To make a real difference to your muscle mass, you need to work out hard enough to trigger myofibrils in your muscles. This is when they experience tiny micro-tears in the protein strands, and your muscles repair these tears at a cellular level, thus building more protein strands. This process is called hypertrophy.
Packing on muscle isn’t a quick or easy process but if you do it properly, the results can be amazing. You may already know that compound exercises are your best friend throughout this process, as they put the most stress on your muscles, allowing them to grow bigger and more rapidly. Here is a basic workout plan which will help you gain muscle mass when paired with the right nutrition and rest.
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Firstly, the basics:
A rep is a repetition, which refers to one repetition of the exercise, such as one complete squat. For example, you could do 8 squats in a row without a rest break. This would be 8 reps.
A set is a group of reps. It refers to how many times you performed your reps, for example your 8 squats. So, 3 sets of 8 reps would refer to performing 8 squats in a row, three times over.
You should be aiming to work out 4- 6 days per week. The following are the exercises which are best for weight gain, as they cause the most hypertrophy. Choose 2 or 3 of the following exercises to perform each workout.
• Basic deadlift – 4 sets of 8-10 reps
• Barbell squat – 4 sets of 8-10 reps
• Bench press – 4 sets of 8 reps
• Bent over row – 4 sets of 8 reps
• Military press – 4 sets of 8 reps
• Pull-ups – 3 sets AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
• Tricep dips – 3 sets of 12 reps
To work out how heavy you should make your weights, work out your ‘1-rep max’ (1RM). This refers to the heaviest weight you can pick up for one complete rep. Then, work out your ideal lifting weight at 80% of this. So, if you can deadlift 100kg, then lift 80kg for each rep.
If you are new to resistance exercises and weight training, it’s best to begin with light weights. A standard olympic bar alone weighs 15-20kg, so begin just with this to ensure you have got the form correct. Then you can add around 2.5kg each time you train. This helps to encourage good form and prevent injury.
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