How to Build More Muscle With This One Trick
Photo by Sabel Blanco from Pexels
Mr. Olympia used it. Why don’t you give it a try?
If you clicked on this article, you’re probably looking for one-off tricks that will help you achieve your fitness goals.
You’ve tried hard to put on muscle. You go to the gym regularly. You sore yourself to death. But the growth just doesn’t show up.
You wonder if you’re doing it wrong. Maybe there are tricks you don’t know about. Tricks that others use to get the body they desire. You doubt yourself. And it’s driving you crazy.
The only way to relieve yourself is by research.
Perhaps this is why you came here.
Don’t worry, I won’t disappoint you. Because I’ve been there. But like anything else in life, I’ll be the first one to tell you there aren’t any shortcuts.
Consistency is key, especially in fitness.
This means, while “tricks” don’t actually exist, there’s definitely a way to work smarter.
Let’s see how.
How Dorian Yates Went Against Conventional Wisdom and Succeeded
Dorian Yates reached the epitome of success in bodybuilding. He won Mr. Olympia six consecutive times from 1992 to 1997 and is remembered with legendary bodybuilders like Ronnie Coleman, Arnold, and Phil Health.
What’s fascinating about Dorian Yates is that he says this:
45 minutes in the gym is all you need, the go home to rest, and grow.
Dorian trained for 45 minutes, 4 times a week for Mr. Olympia. This routine, as Ben Pakulski says, was unheard of. While a lot of folks trained every day, and some twice a day, Dorian believed in quality workouts and rest.
You may be thinking how was Dorian able to get away with fewer sessions and still defeat his competitors?
Perhaps a better question is,
What did he do to increase the quality of his workouts?
He was mindful.
The Life-Changing Workout Habit Most People Skip
Believe it or not, mindfulness is an important part of fitness, especially when it comes to strength training.
As Ben Pakulski teaches, the aim of a workout is not to lift the heaviest weight you can.
Yes, you should aim higher and increase the weight over time. But in the short term, the goal is to challenge the muscle.
Imagine how you’d challenge your bicep. You’ll probably lift a moderate amount of weight, isolate your bicep by putting your elbow on your knee and curl your arm to lift it.
It’s that simple. But when it comes to doing it, we forget the fundamentals.
We focus on how much weight others are lifting around us. We try to impress others by the weight on our shoulders rather than our actual growth. Why? Because it feels good in the short term.
In the long run, it is a waste of time since it will not give you the growth you desire.
The best way to fix this is to meditate on the muscle.
It means being fully aware of the muscle you’re targeting. Consciously contract and expand the muscle that you’re working and see the benefits yourself.
This automatically fixes your form and avoids the risk of injury. Moreover, you’re much less likely to use momentum to complete your reps.
When you put this into practice, you’ll not be able to lift as much weight. But over time, you’ll find your muscles growing much faster.
I’ll give you a personal example.
I wanted to get good at chin-ups but for some reason, I could never go beyond 8 lousy reps.
Stupid enough, I started doing weighted pullups, thinking that adding more weight would eventually increase my strength. Nothing happened. I kept on doing lousy pullups week after week.
Then I bought a pull-up bar and fixed it between a door. This time, I did not have weights to add so I started with my bodyweight. Again, I was back to lousy pullups which were not helping me grow.
Here’s what I did differently — to make it more difficult, I started going slower. I went all the way up and down. I didn’t use my legs to gain momentum.
The results? My arms grew more in 2 weeks than in 3 months. That is the power of mindfulness.
It’s More Than Meditating on the Muscle
Meditation is not only good when you’re working out. In fact, most of its benefits accrue when you’re resting.
Here are a few to spin your head:
It lowers cortisol levels which lead to more recovery
Develops mental grit
Forces you to learn proper breathing to fuel your workouts
Greater awareness and reduced reaction time
Self-control and improved diet habits
This is just the tip of the iceberg. But they’re enough for you to get started and take this practice seriously.
Beware of Music
“I don’t listen to music when I lift. I don’t listen to music before I go out for WWE, either.” — John Cena
Listening to music is almost a requirement for most lifters. And I get it. It helps to release dopamine in the brain to improve performance.
But I’d beg to differ. Listening to music, at the cost of being mindful, is not beneficial.
You see gym rats putting on earplugs and doing all sorts of crazy movements. They lift weights as if dancing to beats.
This is self-defeating. You’re much less likely to focus on your form when you’re blasting heavy metal in your ears.
Instead, consider giving it up altogether or listen to beats that are not exciting. You may be bored for a couple of days but you only need a little practice of mindful lifting. After a few days, you’ll stop missing the beats.
The 3-Step Checklist to Use Before Every Rep
When I heard ‘meditate on the muscle’ it wasn’t completely obvious to me as to how I’d implement it in reality. Yes, greater awareness is something we all can cultivate but you still need a plan to go ahead.
Here’s a simple checklist you should keep in mind before starting every rep:
Setup your body with proper form
Stabilize to lift the weight with the muscle and not momentum
Initiate the movement with the muscle you’re training
Thinking about the checklist forces you to pay attention to the different components of each rep thereby making you much more mindful of what you’re doing.
This is just my opinion. Seasoned lifters still debate if it works, but the pros seem to have a consensus on this.
More than anything, it is common sense. Working the muscle by focusing on it should be the most important part of your practice — otherwise, why are you even trying?
That being said, try it for yourself and see what happens. I’m sure you’ll improve.
Fitness, as I’ve learned over the past few years, is a lot about experimenting. That is how you uncover hidden techniques to skyrocket your progress.
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