There are three types of muscle, the skeletal muscles, the smooth muscle and the cardiac muscle. The skeletal muscles are what we are interested in, and it is these muscles which we train to burn. Each skeletal muscle has a sister muscle, which is one pulling in the opposite direction, like bicep and tricep. Your muscles are made up of bundles of muscle fibres which contract during work to produce a force that lifts the weights. When you do this, blood and nutrients rush to the area to prevent damage, and promote growth. The stresses that the weights have put on them have called for a 'plan of action' so that next time the muscle is in the same position, it can do what you ask it to. It would make sense then, that during a workout you want a maximum flow of nutrients to your muscles to get the most out of your hard work, and that your hard work is optimum for the growth and stresses that your muscles can handle.
I have touched on this school of thought in my "How Go Grow Tree Trunks For Arms" article, but I will go into more depth and generalise for all muscles now.
Warming up is getting the blood flowing
The first big thing to get your body up to its maximum potential of growth is the age old concept of always starting a weights session warm. This involves stretching every muscle group for at least fifteen seconds each and, optimally, a short full body workout like swimming, running (to a lesser extent) or other ergonomic cardio machines eg rowing machine, skiing machine. Spend ten minutes doing light work before you warm up the target muscles with light weights, because if you get the heart working it gives your muscles the extra advantage of being able to flush out the lactic acid and opens the vessels to increase nutrient flow.
Light concentration weights for body and mind
Now that your body has warm blood flowing through it again, you can move back to the gym. It is important that you start every workout with five minutes of very light weights and very high concentration to get your eye on the ball and your muscles on the job. Lifting with a cold mind is as ineffective for growth as lifting with a cold muscle. If you don't want to waste your time focus on perfect technique in your warm ups and you'll be surprised on the difference it makes on your overall workout.
Lifting to grow
Now that your mind and body is on the job you are ready to start your growth. Here are a few key pointers to keep in mind when you are organising a program:
- Fill your muscles with blood. Do a good stretching exercise to pump the blood and nutrients into your muscles. Do these nice and slow, drawing out each rep to the peak stretch. Some examples are flyes for chest, incline curls for biceps and lat raises for shoulders.
- Push your muscles to the limit. Hit out the reps, contracting them to their peak contraction. A strong and powerful pull is best to put your muscles under the stress needed for optimum growth. Some examples for this include dumbbell press for chest and preacher curls for biceps.
- Iron out the wrinkles. Now its time for a big mass builder or two. You have the nutrients coursing through your system and your muscles are under stress. These are the exercises you pump out and go to fail on. This is where you push yourself through the barrier for those big gains. Use the old favourites for this, like the bench press, preacher curl, military press, etc.
Now get back to work.