It is ironic that a large segment of our population spends billions of dollars each year in attempts to lose excess weight (fat), while others exert lots of energy and also spend big bucks striving to gain weight—muscle weight that is.
No one needs instruction on how to gain fat, that’s easy; just eat and perform little, or no activity. On the other hand, gaining functional muscle weight is a highly sophisticated science, and complicated discipline. Let’s look at it closer.
To gain functional muscle mass, weight training with a specific range of resistances is one of the best prime stimulators, in addition to proper nutrition.
On a microscopic level, weight training actually traumatizes, or tears down muscle fibers; this is scientifically referred to as catabolism. Upon cessation of the catabolic phase, the body’s recuperative metabolism kicks into action; it’s known as the anabolic phase. The anabolic phase is the body’s reparation and rejuvenation metabolism that replenishes depleted energy storages while repairing damaged tissues and growing muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, bones and hormones. The catabolic/anabolic cycles are metabolic counterparts that are referred to as the ‘no pain, no gain’ cycle.
To stimulate the best anabolic state, strength authorities claim that medium-to-heavy resistances should be employed during weight training to induce the best catabolic phase. Generally speaking, many of the basic and/or multi-muscle weight-training movements; like bench presses, squats, power cleans, rows, leg presses and others, should be composed of sets that total between 5-12 repetitions. A weight that can only be performed for repetitions lower than 5 are typically too heavy a load, while a weight that can be performed for repetitions exceeding 12 means are typically too light.
The key to selecting accurate loads or resistances is simply select weights that allow failure between the 5-12 rep range. If a set for an exercise falls short or goes beyond this 5-12 rep range, the athlete simply adjusts their resistance on subsequent sets, or workouts, to remain within the range they need for progressive muscle building.
Although weight training is the main stimulus for anabolism, it’s nutrition that fuels both the catabolic and anabolic phases. Food and supplemental resources obtained from quality proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, certain herbs and adaptogens, all play essential roles in energy expenditure (catabolism/pain) and muscle growth (anabolism/gain).
Of course, gaining functional muscle mass, and the entire discipline of weight training for that matter, are far more complicated than my brief treatise, but there are always exceptions to most every rule. So have fun, experiment and watch your body grow stronger and bigger each and every week.
I Wish You Great Success!
John Abdo is an Olympic Strength & Conditioning Coach, Master Fitness Trainer, co-formulator for Androzene® and author of the doctor-endorsed book Ultimate Sexual Health & Performance™. For more information please visit www.JohnAbdo.com.