Got Muscles ?

Still trying to pack on the muscle? Taking a little time to plan a more individualized workout routine can pay off in big ways. First, choose a training goal best for what you are trying to accomplish. Are you training for strength, hypertrophy — also known as muscle growth — or muscular endurance? Each is a different track leading you to a muscle-building finish line. Each track is distinct, right down to how long to rest between sets.

Though it’s all lean muscle, different training goals pack on muscle in different ways. For example, heavier weights and fewer repetitions lead to a bulkier build, while lighter weights and more repetitions are best for toning. This usually scares women away from adding weight to their weight-training routine, but keep in mind that it’s hard for women to get bulky. With less testosterone, among other things, women just aren’t designed that way. So, ladies, don’t be shy when it comes to lifting a heavier load. Building muscle on your body is like building your very own fat-burning machine; the more muscle you have, the more calories and fat you’ll burn in a day.

For the men, you may wonder why working out with less weight and more repetitions could benefit you. Training for muscular endurance in the weight room is perfect for maintenance when time is an issue. Simply grab a set of dumbbells and shoot through 20 bicep curls, 20 shoulder presses and 15 tricep kickbacks — one set on each arm. Next, hold the dumbbells at your side and get in 20 squats and 20 lunges — right and left leg lead. If time permits, enjoy another set or two, and then finish up with 20 crunches and a quick stretch on a mat. If the choice is either to skip working out at all or do a quick muscular-endurance workout, don’t let your ego get in the way of reaching for those 20-pound dumbbells. Your muscles will thank you.

If building muscle is your goal, confusion may lie between training for strength or hypertrophy. Both lead to muscle growth. The former just has more strength benefits because strength is the focus. Now, if you’ve been training for muscle growth for a while and seem to have hit a plateau, try training for strength for a few months. Use heavier weight, fewer reps and longer rests between sets. The change may be just what your muscles need to get growing.

Finally, what about clocking in for some cardio time? Is it really necessary, or can it hinder muscle-building goals? It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish. There is no doubt about it:If you want to reduce body fat, then weight training and cardiovascular training is the answer. For those of you stuck in the free-weight area, taking a trip to cardio-land may give you the extra definition you’ve been working for. The only time cardiovascular training becomes a hindrance is when you’re training professionally for power lifting and such. Studies show that maximal power is compromised when maximal endurance training is done. This is a factor if you’re training for the Olympics, but for the average exerciser, cardio is nothing to fear.