When it comes to building muscle, there are three main mechanisms that need to be addressed: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. In this blog post, we will explore each of these mechanisms and the best ways to incorporate them into your workout routine to build muscle.
Building muscle with Mechanical Tension
Mechanical tension refers to the force exerted on a muscle during a resistance training exercise. It is one of the primary drivers of muscle growth because it causes micro-tears in the muscle fibres, which then repair and grow stronger. The best way to create mechanical tension is by lifting heavy weights with proper form.
To maximize mechanical tension, it is important to focus on the quality of the movement rather than the quantity of the weight lifted. This means using a weight that is challenging but still allows for proper form. It also means controlling the movement throughout the full range of motion and not relying on momentum to move the weight.
Compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, and pull-ups are excellent for creating mechanical tension as they engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Aim to include these exercises in your workout routine at least once or twice a week, focusing on proper form and gradually increasing the weight lifted over time.
Building muscle with Metabolic Stress
Metabolic stress refers to the build-up of metabolic byproducts such as lactate, hydrogen ions, and creatinine phosphate during high-intensity exercise. This build-up creates a metabolic stress response that signals the body to adapt by increasing muscle size and strength. The best way to create metabolic stress is by performing high-rep sets with short rest periods.
To maximize metabolic stress, aim to perform exercises with a moderate weight for a higher number of reps, typically in the range of 8-12 reps per set. Rest periods between sets should be short, typically around 30-60 seconds. This will help to create a build-up of metabolic byproducts and increase the metabolic stress response.
Isolation exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, and calf raises are excellent for creating metabolic stress as they target specific muscle groups. Aim to include these exercises in your workout routine at least once or twice a week, focusing on a moderate weight with high reps and short rest periods.
Building muscle with Muscle Damage
Muscle damage refers to the micro-tears that occur in muscle fibers during resistance training exercises. These micro-tears are repaired during the recovery process, leading to muscle growth and strength gains. The best way to create muscle damage is by performing exercises that focus on the eccentric (lowering) phase of the movement.
To maximize muscle damage, aim to perform exercises with a slow and controlled eccentric phase, focusing on a weight that is challenging but still allows for proper form. Eccentric-focused exercises such as negative pull-ups, Romanian deadlifts, and eccentric calf raises are excellent for creating muscle damage.
It is important to note that muscle damage can be very taxing on the body, and too much can lead to overtraining and injury. Aim to include eccentric-focused exercises in your workout routine once or twice a week and gradually increase the volume over time.
Putting It All Together
To build muscle effectively, it is important to incorporate all three mechanisms into your workout routine. This means including compound exercises for mechanical tension, isolation exercises for metabolic stress, and eccentric-focused exercises for muscle damage.
A typical workout routine for muscle building might include a combination of compound exercises such as squats, bench press, and pull-ups, followed by isolation exercises such as bicep curls and tricep extensions and finishing with eccentric-focused exercises such as negative pull-ups and Romanian deadlifts.
It is also important to pay attention to recovery and nutrition when building muscle. Adequate rest and recovery time between workouts is essential for muscle growth, as is consuming enough calories and protein to support muscle growth
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