There is no scarcity of resources for building muscle. There are magazines, and videos, articles and experts. Every gym has trainers who are certified and experienced. There are supplement dealers and manufacturers, scientists and researchers. And each one operates from the same mental model- strategies and philosophy for promoting on-going muscle mass enhancement. However, they all are off the mark. The simple fact is that the body is a closed system pre-programmed to maintain stasis and provide for survival.
What does this mean to the individual wishing to pack on layers of muscle? Each individual body has its limitations. You can educate yourself on every supplement and strategy in the world for building muscle and it won’t change your particular limitations.
There are those who espouse continued progression and increased overload. Theoretically these are sound concepts. Realistically they are theoretically ideal concepts. The simple fact is that the body is not capable of continued progression and increased overload. There is a saturation point beyond which the body will not go regardless of intent or effort without suffering physical breakdown. That fact is the reason why there are steroid users and abusers in the first place. They are seeking a means of moving beyond those limitations. Legal supplement users, meaning body building specific supplements, are after the same effect, but philosophically are just to the right of such extremes.
I know this stance to be practical and realistic because I myself have passed through the various stages. I have used just about every routine there is and just about every supplement, left and right of extremism, that there is to use. I have gone from a 140 pound high school graduate to a 230 plus pound mid-forties, and have scaled back to an under 200 pound almost 50. The simple truth is it takes calories to promote growth and body mass to support strength. Without the added benefit of supplementation, these calories not only serve to build the desired muscle mass, but add to the bodies fat deposits. The only way to amp up the body’s metabolism to allow the inner furnace to burn and employ these additional calories without gaining the undesirable body fat is to disrupt the normal reactive processes of the body. The only way to encourage this “abnormality” is to use substances, chemicals, that alter the body’s natural cycles. And we all know where that will eventually lead: physical breakdown, mental stress, and health issues.
We are all predisposed to genetic limitations. The only method for reaching our potential with regard to building muscle is to educate ourselves to the ergogenic processes of our body and effective means for maximizing those processes. The use of weight resistance, whether it is free weights or machine, is best served at a consistent steady pace employing proper range of motion with natural increases in resistance as the body learns the movement and adapts. The question of sets, repetitions, order of exercises, amount of weight, etcetera, really is just a matter of varying the stimulus to offset boredom, to continually challenge the muscle group to respond, and to avoid the wear and tear that is produced by overuse. Regardless of the approach, the goal always should be health and both physical and mental well-being. A dose of personal humility and an understanding and acceptance of one’s own physical limitations will go a long way to keeping that goal in focus.