1. Time Under Tension
The amount of time that a muscle is being contracted is, typically, not long enough for the whole muscle to be engaged. For example, if you do a bicep curl and it only takes two seconds then your muscle is not getting the mechanical damage or the metabolic fatigue needed to build muscle. In order to build you must create the tension by extending the time to four to six seconds.
2. You have to work until momentary fatigue!
Although having a set number of reps can be a good starting point, it can also be somewhat counter-productive to building muscle. Type I muscle fibers act for work until they fatigue. Then type II fibers come in to generate the force needed to finish performing the task at hand. If the type II muscle fibers are not activated then the whole muscle is not worked and therefore does not produce growth. You can make the change in your workout simply by increasing the number of reps of weight to insure muscle fatigue.
Exercises that use multiple joints can be useful for the development of energy expenditure but it engages multiple muscles. For the best result, try to isolate your muscle to single-joint exercises. By using one muscle at a time it is more likely to cause the fatigue needed for muscle growth. Multijoint exercises, such as squats and shoulder press, can still be useful in growing muscles if done properly, however. Body builders demonstrate this proper execution when they start with a multijoint exercise and then move right into a single-joint exercise to begin the fatigue of type I fibers and then isolating the specific muscle to fatigue the type II fibers. Example: squats to leg extensions.
4. Don’t do the same reps!
When training your muscles it is important to change the intensity of the workout. The best way to do this is to lift heavier weight with lower reps for a while, then begin lifting with lower weights and higher reps. This should stimulate the muscles and cause the mechanical damage and metabolic fatigue needed for growth. Tricking the muscles allows for a constant build that does not allow them to “get used to” the same function.
5. Change it up.
Hand in hand with changing your reps and weight, you must also change your exercises. Doing the same exercise only engages some muscle fibers but not all. Motor units are motor nerves that are attached to muscle fibers and when you only use one exercise is used then not every fiber is being worked. Bench press does not quit work the same muscle fibers that chest flies will. Both of these exercises may work your pecs but in different ways, even changing the angle of the bench can improve growth both working different parts of the muscle.
6. Limit the CARDIO!
Cardio may seem like a good idea because most people believe it helps you tone but it will not help growth. Your muscle cells need glycogen to grow and one gram holds two to four grams of water. Cardiorespiratory exercise can reduce the glycogen in your muscles so keeping your cardio to a minimum could actually help you out!
No, this does not mean that you should sleep through your workout but it does mean you need a proper sleep schedule. The recovery process after a workout is what helps produce growth. REM cycles tend to be when your body produces the most of growth hormones and testosterone.
It may take time to discover which way works best for you in a workout routine but these tips will get you going in the right direction!