I recently caught a glimpse of muscle building advice from a self-appointed expert on natural bodybuilding. This trainer advises his online clients to basically “force” their muscles into growth.
Does this represent sound advice? Is it something I would echo when confronted with the question of “how to make muscles grow?”
It depends on whether his advice falls under the context of ‘general’ or ‘tactical’. If the advice is general, then it’s good. If it’s tactical, then it’s probably counterproductive in the long run.
Let me explain.
If a personal trainer tells a trainee that muscle growth is dependent on the trainee being determined to make progress to the point of absolute resolve – and this is what the trainer means by “force” – then I wholeheartedly agree. This falls under the general context of advice on how to make muscles grow. We often need to be doggedly resolute and unwaveringly determined to reach any rewarding goal in life.
However, this same advice on the tactical level can undermine the benefit of this indomitable mindset. The tactical level is your workout and recuperation strategy. If you constantly hit your muscles with sets and repetitions that go to failure and couple this with the expectation of full tissue recuperation on a rigid schedule (say… one week), you’re bound to hit an over-training obstacle.
When I’m asked for advice about how to make muscles grow, I have my own one-word answer to be applied at the tactical level. Years of natural bodybuilding experience have taught me that this word is far superior to the word ‘force’. This is from a guy who wasted years having no qualms about the idea of trying to coerce his muscles into growth using maximum intensity.
So, what’s the word?
The word is ‘coax’. The secret of “how to make muscles grow” lies in knowing how to coax growth without inadvertently using force. Muscles do need adequate intensity of effort during workouts to stimulate growth. However, too much of a good thing – especially while adhering to rigid recuperation timetables – can work against us.
Muscles grow during rest and recovery. It only takes one insufficient inter-workout recuperation session to cause a big waste of time. If you work your chest on Monday and you push it so hard that it doesn’t recuperate by next Monday, guess what happens if you work it again next Monday.
Answer: You could send that muscle’s subsequent recuperation time requirements down the river. You’d have worked it after a week’s worth of rest when it needed more than a week’s worth. Now that you’ve torn it down even further, it might need well beyond a week’s worth to grow. This is what’s called an “over-training spiral”.
So think of “force” as what’s applied to your resolve in order to make things happen the way you want them to.
Think of “intense coaxing” (not forcing) as what’s needed at the bodybuilding workout level.
Combined, they are a big ingredient in how to make muscles grow.