I might not be the most popular guy in the world after this article. Most people want to hear things like "building muscle is easy, it's a breeze, it doesn't take all that much blood sweat or tears at all."
And that's what most marketers will tell you - but I'm not much of a marketer. I'm just a guy who - like you - had struggles trying to gain ripped, athletic muscle, having spent my first 7 years in the gym without gaining a single pound of lean muscle.
But then I figured some things out. Building ripped muscle and improving athleticism is simple, but it's far from easy. The more focused and intense your training sessions are, and the more effective you are at recovering, the better results you're going to see.
Here are some strategies you can use to break down more muscle, in a shorter period of time, recover more quickly, and see better results a hell of a lot faster.
Why would you voluntarily put your body through pain?
It sounds stupid, but that's what we do in the gym on a daily basis. We put ourselves through pain, trying to break our bodies down, and then build them back up through recovery.
The more muscle we break down in a reasonably short period of time, the more muscle we can then repair and rebuild through proper recovery. You can go overboard on the duration of your training, but not - in my mind - on the degree or intensity of your training. Hard work pays off.
That's what guys like Georges St. Pierre, or Manny Pacquiao are doing right now. But I'm guessing - just a guess - that they're training with a tad more focus and intensity than we are.
Well, they have a very emotional reason as to why they're training so hard. Their livelihood depends on how physically and mentally prepared they are for their next fight.
Identify Your Emotional "Why?"
Athlete's shouldn't be the only one's with an awesome reason to get into the gym 4-days a week and kick their own asses. We should be able to identify just as good of reason that will push us when we want to quit, or get us to the gym when it's the last thing in the world that we want to do.
If you think about it, our confidence directly correlates to how we look and perform. We're more confident people when we feel great about how we look.
Our confidence also correlates to how happy we are. The more confident we are, the more likely we are to try new things, be more successful in our jobs and especially with the opposite sex. So, by being in better shape, we make our lives a hell of a lot better.
Our physical condition is related to how successful we are. Do you want to be happy, and successful? That's a pretty good reason to get into the gym and work your ass off.
Finding that emotional reason as to why you want to work your arse off will be a huge factor in you seeing great results, and reaching your true potential, or having half-assed workouts and being ordinary.
Failing to Succeed
Do you lift to failure?
I mean real failure. Where you physically can't do one more rep within proper form. Where the pain is so excruciating you feel like you're going to whimper or puke.
The majority of muscle damage will occur in those last few reps, including the failing rep. So people will say that lifting to failure within each set is too much. I disagree. I think it's the only way to go.
The harder you work, and the more effectively that you recover, the better results you're going to see.
3 Ways to Break Down More Muscle in Less Time
1. Double or Triple Up Your Exercises
Try using supersets or giant sets in your workouts. With supersets you double up two exercises back-to-back with no rest period in between each exercise. Giant sets are tripling up your exercises, only resting at the end of the set.
You can work the same muscle groups or opposing muscle groups, it's entirely up to you. But these sets will cut down on your training time, increase blood flow to the areas being worked, and get you more muscle damage in less time.
A1. Bench Press
A2. Yates Row
A1. Lumberjack Press
A2. Lateral Raise
A3. Bent-over Lateral Laise
2. The Challenge Workout
Maybe my favorite way to train; line up a list of exercises and set repetition counts. Only rest when you absolutely have to, while keeping your rest periods minimal.
You can use traditional splits, upper/lower splits or whatever you want. I like choosing a weight that will get me to fail at least 3 times per set. The workout is also to be timed. The faster you complete it from the first, to the last rep is your score. Next time you do the workout, make sure you beat your last time!
Upper Body Challenge Workout:
30 reps each exercise. Start the clock as soon as you start your first rep, only stopping it after the last rep has been completed.
1. Yates Row
2. Decline Bench Press
3. Chin-ups (or lat pull-downs)
4. Military Press
5. Bent-over Lateral Raise
7. Barbell Curls
3. High Intensity Training
Throw long, steady-state bouts of cardio out the window. You're going to see better results in less time doing short, intense bursts, followed by rest periods. Yes, you can see results doing steady-state cardio, but it'll take longer, and you won't see as good results as the alternative.
The same applies to your weight training. Focused, more intense sessions will get you greater results in less time. Follow these steps to make sure you're not wasting any of your valuable time in the gym:
a) Know what you're doing before you head to the gym. Follow a good program that will set specific rest periods - or none at all - and stick to them.
b) Watch the clock. As soon as you've finished a set, time your rest period. Lift the weight back up with 5 seconds to go to make sure you're not going overboard.
c) Wear headphones, or do whatever it is that you need to do to make sure you don't get pulled into a conversation. You want to reach that point where your muscles are throbbing and burning, and maintain it.
Take the Challenge and Wake-up!
This is the solution to your problems. This is how I gained 32 pounds of lean, athletic, muscle in 32 weeks.
Do you have what it takes?
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