General Principles of Weight Training for Muscle Growth

There are some general rules that apply to any person who does weight training, no matter what their goal is. This information will be quite useful to evaluate the quality of your training sessions.
General Principles of Weight Training for Muscle Growth

Last update: 29 July, 2019

Are you interested in weight training because your goal is to grow your muscles? Then you can’t miss out on the following article. We’ll cover all the general principles involved in this discipline that’s practiced all over the world.

The three pillars of weight training

Whenever you’re trying to put together a weight training program, it’s important to pay attention to the practical aspects, but it’s also very important to know some theory. Therefore, let’s take a look at the three fundamental pillars that must support your training sessions:

1. Specificity

This term means you should focus on an objective and work hard to achieve it. If, for example, your goal is to tone your arm muscles, your whole routine should revolve around that purpose.

This doesn’t mean you have to neglect the rest of your body. All it means is that most of the exercises you do should be aimed at working in a specific area.

Specificity in weight training can also be based on a season or a special situation. For example, the exercises for professional athletes will change depending on if they’re preparing for a competition, if they’re in the preseason or if they’re working out after competing.

2. Load and overload

The second pillar of weight training is working with a heavier load than you can ‘endure’ in each session. What’s the purpose of doing this? To ensure your muscles work harder and tear in order to recover and grow.

Without an overload stimulus there may be no results, even if the program is designed perfectly. Lifting heavier weights each time, with an appropriate progression, is how your muscles will improve and grow.

A girl going over her wight training program with a personal trainer

You can also increase the number of weekly sessions you have at the gym, the number of sets or reps you do and the difficulty of your exercises. At the same time, you can reduce your recovery periods in between sets or combine different exercises.

3. Weight training progression

The third pillar of weight training goes hand in hand with the previous one. We can’t expect to become an Olympic weight lifter or Mr. Olympia overnight.

Weight progression must take into account our body needs and we must have a lot of patience to see results in the long run. By doing this, we also reduce our risk of becoming injured, since injuries only slow down our training.

Some people believe that the only way to change the intensity of your workout is by increasing the load you lift. However, the truth is that there are less-invasive options for our muscles.

The most important thing with weight progression is to increase the load or reps while paying attention to the signals that our body is giving. We can’t put too much stress on our muscles to the point where we suffer an injury!

Besides the three fundamental pillars of weight training, we must also pay attention to other important aspects. If we get them right, it’ll be easier to achieve our goals in a shorter amount of time and we’ll also avoid injuries and discomfort:

1. Execution pace

Weight training is not about performing your whole routine in two minutes, taking a shower and going home. Instead, it’s better to do fewer repetitions at a slower pace. Being in a hurry may cause us to perform the movements incorrectly.

2. Rest

We’re referring to both the rest periods in between sets and the time we take from the moment we finish a session to when we start the next one.

A woman sitting on a fitness ball while taking a rest from her weight training

The first rest periods completely depend on the routine, but you may want to take about 30 seconds minimum. As for the rest days in between sessions, the recommended time is 24 rest hours. This way, your muscles will have recovered, and you’ll be able to give your best in the next weight training session.

3. Personal trainer

It’s true that we don’t need someone telling us what to do all the time. However, when you’re not familiar with certain techniques, it’s easy to make a mistake, suffer an injury and not get the results you expect.

It may be a good idea to start off in a gym that offers the services of a personal trainer. They can explain all the techniques so you can then train by yourself at home or the park.

If you keep these principles in mind, it’ll be easier to see the results of your hard effort. If on the contrary, you work hard, but it never shows in your body that will eventually make you give up and abandon your goal!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.