When programming training for the growth of muscle mass, we must take into account several elements. Theoretically, the topic seems to be easy, simple and fun. However, it should be important to us to extract as much as possible from our body in the training time available for us (45 - 60 minutes). Therefore, the article presents solutions that should be included in your training plan.
First of all, functional tests should be performed in order to choose the right exercises. They are the key to select the most optimal solutions for us. Their main purpose is to assess the areas at risk of injury. Mostly we're talking about range of motion here. The related deficits are especially dangerous in dynamic exercises. However, the greatest risk is asymmetry, i.e. a different range of motion in both joints (e.g. in the area of the shoulder girdle). In addition, stabilization is responsible for the quality of our movement, which should also be properly developed.
With huge deficits, it is sometimes necessary to give up typical strength workout and work on the basis of the quality of movement.
However, most of us do not have to give up typical strength training and effortlessly focus on building possibly the purest muscle mass. Of course, we can kill two birds with one stone. The solution here is a properly programmed warm-up
Each training session should begin with a warm-up. Proper programming will allow us, above all, to protect the musculoskeletal system against injury. In addition, we can also work on our movement deficits within 10 minutes, thanks to which we will save a lot of time. However, the most important element is a significant increase in our body's efficiency.
The solution here is the RAMP protocol, which is a scheme that allows the organism to be fully prepared for a given effort. In our case, it will be strength training aimed at developing muscle mass. Warming up should be divided into three stages. In the first one, we introduce exercises aimed at increasing the heart rate and body temperature. Then, the second stage is the mobilization of the joints and activation of the muscle groups that we are going to train. If we practice using the FBW method, skillful warm-up becomes even more important (if such a statement can be made at all).
What will you gain during training by properly warming up?
- you will improve your metabolic reactions.
- you will get faster contractions and relaxation between antagonistic and agonist muscles.
- you will increase strength and muscle power.
- you will improve the rate of power development.
In a word, the proper warm-up (if you have not used the above solutions so far) will allow your body to raise 5 kg more per bar overnight.
Knowing the needs of our body in terms of the foundations of movement, we can proceed to the choice of method. In this case, we will have two versions to choose from. Whether to choose FBW or SPLIT (training the whole body in one session or dividing the body into parts, respectively) is one of the most discussed topics when you focus on building muscle mass.
In this case, you should refer to scientific research. At the time of writing this article, there are approximately 10 publications of high methodological quality. By comparing the obtained results, one can make one diagnosis. At the moment, there is no clear confirmation that a given method is better for building muscle mass. Different age groups participated in each of the three examples below, with the same length of the experiment:
The research was conducted on both beginners and age-advanced people. There are many more of the above examples, however, we would not have enough space to analyze them all from top to bottom. Therefore, we will do it in aggregate form.
For beginners. whose goal is mass development, FBW training seems to be the best solution. Full Body Workout with multi-joint exercises (deadlift, barbell press, squat, etc.) contributes to the greater development of neuromuscular coordination. Thanks to which we become more agile because the segments of our body work better together. By training with SPLIT, we will not achieve a significant improvement in the above parameter, so we can become a colossus on clay legs, which, despite the large muscle mass, will not be able to use it in real life outside the gym.
In the case of intermediate and age-advanced people, the topic seems more extensive.
Strength training for mass, for people who already have, say, one year of continuous training, have a much greater problem with building muscle mass. This is due to the fact that the body has already got used to certain stimuli during this time and will need new sensations to develop further. Therefore, sometimes SPLIT training can be a good break.
A 3-day training session seems to be the most popular solution due to the fact that not everyone has time to go to the gym every day. Therefore, we should refer here to the extensive study by Schoenfeld et al (2016). Scientists compared the results of training stimulating a given muscle group 1 and 3 times a week. On the basis of the analysis, they concluded that the best solution seems to be a method stimulating a given muscle group twice a week, especially in relation to large muscle groups. Importantly, they concluded that manipulating the frequency of training sessions does not have a major impact on the increase in muscle performance.
Schoenfel et al three years later also pointed out that, in fact, if we keep the training volume, no matter if we use FBW or SPLIT, we will probably get similar results.
Therefore, people who want a 3-day weight training will get greater benefits from the introduction of FBW training. Of course, moving away from routine to SPLIT training can also be of benefit at times, as you'll learn in the next section.
Regardless of whether we chose SPLIT or FBW training, we should introduce periodization.
Interestingly, this is not an innovative solution, as it was used, according to experts, already in ancient Greece. Later, the idea of training variability was developed in the Soviet Union to become the basic training solution of the best academies or sports centers in the world.
First of all, periodization allows us to constantly control the training process and finally obtain the actual physiological capabilities of our body. Therefore, sometimes, instead of using doping, you should focus more on your diet, but also on introducing or better programming training with the use of periodization.
How to do it? We choose the target. In our case, it is mass training. Of course, the basis is to obtain a caloric surplus and introduce the right amount of macronutrients, but this is not about today.
Having a goal, we program the training. Let us say we want to gain 3 kg in weight in 3 months. This is our macrocycle. We divide it into two mesocycles, so periods lasting 6 weeks each. These mesocycles are made up of microcycles (1 week).
What does this enable us to do? First of all, we use solutions that are based on increasing and reducing the volume and intensity of training by adding or subtracting the number of series or repetitions. For example, in the first three weeks, we cyclically increase the number of series to reduce it in 4 while maintaining the load.
Thanks to this, we will obtain the phenomenon of supercompensation. This means that we will reduce fatigue and keep the body spinning (maintaining the load). However, in the 5th week we will observe a significant increase in strength.
Continuous use of the same number of repetitions week after week and adding weight will not allow us to achieve this phenomenon.
Before you start training focused on the development of muscle mass, take care of the basics. Ask your trainer to assess your motion quality foundations. Program your training by selecting one of the methods: FBW or SPLIT. When creating a training plan, it is good that it has a minimum 3- month continuation in the form of planned periodization. Use as many multi-joint exercises as possible that give the greatest muscle stimulation. Before each workout, a warm-up will allow your body to release more power. Warming up is to some extent 95 gasoline, which after proper treatment becomes 98, giving the body the actual possibilities that lie dormant in it.
Also remember about a proper diet, with a caloric surplus and the right amount of protein, preferably animal protein, or you can use whey protein as a supplement. Introduce solutions that accelerate regeneration, i.e. use massages, rollers or contrast baths.
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Schoenfeld i wsp, Effets of resistance training frequency on measures of muslce hypertrophy: A systematic review and meta-analysis, 2016,
Mirsumune T i Kayshima, Possibility of delay in the super-compensation phase due to aging in jump practice, Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 4(4), 2013.
Franco CMC i wsp, Influence of high- and low-frequency resistance training on lean body mass and muscle strenght gains in untrained men, Journal of Strenght and Conditioning Research, 10, 2019.
Thomas MH i Burn SP, Increasing lean mass nad strenght: A comparision of high frequency strenght trianing to lower frequency strenght training, International Journal of Exercise Science, 2016.
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