Source: JoshStrength Newsletter Issue 107

Here are some tips that will help you maximize muscular development.

Train Core Lifts

Big movements produce big results!

Core movements must form the core of your training program, even if pure aesthetics is the goal. Examples are squat variations, bench press variations, deadlift variations, dips and pull-up variations; these movements build the most muscle mass and produce the highest levels of inter and intra muscle coordination, and increase High Threshold Motor Unit (HTMU) recruitment, which has the highest potential for growth. Not to mention, it spikes production of anabolic hormones. 

Rep Ranges Must Vary

Sets with lower reps/heavy weight catalyze myofibrillar hypertrophy or the contractile element of the muscle, increasing limit strength.  This is why strong bodybuilders have a dense look.

Bodybuilders that never lift heavy do not have that dense, grainy look when dieted down.  

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the result of higher reps; this is almost like swelling the muscle. It’s the non-contractile element; this does not make you stronger.  For the athlete confined to a weight class, this is like increasing the size of a car but with no increase in the engine size, not a good thing!  For the bodybuilder, it is essential to fully develop a muscle.

Look at some training regimens of the all-time greats.

*Reg Park thrived on a 5 sets of 5 approach
*Tom Platz routinely squatted 20+ reps
*Ronnie Coleman trained with squat and deadlifts with 1-2 reps right up to the Olympia 
*Branch Warren swears by his signature 100+ reps on the leg extensions.

All rep ranges need to be trained!  

Use Isolation Exercises

Isolation exercises will play a role.  Core movements are more functional and natural but to “super naturally” develop certain muscles, you have to overload them with principle of isolation.  

Let’s look at the vastus lateralis, or the sweep of the quads. To fully develop it, you have to do leg extensions.  No human movements isolate the quads from the hamstrings, but a large sweep is the bodybuilding standard; ergo to acquire the sweep, you have to step outside the functional training paradigm and hit the leg extensions.

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