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How to Build Dense Muscle

author image Susy Sedano
Susy joined LIVESTRONG.COM at its inception in 2008. Focused on all things food, fitness and health related, her daily contributions as the LIVESTRONG.COM community manager is an asset to the site and the millions of community members. She has a M. A. in Clinical Psychology.

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How to Build Dense Muscle
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Muscle hypertrophy, or growth, is the reason many people work out. Central to muscle building is progressively overloading muscles to enhance muscle fiber recruitment. Increasing a muscle's time under tension, the volume of workouts, rest periods between sets and rest between workouts are essential elements to efficiently build thicker, more dense muscles.

Step 1
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Perform "negative" repetitions, and use a training partner to assist you in lifting. Use weights that are typically challenging for you to lift on your own. Have the partner assist you with the positive, or lifting, portion of the exercise. Control the weight yourself during the negative lowering of the weight. For example, during a bench press, you control the weight down to your chest. Your partner will help you lift it back up to the extended position. Aim for a rate of three to five seconds during the negative phase.

Step 2
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Increase the volume of your strength-training program. Progressively add sets to your routine, or add sessions throughout the week. Intensify your training by including six to eight sets for each muscle group per round of exercise. Maintain a repetition range between eight to 12 to adhere to the hypertrophy protocol. Increase resistance training to four times per week by breaking down your workouts into "push" days and "pull" days.

Step 3
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Monitor rest time between sets. Maintain rest periods of approximately one minute to 90 seconds. Shorter rest periods help improve muscular endurance. Longer rest periods, on the other hand, are designed to increase power output. The goal of rest periods for muscle-building regimens is to take the muscle to complete exhaustion during the set and provide just enough recovery time to fulfill the required reps for the next set.

Tips and Warnings
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There can be intense muscle soreness when performing negative reps. Stretch thoroughly during and after workout to reduce muscle soreness. Perform negative training once per week. Train with a lower percentage of your 1-rep max (1 RM) during your second workout of same muscle groups. Always have a spotter when performing negative reps; do not attempt negatives alone.

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