Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
March 4, 2024

Art and Science of Muscle
By Mo Mendez

Art and Science of Muscle

Packing muscle onto the physique is both an art and a science. It is a science because there are certain known, quantified factors that can be utilized to aid in growth. For instance, the amount of calories in a gram of protein or fat are known factors that can be used and relied on. Many of the aspects of training have already been defined and quantified by previous generations. There are certain rules within the system of bodybuilding that have already been discovered. There is no need to re-invent the wheel for many areas of training for mass muscle production.

Making your muscles massive is also an art because the application of these training rules and pieces of knowledge is a skill - especially in the gym. Not all of bodybuilding training is mechanical limitation. Everyone has a body that is somewhat similar to others and also somewhat unique. It is the uniqueness of your body that demands a skillful application of bodybuilding principles. There is a term used in bodybuilding which is "instinctive training" and "listening to your body." This means that you have to actively engage in the workout and diet with your mind as well as your body. You cannot afford to mindlessly go through the motions. Your body may very well respond differently than the next guy's to some part of training and you have to be able to pick up on that. You have to be intimately involved in the entire process. As you spend time working with your body you will get to know your physique and its response to training and diet much better than you do now. That is the art involved - the intangible part of physique training.

Art and Science of Muscle

Visions, Goals, Plans and Beliefs

Talking about intangibles brings up another very important point - the mind. Your mind is a crucial factor, for success or failure, in achieving your goal of a more massively muscled physique. There is a saying that if you think you can or if you think you can't, you are right. That is especially true in the realm of making your muscles more massive. Porter Cottrell, a massively built champion bodybuilder, notes that "the key to any weight-gaining program is simply staying motivated and dedicated to accomplishing what you set out to achieve. If you refuse to be swayed or discouraged, you will succeed." You must set out a vision of what you want to achieve with your physique and then strive to obtain that goal until you get it. This may mean adding a couple of inches of muscle to your arms, chest, back, shoulders, upper legs or lower legs. You may want to add 15 to 30 pounds of rock-hard muscle or more. Or you may be satisfied with a 10 pound gain distributed over the whole body. Your goals are exactly that - yours. No one else has your specific goals, and no one else can perform the work for you. You have to "carry the ball" and get the job done. That comes about with a specific plan of action and the belief that you can achieve any goal you set.

Spend some time mapping out your strategy. Write down specifically what you want to achieve. Make it your vision, not someone else's. How much mass do you want? Write it down in a notebook and date the page. Write out a few paragraphs on the body that you want to build. If you want two more inches on your biceps, put it down. This notebook serves as a refresher when things get tough and you want to quit. You need to go back again and again to the initial plan and remember your reason for starting on the mass program. Your mind will play a big part in whether or not you succeed. Often getting bigger is a battle of the will. A strong mind is necessary for training a strong body. Arnold Schwarzenegger points out the importance of the mind and a positive attitude quite often. He noted that his friend Franco Columbu took his body to incredible levels because of the power of his positive attitude and passionate belief that he could mold a championship physique.

The mentally "radical" approach is also a factor for success - especially for lifting weights. Randall Strossen writes, "It's no accident that the guys who pushed the standards to new levels in the sport were willing to go out and do things very differently from everyone else."

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