1. BEEF UP THE VARIETY
Packing on slabs of muscle mass is all about heavy weights and low reps, right? Not so fast. That lifting scheme is part of the equation, but not the sum of the whole. “Your workouts should include a variety of rep ranges and loads when you’re trying to build muscle fast,” Smith advises.
He recommends pairing heavy lifts with low reps for your primary exercise (8 sets x 3 reps with 85%+ of 1RM), followed by higher-volume accessory lifts (4–5 sets x 15-20 reps with 70-85% of 1RM). The angle in which you exhaust the muscle should also be a focal point. For example, substitute sumo deadlifts for traditional deadlifts, or wide- or close-grip bench presses instead of the standard grip.
In regards to time frame, according to Smith, “properly structured periodized programs typically run eight to 12 weeks, with low-intensity days built in to ensure that you can continue to train at a higher intensity throughout the program.”
2. INCREASE METABOLIC STRESS THROUGH GREATER TUT (time under tension)
The lift features three phases: lowering (eccentric), pause (isometric), and drive (concentric). Increasing TUT will greater exhaust the muscle and enable growth and plateau busting. “If you perform eight reps, with each rep taking four seconds, your total set will take 32 seconds,” Smith explains. “The most effective way to increase microtrauma to the working muscles is to focus on the eccentric phase. Increasing your lowering time by even one more second will increase the total time under tension for the entire set.” Smith further emphasizes the importance of tempo when performing higher-volume rep schemes. “Always try to make the eccentric [lowering] phase longer than the concentric [drive] phase,” he says. “Tempo is written with the eccentric phase first, then the amortization [pause, or isometric] phase next, and finally, the concentric phase last.”
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