Functional and Fit: Getting Started on Gaining Muscle Mass (guest blog)


The great debate: who’s stronger, the gym superhero who can nearly bench-press the weight of a semi-truck, or the guy who can do 100 chin-ups without taking a break? Or maybe it is the one-legged squat machine who can get them done with eyes closed. The point is, there are so many definitions of strong in the gym that you’ll go nowhere by playing this who’s stronger game on an abstract level. The bottom line is: is your notion of strong valuable in real life?

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Image courtesy of Flickr

Functional training is just that: training in order to improve your day to day life, which should incorporate exercises to make you stronger and more powerful, no matter if you’re a man or a woman. Here are some tips to get you started on functional training, but make sure to back these up with some serious research and personalize them for your own body and lifestyle.

 No support

If you want the real deal in exercise, stop doing resistance training with outside support. This includes lying on benches or using a machine. Such tactics take away from the benefit of the exercise. In simple terms, you can consider them cheating. Using support misguides your body and puts it in an unrealistic scenario where core stability is irrelevant. To truly gain muscle mass, it’s imperative that you bring your core into as many exercises as possible.

Free weights


Image courtesy of Flickr

Dumbbells are your best friend. They help you gain muscle mass fuss-free and increase range of motion. You might call them old school, but nobody will be calling your body old school after a bit of dumbbell training.

Compound exercises

Compound movements allow your body to improve as a whole, which means avoiding an imbalanced body strength. When you don’t train thinking with your whole body in mind, you will lose points in certain areas which are actually useful for your general well-being. Your anabolic response to training is also improved through compound training, and this plays a really big part in getting more lean muscle tissue.

Explosive training

Each workout should be dynamic. This way, you increase muscle tension which makes your exercises more effective. Balance and flexibility, as well as strength and power, are improved by making your training feel more explosive. As long as your intent is aligned with your movement, your brain will register the training as accelerative.

Splits done right

Never split your days of training per muscle or body part. Biceps, shoulder, or chest days will only get you more tired than normal training would, because it’s volume, not intensity you’re going for. Instead, try doing upper body or lower body training or, if you can, full body routines. These will improve your posture and you’ll gain muscle mass faster.

Common movements


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These are the motions you would usually use in real life. Pushups or punching are good to incorporate in a full body routine, but you can find more by just analyzing your day to day schedule and getting creative.

Less Aerobic

This is good advice for guys and gals who want to get big, and it’s a pretty well-known fact. If you focus on muscle building, cardio will only get in your way. When your body is faced with two completely different types of training, the body will automatically focus on the less demanding activity, which is usually the aerobic. This means you won’t really be able to focus on muscle building if you want to do both.

Don’t go slow

Of course, doing muscle training particularly slow will increase muscle mass. The downside is that this type of training exhausts your central nervous system. In the long run, this will make your training less efficient. On the other hand, isometric contractions followed by a sudden dynamic action can make the latter more efficient.

The bottom line is that you should train your whole body and focus on one style of training at a time. Work as hard as you can while you’re doing your exercises and focus on an honest training, that doesn’t rely on external help,such as training gear or benches. Gaining muscle mass is not easy, but doing it wrong makes it downright impossible.

Tara Heath is a freelance writer in Southern California. She enjoys working out and loves discovering ways to do it more effectively. She contributes beauty and health content to the Bellezza Spa blog, where you can find more of her work.


2 thoughts on “Functional and Fit: Getting Started on Gaining Muscle Mass (guest blog)

  1. Yes I totally agree with you. To truly gain muscle mass, it’s imperative that we bring our core into as many exercises as possible. Nice post you have here. Will definitely share this to my friends.

  2. Great post. Couldn’t agree more. Funny how much things have changed since I first started training. The eye opener for me was going to my first CrossFit games. I had never seen so many people that were proportionally developed. And everyone had perfect posture. Got my attention.

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