Take the guessing game out of your routine…
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
The above quote is from the late, great, Bruce Lee. The Jeet Kune Do creator, movie star, and world philosopher was a busy man and regarded his time as one of his greatest commodities. In 2016 time management is more important than anytime in history, and when it comes to your goals, it should be double fold.
Many of us are going to the gym and slugging it out in an all out war against the weights. While guts get the glory and going H.A.M. is definitely a real thing, the old adage of working smarter and not harder definitely applies. Like anything, you want to take a cerebral as well as action oriented solution to your building goals and that starts with research and experimentation.
Muscle Growth seems to be a mysterious topic for a lot of fitness enthusiast. Whether it’s the beginner who doesn’t know where to start or the builder who’s reached a plateau, nailing down a clear and concise plan for muscle growth seems to quite elusive…until now.
Time Under Tension
Time under tension (TUT) is like the pi symbol in mathematics. It’s the building block for muscle growth, and what you need to focus on if you want to get bigger. Tension promotes amino acid transport into the muscles, activates the mTOR pathway of protein synthesis, and triggers small injuries in the muscle cell structure that leads to repair and additional growth. A Lehman college study showed that the ideal repetition rate is between .5 and 8 seconds. Repetition rates higher than 10 seconds did not produce the same level of hypertrophy as lifting faster.
There are two ways your muscles exert force, Concentrically (shortening) and eccentrically (lengthening). According to Jonathan Mark from the University of Mexico the benefits of the eccentric part of an exercise are unreal. The untapped resource of the “negative” part of the exercise could be what’s keeping you from getting the form you’re after.
Research has found you can actually handle MORE weight during the negative part of an exercise which in turn builds more muscle hypertrophy. Another tip is to do these eccentric reps faster rather than slower (.5- 8 seconds range) as TUT (time under tension) will be greater.
A great way to apply this to your regular workout would be to load a weight slighter higher than what you normally do for a specific exercise, and have a partner help you with the positive (concentric) portion of the exercise, then do the negative (eccentric) portion without assistance.
Don’t Blow Your Back Out
Your spine is the epicenter combining brain and brawn, literally. With that being said, protecting it should be one of your highest priorities. If you can’t move, you can build muscle, so protecting your back is key. One of the best ways of protecting you back while building muscle in the very same area are front squats.
Front squats are great for activation of the vastus medialius (quadriceps) and the biomechanics are better for your body in general than a back squat of the same weight. Researchers from Gaziosmanpasa University in Turkey found front squats were more conducive in building the extensor strength and preventing lower back injuries.
While there are many other tips that can help you build muscle like nutrition and adequate rest, we felt these were some of the most overlooked. Incorporate these building blocks into your routine and let us know if it helps you get the most out of your workout.