If you are looking to try and figure out how to build muscle, you must lift heavy weights for lower reps. The results you will get is depending on it, specially if you're a hardgainer. Besides receiving dense muscles, properly lifting heavy weights will also build a cornerstone of strength, adding to the hardness of your bones, tendon and ligament strength, and explosive muscular power.


Now that you understand that, it is essential to realize that there are two forms of hypertrophy training. That is to say two different ways to cause your muscles to get bigger: Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy and Myofibrillar Hypertrophy.


Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy is used all the time by body builders and it's accomplished by moving iron in the higher rep range and lifting fairly heavy weights. Eight to twelve (8-12) repetitions, normally. Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy involves the growth of sarcoplasm, which is a fluid like substance inside the cell. This type of growth causes the muscle to appear larger. Although, this higher volume training does little for maximum strength, it does aid with ATP (energy) production and strength endurance. Many consider this non-functional muscle growth, however sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is still important when you are wanting to gain mass and change how a muscle looks.


Hard, solid muscles (a.k.a 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 well known amongst the powerlifting community and also the individuals that are lifting eighty to ninety percent of their 1 rep max. This form of growth develops advances in maximal strength, explosiveness, in addition to, increasing the size of the muscle. Fully functional muscle development is achieved by raisingthe number of myosin/actin filaments (sarcomeres) inside the cell.


If you want the best of both worlds you should focus on building a foundation of strength by bring your attention to myofibrillar development and becoming stronger in the squat, deadlift, bench press, rows, overhead press and pull-ups. You will 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 as you become more skilled at these exercises.


These technical compound multi joint exercises can be extremely technical exercises. All of them require some skill and practice to perform correctly, but I would pay special attention to the squats and deadlifts especially. Make sure you start off light and learn proper form and execution before gradually increasing the weight or reps from week to week. 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, therefore improving your appearance and sarcoplasmic growth.


Working with a variety of different rep ranges, you can benefit from the growth of both sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy. But you want to make sure that you save the heavy lifting exercises as the main core of your training program so you can be sure your growth is function muscles.


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


For example say you are going to go up to a 5 rep max in squats with 315lbs. Most likely to be safe you will want to do anywhere from 5-10 escalating warm-up sets. The number of warm-up sets to include will depend on the amount of weight you are going to be lifting. The heavier you keep raising the weight, the more you keep throwing in additional warm up sets.


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 may seem tedious but 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 go right into lifting the heavy weight without a proper warm-up, then you will most likely end up badly injured. Becoming badly injured can possibly keep you skinny and weak forever, so I would advise not to take any chances.


Now say you were going to do another lower body exercise after that. Then warming up is really not required at this point due to the fact that you are completely warmed up from the previous squat exercise. 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 would like to build maximal power 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 every once in a while. 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

Author's Bio: 

Brandon Cook is creator of The Awakened Warrior Blog, and co-creator of HardgainerMuscleBuilding.com, a website specifically configured to teach the hardgainer the laws and scientific principles for building a classic, muscular and functional body.

HargainerMuscleBuilding.com 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.

Please visit us at http://hardgainermusclebuilding.com