Training for Muscularity

When someone has the goal of becoming more muscular, they have to methodically plan out their nutrition, and of course, their training. Knowing what genetic body type you are will make this goal somewhat easier, since as structures vary, so will the ideal style of training, frequency, duration of each session and type of program to use.

To build a muscular body you have to set both short term and long term goals. Short term you have to construct a program that will help to increase strength and muscle mass over different phases. This is better known as periodization. Long term you will have to change your training based on adaptation. As soon as your muscles become too accustomed to particular program, it is best advised to alter an aspect of your training to prevent stagnation and plateaus.

Periodization is a type of training that allows an individual to overload the muscles while making periodic changes each week to prevent adaptation. The premise behind it is that an individual must continue to challenge themselves at great enough intensity to induce anatomical and physiological adaptation. If this is not the purpose of the program, then it is considered to be "maintenance". To develop complete muscularity, 3 stages must be used to prepare the individual for lifting greater weight. A simple, but extremely effective periodization program is usually 12 weeks in length, and focuses on squats, deadlifts and bench press since they use the majority of muscles in the body. Lifting heavy weights with low reps will not cause a person to become to big, cumbersome, or inflexible. Bulk and size is dependant on diet, cardiovascular training and neglect of periods of moderate repetitions. That's why the following program can develop a lean, muscular physique if that is your goal.

Period 1 (4 Weeks): This period focuses on strengthening connective tissue surrounding the muscles to prevent future injury. It also helps with coordination and nervous system changes that allow for better muscular contractions and strength. Period 1 usually consists of 3-5 sets of 10 repetitions for each of about 4 exercises. An example would be:

Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Exercises: Bench press, Military Press, Flat DB flyes, Cable pushdowns Reps: 10-12
Frequency: 2 times per week
Day 2: Back, Biceps, Abs, Calves
Day 3: Legs

Period 2 (4 Weeks): This period involves greater intensity (weight) with slightly less volume (reps). Much of the same reasons of period1 are involved in period 2, except here the objective is to break the staleness after 4 weeks, and the plateaus that usually occur by this point. The second period is when people are usually surprised by their own strength. Period 2 usually consists of 4 exercises, 3-5 sets, and 6-8 repetitions with slightly less more rest between sets. Here is an example:

Day 1: Legs
Exercises: Squat, Leg Press, Leg Extension, Leg Curls Reps: 5-8
Frequency: 2 times per week

Period 3 (4 Weeks): During period 3 individuals are entering a period of great intensity with even less volume. Connective tissues and coordination would have reached their peak, and strength should continue to improve. The largest goal of this period is to provide a new and greater stimulus to the muscle and break down more potential plateaus. The major exercises continue to be the compound movements, reps are in the 4-6 range, sets are also 4-6 of 4 different exercises:

Day 1: Back
Exercises: Deadlift, Lat Puldowns, Seated Rows, Bent-over Barbell Rows.

After 2-3 cycles of periodization, 4-5 days per week, 1-2 bodyparts per day programs are suggested for 8-10 weeks.

For more information on Weight Training, read Training for Beginners.
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