“What exercises are good for triceps?”
“How many reps and sets are the best?”
“High-intensity or high-volume?”
I have been asked these same kind of questions thousands of times at the gym. However, for most of the people who are what is called “hardgainers”, that’s not the point! In other words, there are some things, some basic important things to do BEFORE thinking about these kinds of things above.
One of the key words I would say is “nervous system”. Many hardgainers have some problems with nervous system, but don’t get me wrong! That doesn’t mean they need to go see the doctor; it’s normal… As you see, there is no one who has the nervous system fully developed from the beginning. When we are born, we are all babies and not able to even crawl on our hands and knees. Just our bodies will naturally start learning, and we will become able to do many things that we couldn’t do since our nervous systems are gradually developing day by day. However, time goes by, when boys and girls start enjoying some activities, such as baseball, basketball, soccer, and so on, we will come to see that some kids learn these activities quickly and play them very well, but some not… That’s, as many people say, “genetics”. Yes, genetics play a role in the success of sports, even bodybuilding, but I would like to say that that’s not everything! We all have potential that is sleeping deep inside our body, and that can be developed, I believe. Then, one of the most important things to develop our potential is to develop our “nervous system”. In order to do that, we need to focus more on increasing our muscle quality. How? The answers are stretching and massaging our muscles, but not just easy stretching and light massage; we have to make our muscles soft enough to develop the nervous system, so do it seriously, spending more time, focusing on and feeling the muscles you are stretching or massaging, like when you are working out. You should massage even tendons as well. I know it’s troublesome and takes time, but once your muscles become soft enough with high quality, you are ready to use or stimulate your muscle tissues instead of tendons.
Another key word I would say is “center of gravity”. Even if your muscles are ready to be used, having high quality muscles, your muscles won’t grow if your center of gravity is off or not at the correct position while working out. What’s more, it leads to some injuries regardless of minor or serious ones. You know, most people don’t care about their postures when they are walking, standing, and even sitting on the chair because they don’t think their postures affect their health; but they do! Then, if you are a hardgainer, don’t forget that your postures affect muscle growth as well. Bad postures make some parts of your muscles stiff with too much stress or pressure on a certain part of your muscles or joints. As a result, your muscle quality will be lost even though you want to increase it. That makes your body unbalanced and it hard or pretty much impossible to put your center of gravity at the right position when you work out, because you can’t relax although your muscles need to be relaxed when you try to find or feel the center of gravity. Therefore, you need to know the importance of your postures throughout your life, even when you are out of the gym.
With that said, when you think of and learn the proper form for each exercise, don’t forget the importance of your center of gravity. To find your center of gravity, I strongly recommend free weight exercises rather than machine ones. The “big 3” powerlifting exercises, squat, deadlift, and bench press, are really good, especially in this stage. It’s surely useful to master the correct forms for the big 3 for finding the correct forms for other bodybuilding exercises including machine ones ever after.
If your muscles grow easily without thinking about anything, but just lifting weights at the gym, you are genetically gifted, and you might not need to think about these things. However, if you are one of those who are hardgainers, I’m afraid your muscles won’t continue growing without making every effort to develop your potential. Believe it or not, in a sense, these things above are much more important than just working out hard.
If you don’t want to waste your time to reach your goal, first spend more time on these things. I strongly recommend…
As far as my workout is concerned, as you see my exercises page, I start each workout session from a compound exercise: SQ, BP, Barbell Rows, DL, or OHP. After sufficient stretches and warm-up sets, as long as I can control the weight with the muscles I'm targeting, I go as heavy as possible. as for lifting belt usage, I basically don't use it on the first 2 sets if not necessary, but the last 2 sets with really heavy, in order to improve my performance by enhancing the intra-abdominal pressure. After one or two heavy sets, I occasionally do one extra higher rep set without the belt so that I really feel the burn, getting the muscles I'm training super-pumped!
Even the other exercises other than the first basic compound ones, I currently do pretty heavy, focusing more on compound movements. I also do some isolation exercises to tone and shape muscles beautifully, though.
When it comes to my rest days, I always ask myself, and if I'm too tired to workout and don't think I can train hard, I take a day off, but if I'm both mentally & physically ready for a hard workout, I definitely hit the gym!
The following is the training frequency for each muscle group or exercise as of February, 2017
The following is the exercises I do and some details as of February, 2017.
Day 1: Legs
Day 2: Chest
Day 3: Back, Neck
Day 4: Shoulders
Day 5: Arms
Others (Day 2, 4, and 5): Abs
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