Three Muscle Adding Methods

So you want to build muscle?

Good! You've come to the right place. The purpose of this blog is demystify how working out actually builds muscle. This way you can make better decisions about how you train. If you do strength training you probably already use these techniques and didn't even know it!

Technique #1: Lift heavy

Cause and effect. It's one of the first lessons you learn about in science class. It also happens in your body.

Your muscle is developed as a response to a stress. There are different types of stress that we can inflict to cause hypertrophy (bigger muscles) but the first one we are going to focus on is mechanical tension.

Mechanical tension is simply how much force is being transmitted through your muscle and soft tissues. When your muscles are engaged tension builds and they respond by increasing anabolic processes through different hormones. With the correct nutrition and recovery this will cause your muscles to grow.

Typically force increases as the load does. This is why it's important to lift heavy. You will create much more mechanical tension squatting 200 pound than you will 100 pounds. To take full advantage of this mechanism use about 90% of your one repetition maximum with small sets.

Example Workout

Front Squat @ 90% of 1 Rep Max

2 Repetitions x 4 Sets

2:00 Minute Rest Period

Technique #2: THE PUMP

The second technique corresponds with a separate mechanism for stimulating growth: metabolic stress. When you exercise at high intensities until fatigue of time you build up metabolic waste in your muscle (think lactic acid). Your muscles can sense this and in response produce anabolic response just like in technique #1. The more waste, the bigger the stress, the larger the muscle building response.

You can take advantage of this technique by performing higher repetitions of a certain exercise or fatiguing certain muscles with multiple continuous exercises. Doing this causes the muscles to swell, which bodybuilders refer to as "the pump." Pair high repetitions with a shorter rest period to create an even more exaggerated response.


Bench Press @ 65% of 1 Rep Max

12 Repetitions x 4 Sets

Paired With Push Ups

15 Repetitions x 4 Sets 

60 Second Rest Period

Technique #3: Negatives

The final technique deals with actual physical damage. When muscles are put under tension and stressed they incur mechanical damage. Similar to the response of a cut or bruise the body sends cells to help patch up the area and make it stronger.

The best way to take advantage of this muscle building response is to use eccentric muscle contractions. Eccentric contractions are performed when a muscle is activated while getting longer. Think about slowly bringing down a barbell after a deadlift. This slow tempo coming down causes microtrauma within the tissue which ultimately signals the body to start repairing the muscle.

It should also be noted that even though this is a fantastic method to develop muscle, it can increase soreness. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) typically occurs a day or two after a workout involving slow lengthening of the muscle. Sometimes the soreness is very minor, but other times it can be severe and last for days. Gradually increase the tempo and load to decrease the risk of DOMS.


Deadlift @ 80% of 1 Rep Max

6 Repetitions x 4 Sets

5 Second Lowering Phase During Each Repetition

The Take away

Every strength program and protocol comes back to three basic types of stress: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and mechanical damage. They are extremely simple, but they work! This is why we use them in almost every workout at CrossFit Petram. We believe in building strong and well rounded athletes.

We continually challenge our members to get stronger through proven methods. Each workout is designed to keep our members working hard while keeping them safe.

Interested in learning more about building muscle? Click here to read the full study we used.



Three Reasons Why All Women Should Lift Heavy

Women's body images are the constant target of marketing agendas. The fitness industry is especially guilty of this. Everywhere from social media to bill boards they are told not only what they should look like, but also how they should get there. Most times this includes juice cleanses, 30 day squat challenges and, most laughably, waist trainers.

It's an unfortunate fact that lies like "lifting heavy makes you bulky" are being sold to women. Avoiding heavy squats, deadlifts and other movements is really keeping them from reaching the goals that they want to achieve, and sometimes even causing them injury.

Build Muscle/Lose Fat

Almost every girl has heard at least once that they should lift lighter weights if they want to "tone". In fact it's in various fitness magazines and even the trainers at your local globo gym may give you this advice. The problem with "being tone" is it's a made up concept.

If you asked any true fitness professional how you can get tone they would most likely laugh at you. They would then proceed to tell you that if you want to look and feel better that you should focus on either gaining muscle or losing fat.

Squatting, pulling and lifting heavier weights will help you do just that. It is simple physics that to moving a heavy load requires greater energy than moving a lighter one. It also takes considerably more energy to stabilize your core with a heavy load.

Full range functional movements like the squat and deadlift cause favorable changes in your hormones, especially when compared to workouts on machines. Completing heavy lifts like these disrupt your bodies homeostasis. This stress causes your body to break down stores of  fat and sugar and eventually super-compensate by developing more muscle.


Many girls worry that they will end up looking like some of the top competitors in the sport of CrossFit if they lift too much. You won't.

Too put things in perspective these athletes typically spend 3 to 4 hours a day training. They will consume nearly twice as many calories as a sedentary person and many have been doing this routine for a half decade. These girls have committed their lives to the sport of fitness.

Adding muscle and losing fat doesn't happen on accident. If you workout 3 to 4 times a week for an hour you will lose a moderate amount of fat and gain lean muscle. You will never have to worry about accidentally becoming too "bulky".

Prevent Injuries

Lifting heavy and becoming fit doesn't just allow you to add lean muscle but keeps you from getting injured. Since many women don't participate in regular strength sessions they are much more likely to experience injury than their male counterparts. In a NCAA report female basketball players were 6 times more likely to incur an ACL injury than male players.

Many of these injuries are preventable through training. Building strength by lifting heavy loads helps develop neuromuscular coordination and strength the stabilizers around the knee, ankle and shoulder. Soft tissues, like ligaments and tendons, grow and become stronger just as muscle does.

Have fun

Lifting heavy is hard work. You don't always make all the lifts you want. You will fail, you will be sore and you definitely will sweat.

The reason so many athletes, especially women, keep coming back for more is because its a ton of fun.

The challenge of bettering yourself is addicting. Some days you come into the gym and you break your personal record. Other days you walk out tired and broken. No matter what your getting stronger and your around a group of friends that are on the same mission.

The Take Away

Lifting heavy isn't as scary as many women think it is. If your looking to add lean muscle you should be squatting or pulling heavy weights at least twice a week, along with other functional movements.

Have some fun, be safe and LIFT HEAVY!