Proper diet, training habits, and overall life habits have a dramatic effect on a bodybuilder's success. These variables are not the only ones however. A person's attitude contributes to a person's success as well, it also determines whether or not they will get their mind on the proper train of thought to build muscle.
What I Think ...
It has been my opinion for quite some time that the way people think about bodybuilding (and most other activities for that matter) determines the way they will approach it. An incorrect approach will be failure in the gym. For example, let us look at a middle-aged computer programmer. This hypothetical male knows nothing about weight lifting, but has seen it done on TV and has the rather unchangeable idea that more time in the gym means more muscle, without exception.
Where did this idea come from? Well it's quite simple, with no other sources of information, the man must rely on what little information he has gathered. Watching TV and movies almost always displays muscular men performing endless reps in the gym to grow their muscles.
Therefore endless reps grow muscles; there is no other conclusion the brain could come to. Also muscles look and feel bigger directly after a workout, therefore muscles are actually growing in the gym (yet another misconception, but it is easy to see where it comes from).
What Is Wrong With Thinking This Way?
Let's talk logic for a minute. What is the problem with these ways of thought? They are to simplistic. It is to simple to believe that because your arms look bigger while working out they must be growing. Why is it fair to assume that people should realize this is a misconception?
Because your arms (or any muscle) always returns to normal size after awhile. So anyone that believes that muscles actually grow in the gym, must also believe that the muscles shrink again after a short period of time. This does not make a lot of sense. Much like everything else on earth, muscles are very complicated.
Holding your breath will trap blood,
but only in your head...
If only someone could inform these people that muscles swell in the gym due to trapped blood, and this blood eventually gets free. If only they knew that in the gym they are simply tearing their muscles apart for them to heal and become larger in the future but only if they receive an adequate amount of nutrients and rest ... if only ...
But there is no need to get into biology; we can reason our way through why muscles are created without getting overly technical. What people should do is take things back to the beginning and ask why does the body want muscle in the first place.
Muscle is a defense mechanism. Now, what does the body need protection from? Well almost anything, but re-word the sentence to what would make the body think it needs to be protected? How about challenges that has surprised it. Maybe stress that the body does not think it can handle in it current state if it were to face this stress again, so it decides to protect itself from it.
Therefore muscle is developed when the body meets stress it isn't easily capable of handle so that next time it meets this stress it will be able to deal with it better. Now if only everyone were to bring this logic to the gym they might be more effective in their workouts.
| Progressive Overload: The Concept You Must Know To Grow!
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By this train of thought, the best way to work the muscles would be by progressive overload, which I believe is the best method for training the muscles.
You cannot just go into the gym and do the same weight over and over again. That is what the computer programmer is doing. He is grabbing the same weight off the rack week after week and he thinks his muscles will grow huge because he finds it easier to lift that weight now than he did when he started. But this is most likely due to the fact that the muscle did, at one point in time, feel the weight was a threat and built a little muscle. But now after encountering the same weight, has adapted to it and no longer views it as a threat, therefore has no more reason to build any additional muscle.
Now the guy who goes into the gym and picks a weight just a little heavier than he did last time will make his muscles believe that there is a constantly progressing threat happening here.
The body cannot stop growing muscle because the threat has not yet stopped, and the body in its current state obviously is not keeping up well enough with this threat. So the body adapts, the body grows muscle and maybe next time it will meet the threat head on.
In conclusion, people will pick their workout routine based on guesswork, the word of a friend, or by the attitude they have about the way muscle is built. It is important that people understand why the body builds muscle in order to figure out the best way to accomplish that task.
The quicker that you understand that the body is defending itself by building muscle instead of just decorating itself for your amusement, the quicker you will get yourself on the fast track to building that muscle. Stick with an overload routine, continuously increasing the demand on the body a bit every time you hit the gym, your body's instinct to survive will quickly kick in.
You live by the basic instinct of "fight or flight." Which means when presented with a challenge or threat, the body prepares itself to run from that threat or fight it. When you are sitting under the bench bar, or have a squat bar resting on your shoulders your eliminate the flight option, and your body is now fight for its life, make sure the challenge it is facing is worth its time.