In order to build/retain muscle from a training aspect we are using periodization (how you organize your training) and a variety of different set and repetition ranges.
Muscle growth (hypertrophy) is the increase in the size of skeletal muscle created by the growth of component cells. There are fundamental mechanisms that need to be in place for exercise-induced muscle growth.
mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress.
All these factors will be factored into your training plan.
With the exercises, I ask you to gauge your Rate of Perceived Exertion (how hard you found the weight when performing the exercise). This is a bespoke gauge that will help you when it comes to progressing with your training.
The sweet spot for working a muscle group is twice per week, sufficient frequency is important for hypertrophy (building).
The common training principle of focusing on a specific muscle group once a week is not ideal. As research shows us that recovery can take place unabated even if the muscle is loaded again in 48 hours. True anabolism (processes that produce growth) from loading only lasts 2-3 days at best once the stimulus is removed. So you miss out on stimulus when waiting for a whole week to train the muscle again.
I recommend that you strive for progressive overload (the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training) this makes sure that you are training hard enough to elicit adaptation. Basically, to continue to gain strength, training demands must increase over time. As a general guideline every week you should aim to increase the weight/ load of each exercise by 2.5 – 5% each week.
This may not be achievable every week due to a myriad of factors such as fatigue, sub-optimal training preparation, nutritional factors etc. However, when you are looking to increase weight this is how much you should aim for. Another factor that could inhibit you from increasing by that amount could be the weights at your gym may not allow you to increase by that increment; in that case, I recommend you increase intensity by adjusting tempo speed. By slowing down the tempo of an exercise, only marginally, you will add intensity by increasing time under tension, which results in increased demands.
Terms and descriptions
Some of the terms and descriptions used in the plan may not be familiar to you, here is a brief summary of those;
Rate of Perceived Exertion, this is a bespoke scale of how hard you find an exercise/set/rep. This scale ranges from; 1-10, 1 being very easy and 10 being extremely hard.
The number of times you perform an exercise/movement.
The collective of a number of repetitions, a set can consist of anything from 1-30 reps.
The time to recover between sets.
This is an example of what a tempo may look like when training: 3:1:X:1
The first number (3) represents the lowering or eccentric part of the movement. Think bringing the bar down to your chest while benching.
The second number (1) represents the amount of time you pause in the stretched position. Think about when you are squatting when performing the back squat.
The third number (X) represents the actual lift of the weight. So in the bench press, this would be how fast the bar moves from your chest to straight above you. In this case, the X means as fast as possible.
The fourth number (1) is the amount of time you pause at the top of the movement or contracted position. In the bench press, this would be when you are holding the weight above you.
To simplify things I recommend using a tempo of 3:1:1:1 for most exercises (in the higher rep range 12-15). In the lower rep range (5/6) I would recommend a tempo of 1:1:X:1.