Muscle Building with Volume Workouts

Muscle building with volume workouts is shown by research to be the most effective. Volume is weight x reps x sets. This would also indicate that the duration of the workout was important.

muscle building

Research Tests Multiple Groups of Exercisers

Research in many tests showed scientists that a certain amount of volume optimizes muscle growth while an excess reverses results and too little creates no measurable benefits.

It is also suggested that for variety and greater likelihood of affecting all muscle groups intensities can be varied. Optimum results are found lifting loads at 60% capacity for ten reps and four to six sets.

Some research found that five sets of 10 reps and 10 sets of 10 reps were about equal depending on the exercisers capacity to complete workouts. Other research has shown that maximum strength and muscle growth occurs from lifting 80% plus of capacity in sets of 4 to 6 reps.

What is common is that lifting to near failure but not to failure provides the greatest measurable muscle growth and longer duration workouts tax muscles efficiently to cause tears and cause for rebuilding stronger and larger.

More Variables

A next variable is the frequency. How often does an exerciser want to work out or have time to workout. In this frame, it is important to consider recovery. Muscle is built during rest and can be permanently damaged from too little rest.

Exercisers intent on fat loss with some increase in strength and endurance can lift 50% loads at 20-25 reps in sets of 3 to 8 five days a week. The high rep low load sets don’t tear muscle and recovery is quick.

Loads at capacities of 60% to 80% of One lift Maximum start stressing muscles and exercisers should consider resting a day between workouts or exercising different muscle groups. If the lifter is doing circuits, than rest days are needed. If the lifter is working specific muscle groups, then more successive days can be worked with a two day rest perhaps on the weekend.

Once load capacities begin at 80% to 100%, then work out duration and frequency have to be calculated. The more intense (greater load), the shorter can be the work out. Muscle groups exercised near maximum load should be rested at least 72 hours. Muscle groups can then be alternated on days.

Varying Exercises During the Week

One day might exercise the largest muscle groups with squats, dead lifts, incline and flat bench presses, and military presses. The next day might emphasize smaller muscle groups and more pulls with curls, tricep pull downs, latt pull downs, bench cable rows, single are rows, leg press extension, hamstring curls, and calf raises.

I work out two or three times a week and increase intensities every week. On some exercises I will add load in sets of 4 to 6 reps. On some I will add sets of 10 reps. I might mix the two on one exercise warming up with sets of 10 reps and then push for record weight with sets of 6 reps.

I journal every work out and count the total sets and reps. I also track the weights of every set and can monitor progress on which muscles seem to be getting stronger and more capable of growth. I am cautious to maintain form in all exercises and stop or reduce weights if I am losing form or feel too much strain.

Avoid Injury as a Priority

My first goal is to get through workouts having increased my capacity and not injured or strained any muscles. My second goal is to increase intensity in at least some muscle groups every week. There can be a time when plateauing is adequate to prevent injury and maintain strength.

Maintenance is difference than growth. Growth requires stressing muscles that have adapted. Maximum strength and muscle size growth requires high capacity lifting with 4 to 6 reps. The above research showed that lifting volume with ten sets of 10 reps can create similar gains, but most research suggests sticking with 4 to 6 sets.

Research is often measuring and differing by just a few percentage points. Therefore, zooming out on the overall picture, lots of variety can have the proximate measurable affects and be more fun.

Muscle Building Process

The muscle building process can be confused with building strength and endurance without necessarily building size. There are three types of muscle fibers. Each have different characteristics for exercise.

muscle building

Getting Started

The red slow twitch fibers are the endurance muscle fibers and utilized for low impact aerobics and resistance training. Long walks, bike rides, and even marathons utilize these muscle fibers. They can develop stamina and strength for low impact tasks. They do not grow in size.

The red fast twitch fibers are also for building endurance and strength for the moderate exerciser. More intense aerobics with intervals will utilize the red fast twitch fibers and they have less endurance than slow red twitch fibers. Moderate resistance training will stimulate these fibers by using weight loads in the 60% to 80% of one lift capacity and 12 to 16 reps.

The white fast twitch fibers are for building maximum strength and size. They will increase in size by utilizing maximum loads for short bursts. In aerobics, plyometrics and sprints utilize maximum exertion and tear down muscle for rebuilding. In resistance training, lifting near maximum capacity loads in short sets of 4 to 6 reps utilizes fast white twitch fibers.

Progressing to Adaptation

A beginner in aerobics and resistance training should not engage in maximizing capacity without building up progressively and allowing the body to adapt to increased loads. Aerobics begins with low impact and adds intervals or longer sessions for intensity. Low impact aerobics utilize fat for fuel and begin to use glucose with increased speed.

In moderate aerobics, adding intervals increasing the VO2 oxygen uptake stress starts utilizing red fast twitch fibers and training the body for greater endurance and speed. Greater intensity in speed and duration will begin utilizing glucose with fat as fuel. Moderate exercise is not increasing muscle size nor reaching maximum strength, but it is progress.

In resistance training, high rep sets of 20 to 25 with 60% of capacity loads utilize slow red twitch fibers and accelerate fat burning. Increasing loads to 60% to 80% of capacity with reps in the 12 to 16 range utilize fast red twitch fibers. This moderate training begins creating adaptation to greater loads.

Building Muscle and Maximum Strength

For building muscle size and maximum strength, exercise must be at near capacity. This needs to progress with consideration of loading and resting to prevent injury and facilitate adapting. Aerobic training would include training at the highest level most likely for competition or extreme events.

In resistance training, loads would be at 90% + of one lift capacity in sets of 4 to 6 reps. High intensity training only occurs once or twice a week with the balance at low and moderate training capacities. Muscle building occurs during rest, so adequate nutrition to feed muscle building and adequate rest support the process.

Progress is also measured with frequency. Low impact aerobics and resistance training can be engaged 5 days a week. Moderate training might be 3 to 5 days a week, and high intensity training maybe limited to one to two days a week with moderate training or different muscle groups in between.

It is difficult to build optimum performance with limited frequency of one or two days a week of training. Minimum training might maintain fitness and is certainly better than none.

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High Intensity Needed to Build Muscle

High intensity is needed to build muscle. High intensity in aerobics means long sessions or speed work. High intensity in resistance training is using near maximum capacity weight with four to six reps. Intensity is increased in both by reducing rest sessions between sets or between interval sessions.

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Over Loading to Build Muscle

Over loading is a term that works for both aerobics and resistance training. The body adapts to training and needs to be pushed to make new gains. It is possible to plateau in both types of exercise and the reason may have to be examined.

Plateauing, burning out, or even injury can have similar causes. With intensity training nutrition is content, timing, and volume. The muscles need carbohydrates, protein and water before and after training sessions. Most people don’t realize muscle weight is 74% water.

Feeding the Body to Build Muscle

The body can carry about 600 calories of glucose in the liver, muscles, and blood stream. This glucose from carbohydrates is converted to glycogen by the liver and stored in muscles. It is also stored in the liver and floats in the blood stream. When the body runs out of glucose for intense exercise it may start to feed on muscle. Fatty acids are also used for aerobics and repairing muscle after exercise.

How long does it take to burn 600 calories of glucose? Intensity and time are factors. In aerobics, it is considered that after one and a half hours, the body is running out of carbohydrate fuel and should take in a drink with protein and carbohydrates to stop muscle cannibalism.

Intensity in Resistance Training

Intense resistance training is lifting weights at 80% to 95% of one lift capacity. By the time exercisers are in this phase, they have a good idea of that weight although there is a formula for calculating it. Sets of 4 to 6 reps at near one lift capacity stress muscles. Lifters are aiming to excite the fast twitch white muscle fibers which generally run out of fuel in 4 seconds. At this point they are anaerobic and are burning creatine, adenosine biphosphate and pyruvate.

The white muscle fibers are the only ones that grow and increase in maximum strength. Less intense exercise in the 12 to 16 rep range and 20 to 25 rep range utilize red fast twitch fibers and red slow twitch fibers. These fibers can increase in endurance, strength and help fat burning, but do not grow.

Intense speed training in aerobics takes muscle to maximum capacity and also becomes anaerobic. Muscles get trained to store more glycogen for these events. Competitive athletes train at 95% capacity once a weed to create greater muscle capacity and then lower intensities the rest of the time.

At high intensity exercise, the recovery period has to be longer and muscle building occurs during recovery. Experts say carbohydrates and protein are needed every four hours because amino acids lose viability in four hours. The muscles would then start feeding on themselves for fuel.

Resistance Training and Aerobics are Important to Build Muscle

Serious weight trainers often drop the aerobics. Aerobics are important for cardiovasuclar health and also burn the endomysium fat that can accumulate around myofybrils preventing nutrients from being absorbed and wastes from being excreted from muscles. Because of this, a lean muscled individual might be able to run around the block.

Aerobic exercisers should do resistance training because low impact aerobics strips fat and lean muscle from the body. Marathoners and Iron Man Competitors say when the body gets tired, the resistance training carries them through. Building muscle would allow you to eat more because resistance training increases the metabolism.

If your goal is not size and maximum strength, lower intensity exercising is perfectly adequate for health goals.

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How to Build Strength and Endurance

Learning how to build strength and endurance starts with beginner exercises and progresses up to being a professional if that is desired. Its a progression to build muscle capability and higher cardio-respiratory limits.

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How to Build Strength and Endurance

Taking Control of Involuntary Systems

The body is composed of 8 systems that run mostly involuntarily. The muscle group is the only one that is truly controlled by our will. The respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, endoctrine, immune, and nervous systems are responding to conditions we might impose or defer to impose.

Proper nutrition, aerobics, and resistance training are all expected by the body to perform optimally and improve life style without disease and of course extend longevity. The body either grows in health or deteriorates. Maintenance often becomes deterioration because the body adapts to routines.

Beginning Routines for Strength and Endurance

The beginner exerciser improves the most in a short time. The sedentary body muscles are not used to absorbing fuel and therefore have little strength and stamina. The process of exercising and refueling educates the muscles to store glycogen (and therefore absorb glucose) and prepare for bigger loads.

The beginner exerciser is using fatty acids for fuels in low impact aerobics and high rep resistance training. Fat burns, strength increases, and endurance builds, but size doesn’t increase nor is maximal strength approached.

The moderate exerciser can add intensity to aerobics as his muscles have learned to build glucose reserves, his circulatory system has added pathways, and his heart has built muscle. In resistance training, the exerciser can add weight with less risk of injury. He goes to fewer reps and might have to skip days for recovery.

Getting Serious

The serious exerciser is learning to test strength and endurance. He might compete aerobically in races and is building size and maximum strength in resistance training. His aerobics will include a day or two of training at up to 95% of maximal heart rate and has stretched his VO2 capabilities for oxygen uptake. Resistance training will push maximum weight with 4 to 6 reps once a week with alternate days of lighter weight and different muscle groups.

Creating routines with daily exercise is optimal for growth and body function improvement. Learning fitness nutrition and proper recovery becomes essential to maximize gains and prevent over training or injury.

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Weight Loss or Muscle Building

Weight loss or muscle building are two options that can be contradictory. Muscle weighs more than fat so in converting fat to muscle, a person is likely to gain weight and lose inches.

weight loss or muscle building
Weight loss or muscle building

The Right Way to Lose Weight

There are a few good paths to losing weight. It is important in losing weight that you think about losing fat and not stripping your body of lean muscle. Therefore, a weight loss program should include resistance training or you lose weight and get weaker structurally.

We must consider that the body sheds lean muscle as we age and if we don’t exercise. If we don’t exercise we can lose muscle mass and bone density. Both are bad. The third result from not exercising muscle is that insulin carries sugars straight to adipose tissue (fat) instead of to muscle tissue.

A beginner exerciser program will usually focus on losing fat and gaining muscle. It can sound like converting fat to muscle, but in reality they work together but separately.

Losing Fat

Aerobics and calorie reducing will cause the body to lose fat. Low impact aerobics use fatty acids for fuel. A reduction in calorie intake will induce the body to use fatty acids for fuel. An advantage of aerobics in burning fat is it will burn endomycium fat first which is the fat that wraps around muscle fibers and prevents muscle from absorbing nutrients and expelling wastes. This is invisible fat unlike viseral fat that is under the skin.

Burning muscle for exercise and following with a quick carbohydrate and protein snack will start training the muscles to absorb glucose and interrupt its trip directly to adipose tissue. Over weight individuals that have not been exercising should begin by reducing calories and walking every day.

This begins the aerobic process of weight loss. This weight will be fat. As the body gets conditioned to burning fat for fuel the individual can begin adding movement exercises to ensure posture and function are correct before adding weight to resistance exercise.

The Moderate Exerciser

A moderate exerciser engaging three to five days a week that wants to lose fat and build muscle should engage in an aerobic and resistance training program. Low impact aerobics use fatty acids for fuel. Intermediate aerobics of higher intensity where intervals, speed, or duration of over an hour are included, burn fat and glucose, but also burn lean muscle.

It is important that intense exercise is accompanied by the correct nutrition program. The muscles will need carbohydrates and protein to perform. A meal should be ingested two or three hours before intense exercise. Afterward, the body will use muscle for fuel so another meal should be consumed with carbohydrates and protein to begin anabolism (building muscle)

The Muscle Building Process

To maintain the body’s muscle building process, carbohydrates and protein should be consumed every four hours. Protein becomes unusable by the body after four hours so if muscle is trying to repair and build, it will begin to use muscle for fuel. Carbohydrates cause insulin to spike and insulin will take glucose and protein to muscles in need of glucose and nutrients for building.

Beginner resistance training starts with high reps at low weight loads (50% to 60% of capacity) to burn fat, build endurance, build strength, and prevent injury. This exercise should be coupled with low impact aerobics like walking, tread mill, swimming, or biking to continue weight loss, build cardiovascular fitness, and build aerobic endurance.

A combination of aerobics and resistance training is the best process for weight loss and muscle building. After the beginner exerciser is conditioned, they can begin adding weight to resistance training and reducing the amount of reps.

Advanced Training

Advanced training includes lifting loads near maximum capacity with only 4 to 6 reps. The exerciser is then building maximum strength and increasing size. Building muscle will use fatty acids for fuel in rebuilding but a nutritional program must be closely followed to assist the body in what would appear to be converting fat to muscle.

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