Troy Martin of TM Fitness is a Functional Fitness and Nutrition Coach who specialises in remedial exercise and nutrition, helping people overcome fitness or weight-loss issues. He is based at Kinetic Cycles in Hitchin market place.
The original version of this article appeared on Troy’s blog in October 2012.
The optimum rep range to work in is 8-12 repetitions for 2 to 4 sets. You should be aiming for near failure by your last rep.
If you lift less than 8 reps, say 3-5 reps, this is a strength gain set and may not optimize hypertrophy (muscle growth) in beginners.
More advanced lifters should aim for a high volume of total reps over multiple sets.
Protein is important for growth and repair of muscles but in order to gain muscle bulk you need to consume in the region of 1-3 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day.
You also need to consume some quality carbohydrates.
Carbs are your muscles’ main source of energy and without enough carbohydrates in your diet then your body will ‘eat’ muscles in order to fuel your workouts resulting in a reduction in muscle mass. See Dave's previous blog post on Who needs carbs anyway? for more info.
Carb cycling protocols work great for this.
First of all you should train for balance, simply training your ‘beach muscles’ (chest, arms, abs) will lead to postural imbalances which could contribute to back problems.
Train your legs hard, these are the biggest muscles in your body and by training your legs hard your body will release more growth hormone which, in turn, will help you bulk up the muscles in your upper body too.
pic by David Castillo Dominici @ freedigitalphotos.net
Aim to do high intensity cardiovascular workouts like interval training or hill sprints, etc.
This will not only burn more fat, making your muscles look more defined but will increase your lactic threshold meaning you can train harder when lifting weights as well as producing growth hormone which will aid growth and repair.
Sticking to a flexibility programme not only helps maintain or even increase your range of movement (ROM) but it may decrease the risk of injury, reduce lower back pain and promote muscle growth.
The more supple your muscle fibres are the more likely the muscle is to grow.
Some studies have shown that stretching during and after a resistance workout can increase over-all strength by up to 20%.
It's important that you get your stretches right by holding them for long enough - again see a previous blog post by dave, Good stretch, bad stretch after sport.
So gaining muscle means training hard but training right.
If you need help with your training or nutrition then get in contact with Troy Martin of TM Fitness: