Regardless of your age or physical condition, resistance training is an effective way to stimulatemuscle growth and keep your body strong. But doing it the right way is essential not only to avoid injuries, but also to achieve your goals.
In this article you will learn which exercises you should choose, how often you should do them, why rest is so important, and why you should make sure to get enough high-quality protein every day. So, if you want to get the best results from your training, read on!
Focus on compound exercises
The first thing to consider is which exercises to choose. A good strategy is to create a workout routine around the so-called compound exercises. These are multi-joint exercises that involve different muscle groups at the same time, providing you with a good workout of your entire body5.
Classic compound exercises include:
- Hip Thrusts/Glute Bridge
- Push ups/Chest Press
- Shoulder Press
- Pull ups
Of course, you can also do isolation exercises – meaning exercises that only involve one muscle group at a time – but it is recommended to use them primarily as an addition to your compound exercises5.
Free weights or machines?
Getting a good workout doesn’t necessarily require a lot of equipment. You can train most of your muscles using nothing but your own body weight. For instance, squats and push ups are great exercises that you can do almost anywhere.
Ordinary dumbbells and barbells are classic tools that have proven their worth over decades. They are versatile, and with a relatively limited investment you are good to go.
If you prefer to do your training in a gym you will also have the opportunity to use specializedmachines targeting specific muscle groups. The machines usually mimic the exercises you would normally do with free weights, but because your movements are more restrained, some peoplefeel machines are safer and easier to use.
Variation increases muscle growth
Try to vary your workout routine from time to time. Stimulating the muscles in new ways is shownto have positive effects on muscle growth compared to always repeating the same exercises4.
The most obvious way to create variation is to swap between different exercises targeting the same muscle groups. But that is not your only option. There are many ways you can vary your training, like1:
- Number of repetitions
- Repetition speed
- Rest periods between sets
- Training volume
Varying your routine has the great side effect that it also makes your training sessions more fun – and we all know that is good for your motivation.
How to train
The next thing you need to know is how to train. The good news is that you can achieve muscle growth in many ways, so there is no need to overthink it8, 11, 12, 13, 14.
- The most important thing to remember is to train each muscle group at least twice a week. This will maximize your muscle growth15.
- A classic and well-documented strategy for getting results is to do 1-3 sets of each exercise with 8-12 repetitions of each1, 14. Doing multiple sets has proven to be more efficient in increasing muscle size than doing just one set of each exercise2, 9.
- It is important to take a short break between each set. A general recommendation is to restapproximately 2 minutes between each set. When you get stronger and increase the intensity and volume of your training, longer breaks are recommended1, 3, 6.
Why restitution is important
After a demanding workout, your muscles need to get back in shape – which is almost as important as doing the training itself. Resistance training causes slight damage to your muscles and therefore they need time to heal up again. It is during this healing process that your muscles grow.
Each muscle group needs at least 48 hours of rest before the next workout. On top of that, you should also allow your full body one day of rest every week. So, if you want to train several days in a row, make sure to alternate between different muscle groups10.
You need to get enough protein
The way you eat – particularly the amount and quality of protein you get – also influences the results you get from your training to a high degree.
And why is protein so relevant? The answer is that it is the building blocks of your body. If you want to build new muscle mass, your body needs something to build it from – and that is protein.
The recommended daily amount is between 1.4 and 2 grams of high-quality protein per kilo of body weight7.
You can get protein from foods like meat, milk, fish, and eggs. Whey protein is also a great source of high-quality protein for building muscle.
A dose of 20-40 gram high-quality protein has shown to stimulate muscle synthesis for 3-4 hours7, and that is why a pre-workout shake of whey protein may help you increase both your strength and muscle growth.
Talk to a trainer before you start
All in all, muscle building requires hard work, consistency, restitution and sufficient amounts of high-quality protein. If you’re just starting out and it all sounds a bit overwhelming, werecommend you talk to a personal trainer who can help you get off to a good start and avoid any injuries.
Hopefully this article has given you some new ideas on how to increase the results of your training in the future.
Building muscle takes time, so be patient – and don’t forget to have fun in the process!
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 Fonseca RM, Roschel H, Tricoli V, de Souza EO, Wilson JM, Laurentino GC, Aihara AY, de Souza Leao AR and Ugrinowitsch C. Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2014; 28(11): 3085–3092
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 Krieger JW. Single vs. multiple sets of resistance exercise for muscle hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010; 24(4):1150-1159.
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 Mitchell CJ, Churchward-Venne TA, West DWD, Burd NA, Breen L, Baker SK, Phillips SM. Resistance exercise load does not determine training-mediated hypertrophic gains in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2012; 113:71-77.
 Schoenfeld BJ, Ratamess NA, Peterson MD, Conteras B, Sommez GT and Alvar BA. Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2014, 28(10): 2909-2918.
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