Have you ever hit a plateau and struggled to put on extra muscle? Stalling on progress can feel like you’re stuck in the mud. You train consistently, diet and focus on recovery but the scale won’t budge. For decades, bodybuilders have experimented with different weightlifting methods that enabled them to build more muscle. Hypertrophy (muscle building) style training is a training style that focuses on maximizing muscle growth. Whether you want to step on stage, add muscle to perform better, or want some extra muscle to enhance your look, the basic mechanisms of hypertrophy are the same for everyone. Once you understand the mechanism of hypertrophy, you’ll be able to pinpoint a barrier in your program and break through your plateau.
Make sure you’re emphasizing these 3 essential principles to get the most out of your workouts.
To break through barriers, you’ve got to train to feel the burn. Why is that important? Because that “burn” is made up of metabolites that can spark muscle growth.
Metabolic stress from exercise occurs in anaerobic (high intensity) environments where metabolites like lactate, hydrogen ions, and ammonia accumulate. It’s theorized that the accumulation of these metabolites following high-intensity exercise may stimulate an adaptive response that promotes hypertrophy. Many old-school bodybuilding techniques done to chase a pump and generate a burning sensation (the accumulation of lactate) cause metabolic damage. Using high rep ranges and low to moderate weights is the most common way of generating metabolic stress while weightlifting.
- Tip: Drop the weight a few pounds and increase your reps to chase the pump on exercises targeting your lagging muscle groups. Use techniques like drop sets, giant sets, and pyramid sets to increase the metabolic stress in your workouts.
Muscle damage from exercise is the localized trauma/tears to muscle tissue. The damaged muscle fibers stimulate satellite cell activity which can contribute to muscle growth. Eccentric contractions cause the greatest amount of muscle damage of any exercise style.
Eccentric contractions occur when the force applied to a muscle is greater than the force produced by the muscle itself, causing a lengthening of the muscle. Some examples of eccentric contractions include the controlled lowering of weights like the descent part of a bench press or the descent part of a squat. We're capable of moving heavier amounts of weight during eccentric contractions than we are concentric (muscle shortening) contractions. Eccentric exercise is popular with bodybuilders trying to stimulate muscle damage and field sport athletes focused on strengthening weak muscle groups to prevent injuries.
Tip: Emphasize the eccentric part of exercises by performing them in a slow and controlled manner. Some lifters find it helpful to count while doing the eccentric part of lifts to control their tempo.
Mechanical tension occurs from a combination of force generation and stretch. In other words, moving a heavy load through a full range of motion. Mechanical tension is essential to muscle growth. When you lift weights at a high intensity of your 1 rep max ( i.e 85% of your 1 rep max) you’re producing mechanical tension. Compound exercises are exercises that work many joints and muscle groups at the same time are an efficient way to increase mechanical tension because you can lift heavier loads compared to single joint exercises. Some examples of compound exercises include squats, dips and pull ups. Exercises that use heavier weights and lower repetition amounts are the most effective way to increase mechanical tension.
Tip: Add a few compound exercises to your routine where you lift at a higher intensity (80%+ of your 1 rep max) for a few reps (3-5)
Insane Muscle Growth Program
Here’s an example of a workout program that focuses on these 3 components
Workout 1: Metabolic Stress – Feel the Burn
3 sets x 15 reps
- Seated Leg Curl
- Hack Squats
- Lat Pulldowns
- Cable Chest Flys
Workout 2: Eccentric Exercise – Slow and Controlled
4 sets x 8 reps, with a 3-4 second count for the lowering phase of the movement
- Box Squats
- Romanian Deadlifts
Workout 3: Mechanical Tension – Big Lifts
5 sets x 5 reps
- Barbell Back Squat
- Barbell Hip Thrusts
- Barbell Bench Press
- Barbell Rows
Hitting a plateau can be frustrating. But once you break through, you may have a whole new outlook on training. Adding new techniques to your routine can give you a fresh perspective on your workouts. Analyze your program and see if one or more of these principles are missing from your workouts.
If you want to take your training to the next level, add tried and true supplements to help you shatter plateaus.
Incorporating a C4 pre-workout to your routine can help transform the intensity you approach your workouts with so that you can push your limits for next level results.
Electrolytes and Amino Acids
A major component of progression in the gym comes from proper recovery, which is why so many look to Alpha Amino to support hydration and muscle repair with key amino acids and electrolytes.
When it comes to supplements that support increases in lean muscle mass and strength, creatine monohydrate reigns supreme, and COR-Performance Creatine is a premium form of creatine monohydrate that’s micronized for improved mixability.
Building muscle requires the right type of building blocks, COR-Performance Whey is a fast-digesting whey protein that provides the building blocks your body needs after a workout.
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