When people are looking to add size they often forget the key thing in that they should be aiming to get consistently stronger and progress with the weights they are pushing in the gym. Too often I se people going for the pump and just going to the gym lifting the same old weights and leaving. This can get you a good workout but at the end of the day it will leave you more a less the same size, increasing your muscle density.
“Muscle cross section and strength are nearly equivalent” – Arthur Devany
This quote from Arthur Devany which I pulled off his blog emphasizes the importance and correlation between muscle size and strength, they are directly linked which makes sense as a strong muscle will need to grow larger in order to accommodate the heavier weight its required to lift. Saying this it indicates to me a few things; you must perform the weighted exercise in excellent form in order to achieve the direct correlation, If the form happens to slip then you should drop the weight to something you can life in good form for the desired reps. Lifting more than last week in worse form will not lead to gains!
How To Do It
So we want some extra size and therefore want to get strong, what’s the best way to go about doing this? Firstly its probably a good idea to have one or two strength days a week in the gym in which you go in and do 1-2 exercises for 5 sets of 5 reps or 8 sets of 3 reps, lets have a look:
—–Front Squats 8 x 3
—–Bench Press 5 x 5
—–Deadlifts 8 x 3
—–Shoulder Press 5 x 5
Repeat this each week and try to add some weight to the bar when you can, it doesnt’ matter if one week you may be pushing the same weight as the last, there is no rush and we cannot force our bodies to get stronger. Just keep eating well for mass and you will eventually get stronger…..Try and spread the days out maybe one on a Monday and the next on a Friday.
I would also recommend doing these Strength sessions in a non fasted state as to take advantage of your muscles being loaded and ready to go for the workouts. I find myself that I am at my strongest in the late afternoon or around lunchtime. If I try to do a strength session first thing in the morning and fasted the weight I can push is often way down from what I could do in a non fasted state.
Also take into account your age; if you are young and aren’t gifted with very muscular genetics you will probably find it harder to gain strength in your early years, muscle maturity is a key factor and you will have probably noticed they guys with the strongest and most dense phsyiques will be in their 30′s or even 40′s this is no coincidence so keep pushing those weights and good things will happen.
Unless you are an extremely hard gainer and have a blazing metabolism don’t hesitate throwing in some met-con style workouts on off days or go for playful runs they will keep your metabolism up and allow you to have fun with your training because lets face it the strength days are hardly exhilarating gym time! I even like to throw in some sports or go for a long walk after a strength workout.
– Try and eat real food and get a good dose of protein in each day
– Chew your food well, it will help digestion and assimilation of the food you eat
– Sleep 9 hours a night when you can (this is key to gaining muscle)
– Eat more tubers like Sweet Potatoes and Squash post workout. Its probably the best way to replenish muscle stores and trigger growth. A great post workout meal is a sweet potato smothered in almond butter with some eggs and chicken on the side!!
– Be generous with your healthy fat intake it will allow your body to release anabolic hormones which ultimately which allow you to gain that strength
Remember so long as your increasing the weights your pushing slowly and steadily in compound lifts you are moving in the right direction for muscle gain!