Putting On Muscle During the Winter

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Question: Since its winter I would like to add some muscle to my frame before next summer. I have a good workout and am eating well to gain weight but are there any other pointers that you can give me to get more muscle?
Answer: That’s a very general question but there are some specific answers that would help keep you gaining muscle in the “off-season.” Avoid doing too many isolation exercises. With so many different pieces of equipment available to use, trainers often get caught up in using all of them when most target a specific area or muscle group. Base your training program on using large multi-joint compound movements like the squat, bench press, deadlift, pull-ups (not on a weight-assisted machine), barbell rows, etc. Pec-deck flyes and leg extensions have their places and functions but you can’t build overall strength and power with them.
Use a full rang of motion on these big multi-joint exercises. When you do your squats or even leg presses, use the required range of motion to stimulate deep muscle tissue. On squats, lower yourself to get the center of your thighs parallel to the floor. Ladies, going deep on squats will work your glutes, half squats won’t. On leg press you’re looking to get the angle between points on your knees, hips and shoulders at 45 degrees without allowing your hips to rotate upward off of the support pad which would cause your lower back and spinal erectors to have to strain and be placed in a stressful position.
Know what you’re going to train when you arrive at the gym and how much time you have to do it in. Remain focused while you’re in the gym and move with a purpose. Don’t do a set and sit on a bench and wait to do the next set. Someone else may like to work-in and sitting there you’ll drift off into a thousand yard stare. If you train alone find a “rabbit,” someone training at a good pace perhaps across the gym who doesn’t even know that you’re using them to pace yourself. You do your set while they are doing theirs and rest while they rest or run the opposite way. You do a set while they rest and rest while they do a set. However you do it remain focused on the training and not conversation.
If you have a plan then you have goals. Set long term, concrete goals and smaller stepping stone goals to reach the big ones. As the Cheshire cat said in Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you’re going any road will do”. Record your training. It only takes about five minutes and you can see your progress or lack of and make changes to keep you on track.
Finally, remember you have both a positive and negative portion of each rep. Too often lifters focus on getting the weight up and forget using the negative portion as well. Resist the weight when returning to the starting position. If you are doing lat pulldowns resist the weight when the bar is going up and don’t just drop the bar back to start position on curls. The same can be said of bouncing the bar off of your chest when doing bench presses. Maintain form and protect yourself from injury. The gyms will be crowded in January so start early.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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