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The Most Overlooked Training Principle for Muscle Size

I’ll spare you the normal intro B.S. and get right to it. The most overlooked training principle for putting on real muscle size is rest periods between sets. Pure and simple. Maybe you or someone like you is guilty of not following this hallowed rule?

I was for the longest time. When I was younger I was more focused on lifting heavier and heavier. Of course I wanted to get stronger. Who doesn’t? But I was sacrificing more size for strength. I was well entrenched in the strength game. Who could blame me? I was young and enthusiastic to a fault.

Over the years I tried my best to increase the amounts I was lifting and not really paying too much attention to other factors.

I lifted heavy stuff, used some body English, and kept pushing, pressing, and pulling on all cylinders.

Age, pain, and gains

A funny thing happens when you get older. Your joints start having a say in your everyday activity. Knees become a little stiff, shoulders get cranky, and sciatica rears it’s freaking ugly face.

In my thirties I started to clean up my form a bit. Since I wasn’t competing in bodybuilding anymore I felt the consistent and obsessive drive to always improve to be tamed a bit. I could exhale a little and try a few new things in my training.

For a time perfect form did some good, but some of my joints were still holding a grudge. I was still reaping the euphoria of the iron bug bite, but I had to do something to continue the ride.

I went back to my roots. I once again became a student, studied like a school kid, and buried my ego. I went full-on high rep training with short and strict rest periods.

Then the gains came once again.

Get your head straight and gain some muscle

There are several factors that go into muscular size or hypertrophy. Mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress are three of the main components. I’ll go into those more into detail in a later post if you want me to, but for now let’s look at what we can do right now to better position ourselves to pack on more muscle.

The key to your training should be to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible in a given muscle group. Furthermore, you should try to fatigue those muscle groups with appropriate time under tension.

To do this you need to do two things. Increase the length of your sets and reduce the rest time between them.

I’ve broadened my rep range from the traditional 6 to 12 over to 10 to 20 reps depending on what movement I’m doing and what body part I’m training. Plus, I’ve cut rest periods down to 30-60 seconds.

So you’ll see with my current training program I’ve checked both boxes.

The results? More muscle mass, better pumps, and nicer joints. You can’t beat that. The only thing you’ll have to give up is your ego, but I believe that fades with age anyways.

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Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried this with your own training.

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Categories
Blog Podcasts Training

Build Muscle with the Skinny Advantage

In this new Breaking Muscle Podcast host Tom MacCormick and I discuss genetics, muscle gain for the drug-free lifter, filtering information, and my favorite way to train to build muscle as quickly as possible.

Check out the podcast here.