The Power Of 3 To Build More Muscle

By

Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer
and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle
Building.

The most important number you need to know, and how it relates to building size and strength!

The nuts and bolts of what you need to know. . .

 

  • The number 3, and its connection to building strength and size, simply cannot be ignored.

  • For optimal development, the general recommendation is to perform three separate exercises that stress a muscle at different lengths, with three different loads to fully recruit and exhaust the muscle and stimulate maximal growth. To increase the rate of development, the general recommendation is to train the muscle, or movement, three times per week.

  • The amount of sets we think about performing generally starts (and ends) with three. The number 3 is everywhere!


Intensifiers like drop sets, and rest-pause sets seem to generally be performed in threes. Specialization programs generally involve training the same lift, or musculature, three times per week. As it relates to “bodybuilding” oriented workouts, a muscle is generally hit from three different angles.

There’s no denying the fact that the number “3” is extremely prevalent as it relates to most training programs these days. Below are some ways in which I incorporate the number three.

Power of 3 Intensifiers

By now, nearly everyone is aware of the correlation between time under tension and its effect on stimulating growth, which is why intensifiers like drop sets and rest-pause sets are as rampant as they are in the routines of bodybuilders (who generally possess the greatest amounts of muscle mass).

I know for myself, I’ve included these intensifiers into my own workouts for years, and they’ve undoubtedly contributed in taking my physique to the next level.

Because the goal with highly demanding techniques like these is to exhaust as many muscle fibers as possible, I find that performing drop sets, and/or rest-pause sets, with three separate efforts tends to accomplish the goal of maximizing recruitment and fatigue to be best.

Why? Because through trial and error, I’ve found that both myself and those I work with have enough in the tank to perform more than one drop, or rest more than one time, and still put forth a valiant enough effort to make another drop, or rest, worthwhile.

I’ve also found that if you can perform more than three drops, or rests, then it’s more than likely that enough effort was not put forth during the initial stages of the set.

Power of 3 Drop Sets

Pick a weight with which you can safely perform 4-6 reps. Upon reaching failure, reduce the weight enough to allow for another 6-8 reps to be performed. Upon reaching failure once more, further reduce the weight to allow to allow for another 8-10 reps to be performed.

Power of 3 Rest-Pause Sets

Pick a weight with which you can safely perform 4-6 reps. Upon reaching failure, discontinue the set by racking the weight (or putting it down), and rest for 15 seconds before continuing and aim to perform another 2-3 reps. Upon reaching failure, discontinue the set once more, and rest for 20 seconds this time before aiming to perform another 2-3 reps.

Power of 3 Angle of Stimulation

Because muscles are the strongest in their mid-range, and weakest at their end ranges, for optimal stimulation I perform separate exercises that stress a muscle in its longest, shortest, and mid-range positions.

shortened, mid range, lengthened range

Here are some examples of the exercises I use to target muscles in each of these 3 positions:

Power of 3 Chest Exercises

Lengthened – dumbbell flyes

Mid-range – barbell or dumbbell presses

Shortened – cable flyes, machine flyes (pec deck)

Power of 3 Shoulder Exercises

Lengthened – front/lateral raises performed lying on an incline

Mid-range – barbell or dumbbell presses

Shortened – full range (dumbbells travelling above the head) front/lateral raises

Power of 3 Back Exercises

Lengthened – dumbbell pullover

Mid-range – pull-ups, lat pulldowns, all row variations (barbell, dumbbell, cable, t-bar)

Shortened – straight-arm pulldown

Power of 3 Biceps Exercises

Lengthened – incline curls

Mid-range – barbell or dumbbell curls with elbows near mid-line of body

Shortened – preacher curls, high pulley curls

Power of 3 Triceps Exercises

Lengthened – overhead extension (barbell, dumbbell, or cable)

Mid-range – dips, close-grip bench presses

Shortened – rope pushdowns with elbows behind mid-line of body

Power of 3 Quads Exercises

Lengthened – sissy squats

Mid-range – back squats, front squats

Shortened – leg extensions

Power of 3 Hamstrings Exercises

Lengthened – seated leg curls

Mid-range – stiff-leg deadlifts

Shortened – lying leg curls

Power of 3 Recruitment and Fatigue Strategy

I’ve noticed that most programs follow a gradual progression in terms of loading, in that workouts are almost always “front loaded,” and the reason for this is to fully ensure that as many muscle fibers are recruited and fatigued as possible. This is why exercises performed at the beginning of the workout are done so with greater loads than those performed afterwards.

To maximize recruitment, pick a weight that you can safely perform 4-6 reps for, for the first exercise performed. For the second exercise, select a weight that you can safely perform 6-8 reps for, and for the third exercise choose a weight that allows for 8-10 reps to be safely performed.

Power of 3 Specialization

To speed up the development of a specific muscle, or even increase my strength on a certain lift, one of the best strategies I’ve ever come across consists of training the desired lift, or body part, three times per week.

I like to structure my training split in much the same way I like to structure my workouts (as seen above). For building muscle, each day is devoted to training one specific plane of motion – some examples of what I mean can be seen below:

Power of 3 Chest Specialization

Devote one day to developing thickness by performing exercises that challenge the pecs in their shortest position, another day to developing width by performing exercises that challenge the pecs in their longest position, and one finale day to developing the upper chest since it’s generally underdeveloped in relation to the rest of the chest.

Power of 3 Shoulder Specialization

Devote one day to stressing the front delt, another day to stressing the side delt, and one final day to stressing the rear delt.

Power of 3 Back Specialization

Devote one day to targeting the lats with pulldown* variations, another day to targeting the mid-back with row variations, and one final day to targeting the erectors and traps with shrugs and deadlift variations. Perform three different variations of a movement best suited to training the plane of motion – for example, on the pulldown day do one overhand pulldown, one underhand pulldown, and one neutral grip pulldown.

*Pull-/chin-ups can be substituted with pulldowns.

Power of 3 Biceps Specialization

Devote one day to stressing the long head of the bicep, another day to stressing the short head of the bicep, and one final day to stressing the brachialis.

Power of 3 Triceps Specialization

Devote one day to stressing the long head of the triceps, another day to stressing the lateral and medial heads of the triceps, and one final day to stressing the triceps as a whole with compound movements.

Power of 3 Quads Specialization

Devote one day to utilizing a very narrow stance, another day to utilizing a very wide stance, and one final day to using a shoulder width stance.

Power of 3 Hamstrings Specialization

Devote one day to stressing the medial hamstrings, another day to stressing the lateral hamstrings, and one final day to stressing the hamstrings as a whole with compound movements using various foot positions.

Power of 3 For Improved Performance

As it relates to improving the performance of a lift, each of the three days should be geared towards the development of one specific strength quality.

An example would be to perform the targeted lift with overload methods on one day, with light loads to facilitate the development of speed and power on another day, and one day solely devoted to the practice of lifting heavy weights (to integrate the improvements made on the other two days).

For those with the luxury of working out multiple times a day, it’s worth noting that performing three separate smaller workouts on the heavy day may be beneficial for most, since strength gains are more about frequency of practice than reaching exhaustion.

In fact, excessive fatigue may not only limit performance acutely, but it can also inhibit your ability to recover from the work performed, and thus prevent you from performing more frequent workouts (which is what you want to do to improve performance in the first place).

Is It Really As Easy As 1, 2, 3?

The number 3 runs rampant in the strength and conditioning world, and it just can’t be ignored. It was never intentional on my part, and happened below conscious awareness, but nearly every strategy I’ve come across in regards to building muscle, or maximizing performance, has an eerie correlation with the number 3.

The number 3 just can’t be ignored… 

See the Power of 3 in action in the video below where we use three techniques that will help you put on SIZE & STRENGTH like nothing else:

What I’d like to hear from you is, have you noticed a correlation between what you do, and any specific number?

Have you noticed that the majority of what you do is done for three times as well, or is there no specific sequence that pops up at you when you take a step back and monitor your own training?

Leave your comments below!

 

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Comments

7 thoughts on “The Power Of 3 To Build More Muscle

  1. Hello, I really like your article. I was wondering if you could give a more elaborated list of exercises for each category (Lengthen, Midway, Shorten) or any advice on how to analyze and determine such a judgement. Thank you and have a good day!

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  2. great post Vince. Ticks all the boxes content (love the tips for the shoulders and chest) simple to read and understand and easy to apply to training.

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  3. Great content Vince, I learned a lot. Some great information on structuring workouts!

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  4. Awesome post Vince! All these tips have helped me break new PRs consistently in all the strongman and strength training I’ve been doing. Lots of small golden nuggets in this article. periodization with different reps has been pretty helpful too. Keep the good stuff comin and digging the new hair style bro. (A hairy style for fit for a king)

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    • That’s great Travis. Vince is always coming up with great stuff. There is more to come soon to. Stay tuned for that, it’s going to be mind blowing. Tim Ernst – Del Monte Pro Team.

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  5. Great post Vince. I never quite looked at it this way, but it all makes sense. I think I naturally gravitated towards this way of training without thinking about it. Kind of reminds me of an old Proverb that says, “Though one may be overpowered, 2 can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. The power of number 3.

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    • That probably means your doing something right in your training Tim :). Keep it up man, new PRs await you!

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