In the first article in this series I dealt with the way that we can do our individual sets to increase our muscle gains in the gym. Now I would like to deal with the other issues in the gym that will make a difference in gaining muscle.
The big things that we can do to gain muscle are more or less sets, time between sets and compound versus isolated exercises.
Number of sets per exercise
This is a source of confusion for most people as I find that all bodybuilding magazines would have you doing 16-20 sets per muscle group. The thing to understand is that you want to stress the muscle but if you are not a competitive bodybuilder taking steroids or other body motivating substances then you can not recover from these incredibly grueling workouts.
The best number of sets for an exercise to really gain muscle is one warm-up and three heavier sets. With this number you can do three exercises per muscle group without overtraining the muscle and therefore ruining your workout.. If you feel this is not enough than you are not taking advantage enough of the sets you are doing. You should finish each set after your warm-up without being able to do another rep. One way to decrease the number of sets is to do your sets to more exhaustion. You over exert a set you can finish to exhaustion and then wait 10-15 seconds and try to get another rep or two in, if you cant get a spot to get those extra reps in.
Time between sets
Most people will take a minute and a half to two minutes between sets, this I feel is optimum to get a workout done in good time, stress the muscles fully, and optimize muscle gains. As the workout gets longer the breaks between sets get longer too. You start to talk more, water break and talk more, look around more. The important thing is to keep your time between sets short.
The best way to pace yourself well is to keep a fast pace and never have a workout longer than an hour. Follow this strategy and you will be less tired when you leave the gym. If you want to get the most out of your individual bodyparts keep the up and shorten the time between sets.
Compound versus isolated exercises
If you want to make big muscle gains it is widely accepted that you do more compound exercises that isolated movements. By compound exercises I mean that you should try to use as many muscles as possible in an exercise. Here are some examples:
For Chest workouts that big muscle gains would come from bench presses, working your chest, shoulders and triceps instead of flyes which only works your chest.
For shoulders the biggest muscle gains would come from military presses instead of front and side laterals.
For legs squats are better for building muscle than leg extensions.
Weight lifting workout conclusion
So overall I believe that we can say this about your muscle gaining workouts. Do heavy exercises mostly with less sets, but all to failure and keep up the pace in the gym. You will find that you will lift far more in an hour this way than you can in an hour and a half or two hours on the standard workout system.