It’s crucial to maximize your workouts to effectively build muscle. And one of the most foolproof ways to get stronger and build lean muscle mass is to create an optimal hormonal response. Our hormones (testosterone, cortisol and HGH) are key players when it comes to the building and breakdown of proteins during a workout and post-recovery. This doesn’t mean that you have to turn to performance-enhancing drugs to manipulate your hormones; believe it or not, your body (with your endocrine system, which releases these hormones) can effectively build muscle by itself.
To tap into your body’s natural muscle-building system, try following these four training guidelines in the gym:
- Pick compound, quality exercises: Choosing exercises that recruit the largest number of muscle fibers (i.e. squats, deadlifts, snatches, pull-ups and power cleans) will cause a significant hormonal response and place a demand on the body to grow.
- Go heavy: While high-rep workouts have their place, if you want to build lean muscle it’s important to focus on heavier, low-rep lifts. To create the most muscle growth and hormonal boost, you need to pick up some weight, especially if you’re a man. Incorporate lifts that are a minimum of 75-85 percent of your one-rep max for optimal results.
- High volume and low rest: You need to pick up some heavy weights, but this doesn’t mean you should keep your volume low. Increasing volume and decreasing your rest period between sets appears to impact your hormonal response in a favorable manner. So it’s important to vary your exercises, choose giant sets and hit multiple angles during a lifting session.
- Save isolation exercises for the end: You’ll create a perfect muscle-building hormonal response when you pick compound exercises earlier in your workout. Save isolation exercises for the end of your workout and push heavier weights when you’re fresh.
Follow these four training guidelines to build lean muscle mass. And don’t forget to continue doing work the rest of the day by getting quality sleep, fueling your body with essential nutrients and staying hydrated!