Building Muscle

In this series we've talked about strength, power, and now we're going to talk about hypertrophy. Or in laymen's terms, muscle size.

We'll talk discuss

  • Common misconceptions
  • The need for volume and time under tension
  • Typical sets and reps

The biggest misconception I hear from people when approaching training is, "I don't want to get bulky". To a certain extent this is non-avoidable. The issue is many of us equate bulky with those body builders that can't even scratch their scalp. I hate to break it to you but many of these body builders are not natural. 

Building muscle, whether you want to be bulky or not, is important. A bigger muscle has potential to be a stronger muscle, as well as more opportunity to protect your joints. The key to keep your body limber is to first off not just train what you see in the mirror, but focus on your upper back, your reaching muscles and your glutes. These muscles need the extra attention because they go a long way in helping keep our posture looking young. That's right, your butt is the muscle of youth, sit on that for a while. 

Along with that, I'm not talking about building body building size. So for my purposes I want you to actually use a full range of motion. By employing a full complete range of motion your going to go a long way at helping maintain movement. 

Overall, check your ego at the door. Building muscle properly means maintaining good form, using a full range of motion and working out your back side. 

Along with this it's important to understand the role of time under tension and volume. You can't build muscle as effectively without understanding these two concepts. 

Volume is the total amount of sets x reps x weight in a given exercise, workout and week. Time under tension is the time your muscles are under a load or working. 

To build muscle you want to use these to your advantage. High volume will translate into high time under tension, and both work really well in enhancing muscle growth. There's a lot of science behind this, but I'd rather not bore you with the details. If you want to know more about the science check out some of Dr. Brad Schoenfeld's work.

 Putting this all together the typical ranges you want to use for hypertrophy are;

  • 3-6 sets
  • 6-12 reps
  • 60-90 seconds rest

There's so much more that goes into the discussion of hypertrophy but this is a great place to start.

- Dave