The Secret Science Principles Behind Training To Build Muscle

An athlete’s desire to build muscle mass is one of the 4 most common reasons for hitting the gym, especially in bodybuilding circles. There are lots of myths and misconceptions based on pseudo-scientific principles that have been passed down from generation to generation. The problem with these principles is that they can end up delivering sub-par or haphazard results that in the long run leave athletes demotivated or even injured. 

Muscle building is a slow process that takes time, it doesn't happen over night and the conditions it requires are multi-factorial. Competitive bodybuilders will spend the majority of their year in this phase with a shorter, by comparison, body fat stripping phase.

Our focus at Amino Water is to cut through any confusion and surround ourselves and our team members with the experts in the field who have used evidence based science principles that deliver results in a measurable way. 

In this article we look at the key scientific training principles that you need to implement during any training to build muscle.

Chris Beardsley of Strength and Conditioning Research looks extensively into the scientific principles behind how high performing can use science to improve their training goals and outcomes. In one of his articles on medium, he breaks down training for hypertrophy or muscle growth.

The article states that to maximise muscle growth, the athlete needs to create enough volume of work done to reach 'stimulating reps'. This can be achieved by doing lots of sets of heavier low volume training or less sets of high volume lighter training. For efficiency his evidence suggests the most appropriate and best suggested method involves 3 sets of 5 reps as this is the most efficient way to achieve the crucial stimulating reps when training to fatigue. See more from Chris here.....

When training for muscle growth, the best way to measure volume is to count only those reps that involve the recruitment of high-threshold motor units while bar speed is slow. We can refer to these as “stimulating reps.”We do not yet know exactly how many reps in each set to failure involve the activation of high-threshold motor units while bar speed is slow, but it is likely to be approximately 5 reps, because 5RM is the boundary between heavy and moderate loads. When lifting loads heavier than 5RM, extra sets will need to be done to compensate for the smaller number of stimulating reps per set. When lifting loads lighter than 5RM, the same number of sets to failure will cause similar muscle growth, regardless of the weight or volume load.


Alongside implementing the appropriate training mechanisms mentioned above, making sure you have the appropriate nutritional and mobility support principles in place as this will enhance your ability to grow. Nutritionally making sure you consume an adequate supply of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) around training is important. Using 1-2 servings of Amino Water during your session and consuming an excess of calories, will support your growth fully. Also, making sure you have a consistent mobility routine will mean your tissues are not restricted due to compression.

Action Points

Using the principles mentioned above you have to recognise that there are multiple ways to 'stimulate' muscle growth. Once you have understood this, then the question is to figure out which way is going to work best for you. Use the following 4 principles to design your program :

  1. Our advice would be to use a blend of lower and higher volume style training methods. For example, training 4 weeks at lower volumes and then switching the program to spend 4 weeks at higher volumes. This creates adaptation and chaos in any program needed to stimulate muscle growth. 

  2. Slow bar speeds are crucial to maximise mechanical tension, so always use an appropriate weight to create this.

  3. Training to failure is advantageous for muscle growth so bear this in mind when training.

  4. Take into consideration other factors like nutrition and flexibility as these massively influence the level of results you will gain.

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