Edit: Wow I’m kinda blown away by the amount of comments. I do intend to find a trainer or hopefully when I head of to college I’ll make some friends who know thing or two about lifting.
I just got a set bands and have 40s, 55's, and 65's for dumbbells but want to start bulking up (is) over the winter. So needless to say, there is no way to add 5 pounds to each lift every week in order to get stronger because gyms are closed or have to wear a mask and I would rather not wear one but don't want to ignore the rules and safety of others either.
SO, can I do more volume each week in order to get stronger or is adding more weight really the only way to add muscle mass? I understand that heavy lifters use those but I'm going to start with what you would probably consider baby weights, so I don't know if it's just going to end up looking stupid.
I’ve since seen a number of YouTubers and others discussing body recomposition with the main premise being this; that even if you are under your maintenance calories on a consistent daily basis, and engaging in progressive overload with your lifts, the body will “draw on” stored fat calories and these fat calories will be what drives muscle growth. Thus, you have the holy grail of losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously over time.
Yet, I often hear folks add this extra bit; that body recomposition isn’t as effective for muscle growth as just doing a regular lean bulk (being in a calorie surplus with consumed calories). As I pay attention to the movement I can clearly feel the right side doing more of the work and ends up a little sorer than well.
Get your dunce hats out, Fit tit, it's time for your weekly Stupid Questions Thread. Anyone can post a question and the community as a whole is invited and encouraged to provide an answer.
Using barbells or kettle bells to create the stimulus is an afterthought to most other factors in the equation like food, sleep, execution of the movements and intensity. Now that the obvious question is out of the way I hope you enjoy the details which lead to this statement.
When it comes to exercise I always like to pose this question and dig a bit deeper than the first answer. If you put the question “Can kettle bells build mass” to me I like to know “Why do you want to build muscle.
That was when I was put on a mass building program lifting weights and getting creatine. If you had cancer like my mother, you might have been lying in bed for several months and lost a lot of muscle mass.
Before choosing your tool for building mass in the gym take a look at the big picture and whether you have ticked all of these boxes first. Contrary to common belief you can stuff yourself with crappy food to build muscle and even to look like a bodybuilder or get strong as hell.
Fletcher, one of the more illustrious powerlifters on YouTube with his hardcore style of personal training, took pride in his best days as a powerlifting world champion to have camera crews follow him around and record how many McDonald's meals he can eat a day. This and other factors lead to him being forced to have bypass surgery, which was the low point of his life.
However, do not expect to look like Sylvester Stallone or Jean Claude Van Dame with this regime. If you go out of the gym and there was no sweat, not a bit of excitement or fear in the session you might as well have stayed home.
The intensity part is important as it is often not taught by gyms as they are afraid of liability cases when you get hurt. Good programs work with 50% to 95% of your one repetition maximum and apply the principle of linear progression to make you stronger and build mass.
Before we come to the tool the last thing to consider is what kind of rep scheme you follow. It depends on whom you ask in which part of the year and whether the full moon is shining or not, but that is the consensus.
Technically the kettle bell is a tool to trigger the body to build mass, but of the many levers you can pull, it is one of the smallest ones. If you follow all the outlined basic principles for building mass, you will get bigger using kettle bells.
The only caveat is here that kettle bells might be a better tool for advanced lifters to build mass rather than for beginners. If you try certain exercises like cleans, overhead presses and dead lifts you will generally find that it is a lot easier to do the same weight with a barbell than with a kettle bell.
If you load a barbell front squat with 2.5 kg on each side client's usually perform if they have the mobility to execute the movement. If you then proceed to give them two 12 kg kettle bells, which is technically less weight and ask them to repeat they will struggle to get it done.
There are also variations on the 5×5 template for more advanced lifters like mad cow 5×5 or the Texas method. There have been studies and observations across the board which report that while you gain mass on GVT you might decline in strength.
I personally think that GVT is to be recommended to fit individuals who have training experience under their belt and not to beginners. My reasoning for that is outlined in my German volume training review for cross fitters.
The main point is fatigue management and knowing when to quit before getting injured which makes this a no-go for beginners. A habit which you should strive to eliminate as a beginner especially rather than magnify the effect actively.
I can not overstate master the swing and get up first at least, maybe even a 100 kg barbell squat for good measure, before attempting this. You can progress to the next kettle bell when you do negative splits (meaning you need less time to recover than doing the exercises).
Barbells have the advantage of added stability which lets you move bigger weights than kettle bells. Also, once you progress you will have it easier with barbell training as heavyweights are more readily available than heavy kettle bells.
Whether kettle bells or barbells are the better option for mass building I would be hesitant to say myself and is a different question from the one we started out with. I lack the experience of mass building training templates as my main focus is strength.
I find strength training to be the ultimate tool for that as it is very objective, demands discipline, grit and consistency. The general strength community will not hesitate to point to the barbell as the superior tool for building mass.
An additional locker room undercurrent of kettle bells being “pussy” does not help. On this, I think there is not enough empirical evidence out there with heavy kettle bells and there is also not a lot of structured studies to be expected in the future due to the perceived higher risk of injury and availability of the tools and knowledge to conduct proper mass building with kettle bells.
There are fewer examples of success for this to work as for training with barbells as the base of use cases to pick from is smaller. To find good instructions and equipment if you travel down this path will be harder as it is less readily available as for barbell training.
Massaging yogis was always great for anatomy exploration, but some of my clients were everyday bodybuilders, forever chasing the Hollywood superhero body. Massaging through gym rats’ chronically tight and tense muscles was a workout in itself.
Arguably, the reason why many needed to see me in the first place was due to poor training habits (coupled with too much time spent in a chair). They’ll also use external apparatus to stabilize movements for the sake of muscle isolation and “extra focus on the muscle fibers.” These training habits eventually rewire the nervous system to forget how to activate the stabilizers it was born with and effectively make the everyday bodybuilder prone to injury and, in the long run, substantially less capable at life.
Training for functional mass involves protocols that build nice big Hollywood muscles while also making the body more useful at real life tasks and less prone to back, shoulder and knee injuries. Their muscles are rock hard when activated, but unlike powerlifters and bodybuilders, they have the ability to switch off when not in use and are not short and chronically tight.
If the goal is functional mass, arguably the best training modality would be Olympic lifting with a mix of calisthenics. O-lifting is a long and highly rewarding path, for those who possess the movement ability.
However, it’s not accessible to the vast majority of everyday people, because we just don’t move well enough. I encourage anyone to start their O-lifting journey if they can pass my simple litmus test: being able to hold a naked (20 kg) Olympic bar overhead while sitting in the deep squat for two minutes.
Never use a bench, chair, pad, fixed resistance machine or anything to help stabilize movement or isolate target muscle groups. Smashing the muscle fibers to destruction, so they’ll grow back bigger and stronger is absolutely achievable using the stabilizers you were born with.
I think that avoiding the use of external apparatus for help with stability is the most important rule that should be applied to all training, no matter the goal. Forget back ‘n’ biceps, shoulders ‘n’ triceps or chest ‘n’ abs.
Replace it with squat ‘n’ pull, hinge ‘n’ push, loco mote ‘n’ resist rotation, say. Don’t go the gym and further train yourself to flex into the shape of a cashew nut (biceps, chest and superficial abs).
It promotes feelings of depression and weakness and arguably brings you closer to the grave. Be more superhero and train extension, with dead lifts, pull-ups, push-ups×, squats, cleans, military press* and loaded carries.
*A skilled practitioner presses from their lats while radiating tension throughout the midsection with their glutes. For mass training, two kettle bells always beats one because this increases the work volume.
When I’m programming for my remote clients, any given functional mass session only lasts 40-55 minutes. Given that the first 15-20 minutes of that is spent on joint mobility, this leaves a short window for the main workout component.
Ballistics involve kettebells being swung through two-planes of motion (swings, cleans and snatches). For goals such as losing weight or improving conditioning, ballistics should outweigh grinds.
Since the golden years of bodybuilding in the ‘70s, it’s been known that the more time the muscles spend under tension, the better for hypertrophy. I served in the Royal Marines Commandos with a dude who had a better body than Captain America.
He only ever did thousands of really light reps and isometric holds with resistance bands and baby dumbbells. We may have admired his physical appearance, but we relished in the fact that he was weak and sub-par as an operational Commando.
His dead lift was pathetic, he couldn’t outrun a hedgehog, let alone run a heavy backpack over a mountain, he often had lower back pain, and he couldn’t reach his magazine pouches because his big, useless muscles were in the way. Through my years of training I know that loaded jump squats are a very reliable ingredient for developing legs like tree trunks.
But crippling injuries also usually come as a complimentary extra for those who can’t deep squat slowly without load. If someone can sit in a deep squat position for over 4 minutes, they qualify for adding load.
Then after some months, adding explosive speed will induce miracle muscle growth. This is an age-old ingredient for muscle mass because it optimizes hormone release and facilitates the highest possible volume.
Strength is tension… How much full body tension you’re able to produce reflects your ability to apply force. More relaxed, loose muscles = better blood flow, faster recovery, less chronic tension and related injuries.
But if the goal is looking like a Marvel superhero in the shorter term, without breaking the first two (and most important) of these golden rules, training to failure in some lifts for 2-3 months won’t do any harm. But if you want to put on some muscle mass in a short space of time without cocking up your hormone balance by taking vitamin-S (anabolic steroids), train to failure and grow some sarcoplasmic muscle mass.
A great way to deplete the glycogen stores within the muscles and leave your arms or legs feeling like they might drop off. Many uneducated or inexperienced trainers think it’s their mission to create delayed onset muscle soreness (Does) for their paying clients after every session.
Regular, weekly Does creates excessive muscle toxicity, which has a plethora of negative side effects and cripples good movement. Soles Does in unavoidable for people who’ve been wearing foot coffins (shoes) all their lives and want to learn to run properly.
Every session should begin with 20 minutes of joint mobility and muscle activation, relative to your individual movement needs and injury history. All programs should contain all human movement patterns and should obviously be suitable for the person it’s written for.