Building new lean muscle isn’t easy, and it’s not supposed to be. Most people can’t and couldn’t do what bodybuilders do. They don’t have the ability to push through the pain barrier day in day out in the pursuit of a better body and more muscle.
With the industry growing and the general population becoming more health and image conscious, gym openings on the rise and the supplement market growing nonstop, the bodybuilding world is becoming cluttered with over complex science and individual opinion.
Let’s get back to basics and remind you of two methods all body builders will eventually come to adopt as gospel for helping spark and track their new muscle growth as their understanding grows. Any new bodybuilders on the scene should take note of this proven strategy for gaining muscle from day one.
Consistency vs Progressive Variation
Ok, so let’s be the first to say that this advice does come off a little contradictive on face value as we’re essentially recommending two opposing points of view on progressing your training for more muscle.
Thus it can be confusing, but it’s how you use them together that creates superior muscle building capability and better knowledge of what works for you and your body. So bear with us!
Something we see a lot, particularly in restless new gym goers and body builders desperately trying to pack on new muscle mass, is that they are constantly changing their food, their supplements and their training every few weeks because they’re not seeing the fast pace of results they want.
So firstly, it’s important to remember that building muscle does take time and for some it takes longer than others (sorry but it’s a genetic lottery thing).
You will get there if you’re determined enough and you stick with it. No one has ever built a superior physique quickly. It is the result of years of progressive training and learning about your body’s nutritional needs.
In order to understand your body and what makes it grow as an individual and to find your own progressive pace, you need consistency and a foundation of regularity.
If you change your workout routine, reps, intensity every few weeks, mix up your supplements and even alter your diet based on not being happy with the week prior, if you do start seeing gains you’ll have no solid understanding of where they came from and what it was that contributed to them.
Our advice is to set yourself a routine, a diet plan and get a 6-8 week supply of the same supplements. Use this foundation like a religion for those 6-8 weeks. We’re not saying you can’t change the weights each week as you feel stronger, just don’t dramatically change anything.
The benefit of this is you’re giving your body a chance to change. A long enough period where you can conclusively review your results so far.
What’s more, because you’ve had a steady routine, diet and supplementation plan during this period, you can look at what is good or bad about your results and you’ll be able to make changes to your routine accordingly.
If you have chopped and changed your routine over this same time period, you won’t be able to make informed tweaks to improve on it.
Think of your body like a science experiment. When you’re testing to see what the introduction of something different in the mix does to your results, you don’t change lots of things at once then run the experiment again.
If your results are different you wouldn’t know what change had the impact, or if it was in fact a combination of changes. This is where progressive variation comes in.
Progressive variation is looking at your results from a consistent routine and making isolated changes as you go in order to discover your ultimate muscle building combination of elements.
For example, if you’re enjoying your training and things are going well, you want to see what impact the introduction of Creatine to your supplement plan does.
You wouldn’t want to change your entire supplement stack at this time or add anything else in. Just add the Creatine, likely pre and post training and with an evening shake. Continue your plan as usual and evaluate the affect the Creatine has had after 4-6 weeks’ continuous use.
Are you lifting more? Can you squeeze out two extra reps on the same weight? Do you look/feel fuller in your physique?
If you’re happy with your results keep the Creatine and then look at changing something else. You can’t expect your body to change if your diet, supplements and training never change. But you need some consistency to understand where the changes are coming from so that you can adapt your long term approach and continuously learn about what stimulates your body to grow.
Variation is particularly important when it comes to workout progression. Both in terms in progressing your intensity which could be via increased rep ranges or increased weight – and type of workout.
This could also include lowering rest times between sets and exercises. You also need to vary the exercises you use and the muscle groups you train together. Mix things up on a regular basis in between your periods of consistency so that you keep your body guessing and find new ways to shock your muscles in to growth.
Once you get you grasp on balancing areas of consistency with selection and progressive variations in your routines, you’re on your way to knowing your body better and becoming a better bodybuilder who knows what it takes to grow new muscle.