Many people are just going through the motions. You may be one of these people. Your goal may be to simply maintain the body and fitness level you already have. Perhaps you frequent the gym for the social aspect or the psychological benefit of regular exercise. In either case if you’re happy with that much only then more power to you. If however you hit the gym on a regular basis because you’d like to loose weight, build lean muscle and change your body composition then you need to change the way you train.
Us advanced apes have excellent built in adaptive mechanisms. We’ve evolved with the ability to adapt to a wide range on environmental conditions. When we’re not using our muscles our adaptive response is to shrink. Our body thinks that we must not need our muscle mass so it adapts by shrinking. Use it or loose it. We then require less calories because muscle mass is expensive to maintain in terms of calories. You’ve probably heard before that muscle is the furnace that burns calories. This is true.
Conversely, when we do use our muscles they adapt by getting bigger and stronger. Muscle development is simply a hard-wired adaptive response to environmental conditions. For those of us interested in getting fit and lean our goal is to trigger this adaptive response. Resistance training to simply “get a pump” has minimal effect on muscle development. However, training to failure has the maximum effect of muscle development. If you’re looking for more out of your hard work in the gym then just maintaining your current physique and you’d like to start changing your body composition then you should be after the maximum biological effect.
You can achieve the maximum lean muscle development by putting a load on your muscles that you are unable to lift on your own. Do this by training to failure. Of course correct form and safety are also required. It’s always best to work with a partner or a trainer when going to failure. For each set of each exercise choose a weight that you can get six to twelve reps then keep going to the point where you cannot finish the movement on your own. This is training to failure; it’s a literal interpretation of failure. Doing this will trigger the maximum biological response.
If you’re tired of just going through the motions and truly want to change your body composition then train to failure. It’s an intense way to train however it’s not time intensive. Three to four sets of three to four of your favorite exercise per muscle group is all you need if you finish each set to failure. Once you’ve triggered the adaptive response you’re done. Hit each muscle just one a week, get on a good nutrition plan and get plenty of rest and you will see amazing results. I discuss this and much more in my upcoming book, “Get Fit, Lean, and Keep Your Day Job.” Turn up the intensity and go for the last rep.
Yours in fitness,