Many bodybuilders know less about 'weight training' than Medical rehab personnel and Professional Sport Coaches. Ironic? - yes, after all - bodybuilding is weightlifting. Yet bodybuilders tend to seek out information from anyone who promises to make them big, tell them the secret on how to get big like the Pro bodybuilders - when the only secret is that steroids are the ONLY way to get that kinda big. So what do Pro Sport Coaches and Med. rehab people know that you may not - that's what is about to be covered, so pay attention if you want to know the truth - go elsewhere if you're looking for a bunch of golden promises.
Very little money has been spent on 'bodybuilding' research. On the other hand millions have been spent on ways to improve the performance of Pro and 'Olympic' athletes. Not to mention the years of research put into studying muscle rehabilitation for medical purposes. It is from these sources that the real information on getting 'big' (as big as is possible with or without steroids), can be found. The information is out there, you just have to look for it - the important facts to you, the bodybuilder, will be covered in this article.
What the studies prove. The goal of every bodybuilder is to get bigger muscles. With this goal in mind lets cover what research has taught us - and how to put it to use . FIRST: Muscle strength in the adult human is relative to cross section area (size). An equal cross-sectional area of muscle from any average trained women or man has about the same 'strength' (i.e.: can generate the same amount of force, 6 kg - cm2), there is very little variation. To put it another way, generally speaking - all human muscle tissue has (about) the same amount of strength, or is able to generate the same amount of force. So the greater the size, cross-sectional, the greater the strength.
However, it is important to point out that bone structure, muscle attachments, neural factors, etc., play a very important part in performing 'feats of strength', so two people with equal cross section areas of muscle may still perform very differently -- not due to stronger muscle tissue, but due to other factors. What does this mean to the bodybuilder - it means that if you wish to increase muscle mass you must train the muscle to be able to generate more force - which in turn means the muscle must grow.
Putting this information to use. To increase muscle size (or mass), you must increase the cross sectional area. Because there is a limit to the amount of force (strength) a set cross-sectional area of muscle can generate -muscle tissue must increase in size (cross-sectional area) to be able to handle a greater force (to become 'stronger') - the result: bigger muscles. So the best way to make your muscle bigger - - train in such a way as to increase the amount of force you can generate - and, of course, to make the muscle grow as fast as possible. This last statement 'as fast as possible' is another key term - most types of resistance training will cause your muscles to grow, the question you should be asking is, is this the fastest way?
You will find the best answers research has to offer here. Applying this information to your training. This is where powerlifters, bodybuilders and endurance athletes part ways. The goal of an endurance athlete is not to increase muscle mass - the goal of a powerlifter is to be able to generate as much power as possible - the goal of a bodybuilder is to increase muscle size as much as possible. Some training principals apply to all three, but there are also some significant differences. What will be covered here is the best way to get 'big'.
The untrained muscle responds much better than the trained muscle. This simply means that the untrained person will experience much faster gains in strength and growth than the person who has several months of GOOD training under there belt. This is a well known fact - not someone's opinion.
TRAINING FOR GROWTH
First, be sure NOT to skip the above material - the above facts play an important part in understanding how to train correctly for growth. Different types of exercises will not be covered here - why? - the type of exercise you do (i.e.: push-ups, sit-ups, presses, curls, etc.) have nothing to do with growth they determine which muscle(s) receive the stimulation.
The 'method' you use is what will cause your muscle to become bigger, stronger, faster, etc.. Let's make sure this is clear, as many people do not understand this, and it is an important point - it is HOW you train - NOT the exercise itself - - that cause muscles to grow. Research on muscle recovery for medical reasons has been done for hundreds of years now - that's correct - 100's. Research was greatly stepped up after World War 2 - it was at this time that the benefits of resistance training began to be understood.
Before you say 'big deal' read on - PRE has changed much over the years. It was first started by DeLorme, T.L. who did the research on it (Restoration of muscle power by heavy-resistance exercise. J. Bone Joint Surg. 27:645,1945). Many of the principles still hold true - but many refinements have been made as well.