me take you back a bit. Can you tell me at what point in your training did you gain the most muscle size in the shortest period of time? Let me guess. The first year you started training seriously. Am I right? Why do think this is? After all, you didn't know anything about weight training. Certainly not as much as you know now. So why is it as you get "smarter" and learn more about "how to train" your gains in muscle size and strength come slower?
You need to really think about this. The more you learn - the less you gain. Doesn't make sense does it? Here's the reason - you have been learning - or should I say, you have been taught all wrong.
When you first started training you didn't know what you were doing. You always wanted to see how much you could lift, your form was sloppy and your routines were unorganized. But you gained lots of muscle and lots of strength! How could that be? People are always saying, "You always gain a lot of muscle when you first start." But why? No one has been able to give me a plausible answer outside of "You just do."
My firm belief is, the reason you gain so much when you first start is because you are always challenging yourself. Your form is loose and you train heavy from a relative standpoint. Basically you train with a very primitive form of Max-OT but you don't realize it.
As the months role along and you get more involved in your training you begin to commit your first sin - you start reading the magazines (or catalogs as they should be called). And in the pages of these magazines are all the training routines of all the top bodybuilders. With pictures too. You know, the ones where they are all screaming during each rep like someone has a blowtorch to their ass.
As you read these routines you learn about forced reps, super sets, giant sets, pyramids, drop sets, strip sets, 2 a day splits, 3 hour workouts, 25 sets per body part, strict form, and on and on and on. Then comes the second sin - you start training the way the magazines tell you to train. You actually start doing all this garbage. And what happens? Gains in muscle size and strength start slowing way down to little more than a crawl and many times not even that.
I know, I know, some of those articles sound pretty damn convincing. And hell, the more you train the more you gain - right? Wrong!
Why You Do What You Do
Let's step back and review your approach to building muscle. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself why you are training the way you are training. And if you can't give yourself a logical and realistic answer then you don't need to be training that way. It's that simple.
Overload and Intensity
There are two main training components that build muscle - overload and intensity. And not just overload and intensity but maximum overload integrated with maximum intensity.
It's the integration of these two factors that will determine the rate at which your training encourages muscle growth. Overload without intensity is just half the equation. Intensity without overload is just intensity.
4 to 6 Reps
Max-OT stipulates that you use maximum weight for 4 to 6 reps. This rep range tied to the weight that limits you to between 4 and 6 reps is the ideal weight-rep overload force for maximum muscle fiber stimulation and forced muscular adaptation.
Understand that in order for a muscle to grow it must have a reason to grow. Overload required for maximum muscular contraction and force is that reason. Overload is applied through maximum weight utilization and not through high volume reps coupled with moderate weight. Total volume of work is not an indication of muscular overload. Total volume is just total volume.
Using maximum weight for 4 to 6 reps (the weight used must allow at least 4 reps but must also be heavy enough that you will not be able to do more than 6 reps) involves maximum fiber recruitment and fiber overload. Overload is the reason for muscle to grow. It forces muscle fibers to respond through growth. Without overload a muscle has no reason to grow.
Sets - How Many?
Most people do way to many sets. It's strange but for some reason everyone thinks they need to do at least three sets of every different exercise they do. Where did this come from?
Max-OT prescribes 6 to 8 total sets. That is it. Do not exceed this amount. You see, Max-OT is such an intense approach to building muscle that this is all the muscle needs for total fiber overload. The biggest mistake most everyone makes is doing way too much volume. Most people over-train and never even know it. Over-training will stall muscle growth in its tracks!
For some reason, probably because of the macho stigma that has manifested itself with bodybuilding, people think they should train until they are completely drained of all energy, until they have to be scraped off the gym floor. This is wrong and will not promote efficient muscle growth.
Again, exhaustion or fatigue is not overload. Fatigue is counterproductive to building muscle. When you fatigue a muscle before you have achieved overload, you cannot maximize muscle growth.
Train each muscle group once every 7 days. This is very important for two primary reasons.
It allows you to train one muscle group per workout. This creates the highest mental and physical intensity possible. This is essential to maximum muscle growth. You can use heavier weights and mentally focus more during each and every rep you do.
It allows for full recuperation between workouts. Training a muscle before it is fully recuperated puts you in a downhill spiral to over-training. Over-training will whittle away at muscle tissue and mentally defeat your efforts to build maximum muscle. Avoid Training Mistakes
Understanding that overload induces muscle growth is the first major step in a successful Max-OT program. Do not confuse overload with fatigue. This is a common mistake. Overloading a muscle group induces maximum growth response by forcing the muscle to adapt to the increased load. If a muscle has no reason to adapt (grow) it will not. Fatiguing a muscle through high rep training only encourages increased time to exhaustion or muscular endurance.
Fatigue is fatigue and nothing more. Fatiguing a muscle will not induce growth and plenty of research suggests fatigue induces physiological responses that are counterproductive to muscle growth.
As far as building muscular size and strength is concerned there is no place for high rep, high set training. High rep training does not overload the muscle sufficiently to induce a maximum growth response. The only time reps over 6 should ever be performed is during your warm-up sets. Warm-up sets are strictly for warming the muscles and joints up. Again, avoid fatigue during warm-up sets.
Mindset When Your Hand Touches The Bar
The best way I have found to approach training is to adapt the philosophy I am about to spell out.
Anytime you wrap your hand around a bar - from that moment forward, until you release your grip, only one thing should be on your mind - to build the maximum amount of muscle you possibly can.
Adopting this mindset and mentally repeating it to yourself each time before you do a set will propel your gains like you wouldn't believe. This is an integral part of Max-OT training.
As you can see, adopting the correct mental approach is just as important as the mechanical aspects of Max-OT. Integrate the two and you have what is the ultimate training approach for building maximum muscle size and strength - Max-OT.
Warm-up to warm-up - nothing more. Overload the muscle! Overload the muscle! Overload the muscle! Do 4 to 6 reps to failure. This means the weight used should allow you to get at least 4 reps but no more than 6. If you can't do 4 reduce the weight. If you can do more than 6 go heavier! Sets - do 6 to 8 total sets per muscle group. Train each muscle group once every 7 days. Train with maximum mental and physical intensity. For weight - when in doubt go heavier! Always error to the heavy side. For sets - when you are unsure of whether you should do 1 more set - don't! More is not better. Anytime you train you are doing so to build muscle. There is no such thing as "light-days". Don't waste time or energy on wacky training theories or routines. Be smart and do what builds muscle, not what some writer says builds muscle. Implementing Max-OT will be the most exciting experience in building muscle you'll ever have. You'll spend less time in the gym and make more gains than you ever have. What more could you ask for?