Build Muscle: A Quick Refresher
Building and maintaining muscle mass and strength is perhaps the greatest way to improve longevity and quality of life. Strength training is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth. If you want to build muscle, implement these three proven strategies while getting adequate calories, protein, and sleep:
Lift heavier and lift longer. To maximize mechanical tension, prioritize compound movements that use a large range of motion where your body has more potential to lift heavier weights in a controlled manner. Ideal exercises include: squat, press, deadlift, leg press or hack squat, row, pull-up, and lat pulldown.
Key Takeaway: The more weight you can lift for more reps, the more muscle you'll build.
Chase the pump. Think like a bodybuilder: do light to moderate weight for high reps to pump your muscles full of as much blood as possible. The "pump" or burning sensation you feel when performing continuous muscle contractions is actually the result of restricted blood flow to the muscle (occlusion) that causes a buildup of metabolites like lactate and hydrogen ions, hence the term "metabolic stress."
Key Takeaway: Just think of drop sets, burnout sets, pyramid sets, or basically any way you can perform a high number of reps with short rest periods. You'll accumulate metabolic stress (get a pump) and build muscle.
When lifting, you have both concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering) contractions. Both contractions damage the muscle, but eccentric contractions cause more muscular damage. Think about how sore you get when performing Romanian deadlifts or slow-tempo reps.
If you want to maximize muscular damage, perform the eccentric portion of the lift slowly and under control. Muscular damage causes micro-tears in the muscle (muscle soreness). These micro-tears then signal the body to rebuild itself bigger and stronger than before, resulting in hypertrophy.
Key Takeaway: Lower the weights slowly under control and use a full range of motion.