When it comes to building muscle and strength, in can be quite confusing with so much conflicting data and methods out there.
The Optimal Performance Training (OPT) Model, developed by NASM, is a systematic and progressive approach to address an individual's unique strength-increasing goals, their abilities, and their experience level.
It has 5 phases, split among 3 levels, each designed to achieve a specific goals aligned to specific adaptations.
Level 1: Stabilization (1 Phase)
Phase 1 Stabilization-Endurance: The goals of Phase 1 are to improve muscular endurance, joint stability, flexibility, control of posture, and overall efficiency. This phase requires training in an unstable, yet controllable, environment with low loads and high repetitions. Typically, this kind of training will be done with dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. This help you become used to the strength conditioning process and handling the weight.
Level 2: Strength (3 Phases)
Phase 2 Strength and Endurance: Designed to enhance stabilization while increasing a prime mover strength. The goals for Phase 2 include improving overall work capacity, joint stabilization, and the increase of lean body mass. These are all achieved by increasing loads from Phase 1 to moderate levels with moderate repetition ranges.
Phase 3 Hypertrophy: This is optional depending of the person's goals. It is used for maximal muscle growth (which is something I think most of you want). This is accomplished with high volume of moderate to high loads and moderate to low repetition ranges.
Phase 4 Maximal Strength: This is also optional and is designed to increase the maximal amount of force a major muscle can produce. This is accomplished through an increase in the amount of motor unit recruitment, increase in the frequency of motor unit recruitment, and the improvement of peak force. You can accomplish this with the use of high loads, low repetition ranges, and long rest periods (think 5x5 workouts).
Level 3: Power (1 Phase)
Phase 5 Power: the very peak of the OPT model. It is designed to emphasize the development of speed and power. The goals are to enhance promise mover strength and simultaneously increase the rate of force production or the speed of movement. It is functional movement at its finest! And everyone should want to be able to respond quickly to their environment, catching their footing in an unstable surface, or maneuvering quickly through athletic movements to accomplish a sport performance outcome.
Using the OPT to increase your overall strength and muscle mass is not only scientifically sound, but it is also a proven, simple way to get you the results you are looking for. Remember, you can't just go into a fitness regimen without a plan. To really see maximum payoff for all that hard work you've been putting in, and to limit the potential for injury, you've got to understand the process, and stick to it! The OPT is a "no-fail" process that is simple to follow and understand, and it works!