Are You Engaging in Muscle Stimulation or Exaggeration?
What’s the difference between muscle stimulation and exaggeration? Is your current muscle-building program stimulating the targeted muscle groups for growth or are you carrying your training sessions out to the point of exaggeration?
Fitness is trendy these days. More and more people are in the gym slinging iron. Often times, lifters tend to do more workouts, exercises, angles, reps and sets, thinking they will build muscle faster. The idea that adding more and more variety to a single training session to recruit all the muscle fibers is just preposterous.
A Typical Chest Workout
I was chatting with a guy in the gym about his chest training program. He told me that his routine consisted of, in this order, flat barbell bench press, flat dumbbell press, incline barbell press, chest dips, cable crossovers, decline barbell press, and the pec deck machine. He did 4 sets of 10 reps on all. That chest workout is a train wreck and it will NEVER produce any muscle growth.
What’s wrong with that chest workout? It’s not muscle stimulation, it’s training exaggeration. First, it’s too many exercises for the chest in one workout. Second, flat barbell bench press and the flat dumbbell press target the same area of the chest muscle. There is no sense in doing the exact same exercise twice for the same muscle group in one workout. Third, the pec deck and cable crossovers are virtually the same exercise.
It’s just a total chest training nightmare. He engaged in too many exercises for the chest, he duplicated some exercises and just did too many sets and reps overall. Mike Dewar notes, “How can you stimulate muscle growth through constant variations without over complicating the body’s ability to find its groove and adapt?” The answer is, you can’t. When you train, you should engage in muscle stimulation, which can be accomplished with 3-4 exercises.
Simple Tip for Muscle Stimulation
If you are training for muscle growth and development, you need to stick to the basics and avoid overtraining. Endless sets and reps quickly lead to overtraining. Sticking to the basics of weight training are to include 1-2 compound exercises such as the bench press, chins, shoulder press, straight bar curls, deadlifts, the close-bench press, etc. Follow your compound exercises with 1-2 isolation exercises for best muscle stimulation.
Use progressive overload, train to failure in a lower rep range, and rest. Your muscles aren’t growing when you are in the gym training. Weight training is only muscle stimulation. The actual growth process takes place when you leave the gym and rest.
The second workout in example #2 is better for muscle stimulation and growth. The entire chest muscle is stimulated with the flat press because the chest is one muscle and it contracts as one unit. Muscle stimulation is a result of training the desired muscle group fully through proper training, not muscle badgering.