Posted by Ben Disseldorp in Muscle Building
Estimated reading time: 10mins
Well, 2020 has certainly been a testing year. As a Melbournian myself, I know how hard it has been to stay motivated training from home for so long. But the good news is that we’re on the home stretch!
Here at Bulk Nutrients, we’re looking forward to positive vibes only. Yes most of us have lost progress but I can tell you, this comes back really quickly! Thanks to ‘muscle memory’ we’re all in prime position. In short, when you strength train you are damaging your muscle fibres. This causes nearby satellite cells to flock to damaged muscle cells and donate nuclei for repair and recovery. The new myonuclei increase the muscle cells ability to grow stronger and bigger. Once inside a muscle cell, myonuclei stick around for a very long time, possibly forever.
So how does this apply to those of us who haven’t lifted weights or trained optimally in many months? A lot! In this article, I will teach you how to apply muscle memory using progressive overload and start making progress again.
Over the months or years that you were training at the gym, you would have gained a decent amount of muscle. Although during this time you might have lost a considerable amount of this muscle for whatever reason (we’re looking at you Covid19), your body is primed for rapid muscle regrowth when you start training again. This describes how muscle memory works, thankyou science and the human body for allowing us this opportunity to gain most of that hard-earned muscle back!
When the gyms reopen soon in Melbourne, we need to go in with a plan. A well-structured workout plan is advisable instead of just going into the gym choosing random weights and exercises. Instead, look no further than these tips to create a plan best suited to our current situation.
This is something that often gets overlooked, how many sets should you do per muscle group? Most people don’t track the actual weights and sets they perform they just think in their head they know how much they did last time. I have been guilty of this in the past and I see almost 90% of people training not tracking their workouts. We need to be ensuring we are progressing and adhering to progressive overload. In short, progressive overload refers to the process of gradually overloading the body with either volume, intensity, frequency, or time to reach a specific goal.
Research has found traditional bodybuilding splits such as one body part per day is not the most optimal way to train for muscle growth, this is why we’re focusing on progressive overload here.
Volume applied to progressive overload is the total amount of weights and sets lifted within the training session.
Week 1: Ben’s back workout consists of;
Week 2: Ben’s workout consists of;
As you can see here their all small changes in the sets and weights. I usually try to add weight first, if you’re not your strongest in the gym that day it’s probably best to increase the sets before increasing weights.
A general guide to volume to ensure progression that I follow and sourced from Renaissance Periodization. This is a good guide to keep whether it is in your head or tracked in a workout app/diary to ensure you’re progressing.
NOTE: These sets are not including warm-up sets. Everyone knows that you need to warm up so I don’t need to go into this but generally I would perform 1-2 sets before my working sets but still tracking the weights lifted during these sets as it contributes to the volume of your workouts.
Intensity can be harder to track especially if you aren’t tracking the time of rest you are getting between sets. However, intensity includes how you execute the reps within a set. If you’re at a sticking point with your volume and you can’t progress weights or sets try adding slower reps or pause reps. This will add that extra workout stimulus to keep progressive overload.
Another way to add intensity is to use a workout partner to create resistance while you’re bench pressing by pushing down on the bar and you are fighting the weight at the same time. Drop sets are another alternative however make sure you track these as these can account for a lot of volumes if you’re doing them every day.
Frequency is the number of times you train a muscle group per week. “When comparing studies that investigated training muscle groups between 1 to 3 days per week on a volume-equated basis, the current body of evidence indicated that frequencies of training two times per week promote superior hypertrophic outcomes compared to one time.”
There are multiple ways you can set this up in a workout plan but here is an example of how you could incorporate it into your week. Don’t fall for the standard bodybuilding split that you would see most people doing every day and don’t know any different such as:
Here is an example that will get you training in the most effective way possible backed by science:
This is just an example if you only have time to go to the gym for weights 3 days a week. This could be spread out across the week with cardio sessions or prioritising lacking body parts arms, calves, forearms, traps etc. Just remember to track all these accessory movements as if you don’t, you won’t be training as effectively as possible.
Whether you have gained kilos in iso or lost kilos in iso your goal may differ.
If you are someone who has lost muscle and are looking to regain, I would suggest eating at maintenance calories or in a small surplus as you will be welcoming a new training stimulus and your body will need those extra calories and utilise muscle memory as previously mentioned. Look no further than this blog to determine your calories for a lean bulk.
Maybe you have put on some unwanted weight in iso and decide to do a shred before summer hits. It is important not to be hard on yourself as there have been limited options to train during iso and life has been hectic and stressful for so many of us. Check out this article and work out the calories required to put yourself in a calorie deficit.
Supplements are essential in my opinion if you are serious enough about your goals and treating your body right. The essentials I would start with is a protein powder such as WPI or WPC for muscle growth, Thermowhey for fat loss or Earth for anyone plant-based.
These are the essentials but there is one more science-backed supplement I would recommend creatine. Creatine is the most effective supplement for increasing muscle mass and strength (Mawer 2017). Research has indicated when supplementing with creatine can double your strength and lean muscle gains when compared to training alone.
Check out this guide for further info on how to use creatine and the benefits you can expect.
One industry that has suffered during the pandemic is the fitness industry including personal trainers and coaches. If you need extra motivation or you don’t have the time to worry about educating yourself get yourself a coach! I am sure everyone knows a PT to support them!
Here at Bulk Nutrients, we have a lot of experts including:
All these coaches have something different to offer and are extremely knowledgeable in their fields. Go check them out!
Hope you enjoyed this article and took away how to apply progressive overload and how to use muscle memory when hitting the gyms soon! Stay strong everyone.