So you decided to start training. You got to it late in life. You definitely prioritise your health and quality of life. You’d like to be a bit stronger and a bit fitter, but do you have to be an elite marathon runner or strength athlete?
You have a good base level of strength, one that makes sure you’ll never get injured moving the furniture. You’ve developed a level of fitness which allows you to take part in fun runs and the occasional 5K charity event when it takes your fancy. But you still don’t look strong or fit. If you want to, maybe body sculpting is for you.
I’ve had hundreds of consultations over the years and most people come to me with the same goal. They want to be stronger, they want to be fitter and the want to be healthier for the years to come. These are all valid goals for sure. However, when I ask the following question, I always get the same answer.
Me: If I could double your squat, take 10 minutes off your 10k time, improve your blood markers for diabetes, heart disease and stress in the next 6 months, but at the end you still look the same, would that be OK?
I don’t ask this question to trap people or catch them out. I ask it because I understand that having all of those things I mentioned are a badge of honour that nobody can see. If you’re someone who respects life and health. You look after yourself and make an effort to be healthy. Your physique becomes your badge of honour, the one you can wear on the outside. The one that says, I earned this!
Body Sculpting Like an Artist
Muscle building usually gets a bad rep from the average gym goer. It conjures up images of body builders and people overly concerned with image and perfect angles in social media pictures, but it doesn’t have to. Imagine being an artist, a sculptor, who can shape and build their physique at will. It doesn’t mean you have to triple in size, but you can add some shape and size to areas where you feel you need it in order to build you badge of honour.
Body sculpting is just that. Being able to look at yourself and thinking you’d like your bum to be a little bigger, or your shoulders a little rounder. When it comes to your body, you are the artist. Being able to create they physique you want, to display your badge of honour. After all, you’ve earned it, why not show it off?
That’s where hypertrophy training comes in. Last weeks article was all about getting stronger, this week it’s all about building muscle. Where you create your own piece of art.
Training for Aesthetics
Hypertrophy training, or body sculpting, is all about building muscle. Although there are some health benefits to hypertrophy training such as improving posture, correcting imbalances and increasing confidence, hypertrophy is mostly done for aesthetic purposes.
When training for hypertrophy, as opposed to strength, the main focus is strategically damaging muscle so it can repair itself to be bigger and stronger once healed. Therefor, when picking a set and rep guideline, you want to pick one that causes enough trauma in muscle for it to respond to growth.
Looking at Prilepin’s chart from last week, we can see that ideal rep ranges for muscle growth are between 6 and 12. Although this is a very simplistic guideline, a concept we’ll revisit in an advanced hypertrophy article in coming months, it is enough when you want to know the basics.
Even more important than the number of reps used per set, is the number of sets used per workout. You don’t want to do so much work that you’re body can’t recover. And you don’t want to do so little that you don’t force your body to adapt. A common mistake of trying to add muscle, is thinking doing more work will lead to faster results. More often than not, that is a fallacy. If you train beyond your body’s capacity to recover, you’ll struggle to put on new muscle.
For our clients, sets per workout fluctuate between 18 – 24 and can be as high as 30 depending on several factors. These including: capacity to recover, work schedule, stress, metabolism, body type and training age. So when setting up your workout, try to take these factors into account.
And if you ever need a hand with your programming or training, be sure to reach out!