I know, I know, you're champing at the bit to get started in the gym. Although I'm glad you're enthusiastic and ready to go, it's important that you learn sound training principles before you start hitting the weights!
My second muscle-building law is about the five training principles you'll need to know before you start lifting for growth. Watch the video, take some notes, and then go hit the gym!
Law 2: Train to Gain 10 Laws Of Muscle-Building
Watch the video - 4:28
Training intensity refers to the number of reps you can do at a given resistance before you fail. This is known as your repetition maximum, or your RM. The most weight you can do for one rep is your 1RM.
For muscle-building (hypertrophy), I suggest that you train using 65-85 percent of your 1RM. This equates to about 6-12 reps per set for the greatest size gains.1 More weight and fewer reps yields more strength gains, while less weight and more reps yields more muscle endurance gains.
So, target more sets in the 6-12 rep range, but also include some sets where you train below and above that target to help you meet strength and endurance goals as well. Also, don't sweat it if you don't fatigue on every set; total work volume is the real target.2
Volume for Victory
Training volume refers to the number of sets times the number of reps for a given exercise, muscle group, or total program. Volume is important because it helps you measure how much work you're doing in a given period of time. More volume could definitely lead to greater gains.
As a rule, target at least 12 sets per week for a specific muscle group (chest, legs, back). Spread those sets out throughout the week. Depending on your schedule and preference, you can adjust accordingly for total weekly volume.3
You should aim to train each muscle group 2-3 times per week. If you only train each body part once per week, you have to do a lot of volume in that single session in order to give that muscle group enough stress to change.
If you split that work over 2-3 sessions, however, you may actually be adding volume to your muscle-building program.
Tempo refers to how quickly you move the weight during the concentric (lifting portion) and lowering (eccentric portion). For each lift, aim for a concentric contraction of 1-2 seconds and an eccentric contraction of 2-4 seconds. This 1:2 ratio seems to be the best amount of time under tension for hypertrophy. Anything shorter than that increases the likelihood of gravity doing most of the work, and anything longer may not bring any additional benefit.
Rest is an important part of the equation. You should rest about 48 hours between training each muscle group. So if you train chest on Monday, schedule your split so you don't hit it again until Wednesday or Thursday.
Between sets, aim to rest about 90 seconds. That should be ample time for all of your systems to reset and regenerate so you can move on to the next set with energy.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., Peterson, M. D., Ogborn, D., Contreras, B., & Sonmez, G. T. (2015). Effects of Low-Versus High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men. Journal of strength and conditioning research/National Strength & Conditioning Association.
- Sampson, J. A., & Groeller, H. (2015). Is repetition failure critical for the development of muscle hypertrophy and strength? Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., Ratamess, N. A., Peterson, M. D., Contreras, B., & Tiryaki-Sonmez, G. (2015). Influence of Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research/National Strength & Conditioning Association, 29(7), 1821-1829.