Are You Training Smart?

Although the basic theory of gaining muscle and getting stronger is fairly straight forward, create a stimulus recovery from that stimulus and repeat over and over again it can be over complicated by a huge amount of studies or articles claiming other wise…

Although I have over simplified the ability to gain muscle and get stronger the amount of individuals with different point of views yet not getting towards their goal is more and more, this has got to be from the many different point’s of view they are hearing

The basics of gaining muscle & strength have not changed for a very, very long time but the basics require months/years of hard work and consistency which don’t sound very appealing to the “I want now” generation (blame social media and fad diets/workouts) 

Now although I have over simplified the ability to gain muscle and build strength I think it needs to be this is not to say that it is easy training shoulder be hard 

If It Looks Easy…

After all if it looks to easy it probably is. Your body needs some sort of stimulus and in order to create change you need to disturb the body’s physiology now when you train this needs to ether come from heavy weight or volume/pump to cause and adaptation 

This means training must be hard you must put enough weight on the barbell to cause a change to the body or lift enough to cause some sort of stress/pump to the body 

It’s far to easy to fall into the trap of just lifting weight without thinking is this going to cause a change to my body 

What is the point go going to the gym “To cause a change to your body so it creates a response of building muscle or getting stronger” So you might as well be doing the right things over and over again without wasting time going through the motions 

Mistaking effort for progression…

Many fall into that trap of thinking being tired is making progress in the gym and it meaning that your are going to change, fatigue just is inevitable outcome of working out it doesn't indicate you're going to be getting to your goals

If you where to bench press sets of 10 with your 20 rep max it might make you tired but it won’t be heavy enough or enough volume to cause a change to your body

The same for going hard and having a “big gym day” you might start your session well lifting heavy then as you go onto your 4th exercise of chest and its dumbbell press with sets of 8, but because you're tired you lift the 15kg dumbbells thinking you're causing a change you're just tired, the sets of 8 are not enough volume to cause an adaptation and because you're tired by the time you come to the 4th chest exercise you cant lift enough weight either…

Junk Volume…

Junk volume refers to the sets/reps/exercise we do in are workout that are not going to cause a direct change to our body it will just make us “tired” this can also be whole sessions when we turn up to the gym and just go through the motions (saying that turning up to the gym should never be seen as no point)

However you should be wanting to use you're time wisely, lit with a point, if you where to look at your program now do you know why every single exercise, set & rep is there? Every rep, set & exercise in your program should have a point and if it doesn't it probably falls into the category of “Junk Volume”


How Do You Build Muscle & Get Stronger… 

I will over simply this again you need three things to build muscle and build strength 

Mechanical Tension (Heavy Lifting)

Metabolic Stress (Pump & Volume)

Muscle Damage (Least important but a good marker for stress)

The exercises, sets & reps you need do cause an adaptation either need to be heavy enough to cause an adaptation (Mechanical Tension) or enough volume & pump to cause some sort of hormonal changes (Metabolic Stress) this can be split into one session or done throughout the training week

Don’t fall into trap of effort/being tired as progression, progression is progression

Going to hard and training to failure to cause exhaustion isn't going to get your bigger in the long run 

Exercise Selection…

There is no escaping here if you want to have big string muscles you have to do big strong lifts, squatting high bar with full range of motion with good weight will make you have big quads…

No yes you can sprinkle on top leg extensions for super high reps to cause a pump (metabolic stress) but you should focus on big lifts with good weight and full range to cause a change you're not going to gain muscle by picking the easier exercises 

After all training is meant to be tough, be smart with your work a good focus driven session of say High bar squats with heavy weight for sets of 8 followed by 3-4 sets of super high rep leg extensions would be smart hard training rather than going in and doing 8 leg exercise with medium weight and medium reps, train smart not hard 


As always you have to look after yourself hat you put in your body, the sleep you get the frequency of your sessions all play apart.

The aim of the game is to recover as fast as possible so you can lift more heavier weight

Training hard is what you need to do but train smart you need to recovery hard too, many fall into the above trap of doing loads of exercises with medium weight and reps feeling tired then doing that 4-5 days a week and thinking they are going to grow

Remember every exercise, set, rep should have a purpose and your recovery should be a priority when you do that it then just comes down too…

Consistency & Adherence 

Although throughout this blog I have over simplified the theory it takes a huge amount of repeated effort for a long period of time

Good muscle gain is often just 1-3% of your body weight per month, and that is good and yes you maybe gaining a little fat but that is part of the process 

Knowing that it will take a long time and knowing what comes with it is part of the journey 

Train hard, train smart, have a look at your program do you know why every single rep, set and exercises is there?

Are you recovering well?

Are you eating well?

Don’t mistake time/effort for progression, progression is progression 

John CunninghamComment