At first I was hesitant to write about x number of tips, because A) it sounds so generic and B) I didn’t want to do a re-hash of other types of articles like this. I also didn’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence, since I assume most MD readers are past the beginner stage. But then I thought, why not hammer home the basics? Reinforcing the principles critical to gaining muscle isn’t such a remedial course after all. If it were, there would be a lot more big, muscular men walking around than there currently are. Most guys brush off “basic” advice because they think they know it all. Maybe they do, but knowing and doing are two very different things, aren’t they? Whether you’ve been training for a week or 20 years, it never hurts to review the fundamentals.
- Train with enough intensity to stimulate muscle growth.
Everybody thinks they train hard. Many of these people simply have no concept of what hard training truly is. There is this idea, probably taken from watching some current pro’s training, that it’s not necessary to take sets to failure. Rest assured that beyond the absolute beginner stages, taking sets to failure will be the only way to stimulate further growth. Muscle growth is an adaptation to stress. Therefore, if you fail to provide greater stress than before, there is no need for adaptation. It’s been argued that perhaps something slightly less than 100 percent effort is required. If that’s the case, what is it, 87 percent, 92 percent? The only way to be sure that your training is sufficiently intense enough to cause a growth response is to take sets to failure. That is, push or pull until you cannot complete another rep despite maximum effort. Some sets can even be taken past positive failure via techniques such as forced reps, rest-pause or drop sets. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that anything less than full effort will yield the results you seek. Building muscle mass is bloody hard work, which is why the lazy or those with a low tolerance for pain need not apply!
- Go heavy, but use good form.
The rep ranges I have found to be most productive at stimulating growth are 6-8 for the upper body, and 8-12, occasionally as high as 15, for the lower body. Don’t fall into the trap of reading about how some pro uses 15-20 reps for upper body and even higher reps for legs and thinking that will work the same for you. That’s how the guy might train now, but you can bet your arse he didn’t get to be the size he is now training that light. It takes heavy weight to build muscle mass and density. That being said, heaving and jerking heavy weights won’t do much for you either. Proper form is necessary to engage the target muscle and keep it under tension long enough to incur the damage at the cellular level that starts the process of repair and growth. Training as heavy as possible should be the goal, but only when the actual target muscle is doing the work. For example, your biceps will see much better results from strictly curling 120 pounds than they would cheat-curling 200 with hip thrusting, which would transfer most of the resistance to the shoulders and lower back.
- Never fall into the “more is better” trap.
This is where most bodybuilders go wrong. If 3 sets are good, six must be better. If training for 45 minutes yields results, they often assume 90 minutes or two hours would give them even better results. They go from training three days a week to four, five, six and sometimes seven! Doing far too much in a workout quickly leads to overtraining, an insidious condition that most of its victims don’t even realize they are suffering from. The solution naturally seems to them to always do more, not less. The late Arthur Jones of Nautilus fame put it perfectly when he said: “You can train hard or long, but not both.”
- Allow for proper recovery.
This goes right along with what we just discussed. Get it through your head that you don’t grow in the gym. You merely stimulate growth, and that growth will never take place unless you give your body ample time to recover. Guys split up their body parts, but they fail to realize that they are still stressing the CNS (central nervous system) every time they train. I find that for most bodybuilders, training more than two days in a row with weights is a recipe for overtraining, sooner or later.
- Avoid exercises you are not structurally suited for.
Just because others swear by certain exercises, like the bench press or squat, doesn’t mean you are obligated to do them. There will always be exercises that each of us just isn’t suited for due to our individual biomechanics. For instance, I discovered early in my career (the hard way) that I wasn’t meant to squat. Instead, I switched to leg presses, hack squats and Smith machine squats and managed to build my legs without getting hurt.
- Never neglect or underestimate the importance of nutrition.
Train as hard as you want, but you can’t build muscle without providing your body with the proper building blocks in the form of protein, carbohydrates and fats. You need to be just as dedicated and consistent with your eating as you are with your training to see results. While you are awake, you must eat every 2-3 hours, no excuses. It means more time spent preparing meals, but that’s what it takes. Quality food will build quality mass— stay away from fast food and junk unless you want to look like garbage.
- Be all business in the gym.
You see a lot of guys these days doing more talking, texting and telling everyone on Facebook how hard they are training in the gym than actually working out. If you want to socialize and fuck about at the gym, that’s your choice— just don’t expect to build much of a physique. When I was competing, I didn’t talk during workouts and didn’t even make eye contact with others in the gym. I was there to get the job done, and that’s that way it needs to be if you want to get bigger than the average gym rat.
- Don’t constantly search for the “next wonder routine.”
It seems like every time I turn around now, there’s some new workout or training style promising to deliver superior results. Many aspiring bodybuilders are confused and worry about which one they should follow, fearing that they might be missing out on the best one. Some of these workouts have you calculating out everything and make things complicated just so they sound more scientific. That would be fine if they actually did work better, but so far none of them have turned out to be better than the basics. Train hard and briefly with a few basic exercises, then get out of the gym so you can eat and rest. It’s that simple!
- Get your rest and limit your partying.
Just as you won’t see good results without proper nutrition, you also need to get enough sleep. Staying out all night and being exhausted will hinder your gains. If you insist on staying up late, you had better be able to take a nap the next day at some point. Otherwise, inadequate sleep means you won’t recover and grow. As for alcohol and recreational drugs, both can also seriously affect your gains. You need to decide what’s most important to you and act accordingly.
- Use supplements.
Food is the most important part of your nutrition, of course, but don’t miss out on the benefits of modern supplements. Protein powders can help you get all the protein and meals you need, and other types of products like creatine, L-glutamine and pre-workout formulas can all allow you to train harder and recover more completely. You should also be using all the basics like a multivitamin, extra vitamin C and a B complex, a joint formula, and fish oil. A healthy body simply grows better.
- Don’t rely on gear.
Steroids absolutely work, and I would never pretend otherwise. The problem I see in recent years is in more and more guys thinking that drugs are everything. They don’t train anywhere near as hard as they should or even eat as well, since they figure the gear will take care of any lacking effort in those areas. Put it this way. The guy who puts maximum effort into his training, eating, and rest and uses very moderate amounts of gear will look far better than another lazy slacker using mega doses. Of course, the slacker will simply insist this disparity stems from the first guy using even more shit than he does, even if it’s totally the opposite.
- Believe you will succeed.
Above all else, you need to believe in yourself and your abilities. Nothing happens until the mind sees it first. Others will try to discourage you and belittle your goals, telling you they are impossible and ridiculous. That’s why you must know in your heart and soul that you will achieve your goals and the physique you want. You need to believe it even if no one else does— especially if no one else does! Bodybuilding is usually thought of as being purely physical, but I found that the mind actually plays the most important role and drives everything else you do. If you want to be huge, you have to think huge!
Source: Muscular Development
“DORIAN YATES’ 12 RULES FOR BUILDING MUSCLE” by Dorian Yates