Let's learn how to apply the proper muscle building stimulus each and every weight lifting workout.
Most people have no idea how to do this and blindly go to the gym with no plan or purpose.
You will finally learn how to build muscle with the WLC System.
No more guessing. No frustration. Continuous muscle gains every week.
Let's learn how to apply the proper stimulus to build muscle…
Discussion About Reps
First off, there is no optimal rep range for building muscle.
Too many people think that low reps do not build muscle and that higher reps are only for endurance. I'm sure you've heard people say that low reps are for building strength and high reps are for building endurance.
Those same people will usually tell you that you need to lift between 8 and 12 reps to build muscle.
This is wrong.
The 8 to 12 rep range will build muscle, but it's not the only rep range that will build muscle.
I browse through other websites all the time. Just the other day, I found yet another website stating that anything fewer than 8 reps will only build strength.
It really is amazing to me since I've had much of my success building muscle in the 4 to 6 rep range. And I know many others that have had that same success.
I'm here to tell you that the exact number of reps you do really isn't that important for building muscle.
The only reason the number of reps is useful is to ensure you are making progress from workout to workout.
For example, if you lift 200 pounds for 10 reps, you want to make sure the next time you lift 200 pounds that you lift more than 10 reps or that you do more than 200 pounds for 10 reps.
Do you still believe that the number of reps is that important for building muscle? Still believe that low reps only build strength and that high reps only build endurance?
The table below shows the results of a study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology from November 2002. The table shows the percent increase for muscle fiber types using different rep ranges.
The results are amazing! Take a look…
|Rep Ranges||Type I Fiber||Type IIA Fiber||Type IIB Fiber|
|20 – 28 reps||10.3%||8.0%||13.5%|
|9 – 11 reps||13.1%||16.3%||27.3%|
|3 – 5 reps||12.4%||22.9%||25.3%|
If you look at the average size increase for each of the rep ranges across all muscle fiber types, you will find an average increase of 10.3%, 18.9%, and 20.2% for the 20-28, 9-11, and 3-5 rep ranges respectively. What does this mean?
The results of the study clearly show that muscle size increased as the relative load increased. In other words, the groups that lifted heavier weight for fewer reps had the greatest increase in muscle size. But all rep ranges (even the very high rep range of 20 to 28 reps) increased muscle size — just not as much.
Relative Load Applied to the Muscle
The load you apply to the muscle is the most important factor for building muscle. When you apply the correct load to the muscle, the load causes micro tears in the muscle tissue. The body will then repair the muscle and build new muscle tissue to help protect that muscle from future attacks.
If you continue to apply the same load to a muscle, the body will have no reason to build new muscle tissue. The body does not see this load as a threat, so the body will not trigger any response. You must continue to increase the relative load to that muscle in order to trigger the muscle building response.
You should never use the same load for more than two to three consecutive workouts at a time! That's it. Then, you should be increasing the weight.
Higher reps build muscle. Lower reps build muscle. And every other rep range in between builds muscle as long as the relative load you apply is enough to trigger a muscle building response from your body.
If your body is not accustomed to lifting a certain amount of weight for a certain number of reps and you lift that amount of weight for that number of reps, you will build muscle! It really is that simple.
What isn't simple, though, is designing a program that allows you to continuously build muscle. But that's what our step-by-step programs are for … within each of our programs, we have already designed the weight lifting programs for you.
Limiting Factors for Building Muscle
The greatest amount of muscle will be built when you lift the greatest amount of weight that you can for the greatest number of reps. The larger amount of weight you lift, the more often you lift, and the more reps you complete all lead to you building more muscle.
Lifting all day, every day could build a maximum amount of muscle. BUT the human body simply cannot do that much work.
You have to find out how much your body can take and do just that much work to get maximum muscle gains.
It is very hard to find the maximum amount of work your body can take to get maximum muscle gains because this maximum amount is constantly changing.
Beginners will not be conditioned to do a large amount of work, so beginners will get great gains from doing a smaller amount of work. The beginner will be able to give their bodies the proper muscle building stimulus with much less work.
As the beginner becomes more conditioned to weight lifting and heavier weights, the overall amount of work or intensity will have to increase in order to give the body the proper muscle building stimulus.
The proper muscle building stimulus is better applied by more advanced lifters because the advanced lifter knows how to apply a greater intensity to each exercise, each set, and each rep.
In general, the overall amount of work needed to apply the proper muscle building stimulus will go up with experience, but the experienced lifter gets more out of each rep. So, the overall work increase is not linear with experience.
In other words, if the advanced lifter and beginning lifter did the same amount of work, the advanced lifter would apply a much greater intensity than the beginner, but the advanced lifter's body is more resistant to building muscle.
A beginner will learn the proper techniques and intensity to apply to each rep with experience, but the body will become more resistant to building muscle as more and more muscle is built and the beginner gets closer and closer to his/her genetic limits.
You will need to learn how to balance the amount of work you do, how often you perform the work, and the intensity you apply to the work to ensure you do not stress your body too much.
The WLC System teaches you how to find your maximum limit for work. You will learn proper guidelines to follow for increasing and decreasing the amount of work you are performing depending on your results.
Overtraining and How it Fits into The Muscle Building Picture
Do you know what happens when you do too much work, too often, and for too long without allowing your body to recover?
Remember the talk we had about the body being designed for survival? Well, if you throw too much at your body, your body will start to shut down. The body knows when it needs a break, and it will take a break when needed. And it won't ask you for permission either.
When you fail to recognize the symptoms of overtraining and you continue to push your body harder, you will become very vulnerable to sickness.
You will probably get a cold. You will lose strength. You will feel very fatigued. Your body will not recover from your workouts.
Here's a list of overtraining symptoms…
- Increased Fatigue
- Lack of Motivation
- Muscle Loss
- Fat Gain
- Sleeping Problems
- Decreased Appetite
- Sickness or Symptoms of Sickness
- Easily Injured
- Increased Resting Heart Rate
- Resting Diastolic Blood Pressure Increase
- Decreased Recovery from Workouts (stay sore longer)
- Decreased Levels of Strength
Use the list above to help you recognize the symptoms of overtraining. If you start to feel any of these, you will need to decrease the overall amount of work you are doing.
This can mean you need to decrease the overall volume, the amount of weight, or the intensity you apply to each set.
So far, you should have learned that you can build the maximum amount of muscle by doing the most amount of work possible without overtraining. The WLC System will help you find that amount.
Increasing Weight and Decreasing Reps
In order to build muscle continuously throughout the weeks, months, and years you must continue to apply a greater load to your muscles. This means you will have to lift heavier weight and/or more reps to continue building muscle.
Your muscles will become more and more conditioned to weight lifting as time passes, so it becomes harder and harder to apply the proper muscle building stimulus.
But, you now have the WLC System and our step-by-step programs to help you overcome those challenges when they meet you face to face. When your body adapts, the WLC System adapts.
As you learned earlier, all rep ranges build muscle as long as you provide the proper stimulus.
For example, let's say you lifted 100 pounds for 10 easy reps. All of the reps were easy and your body was not threatened in any way because it had no trouble at all lifting the weight. You will not build muscle from those 10 reps.
But, let's say you take that same 100 pounds and lift it 18 times. The most you had ever lifted before was 100 pounds for 10 reps, and now you did 18 reps. The body was threatened. Your body sounded the muscle building alarm.
You also learned earlier from the results of a study that heavier weight builds more muscle overall. Remember?
So, one of the strategies of the WLC System is to lift heavier weights over time. The best strategy for increasing weight over time is increasing the weight while decreasing the amount of reps you perform. This ensures that you build muscle. You will build muscle and fast.
Your body is never allowed to adjust to the stimulus you are providing. You will always increase the amount of weight you lift, and the body will never adapt. The WLC System is intelligently designed to help you continuously build muscle.
Large Weight Increases
From workout to workout, you will increase the amount of weight you lift. But, how do you know how much to increase from workout to workout?
You will learn the exact guidelines later but for now I want you to know that larger weight increases from workout to workout builds more muscle. Why? The larger weight will cause more damage to the muscle and will threaten the body. The body will respond to the attack by building more muscle.
Again, though, there are trade offs with large weight increases. For one thing, it's tough to increase the weight by large amounts every workout. We just can't continue that kind of progression for long periods of time. If we could, all of us would have superhuman strength.
So, how do we approach these large weight increases from workout to workout?
Well, you will start out with lighter weights for more reps in the early weeks and increase the weight by large amounts until you are lifting very heavy weight for low reps in the later weeks of the program. Let's look at an example…
Let's say one weight lifting program tells you to lift in a certain rep range that only allows you to go from lifting 100 pounds for 10 reps to lifting 130 pounds for 10 reps. You will build some muscle, but you will be limited in your muscle gain compared to the next example…
This example program suggests you start out with lighter weights for fewer reps and end with heavier weight for less reps. Let's say you start out with 80 pounds for 15 reps and finish with 180 pounds for 4 reps.
Do you see the difference between the two programs? You will build more muscle in the second example. There is a larger weight increase in the same period of time.
The first example will only allow you to increase the weight each workout by a few pounds.
The second example allows you to make larger weight increases between workouts and therefore provide a larger muscle building stimulus.
The weight lifting programs based on the WLC System will focus mainly on large weight increments from workout to workout and from beginning to end of the weight lifting program.
In the first example above, you started with 100 pounds and finished with 130 pounds. Good gains, but only an increase of 30 pounds. In the second example, you went from lifting 80 pounds to lifting 180 pounds for an increase of 100 pounds.
Large weight increases never allow your body to adapt to the weight you are lifting. You are continuously providing your body with a muscle building stimulus. And that is exactly what you want.
As with anything, though, there are trade offs. Excessive weight increases from workout to workout can cause injury if you're not careful … I'm talking large increases, though. So, you have to be careful with huge weight increases.
You will receive guidelines for increasing the weight within our programs, so you have nothing to worry about.
Also, smaller weight increases build strength faster. So, you will find a mixture of small weight increases in some of the programs and larger weight increases in other WLC System based programs. You'll build strength much faster with small weight increments, and you'll build muscle faster with large weight increments.
How do You Continue the Muscle Building Stimulus?
After reading the previous section, you might be wondering what you do after you reach low reps and heavy weight.
You can't possibly continue providing a muscle building stimulus because your strength levels will prevent you from continuing to increase the weight.
You can't increase the weight forever! So, what do you do?
You take a full break from weight lifting. Your body needs the break and needs the time to fully recover from the beating you've put it through.
During this break, you will limit all physical activity. This allows your muscles to become unaccustomed to any amount of weight you lift. A full 10 day break from any weight training will allows your muscles to become de-conditioned to weight loads.
A break on the WLC System consists of 10 full days of complete rest. No weight lifting. No cardiovascular exercise. And nothing too stressful.
During your break, you should rest and have fun with your friends and family. Enjoy your break and the new changes in your body.
Do you know what happens when you come back from your break?
That's right. You start again with light weights. Even the light weights give your body the muscle building stimulus that it needs because it has become unaccustomed to any amount of weight during your complete period of rest with no activity.
Pretty neat, huh?
Navigation Links for the WLC System
You are currently within the WLC System section of the website.
Want to read about a different topic? Follow the links below to go to the higher level pages.