What Stimulates Muscle Growth – Reps, Volume and Rest?Tuesday, November 18, 2008 10:58
I think the thing that annoys me most about the people out there that are first jumping into bodybuilding or just putting on muscle in general is the fact that they all seem to assume the only way to stimulate muscle growth is through “lifting big”. You can put on muscle lifting big, but there are many different ways of doing it and it seems like such a waste to stick with one when you could apply many and get better results. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t bench press that much because I’ve seen people half my size do far more, but the fact is that I have more muscle mass on myself. It’s due to the fact that I take advantage of everything I can.
Basically everyone has their own opinion on how many reps they should be doing in a set. The fact is that each range of reps stimulates different types of muscle fiber to grow. Lower rep ranges (4-6) stimulate the muscle fibers that produce strength. These fibers aren’t exactly designed to grow all that big. Mid rep ranges (6-10) are considered the bodybuilding range. The fibers stimulated in this range actually produce the most size. High range (10-15) will affect the stamina-based fibers. These don’t grow that large, but it’s always good for a change of pace.
Volume is another aspect of training that goes pretty much neglected by the average bodybuilder. Volume is basically the amount of weight you lift over a period of a week. The stress applied to it will stimulate muscle, but it will also be stimulated by overall stress for a week. If you have a week where you just seem to move more weight, you’re probably going to feel it and your body will have to respond to that. I’ve found that when you cycle volume, you get the best out of it. You can’t just pound away at your body all the time because it needs time to rest.
What I do is I cycle the volume between high, low and average. I usually do two weeks at a time. For example, I’ll start off with average. I’ll go to the gym 4 times a week and do my workout. This will continue for 2 weeks and than I’ll go to high volume. At this time I’ll go to the gym 6 days a week. After that I’ll move to a low volume week, which is two times a week. The idea is that I’m going to have average, than load up on the volume, and finally unload. It’ll keep everything in balance.
Lastly, everyone forgets about how much time you invest to resting. Sometimes switching it up can have a huge impact on your results. For example, when I first started out I’d rest for 2-3 minutes in between sets because I wanted to be able to “lift big”, but I decided to try shortening down the rest time to 30 seconds for a few workouts and I was surprised to see results. Throwing your body a curve ball will work great for stimulating more muscle growth.