What matters most for muscle growth

 

Time to increase the tension...

Time to increase the tension…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are literally hundreds of options (if not more) when it comes to exercise programs that you could follow in order to increase your muscle mass and improve your body composition.

 

One of the more popular ones is Crossfit. This thing is so popular that it is practically a religion to some people!

 

Now I am not here to poo poo on Crossfit- the truth is it has many fantastic attributes including an emphasis on Olympic lifts, comradery and hard work. However, Crossfit is far from being a panacea and one of the concerns associated with performing workouts such as “Fran”, “Helen” or any others is that you are working against time and this causes people to lose sight of one very important component of strength training- tension.

An example of Crossfit gone bad…

 

When you get caught up in performing 21 Thrusters + 21 pull ups, 15 thrusters + 15 pull ups, 9 thrusters + 9 pull ups as fast as you can you are giving zero regard to “feeling” what is happening in your muscles in terms of flexion and extension. Instead, all of your focus is on propelling your body through a given motion in as little time possible.

 

Yes, this is good for calorie expenditure but it is terrible for proper muscle stimulation and joint health.

 

Building muscle tissue and increasing strength requires that you subject the target muscles to maximal amounts of tension. This requires that you slow down each repetition and focus on contracting the muscle rather than simply trying to move the weight (or your body) from point A to point B.

 

When you get too hung up on hitting personal bests in terms of repetitions performed in a given time frame you lose this focus and fall victim to one of the greatest results killing mistakes of all- poor exercise form.

 

Horrendous form is not limited to Crossfit…

 

Poor form in the gym is epidemic and is often driven by ego and the desire to lift heavier weights. I am all for lifting heavier- in fact, most women would greatly benefit from doing so but never at the expense of proper exercise form.

 

The nightmare continues…

 

In order to execute a repetition under maximal tension you must slow things down and pay careful attention to the tempo of each rep. You should work towards eliminating any swing, bounce or unnecessary movement that will take away from the tension being applied to a working muscle.

 

The focus should be on contracting your muscles and you should be able to feel this happening. Pay attention to the subtle nuances like hand and foot positioning as well as how hard you are gripping the weight as this can also impact how much tension you are able to generate in the muscle. By doing so you may find that a weight that was once light now feels heavier. This is a good thing and simply means that you are isolating the target muscles with greater efficiency. You will soon find that your strength will increase as you are better able to utilize the muscles you have by firing more of the available fibers.

 

Once you develop the skill of increasing tension in your muscles you can then start increasing the weight being used. Muscles grow as a function of progressive tension overload and if you continue to lift the same weight all the time your muscles will cease to grow. This doesn’t mean that you have to add weight at every workout, but if you’re not gradually going heavier over time, you won’t be growing either.

 

 

This post was written by

admin – who has written posts on Cutting edge muscle building and fat loss secrets.
bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

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About

bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

3 Responses to “What matters most for muscle growth”

  1. Mark says:

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks again for yet another wonderful, sensible post. I tried Crossfit and must say the experience was horrible. The so-called “trainers” are woefully underqualified and were more interested in their own training regimes/personal bests/competitions/protein shakes/hanging out with their friends at the gym then they were in honestly helping their paying customers (although they really don’t have the education/qualifications to be helping others).

    The injury rate is also so much higher among crossfitters than at normal gyms because these inexperienced trainers push you to go heavier and faster with no concern for proper form and injury, not surprisingly, is quite frequently the result. I would never, ever go to another crossfit gym again. Worst fitness experience of my life!

    One other thing: crossfit owners must be making a ton of money off their members…gyms are dirty/dusty tiny boxes with no showers or lockers etc. and the rate (membership) they charge far exceeds regular gyms that offer so much more and are many times larger and cleaner. They claim this rate is because of the personal attention the trainers give you…what a lot of hogwash!

    Folks…save your money, stop making crossfit owners rich at your expense and choose something sensible (vs. extreme – crossfit) that will benefit your health and not leave you injured.

  2. jane says:

    good to know about crossfit. I agree that form is so important.
    thanks for sharing this great info!

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