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It is clear that certain traits are handed down to us by our parents and unfortunately our ablility to grow muscles beyond certain limits is no exception. That doesn’t mean to say hard work and carefully planned training won’t have a positive effect on your physique – it just means that some people will inherit a greater abundance of the favored physical characteristics than others. Not everyone possesses the physical traits to become a champion, but you can work wonders with the raw material you do possess.
How responsive you will be to physical stimulation can be predicted to a certain extent by examining your somatype or natural body shape. Basically, there are three recognized body types:
1. Endomorphs – these individuals tend to be squat with a round torso, thick neck and short limbs.
2. Mesomorphs – these individuals tend to be musclar with broad shoulders, powerful chest and limbs and little body fat.
3. Ectomorphs – these individuals tend to be slim and are usually tall with little muscle and body fat.
The ideal bodybuilding physique tends more towards the mesomorph with broad shoulders, narrow hips with arms and legs of medium length. Two further inherited features have a role to play in determining muscle building potential, and these are muscle fiber density and neurological efficiency. Fiber density determines the size potential of a muscle while neurological efficiency refers to the relationship between the nervous system and muscles. This is relevant because, in all out effort genetically blessed individuals have the ability to activate up to 50% of the fibers in a given muscle compared to the average person’s 30%. This allows greater scope for stimulating growth.
The fact that there is no easy way to measure fiber density or neurological efficiency is actually a blessing because the incentive remains for all of us to train hard and strive for improvement. Only a tiny minority of people have the genetic tools to become champions but the rest of us can go a long way to fulfilling our own personal goals.
For many thin guys around the world, gaining weight without using illegal steroids has been a challenge. For thousands of lean young men, the dream is to gain weight, but no matter how much they eat they remain thin. Some people are naturally thin; that means their genetic makeup is in such a way that the body burns more calories than others. The very basic method of weight gain is to eat more calories than your body burns off. By providing the body with more calories, this balance can be altered and body mass can be increased. Weight training is of great importance in this context, which enables the body to absorb more nutrients from the food by increasing the level of certain hormones and increasing the muscle mass.
There are many incorrect beliefs and theories bout building muscle. The type of food to be eaten is an important factor which decides the type of weight gained, whether it is muscle mass or mere accumulation of fat. Some types of calories are not equal to others for gaining muscle; because most processed junk food contains empty, totally nutritionless calories. These foods promote accelerated fat storage, and do not provide the body with the correct nutrients essential for gaining muscle. High quality protein, which the body breaks down into amino acids, should be the centerpiece of all your meals. Intense exercise increases demand for amino acids, which support muscle repair and growth.
Another factor is the selection of the right type of weight training. Resistance exercises will help with muscle growth. Whereas aerobic exercises can result in the reduction of weight. For maximum muscle gain, the focus of your workouts should consist of free weight exercises, rather than machines or bodyweight exercises. To get a very effective workout, you must stimulate as many muscle fibers as possible, and machines do not do this. The main reason for this is a lack of stabilizer and synergist muscle development. Stabilizer and synergist muscles are supporting muscles that assist the main muscle in performing a complex lift.
The results of weight training can vary from person to person, and will usually depend on your consistency and commitment to your program. You should have the patience and motivation for building a powerful body with a consistent diet and exercise schedule.
Exercise Guidelines for building muscle:
Weight training involves the use of equipment that enables variable resistance. This resistance can come in the form of free weights like barbells and dumbbells, machines that use cables or pulleys to help you lift the weight, and bodyweight exercises like pull-ups or dips. The more stabilizers and synergists you work, the more muscle fibers stimulated. The exercises that work the large muscle groups are called compound (or multi-joint) movements that involve the simultaneous stimulation of many muscle groups. These compound exercises should be the foundation of any weight training program because they stimulate the most amount of muscle in the least amount of time. Multi-jointed free weight exercises like the bench press require many stabilizer and synergistic muscle assistance to complete the lift.
Free weight exercises like the dumbbell press or squat put a very large amount of stress on supporting muscle groups. You will get fatigued faster and not be able to lift as much weight as you did on the machine. But you will gain more muscle, become stronger very quickly and have a true gauge of your strength.
If you use machines in your program, they should be used to work isolated areas and only after all multi-jointed exercises have been completed. Beginners should begin with a limited combination of machine exercises, bodyweight exercises and multi-jointed free weight exercises. Before increasing the weight levels, they should work on becoming familiar with the proper form and execution of each.
The following are some proven basic exercises to encourage muscle and strength gain unlike any other exercises.
Bench Presses – works the chest, shoulders, triceps
Overhead Presses – shoulders, triceps
Pull-ups/Barbell Rows – back, bicep
Squats – legs, lower back
Dead lifts – legs, back, shoulders
Bar Dips -shoulders, chest, arms
To build mass, you must weight train with heavy weights. To consider a weight heavy, you should only be able to do a maximum of 4-8 reps before your muscles temporarily fail. A weight is considered ‘light’ if you can do more than 15 reps before muscle fatigue sets in. Heavy weights stimulate more muscle fibers than lighter weights which result in more muscle growth. Heavy weight training puts a huge strain on your body, so adequate rest and recuperation after your workouts is essential.
Eating guidelines for building muscle:
A high protein diet is an inevitable part of any weight training programme, importantly, protein derived from animal sources. Proteins you need to be concerned with are those found in whey, casein (cottage cheese), eggs, beef, poultry, and fish. Soy protein, tofu and bean curd are some alternatives. Eating the right amount of foods consistently will force your body to grow beyond what you may think possible. The diet also should contain an adequate amount of carbohydrates (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, oatmeal, cream of wheat, cream of rice, rice, beans, bread, pasta, all cereals) and fat. Green leafy vegetables and fruits also should be included.
When you train with weights, you should eat a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. You also must have protein at every meal. To enable your body to actually assimilate and use the all the calories you will ingest, you have to reduce your meal size and increase your meal frequency. Splitting your calories into smaller, more frequent portions will enable food absorption and utilization of nutrients.
During the past 20 years there have been great developments in the scientific understanding of the role of nutrition in health and physical performance. Studies shown that adequate dietary carbohydrate should be ingested (55-60% of total energy intake) so that training intensity can be maintained. Excess dietary saturated fat can exacerbate coronary artery disease; however, low-fat diets result in a reduction in circulating testosterone. So the balance between protein, carbohydrate and fat should be maintained.
So the focus on weight gain programmes must be on two components, lifting heavy weights, which will stimulate the largest amount of muscle fibers. Your body responds to this stimulus by increasing your muscle mass and secondly eat more calories than your body is used to. When you overload your system with plenty of protein and fats, your body has no other choice but to gain weight.
A Mass Gaining program is incomplete without the timely measurements to monitor your progress. Without it, you won’t know how exactly your body is responding to your diet and training routine. Just looking in the mirror and guessing is not acceptable. If you want to start getting great results, you must develop the habit of accurately tracking your progress. This also provides the motivation to continue with the weight gain schedule and for the further progression. So even though you have a very thin body type, and haven’t been able to gain weight no matter what you try, you will definitely succeed with a well planned weight gain programme.
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