This is Your Quick Training Tip, a chance to learn how to work smarter in just a few moments so you can get right to your workout.
At its most basic level, building muscle is pretty simple. Lift something heavy, lift it often, and over time, you’ll begin to stretch the limits of your shirtsleeves. But while most guys understand the basics to explain what they need to do to bulk up, they don’t understand the underlying process—and having that understanding can make all the difference when it comes to maximizing their gains.
When you challenge yourself in the weight room, you stress your muscles, and that stress causes microscopic tears, damaging your muscles on the cellular level. A key part of your body’s response to this “microtrauma” is the synthesis of new proteins, which are used to not only heal the damage, but also to make your muscles larger and stronger, so they can better handle the stress of working out.
To optimize muscle growth, therefore, you need to optimize “muscle protein synthesis” (MPS), and to do that, two things need to happen. First, you have to create enough muscle damage to spur repair and adaptation (but not so much that you overwhelm your body’s ability to recover). And second, you need to have plenty of raw materials (in this case, amino acids) on hand for when your body shifts MPS into high gear post-workout.
Your move: Lift to technical failure (the point where you can’t do another rep without sacrificing proper form) in most of your sets. Research shows that when it comes to stimulating MPS, it doesn’t much matter how many reps you do per set as long as you do them to failure.
Also, eat a protein-rich meal or snack every four to six hours throughout the day. That will ensure that you never shortchange your results by running short on amino acids.
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