For all of our fans who send us questions on our Twitter and Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week we draw on our pool of editors and experts to help you with any questions or challenges you have with your fitness regimen. This week, Dan Trink, CSCS, Director of Personal Training Operations at Peak Performance NYC and founder of TrinkFitness, discusses the science of rep ranges, breaking plateaus and specialized training techniques to put on the pounds.
1) Rep Ranges for Size - Asked by Louis Pivet: What is the best rep range for building muscle mass?
“The answer is – all of them. Typically the rep range for hypertrophy (building muscle) is 8 to 12 and this range works very well. However, if you train within these parameters, you are subject to the law of diminishing returns: it becomes less and less effective as your body efficiently moves certain loads a certain number of times. And this efficiency does not promote any kind of positive adjustment. If you've been doing 3 sets of 10 reps for a while, try some lower rep sets (like 5 sets x 5 reps) with heavier loads. t only will this challenge your body in new ways, but it will also allow you to lift heavier weights, which in turn will help build bigger muscle as you get back to the good old 8-12 rep range. ”
2) The Missing Elements - asked by Jared Klausky: I feel like I've tried everything to gain greatness. What could I be missing?
"Once you've got all the bases covered - a solid nutrition plan, a smart training program that uses both compound and isolated movements, altering training parameters when you hit a plateau - try pacing your lifts. Tempo is simply the speed at which you lift and lower the weight (or yourself), plus any rests you can add at the top or bottom position. By intelligently pacing your movements, you increase the difficulty of the exercise and cause more muscle damage, which will eventually lead to A good way to start experimenting with tempos is to slow down the eccentric or lowering phases of the lift (like lowering the bar to the chest on a bench press, or lowering to the floor during pull-ups). Use a 3-second eccentric by having your training partner or yourself count each rep of the set. Be warned that this will make the exercise much more difficult, so be sure to lower your usual loads before attempting it.
3) Protein Requirements - Asked by Brett Fodero: How much protein do I need per day to gain mass?
"Although there's no hard and fast rule for the specific amount of protein you need to gain size (everyone responds differently to different nutritional protocols), research shows it's appropriate for those people who engage in a consistent resistance training program and look for it To gain mass, 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (which equates to 0.7 to 0.9 grams per pound of bodyweight) is the sweet spot. If you're a teenager, you should add 10% to that number.”
4) Special Training Techniques - Asked by Max Stephenson: I keep reading about "special techniques" to add to my muscle building routines. What are "Special Techniques"?
"Specialist techniques usually refer to more advanced strategies designed to increase the intensity or length of a set. The most common are drop sets (where you perform a specific number of repetitions of an exercise, then reduce the way and do additional repetitions of that exercise without rest), rest-pause (in which you perform a specific number of repetitions of an exercise , resting 10 to 15 seconds and then doing a few extra reps) and slow negatives (in which the eccentric or lowering phase of the last rep of each set is performed slowly.) All of these techniques have proven very effective during bulking phases, but they are advanced and can be difficult to complete. So if you're just starting out, wait until you've had a bit of training under your belt before you give them a chance."
5) Spot Loss - Asked by Pat McGinn: I know I can't spot fat loss, but can I spot muscle mass?
"Yes and no. You can certainly localize muscle gain by using isolation exercises for that muscle group. However, it's still important that you use compound movements as the key to doing this has been found to be making you more anabolic. If so if a body part, like your biceps, is flagging, you can definitely give it extra attention with a variety of curls. Just make sure you include big movements like pull-ups in your routine."