Photo by Erica Chan Photography
I’m sure you’ve heard of this phrase before – but what exactly does it mean to “trick” your muscles into growing and developing?
Let me ask another question. Have you ever done a workout that has absolutely kicked your ass in the first month where you saw some pretty impressive gains – but those impressive results begin to tail off around the 4-week mark?
This is your body plateauing – or adapting – to the workout, and the stress that you’re placing on it. The reason why you achieved such amazing results early on in the routine is because you body had never experienced anything like this before – or at least not in a while – and it’s trying to keep up.
Our bodies are smart. They can adapt to the environment that surrounds them, and what you do in the gym is no different.
Changing up a program vs changing a “split”
Just to clarify something, I don’t mean change up your program every 3-4 weeks. A good program changes the rep and set schemes every so often for you – most likely every 3-4 weeks or even every week – as well as the workout split. So, within a “program” that lasts 12-weeks, you should have different workouts built in to ensure that your body doesn’t plateau.
A “split” is how many days you workout, and what you’re focusing on during those workouts. Here is an example of two different workout splits:
Monday – Hips + Shoulders (or) Monday – Full body pushes
Tuesday – Back + Triceps Tuesday – Full body pulls
Thursday – Quads + Calves Thursday – Full body pushes
Saturday – Chest + Biceps Saturday – Full body pulls
How often do you change things up?
Studies have shown that your body begins to adapt to what you’re doing at, or around the 3-4 week mark. But, a recent study out of Brazil also found that by changing your reps up every week, or even every workout, you’ll build more lean muscle faster.
3 steps to ensure maximum muscle growth
1. Lift more weight
Simple, right? Well, I don’t mean for you to just try and lift as much weight as you can every time you head into the gym. I mean that if you’re doing a program, keep track of exactly what you’re lifting every time you’re in the gym, and then try and best it the next time you’re working out doing the same exercise.t.
This whole post I’ve talked about training, and different steps to take when you’re in the gym, but one of the most important factors in your eventual success actually happens in the bedroom – and no I don’t mean sex.
Allowing your body the proper recovery is maybe even as important as the workout. It’s in rest and recovery that our bodies repair the muscle tissue that we’ve broken down during exercise – in effect, “building muscle”. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
3. Drink water – lots of it.
Our muscles are actually made up of 70-80% water, which means that if you’re going to get the most out of your muscles, you’re going to have to keep them hydrated. Not to mention the fact that a healthy supply of water boosts the metabolism, helping your body burn fat.
In 1997, a German study found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells when they are well hydrated, compared to dehydrated cells. So keep your muscles hydrated!
How much water should you drink?
Fill up a gallon (4-liter) jug of water at the beginning of the day and try and have it finished by the end. I have found this to be the best way to ensure I’m getting the right amount of water intake every day. If I leave it to simply drinking a bottle, glass or from a water fountain anytime I choose, I end up not getting enough.
Bring this jug to the gym, this is when your muscles will need the most hydration – you’ll be surprised to see how much water you consume in an intense workout as well – a lot!
What’s one more tip you’d add in here that has helped you with your gains?