It’s always disappointing to put in the effort of going to the gym, but not seeing the results you were hoping for. If you’re looking to build muscle, ask yourself “Have I increased my intensity lately?” You can be doing the same workout at the same weight and feeling a burn but you won’t see any increase in muscles if you don’t overload your intensity.
Intensity is synonymous with how heavy the load is that you are working with. There is always the question of whether you should lift heavier weights with a low number of reps or a high number of reps with a lower weight. However, both actually stimulate hypertrophy as long as the same amount of effort and volume is involved. If you are trying to increase strength, then you should stick with a lower amount of reps with a higher weight.
Doing both will help activate two different types of hypertrophy. When you lift higher weights for lower reps you are activating myofibrillar hypertrophy. This helps with your strength gains because it increases your tissue. Higher reps with lower weights affects your sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. In order to see an increase in your muscle gains, you need to consistently increase your intensity aka you need to lift heavier. But it is helpful to do a combination of both to really maximize your total muscle hypertrophy.
In order to figure out how heavy you should be lifting, it is recommended to aim for 70-85% of your maximum rep. Remember, if you keep lifting the same weight you will not see the results you’re hoping for because your body has stabilized.
Another thing to consider is your volume. Volume is the amount of work being put in but is considered the number of sets in this scenario. If you are looking to increase muscle you will also want to increase your volume. Keep in mind that increasing your volume can lead to overtraining.
Other factors to consider are your current diet and recovery time. Your muscles need time to rebuild before they can bulk up. In order to gain the most of your workouts, be sure to include a high protein diet that also includes some carbs and fats since you will be burning a lot of calories working out.