Below are the 3 keys to open the doors to gaining muscle mass and strength:
Mechanical Tension - The more weight you lift the more muscle fibres you utilise to generate more force, creating more mechanical tension in the muscles. For example 5 sets of 3-4 reps Back Squat at 80-90% 1RM with a rest of 2-3mins.
Metabolic Stress - This is the opposite to Mechanical Tension. The more repetitions you do of a lighter weight, the more metabolic stress is placed on the working muscles. However, due to the weight being lighter, there is less mechanical stress. Balance of these two elements is vital. An example would be 5 sets of 12-20+ reps Bench Press at 60-70% 1RM with a rest of <60s.
Muscle Damage - This is created by both mechanical and metabolic stress, but also through the use of eccentric phases and isometric holds. Using eccentric and isometric phases increases the time that the muscle is under tension and thus increasing muscle damage. An example of this concept in training would be 5 sets of 8 reps Deadlift at 70-80% 1RM with a 2s Pause at the knee on the concentric and a 3s eccentric phase with 1-2 minutes rest.
The art is finding the balance between all 3, utilising each concept within an individual session or across a training week. There's no right or wrong way about it, as long as not one method is given too much of the ranes at one time. Here’s an upper body session sure to give you the filled T-shirt look you’ve always wanted.
Bench Press 5x4
Barbell Bent Over Row 5x4
8 Wide Grip Pull Up (Banded if needed)
12 Strict Press
*Last set to failure
10 Barbell Bicep Curl (5s Eccentric)
10 Narrow Grip Push Up (5s Eccentric)