Fraser Murray Training Solutions

Articles

Read up on exercises, techniques and all things training!



Athletic Development Part 3: Muscle Armour
Posted 21st March 2010


Athletic Development is a series of articles aimed at developing all the components of an individual’s fitness. Read over Part 1 and Part 2 of the series here. This series is not intended for beginners, it is aimed at individuals that have been training for more than six months and want to increase their performance in the weight room and carry it over to their chosen sport.

 

 

Importance of Muscle

Muscles make you move. If we didn’t have muscles then our bones would be flapping about in the wind while the rest of our body would be lying in a fat heap on the floor. We have hundreds of muscles in our body and each one has a part to play. So far in the series we have discussed developing the posterior chain and the kinetic chain, with my sample workouts being lower body dominant. Well, the wait is over. For muscle growth and an upper body example session, keep reading.

 

It’s true: muscle hypertrophy is not something every athlete needs, but it is an ingredient to success in many sports. It is widely accepted that a larger muscle has the potential to produce more force. Further, hypertrophy can lead to improved body composition[i] which effects relative strength.

 

 

‘I don’t want to get too big’

If you find yourself saying the above then you need to do one of two things for me:

1.       If you are blessed with good genetics and put on muscle quicker than most, then raise your right hand and give yourself a pat on the back. You are right – you don’t want to get too big.

2.       If you do not have a decent amount of muscle mass but are trying to gain muscle and saying the words “I don’t want to get too big” – please take your right hand and slap yourself on the face for me. Did that knock any sense into you? Okay, then this might…

 

Gaining muscle is difficult. I’m not talking about putting on bodyweight - I’m taking about pure muscle with no fat!

 

A Lesson for Lyle

For those that do not know, Lyle McDonald is a hugely respected author within the fitness industry. I have found his model for gaining pure muscle to be the most accurate[ii].

 

Year of Proper Training

Potential Rate of Muscle Gain per Year

1

20-25 pounds (2 pounds per month)

2

10-12 pounds (1 pound per month)

3

5-6 pounds (0.5 pound per month)

4+

2-3 pounds (not worth calculating)

For a lot of people, this won’t seem like a lot of muscle to put on. I should point out that the potential gains are for a male that is doing everything right (training correctly, eating enough and sleeping enough) and not taking any form of steroids.

 

 

Adaptation

Okay so it’s hard to build muscle, but how do we do it correctly? All you need to do is watch a clip of Lou Ferrigno on ‘Pumping Iron’ to know that it takes some serious effort to make your body adapt. The concept of muscle failure has been around for many years and is arguably the most well known way to put on muscle. I say this because it seems every gym I go into I can spot a fellow meathead performing an exercise way past the point he should be – would someone please tell him that failure is reached when you can’t perform the exercise with good form!

Training to failure to achieve muscle growth is not always necessary. Yes, you have to train hard to create a stimulus for growth, but no, not always to the point where you cannot lift the bar with good form.

 

A Method to the Madness

As always there is more than one way of doing things, and the best way usually involves a combination of all the different methods. The maximal effort method, repeated effort method, dynamic effort method, sub maximal effort method and repeated maximal effort method are all good ways of forcing the body to adapt[iii]. Each method uses different percentages of a one rep max and has different rep ranges and speeds. Below is an example of the upper body sessions (in block one of a training week) that I would give to somebody looking to gain muscle mass.

 

Session 1

 

Movement

Sets & Reps

Tempo

Rest

1.

Bench Press

 

7 with 75%

5 with  80%

3+  with 85%

X

3mins

2.

Incline DB Press

2 x 8

X

90secs

3a.

3b.

Seated Row

 Lateral Raises

4 x 12

4 x 12

3 sec iso hold

2030

 

90secs

4a.

4b.

Rope Pulldown

Hammer Curls

5 x 8

5 x 8

 

3020

 

60secs

An example of a training session (after a warm up) which encourages muscle growth for individuals that have no prior injuries and know how to perform these exercises correctly.

 

Session 2

 

Movement

Sets & Reps

Tempo

Rest

1.

Chin ups (perform weighted or machine variations depending on strength)

7

5

3

2 secs iso hold at top with chest out.

3mins

2.

Lateral Pulldown

2 x 8

2130

90secs

3a.

3b.

Cuban Press

Kneeling Cable Reverse Cross Over

3 x 15

3 x 12

 

 

 

60secs

4.

Barbell Curls

3 x 10

3020

60secs

5.

Dips

*Perform max + 50%

 

Time the whole movement including rest – beat that time next week

An example of a training session (after a warm up) which encourages muscle growth for individuals that have no prior injuries and know how to perform these exercises correctly.

 

*For the dips you must know the maximum amount of repetitions you can perform when fresh in one set. For example, say the maximum amount of dips you can do (always covering the same distance) is 40reps. Take that and add 50%, which gives you 60reps in total to complete. Now you have to complete 60 reps anyway you like. Normally at the end of a session most people will take around 3 sets to bang out their max reps + 50%. However, the beauty with this technique is you can take as much time as you need to get the reps out (though the shorter the rest the better in this case).

 

 

Body Composition

Unless you’re training for a sumo competition, you don’t want an excess of fat. Too much fat is just going to slow you down, so when undergoing a hypertrophy programme you’ll need to nail the nutrition. Here’s the thing: a lot of coaches recommend clients to eat as much as they can. That’s fine if you are a power lifter or bodybuilder and you can afford to carry a little extra fat for a while. However, if you are an athlete (or trying to become more athletic) then relative strength is of high importance and so the aim should be to acquire muscle and only muscle.

 

Here is what I recommend for minimal fat gain and maximum muscle gain:

 

1.       Consume 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight.

2.       Consume +10% of maintenance calories for five days and -5% of maintenance calories for two days.

3.       Train with moderate volume and high frequency, and train hard!

4.       Measure your progress by taking your body fat percentage and bodyweight.

 

 

 

Wrap Up

Muscle is important and adding size can be a difficult task, but increasing the size of your muscles will not only help you become more powerful, it will alter your body’s muscle to fat ratio and make you more athletic. 

 

 

 

 



[ii]  Available from: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/muscle-gain/whats-my-genetic-muscular-potential.html

[accessed on 5/03/2010]

[iii]  Siff, M. (2001). SUPERTRAINING.



View all Articles



Email Address:

Subscribe Unsubscribe



Testimonials:


  I position Fraser amongst the countries most elite in personal physical training. This is not something I say flippantly either - since working with him, I have developed.. full testimonial


- Tim Shaw, TV & Radio Presenter



  

I have been involved in professional sport for eight years, combine this with my Sport Science and Exercise BSc and three years of working as a personal trainer I thou.. full testimonial


- Luke Stringer, Professional Rugby Player - Chicago Griffins



  Fraser is one of the most dedicated trainers I have ever come across. He is committed and determined which ensures you achieve your goals.


- Mel Kang, Solicitor



View all Testimonials!

Leave feedback!



Exercise of the Month!