Training plays an important role for successful body recomposition. And yet, you can’t just start stepping in the gym without a plan and wish to have a successful body recomp. It is less likely to be possible. You need to have a plan. In this post, you’ll get to know my 4 Important Training Rules for Body Recomposition.
In case you missed the previous blog post:
Let’s get started.
1. Lift heavy enough
Yes, you need to start picking up those dumbbells. Many beginners would probably back off when reading this. But the only condition for muscle growth is to apply enough stimulus to it. Many beginners who just started weight training would be confused about the term of ‘enough stimulus’. Sometimes ended up either overdoing or underdoing it.
Here’s the rule of thumb: 8-12 Rep range. This means the weight that you lift is enough to make you meet fatigue and eventually reach failure when you perform within 8-12 rep.
I know it can sound intimidating at first, however, 8-12 rep is a safety rep range and you are unlikely to be injured if execute properly. Start with the weight that you feel comfortable with but still challenging when you first start training.
If you found you are able to complete over 12 rep or even more, this means the weight might be too easy for you. That doesn’t optimize muscle hypertrophy and is more towards muscle endurance. On the opposite, if you found yourself unable to perform at least 8 reps, means that the weight is too heavy for you. You should decrease the weight to suit your capability.
As each of our muscle groups has a different capacity on the weight it could handle. You can’t just use the same weight for all of your exercises. For this, you might need to spend some time trying out the best rep range for each exercise.
2. Progressive overload
Increase Of Volume
Remember the rep range that I had given you? Which is 8-12 rep. There is a reason why we allow such a huge gap from 8 to 12. This is for you to have space for progressive overload over time. The sign that you are growing stronger is also a great indication that you are building muscle.
For every new weight that you picked up, you will progress with a lower rep the first (reminder: the weight still needs to be challenging enough for you at that moment). And you need to make sure you always push yourself a little harder to complete more rep than last time. Even one single rep counts!
For some exercises, the progress of weight might be slower, even if you find to do one more rep every next session is hard for you, that’s okay. You just need to make sure you are progressing over the course of the month.
Increase Of Load
Once you reach the point that you have no problem hitting the maximum rep (preferably 12) with that load and you are confident with it, it’s time to add weight.
Side note: Only increase the load after you had done with increasing volume. Both of these should be done in sequence increase in volume—>increase in load and not the other way.
You don’t need to add a huge amount of weight when you increase the load. The rule of thumb is not more than 5 pounds every time you add for upper body exercises (≤2 kg). For lower body, the recommended increase of load should be less than 10 pounds (≤5 kg).
I recommended you keep a training journal with you on every session. You’ll be jotting down correspondingly with the loads and reps that you had to perform week by week. Here’s a sample for you:
Week 3(DD/MM/YY) – Lower Body
- Back Squat(30kg) 8 9 8
- Bulgarian Squat (15kg) 10 10 10
- Leg Press (20 kg) 9 9 9
- Lunge (18 kg) 12 12 12
- Goblet Squat (15 kg) 11 12 12
Week 4(DD/MM/YY) – Lower Body
- Back Squat (30kg) 10 9 9
- Bulgarian Squat(15kg) 12 12 11
- Leg Press (20 kg) 10 10 10
- Lunge (20 kg) 8 8 8
- Goblet Squat (17 kg) 10 10 10
*Only for demonstration purposes. Everyone has different choices of exercise and suitable weight. You do your own version:) *
3. Compound Movements As Staple
To effectively work on your muscle and apply enough stimulus. A compound movement is always the staple for stimulating more muscle growth. That said, you need at least 3 compound movement for each muscle group per session.
I recommended beginners start off with programming their exercise with full body rather than using splits that train different body parts each day. The reason is working on a large group of muscles is more recommended for beginners because it allows you to activate different body parts before you advanced into splits training. Also, these compound movements will be more effective to work more muscle at the same time therefore more calories burned.
These are some of the best choices for a compound full body movement that targets different dominant muscles worked for each exercise.
- Curl to Press
- Renegade row
- Pull up
For someone that already spend some time in weight training, you might wish to start working on training splits to develop different parts of the muscle (upper lower, push pull leg etc.). In this case, you can start splitting up your training days into upper body and lower body and distribute those staple moves (squats, deadlift, bench press, rows) into the respective days. Meanwhile, start integrating some isolation movement into your routine.
Remember not to take out those staple moves because they should be following you throughout the course. If you really want to try different moves, then make sure the replacement should serve similar purpose to your previous exercise (front squats > hack squat, deadlift > RDL, row > cable row etc.)
The ratio of compound movement to isolation movements is prefered to be 3: 1. This is to make sure you still focus on compound movements instead of letting isolation movements overtake your routine.
Here is some example of how a push pull leg split works:
Day 1 -Pull (bicep, back, forearm)
Pull-up/Assisted Pull-up (Back)
Bent Over Row (Back)
Landmine Row (Back + Bicep)
Single Arm Dumbbell Row (Back+Bicep)
Barbell curl (Bicep)
Hammer Curl (Forearm)
Good Morning (Back)
Deadlift (Lower Back+leg)
Day 2- Push(Chest Shoulder Triceps)
Bench Press (Chest)
Pushup (Chest +Tricep)
Dumbbell chest flies (Chest)
Overhead press (Shoulder)
Lateral Raise (Shoulder)
Tricep Kickback (Tricep)
Skull crusher (Tricep)
Lower Body-Glutes, Hamstring, Quads
Romanian Deadlift (Lower back, Hip)
Bulgarian squat (Quads)
Front Squat (Quads), Back Squad (Hamstring)
Legs extension (Quads)
Hip Thrust (Glutes, Hamstring)
4. Training Days And Cardio
For beginners, 3-4 training days in a week is good enough. Since I mentioned above you are more recommended to start off with full body each session, you will be working a large group of the muscle in one single session. In this case, you are recommended to workout every alternative day to allow your body to recover.
For intermediate trainer that works on split training, allow at least 24-72 hours of recovery before return to the same muscle group. Despite you had splitting up the training into different parts, you still need at least 1-2 rest days. This is to avoid you putting too much stress on your central nervous system and leading to overtraining.
Do you need cardio?
My answer is, that it depends.
For someone that is already lean and has lower body fat. You might need to minimize cardio. Too much cardio will actually hinder muscle growth, especially for those that is quite lean. This is because you might inintentionally burn off those energy that need to use to build muscle (there is not much extra energy left). Therefore, limit your to not more than 20 minutes of low to moderate intensity cardio, and not more than 3 times a week.
If you have a higher body fat percentage, integrating cardio sessions in your training routine actually brings benefit to your progress. The purpose of cardio is to increase your daily TDEE, eventually help in fat loss. But we don’t recommend a long cardio session. As it will often turn your muscle fibre to type I instead of type II and didn’t optimize for muscle growth. In this case, cardio should be not more than 40 minutes or longer than your weight training session.
There’s an important precaution for cardio: Not to do cardio before a weight session. The main reason is cardio will max out your energy and you are unable to hit heavier weight in your training. (Why Weight Training Before Cardio?) As the main goal here is to build muscle in order to lose fat, try not to make cardio overtake it’s place.
These are the 4 training tips for body recomposition. You will need to be really dedicated and push yourself a little bit more every time. Be patient and consistent with your plans, as every result takes time. At the end of the day, you’ll realise how much you had changed.
In the next post, I will be talking about my 4 nutrition tips for body recomposition. Stay tuned!