Don´t be lazy to warm up – every time!
In the beginning of each exercise routine make sure to start with warming up all the muscles you will work on. You can consider warming up to be unnecessary or time consuming or little bit boring but try not to be lazy with it, because it can help prevent injuries.
Set a limit to your cardio workouts, because…
Cardio workouts are great to lose excessive body fat. And you probably know that losing body fat is necessary condition which has to be fulfilled if you wish your six pack to appear. But hand in hand with burning fat, there is one drawback related to cardio training – it can limit your muscle growth. The biochemical cause is burning up glycogen and amino acids. This is why cardio should be short (optimally less than 30 minutes 3 times per week) and it is recommended rather to use sprint intervals of high intensity exercise followed by breaks or phases of light jog or exercise only.
Less time, less sets, less reps… more weight
How many hours a day do you think is necessary amount of time to stimulate the muscle growth? Not much. There is generally no point in training more than 45 minutes a day (overall). Train with high reps? For endurance – yes, but not for size. And most of you probably want the latter one. Right? The number of recommended reps is maybe even smaller than you expected:
- about 3-8 reps per muscle group (with 12-20 sets)
- and 6-12 reps per set for your normal routine
Rather than increasing the number repetitions, use heavier weights and control the speed of your movements. If you complete your last rep with ease, you should definitely increase the weight you’re lifting. Last rep should be really hard to complete.
„The single biggest mistake that most beginners make is putting 100% of their effort into the positive (concentric) part of the rep, while paying no attention to the negative (eccentric) segment.“ – Dorian Yates
Perform the sets better!
Set the limit to number of the sets you do. It should not be more than 20 and optimally much less – 12. Try to focus on time of each set as well. It should last between 40-70 seconds. Any less is not efficient enough to shock the muscles into growth by tensing them long enough.
“If you can’t explain the essence of your program to a three-year old in 60 seconds, its too complicated. I’ve trained with Olympic medal winners and I can assure you, they don’t do anything mysterious, they just do the exercises better than we do.” – Maik Weidenbach
Vary the routine time to time
It is not only boring to do the same exercise all the time, but as well the efficiency of workout decreases and the benefits of weight training will begin to diminish as the body adapts to stress. One way out is to increase the weight but another important strategy is to change the workout routine time to time.
Work the whole body. Why?
With higher number of muscles used during the training increases also the amount of hormones produced (including epinephrine and norepinephrine). These hormones than stimulate the muscle growth during the exercise as well as later during the day. Great choice for this purpose can be compound exercises (squats, dead-lifts, presses, rows,…).
“There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do the dead-lift!” – Jon Pall Sigmarsson
Stretch at the end, not before
Sometimes you can see the people stretching in the beginning of their exercise. It´s a mistake! Cold muscle should never be stretched. It neither prevents injury nor supports the performance during workouts. So do your stretching after your workouts.
Muscles don´t grow during the exercise, but after…
Surprise? Understanding the process of muscle growth is crucial to design the training program properly. Lifting itself actually only breaks down muscle fibers (so it does not build them up). This works as a stimulus to build muscle mass during recovery process after the exercise. And that´s why it´s pretty much important how you spend your recovery time. So don´t pay your attention only to your workouts, but focus on recovery time with the same intensity: eat well, sleep enough and avoid stress situations!