Everyone interested in aesthetic perfection has at one point or another asked the question– how do you train to gain muscle? The question is very valid. Everyone is trying to find The way to build an impressive physique. People ask me the same question daily:
How do you do it?
Do you train high volume, or low volume? Do you train every body part separately or do you do full body training? Do you use 30 second or 3 minute rest periods?
I do it my way.
We’ll get to that in a minute…
First, let me tell you a personal story of a guy I used to know. Jim is a guy who has been skinny his entire life and often made fun of because of his physique. Other than his not-so-impressive body he is the usual 17-year old guy. He’s nice and caring, loves superhero movies and very much interested in mating with any girl of his liking.
His 9 year-old physique paired with a decent level of lack of self-confidence makes that last part a bit difficult for him.
One night he decides to go out with his friends. Walking home that night, a guy attacks him, beats him up and empties his pockets of everything with value. At first, Jim is embarrassed, somehow feeling that this whole event is his fault for not being able to stand up for himself.
Then he decides that there is no use in feeling sorry. Either he cries, or takes action. There are no other options.
Jim joins the local commercial gym with one goal and one goal only: He’s going to gain muscle. He’s going to build a physique that will make him proud, that will grab the ladies’ attention and that will make the bad guys think twice before trying to rob him. It has been done oh-so-many times before and there is nothing stopping him.
He walks into the gym and talks to PT Pete, about The way to build a big body. PT Pete is happy to help. Jim receives his 3×10 full body beginner machine routine and starts killing it right away. And the results are pretty good, within a few months he’s started to add quite some mass and even his friends have started to notice.
As the rate of progression starts to slow down after 6 months or so, that’s when the confusion starts.
He reads everything he comes over to learn The way to train for mass. He speaks to a really big guy, Big Bob, at the gym who tells him PT Pete is pathetic and that body splits are The way to build mass. Jim starts having arm days and calves-and-shoulder days.
Just as Jim starts to adapt he stumbles over a blog from an apparently really famous trainer, Functional Fred, who apparently is making shit loads of money – he’s got to know his shit, right?
Functional Fred proclaims that The way to mass is not in the nineties-bodybuilding-bodypart-splits
but that new research and his experience have shown that full body, 3 times per week programs with sprinting, vertical jumps and wide-stance goblet split squats from a deficit is The way to muscle mass and he’s got some really nice testimonials on his site to prove it.
Then as he starts digging the full body programs, he talks to an old friend, Busy Brad who tells him about low volume training. He talks about all the bodybuilders in history who managed to build impressive physiques with DC-training and HIT.
Seems convincing, let’s try that.
Confused, he’s jumping from program to program, and in his attempt to learn The Way he never gets anywhere, ends up confused and turns to the one solution he knows will work.
This natural-training-shit does not work anyway.
And as he is pushing unsterilised needles into his leg in his bedroom, making decisions that will change the course of his life, on the internet forum PT Pete, Big Bob, Functional Fred, Busy Brad and many more characters are still arguing about The Way.
So what is The way to build muscle mass?
Sometimes the level of ignorance among both the trainers asking and the experts answering just strikes me.
Shouldn’t it be obvious by now that people have built exceedingly impressive physiques with classic with body part splits, upper-lower splits, powerlifting and whole body training? Some did low volume HIT training and others did endless sets of biceps curls. We all have Big Bobs, Functional Freds and Busy Brads in our lives.
How can they all be right? Or all they all wrong?
I’ve been researching the topic for quite some time, and to be honest – we don’t know shit.
How could we?
Apart from testing different training programs for different individuals, outside of a lab setting you’d have to control a billion other stuff, including, but in no way limited to, nutrition, supplementation, sleep, socio-economic status, life style factors and drugs.
Congratulations, you’ve got yourself an endless amount of confounding factors contaminating the data and destroying your chances of understanding The way.
In theory, sure, there might be individual differences in an individual’s responsiveness to different training regimens physiologically.
But I don’t really believe in that.
The “find what works for you” mindset, I believe, is very much on the mental level – you don’t “find” if your body type responds best to 5/3/1 or 3×10, you find a program that you like doing and will keep doing for a meaningful period of time. I bet that one common denominator is valid for Big Bob, Functional Fred AND Busy Brad.
All of them believed in their methodology and stayed persistent.
Read that last sentence again. I’ll wait.
NO results ever came without a little effort. And I think that’s where the focus should be.
Like I’ve said many times before: I don’t care if you pick a shitty program, as long as you stay consistent for a long period of time you will get results. Period.
To me it’s all about love. Find a way to train that you like. Personally, I love to lift heavy (duh, did you see the name of the site?). That’s why all my training is based around heavy compound lifts. Do you have to lift heavy to gain muscle mass? Absolutely not. I do it because I love it and that’s why I keep doing it. Over and over and over again.
Here’s how I see it: Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. So spend more time doing what you love.
Saying that your way is The way to get it done is like saying that eating potato is the only way to get fat.
And we all know potato is awesome.
This is a very real problem for many frustrated people. Help me spread the message and save a lot of people from confusion and frustration. Share this article with your friends. The sharing buttons are on your left. One click is all I ask for.
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