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6 Techniques to Help You Get Huge

More than anything, most guys want to know how to get bigger and more defined, so that they can resemble the fitness models and physique competitors that you so often see in the media. They want their abs to show, they want full, defined and striated muscle fibres, visibly distinctive muscles, vascularity and a low body fat percentage. But in reality, most guys often settle into a pattern of training that doesn’t allow them the opportunity to grow and get that desired physique. They do the same type of training day in day out and wonder why they’re not achieving their goals.

A Marathon, Not A Sprint

One of the most common mistakes that trainers make is not sticking to a single program long enough. While it’s important to alter your training, it’s equally as important to give different programs time to see how well it works for you. Unless you’ve already got the physique you want, make sure you treat your progress as a marathon, not a sprint and ensure that you allow training programs a minimum of 6-8 weeks before making serious changes.

Maximise Hypertrophy

As previously mentioned, a significant number of trainers who lift weights wants to attain bigger muscles, also known as muscle hypertrophy. However in order to do so, you need three key things:

  • Mechanical Tension
  • Muscle Damage
  • Metabolic Stress

Increasing each of these three aspects will almost guarantee you muscle growth. Remember though that your body is extremely capable when its comes to adapting to training, so in order to continually grow, you need to employ tried and true techniques to break through those adaptations and shock the body into an anabolic state. Here are 6 of the best techniques you can incorporate into your training sessions to maximise your growth:

6. Forced Reps

Forced repetitions are a popular way to increase the metabolic stress and the fatigue of a muscle to elicit a greater hypertrophic or muscle growth response. Forced reps involve the use of a spotter to help the trainer push out some extra reps when they’ve reached a state where they can no longer lift the weight up. Research has found that forced reps can bring about an increase in GH (growth hormone) concentrations after the training session1, which has been linked to type I and type II fibre size increase2. If you don’t have a spotter however, you could try an alternative technique known as “Rest Pause”. This is where you rest approximately 10-15 seconds before trying to complete another rep using the same weight.

5. Drop Sets

One of the most popular and common methods to boost training intensity; drop sets, also known as descending sets is when you perform a set with a given weight (ideally to muscular failure) before dropping that weight and immediately performing a second set. Multiple drops can be performed, which can really fatigue the muscle by increasing the total time under tension that the muscle experiences. Research has also shown that employing drop sets results in greater increases in GH3 as well as muscle size4. Both the Forced Reps method and the Drop Sets method requires training to failure so it’s important to use these techniques sparingly to avoid overtraining and burnout.

4. Supersets

Supersets are defined as two exercises performed back to back and are another common method employed in training. Any two exercises can be performed together, however most trainers tend to use exercises that employ opposing muscle groups. For example, a chest exercise performed with a back exercise. Not only are supersets a great way to save time, they are a great way to enhance the metabolic stress and fatigue of training5. Supersets are quite tiring, especially when it comes to performing the second exercise, so make sure you alternate exercise selection to avoid uneven development.

3. Heavy Negatives or Eccentric Training

If you don’t know already, the eccentric movement of an exercise (ie, the lowering phase or when the muscle is stretched) is considered the most damaging to muscle and is what will help elicit the greatest lean muscle growth6. However, what many people don’t know is that the eccentric movement can handle a greater load or weight than the concentric or the lifting part of the exercise7. To best utilise Heavy Negative training, use a weight that is around 105-125% of your 1RM (one rep max). It is an extremely taxing exercise technique that also requires a spotter, but employed every so often can really help you pack on the muscle.

2. Alternative Rest Periods

One of the least studied aspects of training and also the least altered aspect is the rest period. In general, there is considered three distinct types of rest periods; short (30 seconds or less), moderate (60 seconds to 90 seconds) and long (3 minutes or more)8. There are positives and negatives to each of these rest periods and indeed one of the best and easiest ways to help fast track muscle growth is to alter those rest periods. As such, with shorter rest periods you can create more metabolic stress, while with longer rest periods you can achieve greater mechanical tension. Alternative Rest Periods are the basis of popular bodybuilding techniques such as Volume Training.

1. Unilateral Training

One of the biggest pitfalls of trainers is not correcting imbalances with their development. Muscular imbalances are much more common than most people think they are, simply because of the fact that most of us have a dominant side or stronger side when it comes to weight training. These imbalances become increasingly apparent the heavier you go and unless you correct them, you’ll find that it will restrict how much weight you can lift further down the track. You can still train heavy and build muscle with unilateral training, but you’ll also be able to train more intensely later and build even more muscle.

Specialised Training

Building muscle and getting the physique you want takes time, planning and dedication. After you’ve trained for awhile, you’ll find that your body has adjusted itself to the workload and in order to grow more, you need to add in specialised training techniques to push the muscles and force them to grow. Incorporate one or two of these techniques consistently in training sessions during every 6-8 week cycle or when you feel like you’re plateauing and you should find that it will reset your muscles and help you get huge.

1. Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Kraemer WJ, and Ha¨kkinen K. Acute hormonal and neuromuscular responses and recovery to forced vs maximum repetitions multiple resistance exercises. Int J Sports Med 24:410–418, 2003.
2. McCall GE, Byrnes WC, Fleck SJ, Dickinson A, and Kraemer WJ. Acute and chronic hormonal responses to resistance training designed to promote muscle hypertrophy. Can J Appl Physiol 24:96–107, 1999.
3. Goto K, Sato K, and Takamatsu K. A single set of low intensity resistance exercise immediately following high intensity resistance exercise stimulates growth hormone secretion in men. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 43: 243–249, 2003.
4. Goto K, Nagasawa M, Yanagisawa O, Kizuka T, Ishii N, and Takamatsu K. Muscular adaptations to combinations of high- and low-intensity resistance exercises. J Strength Cond Res 18: 730–737, 2004.
5. Kelleher AR, Hackney KJ, Fairchild TJ, Keslacy S, and Ploutz-Snyder LL. The metabolic costs of reciprocal supersets vs. traditional resistance exercise in young recreationally active adults. J Strength Cond Res 24: 1043–1051, 2010.
6. Hather BM, Tesch PA, Buchanan P, and Dudley GA. Influence of eccentric actions on skeletal-muscle adaptations to resistance training. Acta Physiol Scand 143: 177–185, 1991.
7. Bamman MM, Shipp JR, Jiang J, Gower BA, Hunter GR, Goodman A, McLafferty CL, and Urban RJ. Mechanical load increases muscle IGF-1 and androgen receptor mRNA concentrations in humans. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 280: E383–E390, 2001.
8. Willardson, J.M. 2006. A brief review: Factors affecting the length of the rest interval between resistance exercise sets. Journal of Strength Conditioning Research, 20 (4), 978–84.
9. Schoenfeld, B.J. 2011. The use of specialized training techniques to maximize muscle hypertrophy. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 33 (4), 60–65.
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