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2 simple tricks to upgrade your muscle growth!

If swole is your goal, then keep reading.



I could go on and on about how important muscle is for health.

  1. Increases metabolic rate (although it is only slightly, but still helpful)

  2. Helps us to regulate and utilize blood sugar

  3. It holds ourselves up against gravity (think maintaining posture)

  4. It is what moves us throughout our day to day tasks

  5. Having it as we age tends to be correlated to longer lifespans

The benefits listed here don't come from have body builder size biceps and shoulders. These benefits come from having a healthy amount of skeletal muscle and lean body mass, relative to your own body proportions and body fat percentage.


However, if you are looking to put on a little more muscle, or if you find yourself working out and not getting the results you would like, you may need to up the intensity a little.


And this does not mean adding more exercises that force you stay in the gym longer. It means being more targeted with the exercises you are already doing.


One of my favorite concepts about muscle building was taught to me by James Cerbie of Rebel Performance. I am going to paraphrase him in the paragraph below.


"The body does not want to build an excessive amount of muscle. From an evolutionary standpoint and metabolically efficiency standpoint, excessive muscle is quite costly, and a modern phenomenon. To maintain a high a mount of muscle (think body builder status), we need to resistance train vigorously and intensely, very frequently, and eat a boat load of food to meet the energy requirements. Things our ancestors would not have realistically been able to accomplish"


Basically, what this means is that a decent amount of effort needs to go into your training in a muscle building phases. It is only with this effort that you can deliver a potent signal for the body to build more muscle.


Thankfully for us, this comes in the form of lifting weights, and not lifting rocks like our ancestors did. Unless you compete in strongman, and do stone lifts as part of your sport.


Based of that bit of information, please don't workout so hard that you end up crawling out of the gym.


Instead, try these simple adjustments to your final set of an exercise.

  1. Take it to failure, or as close to failure as you can.

  2. Take it for an additional 2-5 more reps than the previous set

Here is an example of the first one, using the leg press.


Set 1: 450 lbs x 12 reps

Set 2: 450 lbs x 12 reps

Set 3: 450 lbs x 17 reps (close to failure)


Pretty simple and easy to apply.


What I like about this one is that the final set will appreciate the fluctuations in strength that occur on a day to day and week to week basis.


One the final set in week 1, you may able to get 17 reps. Than week 2 you get 18. Then week 3 comes around and you stuck at 15 reps. I know this may be frustrating, but strength changes on a daily basis, and is based on a whole list of factors we will get into in another article. Either way though, that is still close to failure for that specific day.


When week 4 hits, you may surprise yourself by getting a new rep PR and hit 20 reps! All because you stuck to the plan and didn't get discouraged.


Option number two is pretty straight forward as well. We will use the leg press in this example as well.


Set 1: 450 lbs x 8-10 reps

Set 2: 450 lbs x 8-10 reps

Set 3: 450 lbs x 12-15 reps


What I like about this one is that it gives you specific targets to hit.


For some clients of mine, they do better when they know exactly what they should aim for. If you are person who likes to have predetermined targets to hit, I would recommend this option.


In addition, because this one the reps are predetermined, I would provide you with the option to bump up the weight a few more lbs. Say 10-20 more depending on how the last set felt. Lets walk through this one too.

Week 1 Set 1: 450 lbs x 10 reps. Lets call this a slightly challenging set.

Set 2: 450 lbs x 10 reps. Now let's say it has gotten a little harder, but still do able.

Set 3: 450 lbs x 15 reps. Final set, and you completed 15 reps and it was definitely harder than the previous two. But not impossible, and you think you can bump up the weight.


Week 2

Set 1: 465 lbs x 10 reps.

Set 2: 465 lbs x 10 reps.

Set 3: 475 lbs x 12-15 reps is the target, and you get 13, not too bad if you ask me.


Doing anything close to failure or true failure, should be done on exercises that you are familiar with, and have good form and technique with. When we get really fatigued, we tend to fall back into poor form. So pick exercises you are 100% confident in your form, or ones that you know how to bail out from.


I would suggest using machines when intentionally doing anything close to failure. Machines provide a lot of stability, support, and you don't have to worry about form as much. Which means you will be able to really dig deep and get after it!


Our body needs a big signal to tell it, "hey there, we gotta grow some muscle on you." In order to get that signal, your workouts should be hard enough to the point that they suck, in the good way that is!

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