What’s the Best Way to Train to Maximize Gains?
I’ve seen people make this mistake over and over again.
They come into the gym, put heavy plates on a barbell and start doing presses 5-6 times per set.
They’re sipping on a protein shake, because “This will maximize my gains in no time!” they think, and they spend 2 hours at the gym lifting weights and resting in between sets for 3-4 minutes.
Then they go back home, eat the highest calorie meal and go to sleep. They sleep about 5-6 hours and go to work. Then those fellas head to the gym. And the vicious cycle repeats.
Wait, Isn’t it the Best Way to Train for Muscle Growth?
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve spotted at least 7 (!!!) mistakes that prevent you from seeing maximum growth.
- Never – I repeat, never – start exercising, especially with heavy weights, without a proper warm-up session. And always – I repeat, always – do a few warmup sets starting lighter and increasing weight before performing heavy working sets.
- If you want to maximize your muscle growth, you should aim for the 8-12 rep range for maximal hypertrophy, as the 5-6 rep range will only make you stronger, not bigger.
- Just because you’re sipping on a protein shake doesn’t mean you’ll grow in an instant. Supplements are meant to supplement your training AND nutrition. But they are a great way to get more muscle-building nutrients into your body.
- Spending 2 hours (or more) in the gym is counter-productive, several studies have shown. Aim for 1-1.5 hours and really work your butt off. Make every rep count. Besides, even an advanced bodybuilder would have enough energy to spend 2 hours in the gym (unless he’s on juice).
- Rest between sets is equally essential. For hypertrophy training (to put on muscles), the best rest period is 1 to 2 minutes between sets.
- Eating just any meal that is high in calories will certainly make you bigger, but not in terms of muscle mass. For instance, fat is slow digesting, and you want something quickly absorbed post-workout. We’ll discuss the importance of choosing healthy high-calorie foods in our next articles.
- Sleeping 5-6 hours is not enough to recover and grow. To maximize your fitness gains, you need to sleep 7-8 hours every night. No excuses
Let’s Talk About Rest…
So we established a basic overview to maximizing your training goals, but let’s take a closer look into the importance of resting to maximize your gains.
Whatever physical activity is it that you do – weightlifting, running, swimming or even cycling – you’re not getting stronger, leaner and more agile during the physical activity.
Tremendous changes in your body are activated only during your rest. That’s sleeping.
In case of running, swimming and cycling, you put a significant amount of stress on your cardiovascular system.
In case of weightlifting, the stress is applied on your muscles. In fact, lifting weights creates micro-tears in your muscle fibers.
During rest, your body enters the recovery state. Like an alarm system, your brain orders ‘micro doctors’ in your body to travel to a particular muscle and patch it up.
Those ‘micro doctors’ bring their mini box with micro tools and start healing the muscle fibers. The micro tools are the nutrients you provide in your diet, and the doc can only repair with what tools you provide.
So, if you want your muscles to repair, recover, and grow properly, you need to make sure you are providing the proper nutrients in their proper amounts.
And that’s exactly how and when your muscles can grow. Muscles grow every time those ‘micro doctors’ are dispatched with the proper tools to heal tears in the muscle fibers.