There is a lot written on how to best build muscle and make the most out of your time in the gym. One key to remember is that muscle gains don’t happen inside the gym while you are working out – they happen at home as your body recovers and rebuilds. Solid, consistent workouts and educated meal plans are what will bring you the results that you’re after. Here are some ways to fine tune your workout to maximise your muscle gains.
Double Down on Legs
It seems like everyone these days is making sure they don’t skip leg day. Training legs releases large amounts of anabolic hormones so training legs twice a week will ensure that your body is enjoying a more regular hit of growth hormones. Your legs are your base and having strong legs is the key to athletic ability. Some people go as far as performing squats every day, but this can be quite taxing if your body is not conditioned for that sort of work. However, training your legs twice a week still allows them time to repair and grow in between workouts.
Two leg sessions doesn’t mean doing the same thing twice a week – try splitting your leg training to a quads and calves day and hamstrings and glutes another day. Including compound exercises in your other workouts, such as clean and jerks and deadlifts will also ensure your legs get stronger and thicken up. If you aren’t yet doing hip thrusts, they are another great exercise to build your strength and power by targeting your glutes and teaching optimal hip extension.
People often boast about how much time they spend in the gym or think 10 minutes on a treadmill counts as a workout. Spending too long or not enough time in the gym can both have negative effects on your progress in the gym. Focus, rather than time is the key to building muscle. A workout should last between 45 minutes and an hour, including a good warm up.
Lifting heavy weights for more than 45 minutes can have a negative impact on your body’s testosterone levels and therefore your muscle gains. By keeping your workouts condensed to under an hour will also help you resist burning out and losing focus during your workout. A short, focussed, intense workout is always going to trump a 2 hour meander through the gym.
Compound Your Efforts
Performing compound exercises activate more muscles in your body which leads to a greater release of anabolic hormones. Each workout you do should include at least one compound exercise. Squats, deadlifts, gym bench presses, dips, chin ups, military presses, and clean and jerks are all exercises you should be regularly including in your workouts. Compound exercises also work to increase your flexibility, strength, power and overall athletic ability.
Consistency is the key to maximising your gains. Consistency with your workouts and consistency with your dieting. If you find yourself leaving the gym every other day sweating and feeling the pump, like your body has no choice but to grow, but isn’t – then you should look at your diet and see what is lacking. Not eating enough food, or not eating enough clean, nutritious food is most likely your problem.
Train hard with focus, educate yourself to ensure you are eating right and training efficiently, and work hard at remaining consistency. Turning up day in, day out, week in and week out and committing to your goals is what is going to see you successfully reach those goals. Keep the motivation strong, find ways to continue to drive yourself to achieve.