I was recently chatting with Jason Ferruggia – one of the best in the business when it comes to muscle-building information. He always has something interesting to say, and he’s never afraid to speak his mind.
So, I asked him to share some of his insight with my readers. After all, getting bigger, stronger muscles is a big part of my business, too. Thanks to Ferruggia, I’m always learning something new.
CW: Let’s get straight to the point, Jay. What are the most important training components for building muscle?
JF: I believe the two keys to effective hypertrophy training are overload and frequency. You have to consistently add weight to the bar and you have to train muscle groups often (2-3 times per week). He who makes the greatest strength gains (in a hypertrophy rep range) over a given time period, while training the muscles as frequently as possible, will make the greatest size gains. The key is to do just enough to stimulate a hypertrophy response then get out and start recovering so that you can get back to the gym as soon as possible and stimulate that muscle group again.
CW: I agree. There’s a point of diminishing returns when it comes to training volume. If more was always better, a guy could gain an inch on his arms from doing 100 sets of curls in one day. But it doesn’t work that way. In science and practice, frequency is key.
JF: Yep, as long as you keep the volume relatively low and the duration of your workouts at 45 minutes or less, the frequency can remain high and you can make consistent strength gains. If the weights are going up you know you are not over trained. Soreness is not an indicator of whether a muscle is ready to be trained again or not; performance is.
Like Lee Haney often said, “Stimulate; don’t annihilate.” No matter how many sets you do, the majority of people will not require a full seven days of recovery between body parts. BUT when you do a ton of sets you create the need for that amount of time between workouts because each session would take three hours if you hit more than one or two muscle groups on a typical high volume bodybuilding program.
That may be fine if you are inhumanly strong and 260 pounds of steroid soaked muscle. But for the average guy, he is going to detrain and actually start to lose size if he waits that long. It’s essentially two steps forward, two steps back. With lower volume and higher frequency you can actually take one smaller step forward, but remain there with no steps back. This allows you to provide each body part with a hypertrophy stimulus two to three times more often than the traditional bodybuilders routine. This is the optimal plan for the average, drug free trainee and helps you to make consistent, sustainable progress for the long haul.
CW: Thanks Jay, it’s always a pleasure.
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