Muscle Contraction – Are You Working Out Hard Enough?

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Build muscle and strength in the next 90 days…

If you are trying to build muscle size or strength, it’s important that you understand the nuances of muscle contraction. In order to get a weight to move from one place to another, you have to contract a muscle. That said, muscle contractions are graded. This means, that a muscle will not contract with it’s maximum force unless called for by the task at hand.

Knowing that muscles recruit motor units based on the size principle, in order to get a maximum or near max muscle contraction we have to learn how to optimize motor unit recruitment. One of the fastest ways to do this is to strive to lift heavier and heavier weights. Heavier weights will definitely recruit a more significant amount of your fast twitch muscle fibers than a weight that is far too light to challenge you. That said, lifting heavy is not enough.

In order to maximize the force of your contraction and therefore the number of motor units participating in a contraction you have to have effort! Effort is voluntarily controlled by your brain. How bad to you want it? How much do you want to really get out of your workout? If you simply go through the motions of moving a weight from point a to point b, you’ll elicit a muscle contraction but most likely not strong enough to cause an overload or adaptive change in strength or size in the long run.

In this video, I show you two examples of this. If you perform a cable crossover and do so with full range of motion, you are definitely using the muscles that you are intending to use. In this case, the chest is contracting to bring your arms out in front and across your body. That isn’t enough to ensure overload. In fact, without even having to manipulate the amount of weight used, you can definitely intensify the move by adding intent and effort. In the second example, I add a clearly heightened effort to the contraction (and the results are evident).

It’s never enough to just move a weight from one place to another. You must move the weight with a focus on contracting the targeted muscles as hard as you can when you reach full contraction. This slight difference can make a huge difference in the results that you see in the long run.

Not caring about effort while moving your body is simply a form of exercise. While exercise may be important to being active, it isn’t usually strong enough to create changes in muscle size and strength. To do that, you have to train hard while training smart. You can do this by training like an athlete at using the ATHLEAN-X Training System

For more videos on how to build muscle and the differences in light weights and heavy weights on muscle growth and contraction, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at