Firstly, growing muscle requires a handful of principles to abide by. In doing so, we can make the process of building muscle quicker! In this blog we will share the top 5 most important tips. Then, just hop on that gains train and start growing!
Benefits of Growing Muscle
Well, there are endless benefits from growing muscle. Namely, an increased metabolism as the years progress (more food and no weight gain), confidence, strength and reduced injury risk. In addition, enhanced athleticism and aesthetics. As well as a reduced chance of osteoporosis, less falls in later life and a reduced chance of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, a longer more fruitful life on earth!
Top 5 Direct Tips for Growing Muscle
Below are the best 5 tips for bigger muscles. And as Dr Eric Helms says, they form the foundational layers of the importance pyramid providing 70-80% of our results. However, though the indirect principles in our other blog are less thought of, they’re just as important towards growing muscle!
Growing bigger muscles requires one of the most important principles, adequate volume (sets x reps x load). Furthermore, volume is your total output across a week. Unfortunately, too little or too much volume can result in no progress. Because, too little stimulation won’t force the body to adapt. And too much can create more damage than the body is capable of recovering from for the next session/week. Initially, volume recommendations are typically 10 sets per muscle group (or movement pattern) per week. This could look something like 50-60 total weekly sets divided across 3-4 workouts. It is best to start off at the low end and add more volume over time only when needed. Because why do more when you can grow from doing less? Consequently, if you are improving, it needn’t change. Contrarily, if you aren’t progressing, increase it steadily as your body get’s less sensitive to the stimulus.
Intensity is determined by your effort level. Basically, it is scaled by the rate of perceived exertion chart (how hard it feels out of ten). One being easy, five being moderately difficult and ten being maxed out effort. Alternatively, you can gauge intensity through reps in reserve (RIR). For example, if you completed a set of 3×10 (3 sets of 10 reps) and you felt like those sets were an RPE of 8 (out of 10) you simply had two RIR (the equivalent to the 8/10). If you completed 10 reps and your form boke down at rep 11 it was a 10/10 RPE. Similarly, because you was maxed out, you had zero RIR.
Frequency organizes your volume and intensity across the week and prevents you from doing too much in one session. In addition, higher frequency training brings other benefits too. For example, say you want to develop your weakness – biceps. Because they are recovered after 48 hours, why wait a full week to train them again? Also, research by Dr Brad Schoenfeld shows that more frequent training leads to optimal hypertrophy and strength gains. So less frequent training brings less results! Furthermore, this is due to muscle protein synthesis (MPS) being elevated for 48 hours after a given muscle is trained. The general goal is to train each muscle 2+ times per week. For further reading on MPS Very Well Fit do a great job in this blog.
In addition, splitting up heavy compound lifts across the week allows you to perform better each session and recover better before the next. Also, it elevates your spirits as long sessions can be quite taxing mentally. Furthermore, higher frequency training suits full body training, upper/low and push/pull splits well. And higher frequency training suits busy people, and that’s most of us! For example, a bro split (one muscle group per session) brings with it less room for error. If you miss a session that week, you could miss a complete muscle group! Here is a quick example of a bro split; chest, back, shoulders, off, legs, arms, off, off. Whereas, with full body training you can hit every muscle, every session.
Growing Muscle Requires Big Lifts
Key lifts are basically double joint movements that allow heavy loads to be lifted. Thus, more motor units activated per exercise and more muscle built! For example, the main key lifts are the deadlift, bench press, back squat, overhead press and BB bent row. However, these exercises will need accompanying accessory lifts and by this we mean other similar movement patterns. And these come in the form of dumbbell and machine varieties such as a dumbbell chest press to compliment a barbell bench press. One thing to give brief mention to is technique. Ego lifting brings with it a much higher chance of injury. In addition, correct technique ensures that you get stronger in the correct movement patterns and angles for optimal strength.
Macros make up protein, fats and carbohydrates! And certain macro ratios allow your body to grow muscle quicker and more efficiently. For example, consuming enough protein in the diet will provide your body with the bricks to build your new body! Because training hard in the gym and not having enough protein would dramatically lower results. On the other hand, carbohydrates are stored in the muscles as glycogen and are used anaerobically (strength training/sprints). Thus, our fuel source to be able to lift heavy stuff and perform well, requires the presence of carbohydrates! Fats are important for hormonal health, cushioning of joints/organs, cell growth and nutrient absorption. Think of your body as a Ferrari, it will run better on best balanced macros.
We hope you enjoyed this one. Did you learn anything new?
Luke & Kate