The Centr guide to building muscle
You are now entering the gains zone! This guide is your muscle-building hub, with everything you need to know to get started and get results with our team of expert trainers.
Chris Hemsworth’s personal trainer Luke Zocchi, bodybuilding pro Torre Washington and powerlifter Jess Kilts will be steering your gains with workouts designed to build strength and power, and create all-over lean muscle definition.
Ready to pump some iron? Let’s get into it...
Does Centr have any programs focused on building muscle?
Centr Power is the definitive muscle-building program designed by Chris and Luke, based on the training that Chris uses to prepare for movie roles.
You can choose where to train for your gains by selecting either Centr Power at Home (using home-friendly equipment) or Centr Power in Gym (a full gym program). Both programs include 3 training levels – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced – each consisting of a 13-week program split into four 3-week phases, plus one deload week.
If you have access to a functional trainer or cable machine with Smith bar, Luke and Jess will show you how to get the most out of your machine and your muscles with Cable Builder. It’s a 9-week progressive program with no free weights required.
To find out more about Centr Power and Cable Builder, head to the Programs section.
What should I eat when I build muscle?
Nutrition can make or break your muscle building journey, so to learn how to fuel your body for workouts, aid your recovery and max your muscle gain, check out the Build Muscle nutrition guide.
What does a week building muscle with Centr look like?
When you set your goal to Build Muscle, your Planner is set to target your whole body across a week of workouts. The splits (specific targeted muscles) vary between training levels, but in general your week will look like:
- Mondays – upper body with Torre
- Tuesdays – lower body with Torre
- Wednesdays – upper body with Luke
- Fridays – full body with Torre
There are other workouts in your Planner each week, too – to help you maintain functional mobility, stay lean and mix it up. Just remember, when you’re looking to build serious muscle, the 4 weekly Muscle Building workouts are essential to achieving your goals.
How will my training progress?
Muscle Building training is broken into 4-week phases in your Planner, with repetition of movements week on week – this repetition and consistency is essential to adding muscle and perfecting your form.
Evaluate the weights that you’re lifting each week, and ensure that you’re always challenging yourself. Use the Weights Tracker to track how heavy you’re lifting, and chart your progress.
Completing the same exercises across a 4-week phase, and overall, allows you to become more proficient at each movement, and places progressively greater stress on your muscles as you increase weight. This, in turn, causes your body to adapt by building more muscle – exactly what we’re here for!
With Centr Power you can build serious muscle In Gym, or At Home using dumbbells and resistance bands.
What equipment do I need?
If you’re training at the gym, make sure they’re decked out with dumbbells, a kettlebell, a barbell, weight plates, a bench and bigger gym equipment including a cable machine, a leg press machine, a pull-up bar and dip bars.
If you’re training at home with access to weights, but none of the big gym equipment, follow the inset modifications on Torre’s workouts. These modifications work similar muscle groups to the main movement, and the workout overall will still be effective.
If you’re doing Cable Builder at home or the gym, you’ll need to make sure your cable machine has a Smith bar and specific attachments. Take a look at the program guide.
You can also build serious muscle at home with the Centr Power at Home program. Workouts have been specifically adapted by Chris and Luke to get results at home using dumbbells, a bench, resistance bands with secure anchor points, and for those doing the Advanced program, a barbell, weight plates and pull-up bar. You can select the program level that is right for you: Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced.
You can also continue to chase gains by swapping into your Planner one of Luke’s Muscle Building workouts, which use free weights and a barbell, or his Resistance Muscle workouts using bands – just match the target area of the workout you’re swapping.
Should I train at Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced level?
Our Build Muscle workouts are not leveled by time or reps, but specifically structured with custom workouts to suit each level. You can set your training intensity level in Centr settings (under Goals & Preferences) and also in individual workouts where required.
New to lifting weights or not confident about completing workouts with correct form? Beginner is the best place to start. Focus on choosing the right weight and perfecting your form as you get into the swing of muscle building.
Been lifting for some time and confident with your form? Intermediate is for you. Training at this level will provide you new training stimulus, and prevent you from hitting a plateau so the gains keep rolling in.
Serious lifter? Advanced is for muscle builders who are confident in their technique and have been training sufficiently long enough to handle higher training volumes. Torre and Luke will keep pushing you for better and more.
How do I know what weight to lift & when to add weight?
Knowing how heavy to lift can be a challenge, especially when you’re new to weight training. There is no set weight you should be lifting, and everyone will progress differently.
So where do you start? As a general guide, these are good starting weights for beginner lifters:
- Dumbbells 2-11 pounds (1-5kg)
- Kettlebell 17 pounds (8kg)
- Barbell 44 pounds (20kg)
- Weight plates 25 pounds (10kg)
To find your sweet spot, think about it in reps. Say you’re doing a set of 6 barbell curls – you want to be working with a weight that challenges you on the 6th rep, yet still allows you to complete the curl with good form. As you get stronger, you’ll find that the 6th rep becomes easy – that’s when you’re ready to add weight.
We recommend increasing your weight by 2-5 pounds (1-2kg) maximum when you can breeze through your last few reps.
Just remember you should always feel you have those two ‘reps in reserve’ at the end of each set – quality over quantity, always.
To prepare your muscles for the work to come, in your warm-ups you’ll be performing the main lift of a session at 50% and 75% of the weight that you’ll lift during the workout.
How do I get the most out of every workout?
Technique: Performing exercises with the right form is the most important thing. To nail every move, look for tutorials from Torre and Luke in your muscle-building Planner workouts and practice before training. By ‘cheating’ a move, you’re risking injury and not getting maximum benefits from your training. You also need to have your form locked in before you progress the weight you’re lifting – so slow down, check your technique using the tutorials, and watch your trainer’s form in the workout videos. You can also work on your skills with Luke’s technique training for key muscle-building moves.
Tempo: To make every rep count, you need to work at a tempo (or speed) that allows you to control the movement through the full range of motion: the lifting (concentric) and the lowering (eccentric). The eccentric movement should take double the time of the concentric movement – this maximizes muscle tears to boost growth. Think of a classic bicep curl: if lifting the weight to your shoulders takes a count of one, then lowering the weight back down should take a slow and controlled count of one, two, three.
Rest: Make sure you’re taking the rest breaks within workouts – they’re designed to allow you to recover enough to finish your next set, but not so long that you lose momentum. If you realize you can continue straight into smashing the next set with no need for a rest break, it’s probably a sign that you’re ready to lift heavier.
Is there a trick to swapping workouts?
The workouts laid out in your Planner each week are specifically designed and grouped to get you results. So there are a few tips to keep in mind before you hit the ‘swap’ icon.
Be mindful you’re not training the same muscle group within 48 hours (e.g. don’t do lower-body workouts on consecutive days).
To achieve muscle gains, doing the 4 Muscle Building workouts in your planner each week is essential. Other workouts (such as Functional Training and HIIT) can be swapped for another workout or a rest day.
- If you need a lower-equipment alternative, swap in one of Luke’s Muscle Building workouts using free weights, or a Resistance Muscle (using resistance bands) session from the Explore section. Take a look at our blog for more on maximizing your gains with resistance band workouts.
Are there exercise modifications in workouts?
Because you can’t always get to the gym, Torre’s workouts contain modifications for exercises that use machines or equipment like dip stations. Look out for the inset in the exercise video, showing a variation you can do at home with minimal equipment. These modifications aren’t always precise replications of the machine movement, but do target the same muscle groups to keep you making progress.
Any tips for safe lifting?
Bad form does not build muscles, it only increases your risk of injury. So where possible, use mirrors to ensure your form is correct and you’re working the right muscles. (You can admire your gains in the same mirror when you’re done.)
Don’t forget, allowing time for rest and recovery is a crucial part of your muscle-building routine. Overtraining can result in poor performance and injury, so don’t push your body to do more than what’s in your Planner, and take a rest day where needed.
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