Science suggests that to maximize muscle growth, select weights to do 8-12 reps to muscle failure – well this simple fact seems to be known by almost every trainer in the gym. True, now unlike you, not everyone knows exactly why.

Amount of rest between approaches

A short to medium rest between approaches (30 seconds to 2 minutes) can cause significant metabolic stress.

Number of approaches per exercise

According to scientists, performing 3 to 4 approaches gives the most effective mechanical stress for all muscles involved.

Speed of movement

Scientists recommend performing the maximal effort movement faster – 1-2 seconds (e.g. lifting a barbell) and the eccentric phase of the exercise (e.g. lowering a barbell) longer (2-6 seconds). The slower execution of the eccentric phase is necessary to ensure adequate mechanical tension – it is this “lighter” phase of the movement that is most important for muscle growth. “From a hypertrophy perspective, eccentric contraction has a greater impact on muscle development. In particular, eccentric exercise is associated with a greater increase in protein synthesis” (Schoenfeld, 2010).

Free weights or exercise machines

Scientist Schoenfeld states that each type of weights plays a different role in optimal muscle growth, “Free weights, which involve a large number of muscles, help increase muscle density, while the stabilization provided by exercise machines allows for more loading of individual muscles.”

Preparation before serious training

High metabolic and mechanical muscle growth training can cause serious muscle damage and is recommended for people with at least one year of experience.

It is necessary to start with a dynamic warm-up, load the cortical muscles (abs, stabilizer muscles and others) to prepare the muscle tissue for the stress of high-volume training.

Exercise order

It is preferable to start training with complex movements with free weights to involve the maximum number of muscles (e.g. squats with a barbell, deadlifts are better to do at the beginning of training), and in the course of training gradually move on to machines that affect individual muscles.

The last exercise

The last exercise in each training session should be performed in a weight-reducing machine: after all the repetitions of the approach to failure, the weight is reduced and with it you should also do the maximum possible number of repetitions to failure.

Weight reduction approaches can cause significant mechanical and metabolic stress, as well as significant discomfort, so they should be performed at the end of the exercise.


It is important to dose the load that is right for you, because “overloading” can be just as harmful to muscle growth as “underloading”. For example, in the scientist-recommended program for muscle growth, cardio is limited. According to Schoenfeld, “too much energy expenditure can reduce muscle growth.”

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