How to build lean musle
Most of us should desire bigger muscles. Whether that be for aesthetics, performance or just to increase our ability to have a more efficient metabolism.
We don’t need to look like juiced-up bodybuilders, but having a lean, athletic frame with as much functional muscle mass is ideal.
Muscle mass is functional. Excessive fat mass is not.
What I mean by that is that muscle houses the connective properties that allow us to create more force and do more things, whilst also being the powerhouse of the body that requires energy and boosts metabolism.
The thing with muscle, much like the rest of our physiology, is that they only adapt to specifically imposed stimulus demands.
Meaning, unless they need to grow, they won’t.
It’s not what you write on the whiteboard or what you tell your friends you did, it comes down to how much force and mechanical tension you made your muscles complete, and whether or not your body decides that amount of effort warrants the need for growth (in order to make the next encounter easier and more successful, without getting ripped apart)
The two biggest problems most people come across are:
- They don’t understand the relationship between physics and physiology and how altering certain variables will deliver a variety of results.
- Building muscle is uncomfortable and they aren’t willing to endure that discomfort long enough to see the benefits.
Muscles grow in direct correlation to the amount of volume/ mechanical tension you put them through, multiplied by the amount of food you eat and the recovery protocols you provide.
Volume/mechanical tension = reps x sets x weight x range of motion x time under tension
I.e. The more you do and the harder you make it, generally the more they grow.
It is up to you how you decide to manipulate these variables to find the perfect environment for growth.
One of the most widely misunderstood and underused values in the above formula is the range of motion (ROM) and time under tension (TUT) concepts.
Using the basic “Reps x sets x load” method assumes that everyone is completing the perfect rep for the same amount of time, without taking into consideration Newton force production, basic physics or the role that eccentric contracts play on muscle fibres.
When we take a look at the effects that range of motion and eccentric contractions have on muscle fibres, we can see that if two people completed the same number of reps x sets, but altered TUT and ROM, they would have 2 completely different outcomes.
Forcing a muscle to contract whilst at its end ranges causes a lot more destruction to the muscle fibers and connective tissue, resulting in more growth and repair of the muscle fibres as they come back thicker and stronger.
(assuming they’ve had adequate nutrition and recovery time)
Same goes with eccentric loading phases. Forcing a muscle to lengthen whilst producing force causes the muscle fibres to break down at a much faster rate, causing more microtears than the concentric counterpart.
Both of these strategies result in a lot more destruction than your typical inner-range and concentric loading patterns, and therefore result in much faster growth and repair of the fibres to ensure they can complete the subsequent tasks that you will be no doubtedly be asking them to complete next time you’re in the gym.
(think of this like a frayed rope getting pulled apart with an external load. You will start to see microtears form as the load becomes too much. Then once the task is over, someone comes in and repairs the rope to be thicker and stronger than before so next time, it won’t fray as much.
Then you add some progressive overload and make the task harder.
The rope frays and then you repair it.
Rinse and repeat.
Moral of the story:
Whilst an “inner range pump” feels good, mechanical tension is the key to muscle growth.
- Make your muscles work through a large range of motion so they require more mechanical tension and therefore cause more destruction of the fibres.
- Spend more time under tension in these positions to add to the destruction of the fibres.
Check out this example here:
Have you ever wanted to learn how to train the way we train, but didn’t know where to start? We have a 2 x brand new online programs that bridge the gap and teach you the skills to start your functional fitness journey, safely.
1. The beginner’s Benchmark program: for pure beginners who no or limited experience in weights training. We providetutorials and becnhmarks for your to hit before moving onto the next level.
2. The functional fitness bridging prorgam: for those with strength and conditioning experience, but want to learn the finer skills of functional fitness (olympic lifting and gymnastics)
In other exciting news, we are opening a new location in Bondi Junction. Click here to sign up to our VIP list and get more information when we get closer to opening.
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