You want bigger muscles? Then it’s imperative to be narrow-focused on stimulating those muscles to get BIGGER.
When you train for hypertrophy, or the increase and growth of muscle cells, you want to have a clear cut path on how to do so.
There are different ways that you can do this.
From the type of exercise movements we do, the volume that we implement, or even the duration of time from each repetition.
So what ways can help make an effective workout routine for building muscle?
I’m going to simply go over 3 proven strategies that you can start doing right now to give you a killer hypertrophy workout routine.
More than likely you know what these are or have at least some kind of familiarity but compound exercises are exercise movements that use more than one muscle group at a time.
Let’s consider the squat for example: The muscles that are being used when you squat are your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip reflectors, calves, and your core.
There are a good amount of compound exercises but the 5 most common ones, or also known as “The Big 5”, are the following:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointing forward. Keep your back straight and bend at the hips, not the waist.
Bend down until your thighs are parallel to the floor or as close as you can get them without rounding out your lower back.
Hold for a few seconds before coming up again.
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward.
Bend down and grasp the bar with both hands, keeping a slight bend in the knees.
Keep your back straight, tighten your core muscles, and lift the weight off of the ground by extending through your hips while simultaneously pushing downward on the bar.
Hold this position for one second before lowering it to starting position.
Lie on your back with your head and shoulders resting on the bench, feet flat on the ground for stability.
Grip the barbell so that it rests across the palm of both hands at about shoulder width apart.
Position elbows in close to your body, pointing out to the sides (not flared out).
Lift up off of floor by pushing through heels and contracting abs while bringing chest towards barbell.
Lower weight slowly down until arms are extended but not locked out.
(With dumbbells) Keep your feet shoulder width apart and make sure that dumbbells are about shoulder height level.
You want your elbows to be at a 90 degree angle.
Lift up slowly above your head without fully locking out your arms.
Pause at the top and then come down slowly to starting position.
Grip the bar with your hands shoulder width apart.
Hang from the bar and use your arms to pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.
Slowly lower yourself down so that your arms are straight again, but don’t let go of the bar.
So how can they enhance your hypertrophy workout routine?
Compound exercises have a great deal of benefits and they are really time efficient as well because of the muscle groups being worked simultaneously.
So here is a reason you need to utilize these in your hypertrophy workout routine – Functional Building
Functional building, or functional fitness, is a way to train your muscles to carry out daily tasks.
Our bodies were naturally designed for these movement patterns – push, pull, squat, lunge, hinge, rotation, and gait.
These are how our primitive ancestors would perform daily tasks long before any state-of-the-art gym equipment even existed.
These movements help us naturally with everything physically that we do on a regular basis so that’s why strengthening them isn’t a bad idea.
Isolation exercises are great for targeting specific muscles to give them more definition but compound exercises can improve your overall functionality.
When doing compound lifts, we are recruiting those fast-twitch muscle fibers which ultimately lead to strength gains and muscle hypertrophy.
Everytime you step foot in the gym or before you start your workout, just keep in mind that you want to train harder than your last session.
Now this doesn’t mean to start stacking up a bunch of plates and over exert yourself.
But it simply means that you need to oppose your muscles with a challenge because the fact is that our bodies can adapt to the trauma and breakdown of muscle fibers that occur within each session.
So what is progressive overload?
It’s simply a method that involves the progression of making your workouts more challenging each time so that you can consistently gain muscle.
If you ever notice that your weightlifting sessions are getting easier or that you’re hitting a plateau then most likely you are not progressively overloading which is obviously detrimental to your muscle growth.
In a sense, it may seem like a good sign to some degree that you’ve made it to a plateau because in theory it’s a sign of progress but on the flip side it also means you need to start switching things up.
Here are some suggested ways you can add progressive overload to you hypertrophy workout routine:
You can simply do this by adding either more repetitions or more sets to your workouts.
So if you’re doing an exercise for 3 sets of 10 reps then you could do something like 3 sets of 12 reps or 4 sets of 10 reps.
Breaking down your muscle fibers requires taxing them so they can rebuild to come back bigger and stronger.
The way to do that is by increasing resistance, aka adding more weight but gradually.
Master the form first then find a weight where you could at least get about 8-12 reps in (hypertrophy rep range).
Then slowly build up over time.
This is another form of progressive overload that involves how frequent you are lifting.
You could keep the same set and rep range but just go to the gym another day or two during the week. So if you’re going 3 days a week then try going 4 or 5 days instead.
The whole idea is to increase the demand on your muscles overtime but in a safe and effective approach. So don’t go crazy jumping up in weight and risking it all.
Remember that you still have to master the form first and of course let your muscles have optimal recovery.
Time Under Tension (TUT)
Time is precious and time can be on your side depending on how you use it.
That’s why time under tension is a rather critical component to maximize muscle hypertrophy and you should absolutely use it in your workouts.
Time under tension (TUT) is the duration of time that your muscles are under stress.
You are intentionally extending the length of each movement phase to stimulate the tension on your muscles which will eventually lead to growth and studies have actually suggested this.
The time under tension is an important consideration when performing any type of exercise.
It’s the total amount of work that you do in a set period- usually taking into account both concentric (lifting) and eccentric movements, which means it can include things like lowering weight back down after doing curls for instance.
Time under tension is a great way get the most out of your workouts. It’s also important not just for strength and conditioning, but other types exercises as well.
TUT can be found in everything from weight training to Pilates.
If you do it right, there are many benefits including increased muscle mass (since they need more intense practice), better coordination skills due to an increase workload on smaller muscles groups such as ankles hands wrists etc., and improved reaction time.
These are proven principles that will lead to your destination of “gains” as long as you start applying them right now.
Utilize compound movements for functional hypertrophy, progressively overload to gradually increase the demand on your muscles, and use time under tension (TUT) to extend the duration of stress on your muscles.
You add these key elements to your life and you will develop a killer hypertrophy workout routine.
Remember that results don’t happen overnight. But apply yourself daily and stay consistent and you’ll reap the results just as I did.
Feel free to leave any questions or comments below!