This CrossFit method is the most effective technique for building muscle

The sets, reps and rest times are great, they give you a blueprint to follow in the gym to make sure you’re not second guessing when it comes to building muscle. They are undoubtedly one of the best ways to organize your training. But one variable that isn’t that simple to nail down is how difficult it is you should work to build maximum muscle, in the shortest amount of time.

Research has shown that it’s not necessarily how many sets of ten you perform, but how close you are to failure (the point at which you can no longer perform another high-quality rep) on each of those sets that matters. It’s widely accepted that sets that finish while you still have five or more reps in the tank won’t do much for muscle growth. You also don’t need to take each set to complete failure, which can lead to injury or leave you too sore to train for the next couple of weeks—it’s not ideal.

But pushing yourself into that “not-so-sweet spot” where you might only be doing two or three more reps at max, every time you pick the barbell, whether that means performing 5 reps or 25, will ensure you’re training with enough intensity to earn those coveted gains.

It seems that Muhammed Ali understood something when he said: I only start counting when it starts to hurt because they are the only ones who count.

Work hard or work little?

So how do we make sure, without a doubt, that we hit hard enough every time we train? You can pull out the calculator and calculate lifting percentages to help you choose weights and reps. But that won’t explain the daily fluctuations in strength, energy levels, and motivation. We’ve already shared with you our 250% method, which helps you find the sweet spot whatever weight you’re using, but now we want to share with you another foolproof method, often employed in the CrossFit world, to increase the intensity for some earnings serious workouts: the chipper.

A chipper turns traditional gym logic upside down by trading sets and reps for an overall goal and simply asking you to chip away at it until you’re done. Five sets of ten become a goal of fifty and challenge you to intuitively work and rest to complete each movement (with good form) in the shortest amount of time. You can start with an opening set of fifteen reps, followed shortly thereafter by a set of ten, then eight, and so on, until eventually you work into two and three, just to get the job done.

The result? Minimum time, maximum repetitions in the “near failure” zone and a metabolic stress load, one of the main factors in muscle growth.

The socket? It’s seriously brutal work.

How to use chippers

If your goal is to build muscle, choose weights you think you can get 10 reps with, but no more than 20, and aim for a total of 200 to 300 reps per body part, per week. Divide them however you like into sets of 30, 50, or even 100 for lighter accessories and smaller body parts like biceps.

Repeat the same movements often, with the same weights. Once you find that you can quickly reach your rep goal in just 2-3 sets, it’s time to increase the weights.

Below we have three upbeat workouts for you, for any muscle-building strategy. They only require dumbbells but are guaranteed to build up the intensity and result in a serious pump.


The trainings

Whole body Chipper workout

Choose weights that allow you to do more than ten reps in your first set, but no more than twenty. Rest as much as necessary to keep your form tight and allow you to continue performing no fewer than 3-5 reps, but don’t rest so long that your reps for each set start to creep up.

1/ Pull-ups x 50

Exercise equipment, shoulder, gym, free weight bar, strength training, physical fitness, arm, weight lifting machine, barbell, muscle,

    Grab a pull-up bar with an above-shoulder-width grip, lift your feet off the floor, hanging freely with your arms straight. (A) Pull yourself up by flexing your elbows as you bring your shoulder blades together. When your chin goes over the bar, (B) pause before lowering to the starting position. If you struggle to do more than 8-10 pull-ups in a row, use a band for support. Rest as needed to maintain your sharp form, but not so long that the first few reps start to become easy again.

    2/ Push Press x 75

    Weights, exercise equipment, shoulder, overhead press, kettlebell, arm, dumbbell, physical fitness, standing, muscle,

    Place the dumbbells on your shoulders, palms facing in. Take a deep breath to strengthen your core. (A) Dip your knees in and use your legs to help you (B) press the dumbbells overhead. Lower yourself under slow control to shoulder length and repeat. For maximum growth, be sure to slowly lower the dumbbells with each rep.

    3/ Front Squat x 100

    front squat with dumbbells

    Once the presses are complete, squat by cleaning the kettlebells across the front of the shoulders (A). From here, go down into a deep squat until the crook of your hips passes below your knees (b), before going up. Keep your torso as erect as possible at all times and maintain control of your descent.


    Upper body workout

    Choose weights that allow you to do more than ten reps in your first set, but no more than twenty. Rest as much as necessary to keep your form tight and allow you to continue performing no fewer than 3-5 reps, but don’t rest so long that your reps for each set start to creep up.

    1/ Z press with dumbbells x 50

    weights, exercise equipment, shoulder, dumbbell, arm, chest, physical fitness, free weight bar, bench press, abdomen,

      Sit on the floor with your legs extended and a pair of dumbbells on your shoulders. (A) Take a breath and strengthen your core, keeping your torso upright and press the dumbbells overhead (B). Lower yourself under control up to the shoulders. When you can no longer lock the weights overhead or control their descent, take a short break and continue.

      2/ Folded row x 50

      Weights, exercise equipment, shoulder, overhead press, kettlebell, arm, dumbbell, physical fitness, standing, muscle,

      Hold the dumbbells at your sides and hinge at your hips until your chest is parallel to the floor, dumbbells hanging from your shins (A). Keeping his back flat, he rows both dumbbells toward his hips (b), tighten here, then lower under control to start before repeating. Check the tempo both up and down and focus on the feel and feel of your lats.

      3. Bench press with dumbbells x 100

      weights, exercise equipment, dumbbell, arm, bench, muscle, physical fitness, press up, joint, chest,

      Lie on a bench, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Press a pair of dumbbells into the air, locking your elbows (A). Slowly lower the bells until they touch your chest (b) keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle, pause here before explosively pressing up. Repeat.

      4. Dumbbell Hang Cleans x 100

      Weights, exercise equipment, muscle, shoulder, arm, dumbbell, standing, kettlebell, exercise equipment, bodybuilding,

      Stand up and hold the dumbbells by your side. Zipper at the hips to bring them down to the knees (A). Stand up with a slight jump, using momentum to pull the dumbbells to your shoulders (b). Stand straight, then lower yourself under control to your hips and repeat. Keep the pull up explosive, but control the descent to increase the size of your biceps.


      Lower body workout

      Choose weights that allow you to do more than ten reps in your first set, but no more than twenty. Rest as much as necessary to keep your form tight and allow you to continue performing no fewer than 3-5 reps, but don’t rest so long that your reps for each set start to creep up.

      1/ Front Squat x 50

      front squat with dumbbells

      Wipe the dumbbells on the front of the shoulders (A). From here, go down into a deep squat until the crook of your hips passes below your knees (b), before going up. Keep your torso as erect as possible at all times and maintain control of your descent.

      2/ Romanian Dumbbell Deadlift x 75

      Romanian deadlift

      Stand with your dumbbells at your sides, feet shoulder-width apart, and glutes tight (A). With a slight bend in the knees, push the hips back and slowly lower the kettlebells to the floor (b), pinching the shoulders back and keeping the back flat. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, stop and explosively return to the standing position.

      3/ Alternating Reverse Lunge x 100 (total)

      leg, human body, shoulder, human leg, elbow, standing, joint, chest, knee, facial hair,

      Stand after your deadlifts, hold the dumbbells with your arms straight at your sides (A). Still keeping your chest lifted, step back with one leg, bending your front knee until your back knee touches the ground (b). Explosively stand up, stop and repeat with the other leg. Each leg equals one rep. Continue until you reach 100 total.

      4/ Dumbbell deadlift x 100

      dumbbell deadlift db

      With the dumbbells on the floor just outside your feet, lower yourself down and grasp them with a flat back and neutral spine (A). Engage your lats and stand upright, pressing the ground off your feet, squeezing your glutes up (b). Your arms should hang straight throughout this movement, think of them as hooks.


      More “Chipper” workouts from Men’s Health

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