Interesting how most workout programs designed to help you gain weight and build muscle mass mainly focus on lifting heavy loads in every exercise, whether they realize it or not. The belief is that bodybuilding training program should consist of sets in the 6-10 rep range, which allegedly is best for building size and strength. Well, as I’ve written in other articles, muscular size and strength aren’t necessarily related.
You can have a muscle that is extremely strong and powerful, yet relatively small in size. Seems like most workout routines concentrate on what I call “the numbers game” (which is focusing mainly on lifting heavy weights, figuring out your “1 rep max”, percentages of that, and being able to lift more weight, aka “numbers”) instead of relying more off of feeling what’s going on in the muscle itself.
(Hey, what good is that you were able to lift a large amount of weight / load, yet not really feel anything in the muscle?)
Let me make it very clear, if you want to gain muscle weight and build mass you need to focus on what is going on inside of the muscle, not outside. Focus on what’s happening to the body part as you train it, instead of the weight you are lifting.
Remember, the weight that’s in your hand is simply a “means to an end”. It’s simply a tool to help you achieve a goal, in our case gain muscle…not necessarily strength. Who cares what plate or size dumbbell you’re using…as long as you are taking care of achieving specific “actions” inside of the muscle.
As you train a muscle, go off of what you’re body’s telling you, go off of its “feedback”. One of the main “feedbacks” that you need to look for (actually “feel” for) when working out is:
Are you feeling a “burning” or aching sensation in the muscle while in the middle of training it?
When you are performing rep after rep, you may begin to feel that burning sensation deep within that particular muscle. That is the formation of lactic acid.
How does lactic acid form?
Let’s say you are completing a certain amount of reps on a particular exercise. As you do rep after rep, less and less fresh blood is allowed to enter the muscle since you aren’t allowing enough time for the blood that has already been sent there to leave the muscle, and letting new muscle in.
When blood is not allowed to leave the muscle, it begins to “back up”. As it backs up, it builds pressure. As the pressure builds, you begin to feel and see what everyone calls “the pump” (which, by the way, is another important “feedback” from the muscle that I’ll be discussing in a future article).
Now, as all that blood begins to back up, it simply sits in the muscle…it isn’t circulating back to the heart and lungs. As a result, the blood within that muscle no longer has any oxygen. The lower the amount of oxygen in the blood that’s backed up inside of training muscle, the higher the amount of lactic acid that’s created.
Lactic acid formation is a direct result of a low level of oxygen in the blood of that muscle group. The burning sensation / pain you feel in the muscle is a direct result of having very low levels of oxygen in the muscle and high levels of lactic acid.
Low oxygen = High lactic acid