Where did we go wrong?Doubt often creeps in. We second guess everything we do, but continue to search for that magical piece of advice that will turn things around.
It's time to forge new muscle gains by striking the anvil, meaning bringing the hammer to each and every set.
Bring the HammerI was driving in my car yesterday heading to the gym. Exodus was blasting on my Spotify, and the following lyrics from the song Hammer and Life caught my attention:
Born again harder than I was before Bringing the hammer down is more than metaphor I live by the steel, die by the blade What reason is there to be if you're living life afraid?Honestly, I have no idea what this song is truly meant to be about. I really don't care. The best art - if you call metal art (and I do) - is really about personal interpretation. It stimulates your emotions and forces you to think.
Well this song had me thinking. The lyrics resonated through my thick meathead cranium.
For me lifting is about "bringing the hammer." I don't enter the gym to mess around. My goal is to absolutely destroy every set; to make it count. I bring the hammer.
Most of you don't bring the hammer. You perform a set, but are you maximizing that set? Are you bringing the hammer? Are you maximizing your effort and leaving nothing on the table?
The Best Way to Build Muscle - Maximizing Every SetSo here is the meat and potatoes of this article - how to destroy your goals in 2016. The key is to...
Bring the hammer!Make every set count. Maximize your sets. By doing so you will maximize every workout, and maximize your progress. This sounds easy but it's a training style that is radically different from what you're doing now. Let me explain...
Most of you enter the gym with a "to do" list. You know which exercises you will perform, perhaps which weight you will use, and how many sets and reps you have planned for the day. But guess what? This program is your worst enemy. It is lifeless and doesn't focus on the things that really matter:
- Pushing sets as hard as possible
- Maximizing progressive overload
- Focusing on quality over quantity
- You are just performing a random number of sets and reps, and few sets are pushed to the limit.
- You have no defined progression scheme.
- You worry about quantity, and fear "using too little volume" or "too much volume" when instead you should just be killing every set and leaving the gym when you physically feel done.
Ready? This is "all" you need to do. It will sound simple until you try it.
Push every set for as many reps as possible, stopping that set when you either:
- Feel like your form is breaking down. (This will keep all your reps and sets safe and work to stave off unwanted injuries)
- Feel like you might fail on the next rep.
Sets taken to the physical limit call into play a maximal amount of muscle fibers. This is a scientific and physiological reality. If over the course of the coming year you are able to make even 80% of your sets count in this manner, your muscle and strength building results will be phenomenal. You will have the best muscle building year of your life.
By making every set count you are also maximizing progressive overload. This means you will build strength at a very substantial rate. This strength will also lend itself to more rapid and optimal muscle gain. A win win, if you pardon my use of an overused business conflict resolution strategy.
How here's a thought I don't want you to forget. Read it every day, 365 days a year in 2016, if you have to.
By making every set count you make every workout count. By making every workout count you maximize the muscle and strength building process.
Final ThoughtsThat's it.
Many of you will likely discount the simplicity of this approach. On paper it seems "too easy." It's not. But don't take my word for it, go find out yourself.
When you hit the gym and destroy your first 10 to 12 sets in this manner, you will feel the difference. There will be little left in the tank to perform 25 set marathons. You will know for certain that you are working hard enough because your body will tell you so.
Don't worry about "how many sets" you are performing. Instead hit the gym and make every set count, adding weight at every reasonable opportunity. If your body says enough at 15 sets...so be it. If you are young and have great conditioning and a solid recovery ability, perhaps 20 sets will work well.
Whatever you do, keep things simple.
Focus on making every set count. Add weight when you can. Never waste a set and bring the hammer each and every training day.