I'm currently reading Michael Matthews' book, Bigger Leaner Stronger which gives great insight on muscle building and gives a program for the nutrition and exercise plan that he recommends. I've learned a lot from this book; his main point is that building muscle really is not as complicated as people make it out to be if you know what you are doing and this book really gives you a great foundation on how to build muscle fast and also do it the right way. Some things I have a tough time with like the high-carb, low-fat approach that he has. I currently eat around 3,500 calories/day, with more even spread of fats, carbohydrates, and protein (averaging probably 150g of each every day). This is also a heavier calorie count than what he prescribes but from Counting my Macros, I believe this is the amount I need (at least) to build muscle. It also doesn't help that I take near 15,000 steps/day at work, which is said to be counterproductive for muscle building.
The biggest thing I have integrated from Mike Matthews' is his workout - and that will only increase. He introduced me to a workout where you focus on the 4-6 rep range for most exercises, especially the "Big 3" (Barbell Bench Press, Barbell Squat, and Barbell Deadlift) and getting at least 9 sets in per workout.
I have been sticking to alternating Upper Body/Lower Body each day, aiming for 5 workouts a week, but my workouts have gone from 4-5 sets per workout to 10-11 sets as of right now. I stop doing sets once my reps go down by around half of what I started at. If I start with 5-6 reps; I'll do as many sets that I can until I can only do 3 reps per set until I feel too weak to reach that the next set. That may sound confusing but I will share with you what my workout was today...
7/21 Upper Body Workout
Barbell Bench Press (140lb):
Reps per set: 4-4-4-3-3-3-4-3-3-3
Dumbbell Inclined Press (35lb Dumbbells):
Dumbbell Curls (45lb Dumbbell):
Total Sets: 4 workouts * 10ea = 40
Rest Between Sets: 2mins
I stopped after 10 sets because I felt maxed out for the Barbell Bench Press, Dips, and Dumbbell Curls. In other words, I felt I would be doing less than 3 reps for the Bench Press and Curls and less than 10 reps for the Dips.
Here is a description of the Double Progression Model that Mike's Bigger Leaner Stronger Program uses:
"In double progression, you work with a given weight in a given rep range, and once you hit the top of that rep range for a certain number of hard sets (one, two, or three, usually), you increase the weight.
Then, if you can at least come within a rep or two of the bottom of your rep range with your first hard set with the new, heavier weight, you work with that weight until you can hit the top of your rep range again." - p. 234 of Bigger Leaner Stronger
Following this system, since I was able to reach 6 reps for my Barbell Bench Press during my last Upper Body Workout, I added 10lb to the bar for this workout (going from 130lb to 140lb) and I will continue to use this weight-until I hit 6 reps again I'll add another 10lb. According to his program, I actually should have immediately switched to 140, rather than waiting until the next workout.
I'm really liking this new program so far (even though I'm really just starting); but it has gotten me to push harder, work with heavier weights, and track my progression which are all very important keys to building muscle.
Update - 7/27
There are a couple things that were misinterpreted or I had yet to figure out with this program when I originally posted this.
Today was my official first day with his program now that I am basically done with his book, Bigger Leaner Stronger (and got through the section that spells out the actual program). Once I get further into it, I will share my progress and more of what the program entails.
This changes things up quite a bit for me. I'll be doing less volume than what I am used to but I obviously am going to trust him because he has helped hundreds of thousands of beginners build muscle. After about 6 weeks on the program, I plan to do a deload/recovery week, and I'll evaluate then if I want to up the volume a bit.
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