The time has finally come! The gyms have reopened after almost 4 months. Undoubtedly you can not wait to get back to work with the irons and get into top shape as soon as possible. I assume in this article that few have managed to maintain all muscle mass in the home train time. You may think that you will build your muscle mass the fastest if you go to the gym as often as possible. That is why I write this article, because there is a much faster way to your dream result.
Don't do this if you want to build your muscle mass quickly - more is not better
We men in particular think that if a little works, more should just work more. If you have not trained fanatically at home for a while, you will undoubtedly have lost some muscle mass. If you have not lost mass, you do not necessarily need to continue reading this article. Of course you want to wipe this loss away as soon as possible to let your muscles shine again. The first thing you probably think of getting this done is to go to the gym as often as possible and do quite a few extra sets. However, I would strongly advise you not to go all out at the gym when it is open again. Why are you wondering?
More muscle pain = more muscle damage = less muscle growth
In my book or in an earlier article you can read that more muscle pain probably does not lead to more muscle growth. In fact, it probably reduces muscle growth. You read that right: more muscle pain leads to less muscle growth. I don't think this is what you want. Muscle pain is a measure of the amount of muscle damage you do during a workout. That damage needs to be repaired and that is what your body does first. The more proteins are needed for repair (recovery), the less protein remains for building new muscle mass. In short, repair of damage does not provide extra muscle mass. This will only repair the damage caused.
What you can do better to build muscle mass - gradually increase your volume
What you can do much smarter than immediately start full throttle is gradually build up your volume. This ensures that your muscle mass returns faster and it saves time in the gym. Or you have more time to catch up with your gym buddies. In the period that you could not enter the gym, you probably trained at home or did nothing / less. In 9 out of 10 cases, the current training volume (number of sets with stimulating repetitions for your muscles) is a lot lower than in the period when you still exercised in the gym. Agree? Do you think it is wise to start with your 'old' volume right away when the gyms reopen? This gives you a guarantee for a lot of muscle pain and you want to prevent that! For the benefit of your muscle growth, of course. To reiterate, a lot of muscle pain is most likely detrimental to muscle growth.
Use muscle pain as a monitor of a strong workout
If you want your muscles to grow, you have to give them a clear growth stimulus and keep proteins to build more muscle mass. As you have just read, proteins are first used to repair damage and everything that remains can be used to build new mass. You have the most protein for muscle growth if you have as little muscle pain as possible. However, no muscle pain is often also a sign that you have not trained hard enough. I always keep the rule of thumb that you should feel a little muscle pain the day after a workout. And by a little bit I mean that you only find the trained muscle slightly irritating when you tighten it. So no severe muscle pain peak on day 2. Just a slightly irritating pain sometimes present. That way you know that you have given sufficient stimuli to your muscles and that you have as much protein as possible for muscle growth. Exactly what you want right?
Build up your volume step by step
To continue experiencing that mild muscle pain, your training schedule should grow with you, as always. We call this progressive overload management. You will probably rebuild to your former volume in about 4-8 weeks. After these 8 weeks you will most of your lost muscle mass back. Provided of course you can use the so-called muscle memory (read more about this in the book No Strong Story About Muscle Growth). Note: beginners cannot take advantage of this.
Even if muscle mass is not the goal, the principle of building up gradually applies
The gradual build-up of volume also applies if you want to improve your running condition, for example. Although other mechanisms are activated under your skin, in the cells, a gradual build-up is also the fastest way to results here.
Looking for schedules with gradual overload management?
For when the gyms open again you will find on No Strong Stories 4 complete build-up programs of 8 weeks. 2 programs aimed at women (legs, buttocks and stomach) and 2 aimed at men. Including food of course. Guaranteed that you will be back at your old level!