In recent years, the focus on fitness has shifted from simply being thin, to being fit and strong. Gains in the gym has not only become a popular saying among gym lovers, but it is becoming a lifestyle. Unfortunately for some, muscle growth can be hard to achieve. While each individual is going to have a slightly different response to a strength training program, both mechanical damage and metabolic fatigue are two essential components that should be addressed when looking to encourage muscle growth. If adding muscle growth is important to your overall fitness goals, keep reading to learn how you can create the optimal environment to foster muscle growth.
Time under tension (TUT) is the length of time a muscle is contracting against external resistance. Contracting a muscle for longer periods produces higher levels of mechanical damage and metabolic fatigue. When doing traditional sets of 10 repetitions, slowing your movement down can increase the amount of TUT to a more optimal lengthening phase and shortening action creating the necessary mechanical damage and metabolic fatigue to increase muscle growth.
Fatigue can be a good thing, especially when done safely. Oftentimes, people have it in their minds to do a particular number of repetitions of a particular exercise and then they stop. Smaller type I fibers are used when performing these repetitions until the larger type II fibers kick in when fatigue is used. You can activate type II fibers by using heavy weights or doing a higher number of repetitions to increase your muscle growth.
Many gym-goers focus on multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, and even standing shoulder presses that work several muscles. Focusing on single-joint and isolation exercises is a more localized approach to working a specific unit of muscle, creating the optimal environment for muscle growth. If you still want to work on those multi-joint exercises, you can incorporate compound sets, such as a squat followed by an isolation exercise such as a leg extension.
Intensity is the amount of weight used while volume is the amount of physical work you put in. There are different ways of structuring the intensity and volume of an exercise, but the important thing is to do this regularly. Alternating your workouts between heavyweights for a few reps, and then lighter weights for more reps will affect the stimulus between your mechanical damage and metabolic fatigue, encouraging muscle growth.
It is easy to get into a steady routine, but while consistency is a comfort for you, it is a bore for your muscle groups. Doing the same exercises over and over only engages a limited amount of muscles. Changing your exercises can activate new muscle groups and fibers which is important for increasing your muscle growth.
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