Big muscles: how hard to train?
Muscle growth is the goal, not high intensity training per se. But you must train hard enough in order to stimulate muscle growth and build strength.
While most hardgainers train too much, hardly any train too hard. Most need to crank up their training intensity, especially on the compound exercises, if they want to build big muscles. (It’s usually much more demanding to train hard on compound exercises than isolation exercises.)
But you must stimulate growth without using excessive training volume or frequency.
And you must supply enough sleep, nourishment and recovery time between workouts to permit your body to respond to the growth stimulation.
Growth stimulation without sufficient recuperation will never build big muscles.
Most hardgainers train with too much volume and frequency. So they consciously or subconsciously hold back on their effort level in order to spread themselves out over the excessive training.
To train harder on a consistent basis, most bodybuilders need to reduce their training volume and frequency.
Compare these two programs: A four-day split with warm-ups plus 25 to 30 work sets per workout. And a two-day program with a different set of just four compound exercises and two isolation exercises per workout, for warm-ups plus two or three work sets per exercise.
Which program do you think you’ll be better able to train hard on, recover from, and build muscle and strength on?
What I promote is heretical relative to conventional bodybuilding methods, But if those conventional methods aren’t working for you, why not try a different approach?
Continuing with what hasn’t worked for you over the last few months isn’t going to work over the next few months.
Big muscles: how heavy to train?
“Heavy” is a relative term.
What’s “heavy” for most bodybuilders is a doddle of a warm-up weight for one of today’s monster bodybuilders.
And what’s “light” for you now (if you’ve been working out properly for a few years) would have been “heavy” (or “impossible”) when you started bodybuilding.
What you want is to keep handling ever-heavier poundages — in correct exercise technique, of course.
As an illustration, even if your current absolute best barbell bench press is just 110 pounds for five reps, that’s a heavy weight for you. Focus on building the next 10% of strength. Achieve that, then focus on building the next 10% of strength, and so on. (When you’re much stronger, use a 5%-gain mentality for your medium-term targets.)
When you’ve progressed from 110 x 5 to 220 x 5 (again, in correct form, of course), your upper-body development will be greatly improved.
Then, if you progress to 300 x 5, with comparable progress in some other major exercises, you’ll be one of the best developed and strongest bodybuilders in almost any drug-free training environment.
The parallel bar dip, or a variation of the bench press, may, however, be more effective for you than the barbell bench press, depending on your body structure.
Provided you’re training hard enough on the right number of the best exercises for you (but without overdoing training volume or frequency) and recuperating properly, you’ll make steady bodybuilding progress.
If you’re not progressing steadily, there’s something seriously amiss with your training or with your recuperation, or with your training and your recuperation.
Whenever someone consults with me, I question him. In almost every case there are serious shortcomings in his training and his recuperation, which can be quickly fixed. Then progress is renewed.
Most hardgainers make little progress simply because the conventional bodybuilding methods they apply suck.