From Mens Fitness Editors
For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Twitter and Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Dan Trink, C.S.C.S, Director of Personal Training Operations at Peak Performance NYC and founder of TrinkFitness, breaks down the science of rep ranges, plateau-breaking and specialized training techniques for packing on the pounds.
1) Rep Ranges for Size— asked by Louis Pivet:
What’s the best rep range to build muscle size?
“The answer is — all of them. Typically, the hypertrophy (muscle building) rep range is 8 to 12 and that range does work very well. However, if you keep training within those parameters you are subject to the law of diminishing returns: it will become less and less effective as your body becomes efficient at moving specific loads a certain number of times. And this efficiency does not promote any type of positive adaptation. If you’ve been grinding out 3 sets of 10 reps for a while, try some lower rep sets (like 5 sets x 5 reps) with heavier loads. This will not only challenge your body in a new way, it will also allow you to lift bigger weights which, in turn, will help grow larger muscles when you return to the good old 8 to 12 rep range. ”
2) The Missing Elements— asked by Jared Klausky:
I feel like I’ve tried everything in order to put on size. What might I be missing?
“If you’ve covered all the basics – solid nutrition plan, smart training program that utilizes both compound and isolation movements, changing training parameters when you hit a plateau – try using specific tempos in your lifts. Tempo is simply the rate at which you lift and lower the weight (or yourself) as well as any pauses you may add at the top or bottom positions. By assigning smart tempos to your movements you will increase the difficulty of the exercise as well as cause more muscle damage which will ultimately lead to more growth. A good way to start experimenting with tempos is to slow down the eccentric or lowering phases of the lift (as in lowering the bar to your chest during a bench press or lowering yourself towards the floor in a chin up). Try using a 3 second eccentric by having your training partner or yourself count it out on each rep of the set. Be warned that this will make the exercise much tougher so be sure to lighten your usual loads before giving it a try.”
3) Protein Requirements— asked by Brett Fodero:
How much protein do I need per day to pack on some mass?
“While there is no hard-and-fast rule on the specific amount of protein you need to put on size (everyone will react to different nutrition protocols differently) research shows that for those people who are engaging in a consistent resistance training program and looking to gain mass,1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (which translates to .7 to .9 grams per pound of bodyweight) is the sweet spot. If you are a teenager you should add 10% to that number.”
4) Special Training Techniques— asked by Max Stephenson:
I keep reading about ‘special techniques’ that I should be adding to my muscle-building programs. What are ‘special techniques’?
“Special techniques usually refer to more advanced strategies that are designed to drive up the intensiveness or length of a set. The most common ones are drop sets (in which you perform a certain number of reps of an exercise then reduce the way and perform additional reps of that exercise without resting), rest-pause (in which you perform a certain number of reps of an exercise, rest for 10 to 15 seconds and then bang out a few additional reps) and slow negatives (in which the eccentric or lowering phase of the last rep of any set is done slowly). All of these techniques have proven to be very effective in mass building phases, however they are advanced and can be tricky to pull off. So if you are just starting out, wait until you have a bit of training under your belt before giving them a shot.”
5) Spot Reduction— asked by Pat McGinn:
I know that I can’t ‘spot-reduce’ body fat but can I ‘spot-gain’ muscle mass?
“Yes, and no. You can certainly localize muscle gain by utilizing isolation movements for that muscle group. However, it is still critical that you use compound movements as including them has proven to be the key to making you more anabolic. So, if a body part, such as your biceps are lagging, you can definitely give them some extra attention with a variety of curls. Just make sure you are getting in big movements like chin ups into your program as well.”