What is the Best Workout?
The current research gives us a pretty good idea of what’s optimal for strength and muscle gains:
- 40-70 reps per muscle group per workout (overlap included)
- Doing those reps in the 5-12 rep range
- Training a muscle group about twice a week
- Doing about 80% of your volume on big compound exercises
- Long rest periods between sets (1-3 minutes depending on the exercise and load)
- Main goal of training is Progressive Overload
What you’ll notice is that even these strict recommendations allow for many different programs. Because of that there is no way to know what the “the best workout program” is. Individual variability is very high as well. No matter how you train you will always be able to convince yourself you should be progressing faster and this mindset leaves you susceptible to program hoping.
What do these statistics mean to you?
Consistency is what makes progress rather than perfection. Personality traits play a big role in determining the right training routine for you. Some people are better suited for high intensity and low volume. Other people do better with moderate intensity and higher volume.
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How to Choose The Right Training Program for You
Ultimately, all training routines work if they fit the principles we listed at the top of the page. And we’d argue that what you enjoy most is also what will work best for you. We think three training styles fit the preferences and lifestyles of most people:
- Moderate Intensity, Higher Volume
- High Intensity, Low Volume
- Bodyweight Training
Great Resources for Different Training Styles
THE GREEK GOD PROGRAM
The Greek God Program, developed by Gregory O'Gallagher of Kinobody, is the program Radu used to build his physique in his first two years of training. Greg is a controversial figure who challenges the "workout every day" mindset by providing a way to obtain a Hollywood physique working out only 3 times a week. It works. The program’s biggest strength is its simplicity making it ideal for guys new to lifting and intermediates.
THE MUSCLE AND STRENGTH TRAINING PYRAMID
The Muscle and Strength Training Pyramid, designed by Eric Helms, is one of the most praised training books in the world. Using his experience as a researcher, bodybuilder, powerlifter and coach Eric explains how to structure your training for strength and muscle gains above the intermediate level. This book is what Radu uses to create his training routines.
Key Components to Any Muscle Building Journey*
Because muscle growth is a slow process, sticking to your training and nutrition program long-term is what matters most. If one guy trains with a perfectly optimal program for six months and another guy trains with a good but inferior program for one year, the latter will make better progress.
An optimal program executed poorly is inferior to a decent program executed well. Watch this video to learn what your natural muscle building potential is and how long it takes to get there.
Lifting heavier and heavier weights over time is the biggest driver of muscle growth. No matter what training style you choose, progressive overload is always the goal.
For example if a guy lifts 185 lbs for 6 reps on bench press today and a year from now he lifts the same 185 lbs for 6 reps he’ll be the same size. However if he progressed to 225 lbs for 6 reps his chest would be significantly bigger. The same is true for bodyweight training. In order to get bigger you have to progress through harder and harder exercises and build strength.
Check out this post to learn how strong you need to get for your goal physique.
The amount of reps you do in the gym, the weights you’re using and how frequently you train are the three pillars of your training routine. Making sure those three variables are set correctly for your level will ensure you make optimal progress.
Volume = The total number of reps you do per week
Intensity = How heavy those reps are
Frequency = How often you train a muscle group
Like we stated before, there are many ways you can set these variables to create a good training program. But you can also make a bad program by setting them incorrectly. Read this post to learn how to set your training routine optimally.
Muscle growth is maximized when we gain weight because new tissue is created for excess nutrients. We must eat a surplus of calories and enough protein to support muscle growth.
Some guys take this too far though. There is only so much muscle the body can create in one day and giving it more nutrients than it can use won’t speed up the process. It’s like a worker building a house. He won’t build the house faster if you give him more materials than he can use. In fact, the unused materials will just pile up around the house – just as body fat will pile up around the muscle.
Check out this post to learn how to set your nutrition for muscle growth.
Muscle growth has two parts: 1) Creating the stress that stimulates adaptation and 2) Allowing our body to recover from it an improve.
When your recovery capacity is good you can handle more training which translates into better progress in long term. An important factor to keep in mind is that your body reacts to all types of stress very similarly. Although lifting weights, the death of a loved one, or tight deadlines at work are different, your body copes with them using the same reservoir of recovery. In other words mental stress can actually make you physically weaker.
To keep your recovery high you must get enough good quality sleep and reduce life stress as much as possible. Read this post to learn how to do it.