First things first. I don’t believe there is any specific routine that will lead to the best muscle gains, which means I do not think the best workout routine to gain muscle even exists. I also do not believe that muscle gain is a matter of forcing a muscle to adapt. I do not believe in “no pain, no gain,” mainly because I don’t think an activity like exercise or lifting weights needs to hurt to be effective. That said, I’m also not a bodybuilding champion, so please keep that in mind if you continue reading. I’m just a guy who likes to lift, but I did put on 30 pounds of muscle in 2010 and I didn’t have to work very hard for it. If you’re still interested, please read on.
The key to building muscles is volume
When I started tracking the total amount of weight I would lift during a session, I realized that my volume was relatively low. Even during sessions where I was doing bigger lifts like squats and deadlifts, I wasn’t moving much more than 10,000 pounds on a heavy day. Volume is what builds muscle in my case–I say in my case because I’m only going to speak for myself and I’m personally okay with anecdotal evidence since I lift for fun.
Volume during your workout is simply the amount of reps you did in any given exercise multiplied by the weight lifted. Add the totals of all the movements together and that’s the volume for your workout.
So, if you can buy into the idea that if you can put up more volume, then your muscles will grow, the next question is: how do I lift more volume? What is the ideal muscle building workout?
The key to increasing volume in my workouts
I test every movement I perform with a range of motion test. If you’re interested in learning more about this, please check out strongman Adam T. Glass’ DVD Grip and Rip 2.1. Essentially, I only perform movements/exercises that result in increased range of motion. Instant mobility means that I use less tension when I lift. Again, this goes against the grain of anyone who insists that tension is the key to muscle gains, and the more the merrier. I don’t need it. If want lifting to feel easy, and when I pursue lifts that test well, I’m able to go way deeper into sets. More sets means more reps and more reps means more total weight lifting.
So I’d recommend learning how to test your movements. Please read my review of Grip and Rip to get a better picture of where I was coming from when I started strength training with biofeedback and Gym Movement.
The main thing to remember from this article is that if you can get your volume up, your muscles are doing more work. They’ll grow if you’re satisfying the other requirements of sleep and nutrition.
Strength training for body and mind