As you’re well aware, building solid muscle mass takes time, consistency, and well, creativity since the body adapts so rapidly to all kinds of external forces. Since you already pour hours a week in the gym, you know the time factor isn’t the issue. And since you’ve been attempting to grow every bodypart since as long as you can remember, there’s no question of consistency. But what might be missing is the idea of fiber-specific programming; the kind of programming that can help you tap each muscle’s reservoir of growth potential.
If that sounds complicated, don’t worry — it’s not. See, the muscle fiber is the goal. It’s what you’re trying to “encourage.” Gaining size isn’t just hoisting weights to and fro aimlessly. No, it’s all based on your ability to activate and innervate the smallest of muscle fibers.
Most muscles are close to 50% fast-twitch and 50% slow-twitch fibers. Shocked? You’re not alone. Most people have no idea the ratio is so close, but that explains why so few in the gym include rep ranges that help target half the number of fibers in each bodypart.
Slow-twitch fibers are the ones that have a high endurance capacity and are very slow to fatigue, while the fast-twitch fibers are those fibers most responsible for power. But the most seasoned muscles are those that have fully equipped both types to be at their best.
And rather than beat a dead horse with the importance of the 6’s, 8’s and10’s, we want to educate and motivate you to begin involving more sets with higher reps. Enter high-volume training. We’re guessing that you’ve tried high-volume training about as often as a cat swims the Atlantic, but nonetheless, your tidal wave of growth is about to hit shore.
High Time For Growth
High-volume training is critical for not only sustained growth but as a shock-and-awe tactic. The benefit of high-volume and high-rep training is all about how it draws the fiber into the work being done. And because higher volume and higher reps mean lighter weight, the slow-twitch fiber (which again makes up half of your muscle bellies ) is fully tapped for its response potential: endurance and growth.
In fact, the research behind the high-volume/high-rep approach for the weightlifter involves muscle growth through a process other than just muscle damage. As you may not know, our muscles respond through the activation of genes inside the muscle cells.
When we train, it fires up genes in muscle cells to activate protein synthesis. The more protein a muscle cell can synthesize, the bigger it can grow. Hitting more sets with higher reps (outside the norm), activates protein for longer periods of time, which is one of the keys to sustained and continuous growth.
Crank It Up
Use these bodypart-driven workouts to tap both your fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers for maximum growth.
Time to add some serious volume to your routine. But it’s important to proceed with caution. When following high volume training consider these tips:
- Train with weight that allows you to do at least 10 reps but no more than 25.
- For larger muscle groups like chest, back, shoulders and legs do four sets of 4 to 5 exercises. For smaller muscle groups like biceps, triceps, traps, calves and abs do 4 sets of 2 to 4 exercises.
- Stop each set when you can no longer perform a rep with proper form.
- More advanced trainers can drastically increase volume by incorporating a twice-weekly schedule for each workout. If you choose to go that route, be sure to use variations that slightly alter the muscle recruitment, such as using the incline instead of a flat-bench, or doing your pulldowns with an underhand grip.