Muscle mass workouts focus primarily on increasing the size or amount of muscle present in the body. In order to gain significant muscle mass, one must stress muscles by lifting heavy weights in low repetitions. The different types of muscle mass workouts include exercises for specific muscle groups, such as the arms and shoulders, the chest and back, the legs and the abdominal muscles. The possible combinations of these exercises are endless, which means there can be great variety in muscle mass workouts.
As with all types of workouts, there is not one muscle mass workout that provides the best results for all bodies. There are, however, some basic guidelines to follow if an individual is interested in gaining muscle mass. Muscle mass is different from muscle endurance — gaining muscle mass means adding more muscle to the body, and muscle endurance means working out to make existing muscle function better for longer. Aerobic activities such as running and cycling, as well as lifting light weights in high repetitions, will not help increase muscle mass, although they are excellent for increasing muscle endurance.
To build muscle mass, one must lift heavy weights in low repetitions. The initial amount of weight lifted depends on an individual’s strength when beginning the workout program, but the amount should increase steadily from workout to workout to keep challenging the muscles. Each set should consist of six to 12 repetitions, or reps. This means the starting weight should be an amount that the person can lift between six and 12 times without resting.
Muscle mass workouts generally focus on only one or two muscle groups at a time because of the high stress exerted on the muscles being worked. This allows each muscle group adequate time to rest and recover before the muscles are stressed again. If an individual lifts weights four times a week, he or she might divide the workouts to include one day each dedicated to the arms and shoulders, the chest and back, the legs and the abdominal muscles. This allows maximum stress to be put on each muscle group, because there will be plenty of time to rest on the following days when the focus is on the other three muscle groups.
The types of exercises each individual completes is mostly a matter of personal preference. There are many different exercises that target each muscle group, but it is not necessary to include every single one of them in a workout. Some classic arm and shoulder exercises are biceps and triceps curls, front and lateral raises, hammer curls, shrugs and shoulder presses. For chest and back, some good options are squats, chest presses, bench presses, push-ups, and lat pull-downs. For legs and abdominal exercises, most gyms have a variety of lifting machines targeted to these muscle groups.
The final element of all muscle mass workouts is to include days dedicated to rest. Muscle mass does not increase during a workout, it increases after a workout during the body’s process of recovering from stress and repairing the damage from lifting heavy weights. This repair process is how mass is built, and not allowing adequate time for rest and recovery will actually hinder muscle growth instead of increasing mass.