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If you are looking to try and figure out how to build muscle, you have to realise that you need to lift heavy and target the lower rep range. Your success depends on it, particularly if you're a hardgainer. Besides receiving dense muscles, properly lifting heavy weights will also establish a foundation of strength, increased bone density, tendon and ligament strength, and explosive muscular power.



Now that you understand that, it's crucial to understand that there are 2 different types of hypertrophy training. To put differently, you grow in muscle mass as a result of one of these ways: Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy and Myofibrillar Hypertrophy.



Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy is most common among bodybuilders and is the result of lifting moderately heavy weights in the higher rep ranges. Eight to twelve (8-12) repetitions, commonly. Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy demands the development of sarcoplasm, which is a fluid like substance within the cell. This form of development causes the muscle to look larger. Although, this higher volume training does little for maximal strength, it does aid with ATP (energy) production and strength endurance. Several believe that this is actually non-functional muscle that is growing, however sarcoplasmic hypertrophy still has a place when seeking to increase the size and appearance of a muscle.



Hard, solid muscles (also known as Muscle Density) are the result of the second form of muscle growth- Myofibrillar Hypertrophy. the only way to get this muscle density you must be in the lower rep ranges and be pumping some heavy iron. Generally one to five (1-5) reps. Myofibrillar Hypertrophy is common among powerlifters and those who lift with 80-90% of their 1 rep max. This form of growth develops increases in maximum strength, explosiveness, in addition to, causing the muscle to grow in size. It builds fully functional muscle by raisingthe number of myosin/actin filaments (sarcomeres) inside the cell.



To experience the best of both these worlds you should build a foundation of strength by bring your attention tomyofibrillar development and becomingstronger in the squat, deadlift, bench press, rows, overhead press and pull-ups. You'll want to work the middle ground by working in the 5-8 reps range. Then sporadically throw in some singles, doubles and triples from time to time once you become better at those exercises.



These technical compound multi joint exercises can be extremely technical exercises. Squats and deadlifts in particular, but all require some experience and skill to perform. I recommend starting off slow until you learn the corrects forms. Once you have the form down, then you can start to increase reps or increase the weight. This is very important to understand, you can get really hurt if you do not follow proper form and safety for these exercises.



For assistance exercises you can use exercises with higher rep ranges like lunges, step-ups, split-squats, push-ups, dumbbell presses, chin-ups, dips, ab wheel, hanging knee raises, glute bridges, curls etc. Doing this will help build mass in the muscles, thus improving your visual aspect of yourself and sarcoplasmic growth.



In this way you can work through a variety of rep ranges to create growth from both sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy. Yet always keeping the heavy power exercises as the central core of your training philosophy for building real, functional muscle.



Two to three (2-3) heavy work sets ought to be more than enough. Nevertheless, when preforming an exercise like squats, deadlifts, bench press or any other MAIN exercise, always start out by doing numerous warm up sets. Especially if you are working up to a max or lifting heavy weight in the 5-8 rep range.



For instance say that you are going to work up to a 5 rep max in squats with 315lbs. You will want to do anywhere from 5-10 escalating warm-up sets. The amount of warm up sets depends on how heavy the weight is going to be.


Use the following as a template and adjust the total sets and weight increments according to your own strength level:

Set 1: the bar for 10 reps

Set 2: 95lbs for 5 reps

Set 3: 135lbs for 5 reps

Set 4: 185lbs for 5 reps

Set 5: 225lbs for 3 reps

Set 6: 255lbs for 2 reps

Set 7: 275lbs for 1 rep

Set 8: 295lbs for 1 rep

Set 9: 315lbs for 5 reps <=== WORK Set #1.

Set 10: 315lbs for 5 reps <=== WORK Set #2

Set 11: 275lbs for 10 reps <=== WORK Set #3 (Back off set)



This might appear to be tiresome but by doing this it will build up your nervous system and completely warm up your muscles for the heavy lifting you are about to embark on, while reducing the chance of injury. If you jump straight to heavy weight without adequately warming up your muscles, you may seriously injure yourself. Becoming badly injured can possibly keep you skinny and weak forever, so I would advise not to take any chances.



Let's say, now you were going to perform another lower body exercise after that one. Then you do not have to worry about all the warm up sets because you fully warmed up from the squats you just performed. Simply move right into the following exercise, of course that is after you have rested properly. However, if you plan on doing an upper body exercise, I would advise going ahead and doing a few warm-up sets before you start lifting heavy.





If you want to build maximum strength and size you should focus on lifting heavy weights under eight reps to create Myofibrillar Hypertrophy and increase your muscle density. Compound multi-joint exercises should be the main focus of your training program. To round out and improve your muscles size and visual aspects you should also incorporate higher volume training from time to time. By using the 8-12 rep range on your assistance and isolation exercises you will cause Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy inside the muscle. This allows you to achieve both types of hypertrophy and reap the best of both.



Talk to you later!

Brandon Cook



About the Author:

Brandon Cook is creator of The Awakened Warrior Blog, and co-creator of, a website specifically designed to teach the individuals who are ectomorphic the laws and scientific principles for building a classic, muscular and functional body. features a free email class covering the basic principles of training naturally, eating a nutritious, muscle-building diet, and understanding the truth about supplements. The website is filled with free articles, videos, and the programs you need to create your ideal body.

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