Living Well

How to Build BIG Muscle With Bodyweight Training

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Using the SSE workout, you can start getting fitter and burning fat/building muscle right away.

But what if you want to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger? What if you want to become incredibly bulky, ripped and hench? In that case, you might think that your only option is to start lifting weights but you would be wrong – in fact there are a number of ways you can build big muscle with bodyweight training  alone and it’s probably a lot easier than you suspect.

In this chapter, we’re going to be looking at how building muscle works and we’re going to look at how you can do it using bodyweight. This is all about theory. Towards the end of the book we’ll be looking at the individual bodyweight moves you can use and providing a kind of glossary of exercises for you to dip in and out of. So read this and then apply it to those moves. Although to be honest, you can do most of this with just the regular few bodyweight exercises you probably already know.
So let’s take a look at how to build muscle…

The Science of Hypertrophy

Muscle growth in response to training is technically known as ‘hypertrophy’. Hypertrophy is what bodybuilding is all about and if you’re trying to look big and bulky, it’s what you need to be all about as well.
So the question is: how does hypertrophy work? How can you stimulate your body to produce more muscle?

And the answer is that you need to provide the body with volume. Volume is what defines the intensity of your training and it can come either from increasing the weight or from increasing the number of repetitions. Or both.
This then triggers changes in the muscle that causes it to grow and there is widely believed to be two different mechanisms through which this can occur:
· Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy
· Myofibrillar hypertrophy

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the type of hypertrophy that is caused when you increase the number of repetitions. This is the kind of muscle growth that you get when you train with rep-ranges of around 12-15 or even higher. It’s also increased when you increase your ‘time under tension’ which is the amount of time you spend actually straining under the weight (rather than setting it down to rest between sets).
When you increase the number of repetitions you perform and when you hold the weight in position, you are calling on your muscle’s endurance. This in turn relies on the amount of fluid and the amount of energy (ATP) stored in the muscle cells – the sarcoplasm.

When you use this kind of training, it means that the muscle is constantly tensed and working. In turn, this causes the blood to ‘occlude’. In other words, it gets sent to the muscle and it stays there. This is also what causes us to get the feeling of ‘pump’ when we’re working out. As this happens, you also get a build-up of metabolites – muscle-building products that are found in the blood and that end up flooding the muscles. Metabolites include the likes of testosterone, growth hormone and IGF1. You also get a lot of nutrients in here.
As a result, the muscle responds by growing and specifically by swelling and taking on more water mass. This gives the muscles a bigger, bloated look. They may be quite ‘soft’ but it’s a great way to get big fast and to increase your ability to perform large sets of exercise.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy

Another thing that occurs as you train is that you create tiny tears in the muscle fiber. These are called ‘microtears’ and they’re so small as to not be damaging in any way or that painful (although this can lead to ‘DOMS’ the next day – delayed onset muscle soreness).

What these microtears can do though, is to cause the muscle to appear damaged to the body and that means it needs to get repaired. When you’re resting later on then, the body will use protein from your diet in order to rebuild the muscle and each of those muscle fibers will come back slightly thicker and slightly stronger than before. This increases size and strength and the best way to trigger this kind of hypertrophy is by training with heavy weights. This is how ‘power lifters’ will train and it’s how they manage to get very strong lifting a weight only a few times.

What you also need to know about is the different types of muscle fiber. Your muscles have a number of different ‘kinds’ of muscle fibers that make them up and each has a slightly different role. In general though, we can split these muscle fibers into two categories which are ‘fast twitch’ and ‘slow twitch’. Fast twitch fibers are capable of creating greater acceleration and greater force – and that means that they are the most useful kinds for lifting heavy weights. Your body will use these first when you move heavy weight and once they’ve become fatigued/torn, it will move on to the slower twitch fibers. Eventually, you don’t have enough power to move the weight – but some slow twitch fibers will remain which will mean you’re still able to move your arms!

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