THE BLOG

How to Build Muscle Correctly in the Gym

02/11/2015 16:12 GMT | Updated 28/10/2016 10:12 BST

As a committed fitness enthusiast one of the things which upsets me most is when people fall off the wagon. By falling off the wagon, I should say "throw in the towel"; having become disillusioned as to their rate of progress.

As I, along with so many others, have repeatedly said, this is almost entirely down to the fact they don't really understand the process. So enjoy some short term initial gains, then they hit the wall, where the problems start.

I completely understand. If you are going to deny yourself some of the niceties of life and work your proverbials off, the very least you expect in return is a bit of progress. I mean is that so much to ask?!!

One of the reasons I set up my business James Haskell Health and Fitness was to offer some help and guidance to people who find themselves in this quandary.

So if you have a moment please visit the site www.Jameshaskell.com and under "blogs" you will find a series of complementary blogs on everything from "how-to" fitness tips and exercises to nutrition and much more.

Ask any experienced gym-goer this one question: 'Do you wish you did more research before you started lifting weights?' and I guarantee nine out of ten times they will say yes.

Very few people new to the gym are guided and educated in such a way that they make great progress continually throughout their first year of lifting. This gym fact, when teamed with the complexity of proper training, becomes a barrier that separates the determined from the disillusioned, who quit when results slow after four to six months of training.

So I have written today's article as a brief and simple 'go-to-guide' for anyone looking to build muscle and improve their knowledge of resistance based training for aesthetic purposes.

Training Frequency (weights sessions):

There are lots of different opinions and theories on how many times you should, or should not, train with weights a week. This is a hard issue to argue clinically as people recover and build muscle at a varying range of speeds. However for most people with average genetics; lifting at least four times weekly will bring gains in size and strength.

The most beneficial and manageable number of resistance sessions a week for someone who has a full time job and social obligations, we believe, is between five and six.

This could be structured for example by operating a four days on, one day off split. Alternatively six days on and one day off regime. As with all exercise, the key is to find the level, frequency and opportunity which suits your lifestyle and ability.

Duration of the Sessions:

This is another hotly contested area of discussion within the fitness industry. Some highly qualified professionals fiercely advocate if you're in the gym any longer than 45 minutes you're doing more harm than good. However other equally qualified and accomplished people spend up to one hundred and twenty minutes in the gym per session. In my opinion as I have said above and always say, it's what works for you, at the level at which you feel comfortable.

A commitment to getting and staying fit is essentially an ongoing life style choice, so you need to always remember these or indeed other sessions should never be treated as sprints in the overall context of things.

As a mid-ground stance, if you are resting between sets for the correct amount of time, you shouldn't be in a gym for more than ninety minutes. Remember you are never going to be able to fit in a safe warm-up, which is essential, with an effective weights session with proper cool-down within a thirty minute period (even if the gym was empty!). So please always allow the correct amount of time to do things properly and safely!

Generally the optimum amount of time per session, under the most common circumstances, is between forty five to seventy five minutes. So remember any training programme, which tries to persuade you as to the merits of its minimal time solution to deliver maximum gains, is just not going to work. Building muscle mass is all about a consistent, sustained effort for the average person.

Muscle-group splits:

When training muscle groups you have to find what works for you, i.e. for example some people focus on sessions for purely biceps and/or purely triceps - as they find these muscle groups hardest to stimulate into growing. Whereas others pair biceps with back and triceps with chest.

You have to find what works for you. Just be aware working all body parts equally, some may increase in size at different speeds. So this could result in your body becoming out of symmetry and out of proportion. Nobody said this was easy!

Training methods and rest periods:

Mixing-up and varying the lifting style you use, prevents the body adapting to the style of training. This results in continued muscular gains and significantly reduces the training plateaus, which result in little or no gains in strength or size.

The trick is to change your style of lifting in order to hit muscle fibres in a different way; shocking them into hypertrophy.

It is therefore, very beneficial, to be able to call upon a wide range of training methods; in order to keep your muscular and nervous systems guessing, as well as increasing the adaptability of your own training within the gym.

So below are some of the styles of lifting I utilise:

  • Hypertrophy sets (60 seconds rest between sets)
  • Strip sets/drop sets (60-90 seconds between sets)
  • Supersets (60-90 seconds)
  • Giant sets (120-180 seconds)
  • Rest-Pause (60-90 seconds)
  • Pyramid work (60-90 seconds)
  • High volume (60-90 seconds)
  • German volume training (60-90 seconds)
  • 6-12-15 method (120-240 seconds)

I find it very useful to rotate between lifting styles; sticking with one style for say a two to four week period before substituting in another style of lifting. This isn't to say I never mix up styles of training within one workout. Although this is not always the easiest, as you may have to adapt to conditions within the gym, i.e. time constraints, availability of equipment, other members and so forth.

So these are some but not necessarily all the main issues you need to get right, if you're serious about gaining muscle and building an aesthetic physique via resistance sessions in the gym.

However remember there are wealth of other issues you also need to master, such as: correct form, correct nutrition which are all part of the process of enabling you to begin to build muscle at a greater speed.

James Haskell Health & Fitness helps you achieve a healthier and fitter lifestyle

We do this delivering professional fitness and nutrition advice in a simple, clear and easy to understand format. In conjunction with the development of our own range of clean and certified sports supplements, this allows the individual to achieve the lifestyle balance, which is right for them.

If you want to know more about Health, Nutrition and Fitness then please visit our website www.jameshaskell.com.

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