7 RULES OF MUSCLE
Do you want to sculpt a bigger, harder and leaner physique? Of course you do. Turn the page to learn the seven essential rules you must follow to build quality muscle mass fast
1 HAVE A PLAN
Walk into the gym without knowing exactly what you want to achieve from your session and you are destined to wander around, doing a few lazy dumbbell curls, before hitting the sauna. Having, and sticking to, a progressive and challenging training plan that targets all your major muscle groups is essential to making positive changes to how you look naked . Need some inspiration? Try our four-week big muscle plan on p113.
2 FOCUS ON FORM
Before you even think about picking up a dumbbell or loading up a barbell, you need to understand how to perform all the exercises that make up your workout. This is crucial not only to prevent injury, but also to ensure that every rep of every lift hits the target muscle or muscles effectively so you get better results in less time. Compromise on form and you’ll compromise on results.
3 RANGE OF MOTION MATTERS
You should perform all moves through their full range of motion (ROM). For example, in a dumbbell biceps curl, you should raise the weights all the way up to shoulder height and squeeze at the top, then fully straighten your arm at the bottom by flexing your triceps. The greater the ROM your muscles work through, the greater the number of muscle fibres recruited, and the bigger stimulus there is for your body to grow these damaged fibres back bigger and stronger.
4 CHOOSE THE RIGHT WEIGHT
How do you know you have chosen the right weight? The last couple of reps of the first few sets should feel hard, and the final reps of the final sets should be very challenging. If you finish all the reps and feel like you could have done another five, the weight is too light; if you can only perform half the target number of reps before your muscles fail, the weight is too heavy. Selecting your starting weight for each exercise may require a little trial and error. If in doubt it’s best to start light, then increase the weight in subsequent sets, instead of starting too heavy and not being able to finish the set.
5 INCREASE TIME UNDER TENSION
Tempo is the speed in seconds that you lift and lower a weight for each rep, and understanding it is crucial if you want to improve your physique because it determines how much time your muscles spend under tension. More of this is one of the key stimuli for promoting new muscle growth. It is essential you focus on tempo when you lift, as well as keeping each rep controlled without jerking the weight around. The smoother each rep, the more tension you place on your muscles – and the better your results.
6 CREATE A MIND-TO-MUSCLE LINK
Forging better mind-to-muscle connections will go a long way towards building new muscle mass faster. All it means is that when you are performing each rep you need to focus on the muscles that are working to move the weight, and really squeeze it at the top of the move and fully stretch it at the bottom. In fact literally looking at the muscle, either directly or in a mirror, is a great way to focus your mind on connecting to that muscle to make it work as hard as possible. Simply slinging a weight around won’t give you the results you want.
7 EXECUTE WITH INTENT
You need to start every single session with the mentality that this is going to be the best workout you’ve ever had. Attacking each set with a sense of intent, purpose and positivity goes a long way to getting outside of your comfort zone, which is where you need to be if you want to make big changes to your body fast. Shut out thoughts about problems at work, an argument with the missus or the want-away striker whose departure will ruin next season. Instead stick on your headphones, turn up the volume and lift like your life depends on it.