Many people resist the idea of focusing on building muscle because they don’t want to end up looking like Mr. Olympia. Someway, somehow, those people believe building muscle is too easy when actually, it is not.
Focusing on building muscle is a shortcut for your leaner, ripped version. In fact, keeping the muscle we’ve already grown is quite challenging; it is way harder than losing fat. So, if you focus on muscle building, would you become an inflated version of yourself in a couple of months? Absolutely not.
So, why is it so hard, and what are the best ways to build muscle and keep it in the long haul? You’re about to find out.
In this episode, Ted cracks the code of building muscle in five simple yet powerful steps. He explains the science behind muscle growth and why it is so hard to build it and keep it in our bodies.
Plus, he explains the benefits of focusing on form and technique and when is the right time to add weight, increase sets, and repetitions. He also shares advice for CrossFitters on improving their muscle growth, and much more. Listen now!
- The most common misconception about muscle growth
- How to design your workouts in a way that forces your body to build muscle
- What is the best moment to add weight, and what kind of exercises are the best to do it
- How can adding reps force your body to build muscle
- The link between adding sets and muscle growth
- The benefits of slowing down your reps
- The secret behind reducing weight and focusing on technique and the full range of motion
- And much more…
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Podcast Transcription: 5 Ways to Force Your Body Build Muscle with Ted Ryce
Ted Ryce: I've been helping people get into the best shape of their life for over two decades now. And one of the things that I've seen in the gym that really bothers me, is that I see people showing up year after year and their body still looks the same.
And I want to ask you right now, are you that person? Are you that person who you've been in the gym and you push, you feel like you're working out hard, but your body just doesn't change, or maybe you have to work out so hard just to get a little bit of change?
So, if either of those resonates with you, today's episode is going to be for you because we're going to get practical and tactical in this episode. We're going to go into the “5 Ways to Force Your Body to Change,” specifically, to grow more muscle.
And just in case you might be saying, "Well, Ted, I don't want to grow more muscle. I just want to get lean." You want to grow more muscle, all right? That's how you get that toned look. That's what being toned is. And most people do it wrong. So, we're going to get into how to do it right today.
So, what is up, my friend? Welcome back to the podcast. Welcome back to the Legendary Life Podcast. I'm your host, Ted Ryce, a health expert and coach to entrepreneurs, and executives in other high-performing professionals. And like I mentioned earlier, I've been doing this for a few decades now.
And what I want to tell you is: I'm going to share exactly what you need to do to change your body, and if you apply what I teach you in today's episode, you're going to notice changes quickly. I get fast results with my clients. My clients are always blown away by how quick their results happen. And I'm going to share this with you.
Now, my clients pay thousands to work with me. I'm going to share this with you for free today. And I don't want you to even believe me. I want you to test this for yourself. I also want to say this: I made a lot of mistakes. I say I've been in this business for 23 years, actually going to be going on 24 in February of 2023, so six months away of 23 and a half years.
And most of the time I've been in the business, the reality is that I didn't know what I was doing. I was making all these mistakes and I thought it was so simple to make your muscles grow you need to challenge them every workout. Sounds so simple, right?
But most people's workouts, they don't deliver good results. Now, I want to be clear, I want you to listen. I'm not saying that you don't get a good sweat. I'm not saying that you don't get a good pump. You probably feel great after your workout—hopefully, you do. But I'm not talking about how you feel. That's a shift in psychology, that's a shift in your hormones, in your brain chemistry, I'm not talking about that.
You can do any type of exercise and it'll make you feel better. I'm talking about progress, I'm talking about feeling better because you see changes in the mirror happening every week, that's what I'm talking about. So, before we get to the actual strategies, the 5 strategies that will force your muscles to grow no matter how hard you think it is to change your body, these will work for you.
We need to talk a little bit about the science of muscle growth. Don't worry, I'm not going to nerd out too much, but I want you to get some context. So, let's say, you just finished a workout, are you stronger after a workout? Do you just worked out for 45 minutes or an hour and say, “Wow, that workout really increase my strength, now I'm going to go work out again.”
No, of course not. You're tired, you're fatigued, your muscles are actually weaker after the workout. It's not until you recover that your muscles get stronger. And I want you to think about this. Think about a graph and think about that x-axis, that line, that's your fitness level.
And when you work out, you actually get weaker so you actually drop below your current fitness level. But the way the body works is you start to recover and you come back to your previous fitness level and actually above it. That's what exercise physiologists call super-compensation. You can just call it getting stronger.
So, the point here is that proper recovery needs to happen for you to build muscle. And let's say you did fully recover from your last workout. It doesn't matter how much you sweat or how much good of a pump, like I mentioned earlier, if you're not providing more of a challenge than your previous workout.
So, I want you to picture this in your mind, if you can, you drop down below your baseline level of fitness, then you came back to the baseline level of fitness so you're the same amount of strength. But if you do this properly, you'll be stronger than the next workout and that is an opportunity for you to push yourself harder.
Because for consistent results over time to change your body the way—like, if you see Christian Bale in shape or Jason Statham, or if you're a woman, JLo or…So, one of my clients said, “I want Carrie Underwood's legs.”
So, if you want Carrie Underwood's legs, or if you want to look like Jason Statham, Statham, I don't know how to say the name, this is what you have to do, you have to design your workouts to literally force your muscles to grow.
“Oh, but Ted, I don't want to get too big.” Guess what? You won't. So, stop saying that. It's a ridiculous thing to say. That's like saying—just a quick tangent because we need to address this—“Oh, I don't want to look like a bodybuilder.” Look, are you taking steroids? Then stop saying that. It is so ridiculous.
It’s kind of like going to… Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur telling your clients, “Listen, I don't want you to pay me too much money.” How would you sound if you said that to your clients? Or going to your boss if you work for someone else and say to your boss, “Listen, I don't want you to pay me too much, okay?” They're going to be thinking, “Don't worry, I won't.”
And that's exactly how you should think about growing too much muscle. It is extremely hard to grow muscle. You can lose fat quickly, but to grow muscle. It's a slow process, you have to do all the things that I'm going to tell you here, and it's a slow process. And even in the end, we're going to start to lose muscle, right? It starts happening.
Actually, if you're not working out right now, it's happening to you right now if you're over 30 years old. But even if you train consistently and even if you do the things that I'm going to tell you here, which are super effective, you're going to lose muscle over time. So please, if you're one of those people who say that, stop saying that, just stop it, okay? Just never say it again. It is so ridiculous.
So, let's come back to the idea. For consistent gains over time, your workouts need to be designed literally to force your muscles to grow every session. So, let's talk about the five ways to make that happen.
Number one is the easiest one, add more weight. So, increasing the weight on your exercises, say your bench press, your deadlifts, your squats, you know, whatever, exercise, bicep curls, that's the method that most people rely on. And it's pretty straightforward. Let's say you can squat 200 pounds for eight reps, next week you add five pounds and now you're squatting 205 pounds for eight reps.
This forces muscle growth because the amount of work that you're doing, and the amount of muscular tension that you're putting on your muscles is greater with 205 pounds than it is for 200 pounds. This is so super simple, okay? It's super simple. And if you're a beginner or just coming back from a long layoff, this is a good method to help you make gains quickly, right?
So, if you're new to lifting, if you're just coming back from a long layoff, you'll likely be able to add 5 to 10 pounds on your lifts every week on your exercises every week, especially the bigger exercises like bench presses, squats, deadlifts, pull-downs, pull-ups, those types of things.
Now for lateral raises and exercises like that, that get a bit tricky. And we'll talk about other methods later, but for the bigger, what you would call compound exercises, the multi-joint exercises, this is a great method. But there's an issue, you can't just keep adding weight and everybody eventually realizes this.
For example, let's say you started out benching 185 and then you added 10 pounds to the bar every week, in one year, you'd be bench-pressing 705 pounds, that doesn't happen. There's no one who shows up to the gym, one year of consistent, showing up to the gym, consistent workouts and then they're benching 705 pounds from starting out at 185.
Most people will never even get close to that strong. They won't even be able to lift half that weight. So, relying on adding weight is a mistake that will get you stuck on a plateau. That's what happens to most people, and if you keep doing it, you'll likely get injured, which happen to me more times than I'd like to admit.
And that's when our next method comes in. So, understand that you can't add weight and should add weight, but you can't always rely on it. And if you've been in this situation where you've hit a plateau, or if you've injured yourself, because you kept adding weight, you're going to want to hear this whole episode, because I'm going to tell you other things that you can do that will help you, and this becomes more important as you get older.
So, the next method is adding more reps. So, when done the right way, adding more reps will force your muscles to grow. And some simple math explains why this works. So, if you can binge press 200 pounds for 10 reps, multiply 200 pounds times 10, then you'll get, you've lifted 2000 pounds total for that set.
Are you with me so far? Simple math. One set, 200 pounds, 10 reps, you multiply 10 times the weight and you've lifted 2000 pounds total. Let's say in your next workout that you bench pressed the same amount of weight, but now you've done 11 reps.
So instead of 2000 pounds for that set, you've done 2,200 pounds for that set. And that means by adding just one rep, you've lifted 200 pounds more than last time. This works equally as well. It forces your muscles to grow just like adding more weight does. And as long as you're taking your sets close to failure, you can keep the same weight and increase your reps all the way up to 30.
Now, once you hit 30, there are some issues. For one, we're not sure if sets over 30 reps will still lead to as much muscle growth, and also more practically speaking, it takes more time to do 30 or 40 reps, 50 reps take a lot of time and also it really sucks.
Like, it takes a long time. There's a lot of burning and most people stop because you have to take the set close to failure and you experience a lot more burning when you're doing higher reps and you could still have five more reps to go and your muscles are on fire and you're at like 35 and you're like, “Gosh, my muscles are on fire,” but you’ve got to keep pushing to get to like, let's say 40 because that's where you're closest to failure. So, keep in mind, don't go above 30 reps.
And again, this will lead to the same amount of muscle growth as adding weight. This is super helpful if you have limited equipment or entries that act up when you lift heavier weights or if you're just a person that likes to lift a bit lighter. So, this is what I do with all my clients, I figure out what rep range do you like to lift in, let's stay there.
The third technique here, the third method is to add more sets. So, let's say you want to build up your shoulders and you're performing lateral raises,while trying to build up your shoulders and you're doing three sets of 15 reps getting better results. And let's also say this, right? Let's say you're using 15 pounds on lateral raises.
And if you've ever done that exercise, you know, to bump up to a higher weight is really tough to go from 20 to 25 pounds on lateral raises is extremely tough. You can't just keep going. So, let's say you're having trouble adding weight to an exercise and you keep trying to push yourself, but you're not able to get more reps.
Adding another set, although it does take more time, will help you build more muscle, and it's one of the most powerful methods we have, and simple math can explain this, too.
So, if you're using 15 pounds for the three sets of 15 reps on the lateral raises, think about this. You're doing three sets of 15 times 15 pounds, that's 675 pounds that you've lifted for those three sets of 15 reps. But adding a fourth set will give you four sets times 15 reps, times 15 pounds, you have lifted 900 pounds of work.
So, there is some nuance with this concept. I hope you're beginning to see that doing more work leads to more muscle growth, right? That is really this simple concept behind all of these methods doing more work. And again, this is one of the most powerful ways to stimulate more muscle growth, especially for areas that you want to develop more, like if you're struggling to grow your glutes or your calves or your arms or your shoulders .
I mean, you can use it with anything, but especially with muscle groups that are lagging, that you want to focus on specifically, boom, add more sets and you can see a rapid improvement, but it needs to be used sparingly, okay?
For example, you don't want to do more than four to six sets per exercise per workout, as a general rule. And let me give you an idea of how to use this strategy. Let's say that you're stuck on the bench press at 200 pounds for 12 reps and you try to add weight, but it just doesn't feel right, let's say you start feeling your shoulder and you try to push for more reps, but that's not working either.
So, what you can do is you can add a set every week until you're performing somewhere in the neighbourhood of four to six sets per an exercise, or until you feel like, “Oh my gosh, I can't do another set, my body is so tired,” that happens to me sometimes.
And then once you hit that point, you can cycle back down to two to three sets per an exercise as an example. So just keep in mind that this method, it's really taxing on your body and it will make your workouts longer, too. And of course, you’ve got to watch out for joint aches and pains. And if you have joint aches and pains, the next two methods that I'm going to share with you are extremely important.
Number four, slow down your reps, so lift slower. If we slow down our reps, we can increase the amount of time or muscle spent under tension for every rep. This works especially well—it works for all exercises. But it works especially well for exercises like again, lateral raises, where going from a 20-pound dumbbell to a 25-pound dumbbell or from 25 to 30, it just can be too much.
It also works well for bodyweight exercises like pushups and pull-ups, where you might not have a way to increase the weight. The thing is you don't want to go too slow as research has shown that doing more than six seconds per rep actually hurts muscle growth.
So, here's an example, let's say you're doing a lateral raise and let's say that you're doing one second up and one second down, the next week, instead of adding more weight or adding more reps or adding more sets, you can go two seconds up, two seconds down.
Now I know this one, people don't like doing this, people don't like slowing down. It's like, “I have to get this done,” but I'm telling you: if you're having trouble with either feeling muscles or getting results, slowing down and making sure the muscles are working properly, this is going to take your results to the next level.
I see this, again and again, when I have my clients record their workouts, record certain exercises, and then I critique their forum, I'm like, “Oh gosh, that looks terrible, you’ve got to slow down, right?” And then that's when the magic happens.
So again, let's return to the exercise. You're doing allow rays one second up one second down. Next week, try using the same weight and go two seconds up, two seconds down. Then the week after that, raise it to three seconds up and three seconds down. Now you don't want to go slower than three seconds up and three seconds down, like we talked about, because it'll actually lead to worse muscle growth.
The only reason why you would want to, by the way, and this is a bonus tip, is if you're experiencing joint pain and three seconds up and three seconds down is still a little bit too fast. Then you could experiment with longer rep times and longer tempos, but just understand you're doing that to avoid aggravating an injury as opposed to building more muscle. And there's nothing wrong with that shift, but just understand that nuance there.
So, after you hit that three seconds up three seconds down, then you've got to return to the other methods we've talked about. Then you have to look at, okay, so I'm already doing three seconds up three seconds down. Can I add weight here? Can I add another rep here? Can I add another set here? And maybe if you added some more weight, then you could return to the faster rep speed and then repeat the cycle again. So, there are a lot of ways to do this.
Now let's go on to the fifth, improving your technique. So, most people think they're making progress by adding more weight to their lifts but what we see is that they'll put weight on the bar for a bench press or a squat, and then they cut the range of motion in half. So instead of going all the way down all the way up, they're going only halfway down.
So instead of getting maximizing the tension on your muscles, you just took away tension. And there's actually research on this showing: full range of motion exercises or form on exercises leads to better results than the shorter range of motion.
And another example comes up for me, think about the guy who adds more weight to bicep curls and he is just using his back to lift, right? Throwing the weight around. That is an athletic movement using momentum. That is not how you build muscle. It's how you might think or, you know, I was going to say, that's how you show off in the gym, but actually, that's not showing off. You just look like an idiot. Please don't do that, okay? You look like the person, like… I don't want to go off on a tangent. Please don't do it.
The result is that despite using that heavier weight, your target muscles, aren't actually working any harder, that's where you start to feel your joints and connective tissue. There's a place for explosive movements, but it's really athletic training. Training to improve speed or explosiveness as opposed to building muscle.
And I want to say if you're a CrossFitter or a former athlete, keep this in mind because your body will naturally want to be explosive. You don't take three seconds to bring your tennis racket back and then three seconds to hit the tennis ball. You bring it back and whack that ball, right? Same thing with throwing a football, the same thing with throwing a kick, whatever it is.
So, if you're an athlete, you might tend to lift this way, not because you're trying to be foolish in the gym, but because you have a history of sports and sports training, and it's just natural for you to do that. That was my problem for a while and I had to retrain myself.
The other thing is if you're a CrossFitter, I had a couple of former CrossFitters as clients and I had to clean up their technique and they ended up getting much better results. We lowered the weight, we focused on going slower on going deeper, using more control, less momentum, and a greater range of motion. And this leads to more activation of your muscles and more muscle growth.
Now I put this one at the last because it's the least popular method. Nobody wants to… Like, you want me to take the weight off? Thankfully guys in their 40s finally realized like, “Man, I've got a couple of injuries and I don't want more.” Like me, and I've made a lot of these mistakes, by the way, just I didn't have the Legendary Life Podcast and me telling me what to do, right, when I was in my twenties or thirties. So, you have the benefit of listening to this now so now you know.
So, coming back, yes, it's the least popular method and the last two are the least popular methods, but they really should be your first methods when you're trying to improve your results. So, if you're wondering, “Okay, well, which should I do?”
Well, I just told you what I think you should start with; start with slowing down your movements, start with dialing in your technique, making sure that you're using the full range of motion. If you're feeling more control and going deeper in exercises, there's no need to do anything else other than going deeper and you know, establish more control. And then you can start looking at adding weight, reps and sets.
And the final thing I would tell you is if you're more experienced and your technique is pretty good, you have to experiment with this stuff a bit to figure out how it's going to work best for you. And just to recap here, we talked about adding weight, we talked about adding reps, we talked about adding sets, we talked about slowing down reps, we talked about improving technique.
And you've got to experiment with this stuff a little bit to know what you should do because there will come a point where, “Okay, why can't go any slower? Because the research shows going slower. It's not really going to help me. It's going to work against me. My technique is pretty good.” And then you have to look at, “Okay, well adding sets, adding reps” and then you have to think about how it fits into your overall program.
For example, you may not have enough time to add another set most of the year, but then there's a certain time of year while you'll have more time in the gym because really, you could be adding more weight and adding more reps and improving your technique and slowing down your technique. Those are things that aren't really going to take much more time in the gym, but adding sets, it takes more time.
So, you can get great results with a short workout just by focusing on the four that don't really involve more time in the gym. And then during the period—and this is what I do with my clients—the periods where my clients have more time, then it's time to add more sets, then it's time to push the volume and maybe even use a mixture of these.
So, that's what I have for you today. And I would ask you, what is your biggest takeaway from listening? And what I mean by takeaway is, what can you use right now and go implement to get better results from what you're doing in the gym?
And let me tell you, if you are doing this in the gym and you're getting results, I want to hear about it. I'm most active on Twitter, so reach out to me at T-E-D underscore R-Y-C-E, so @ted_ryce with a “Y” and let me know how this goes for you.
And of course, if you're already like, “Well, I don't really want to experiment so much. I just want to be told what to do. I want someone to do this for me,” well let's work together. I have a coaching program and I have a few spots left in group coaching and one-on-one coaching for this month.
So, if you're interested in having a done-for-you program, so you can outsource that thinking to me and my experience to get you faster results than you've ever experienced before, go to www.legendarylifepodcast.com/apply and book your 15-minute call.
Again, I work with entrepreneurs and busy professionals, so if you're not someone who fits that category, I'm not the right person for you. But if you're in, if you're a busy professional, if you're an attorney, an auditor, an entrepreneur, a consultant, a doctor, and you just want someone to do this for you because you have so much work that you need to get done.
You want someone to do this for you and have it been done for you and coach you through it. Go again to www.legendarylifeprogram.com/apply to hop on that 15-minute call with me. And what we'll do is we'll just talk about what you want to accomplish, what's in the way of doing that and mapping out a plan together to help you achieve the results that you want three times faster than what you're currently doing right now?
All right, that is it for today. Hope you enjoyed this and hope you go and put some of this into play in your next workout. Have a great one and speak to you soon!
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