Are you looking to increase muscle mass and get nicely swole for summer? You’ve got holidays and weddings coming up, so you want to look your best on the beach while filling out your suits.
Your training regime is going pretty decently, but you’re still not seeing the results you want.
If you’re still interested, let’s jump straight into the muscle-building techniques you need to incorporate:
Aim For 10-15 Sets Per Muscle Group
Ensuring you’re training with enough volume is important when growing muscle mass. If your volume is too low, you will struggle to pack on muscle. For the most part, getting around 10 sets for each muscle group is highly effective at stimulating them for growth. To go one step further, up things to 15 sets. Any more than this is too much and you won’t see any extra benefits.
Most people will follow a Bro Split workout routine, meaning you train a different body part every day. This is probably the easiest way to ensure you meet your desired volume. For example, a chest workout could look like this:
- 4 Sets Bench Press
- 4 Sets Incline Press
- 4 Sets Dips
- 3 Sets of Cable Flies
You’ve nailed 15 sets for your chest there, which is more than enough to see substantial growth. Follow a similar method for all other body parts, ensuring you leave room for at least one or two rest days a week.
If you’ve not been training to such a high volume before, this will give you a big boost and the results will show pretty soon if you remain consistent.
Progressively Overload Your Muscles
One of the most common reasons your muscles aren’t growing is down to a lack of progression. Are you overloading your muscles as much as possible every session? Better yet, are you making progress session after session to make things harder?
The biggest problem is that people see rep ranges and think numbers are what matter most. You’re told that lifting between 10-12 reps is great for muscle hypertrophy and growth. That’s correct, but this doesn’t mean you should pick light weights, bang out 12 reps easily, and expect to see results.
No, you should aim for a weight that makes you fail within this range. Ideally, you should get to the 10th rep and struggle to get any others out. This shows you are overloading your muscles and pushing them harder. As a result, more muscle fibers tear and break down, which is what leads to growth. It makes the muscle work harder to repair itself and become bigger and stronger.
The key is making every workout challenging by progressively overloading your muscles in one way or another. The two best approaches are:
- Increase the weight every session – If you get 12 reps with your chosen weight for all sets of an exercise, up it by a couple of pounds next time. Let’s say you used 40 lbs for 12 reps of 3 sets. The next time you do this exercise, try 42 lbs and see where that gets you. Maybe you only manage 12, 10, and 8 reps. That’s fine. Try again next time until you reach 12, 12, 12 again. From here, up the weight and push yourself harder!
- Increase the sets – Alternatively, if you do 12 reps for each of your 3 sets, think about adding a 4th set in. This is a good way to overload your muscles, but be careful that you aren’t overtraining and doing too many sets in a session. In all honesty, increasing the weight resistance is your best bet.
Progressive overload constantly forces your muscles to recover and come back stronger each time. If you’re using the same weight and leaving reps in the tank every session, you’ll never reach your muscle-building goals!
Focus On The Negatives
Usually, telling someone to focus on the negatives is awful life advice. We’re big advocates of positive thinking, so you’ll be happy to know this has nothing to do with your mindset at all.
Instead, we’re talking about the negative portion of your lifts – or the eccentric movement. This will be the part where you’re muscles are lengthening. For context, the concentric movement is when the muscles tighten and contract. Most people think this is the most important part of lifting to gain muscle, but the negative is arguably more critical.
You see, as your muscles lengthen, they are put under more tension. They’re working harder meaning the fibers break down and more micro tears happen. Consequently, your muscles realize they need to get stronger to stop that happening next time, so they repair and come back bigger. Some reports show that eccentric training can lead to greater muscle growth than concentric training.
You can do two things to harness the benefits of negative reps in your training regime:
- Slow down your negatives – No matter what exercise you’re doing, focus on slowing down the movement when you do a negative rep. It’s so easy to let the weights swing back as your muscles lengthen. That’s partly why this training is so effective; it’s much more demanding when you try to control a negative rep than a positive one. Try counting to 3 on every eccentric rep when working out and you’ll see the benefits.
- Implement negative overloads – The second idea is to take negative training to the next level. Overload the negative portion and skip the concentric altogether. A good example of this is picking up heavier dumbbells than normal and “cheating” the weight up in a bicep curl. Then, lower the weight as slowly as possible. Do this for a whole set and you’ll feel the burn.
Take Your Nutrition Seriously
You’ll struggle to put on serious muscle if your nutrition isn’t in check. The first fundamental rule to understand is that you need to be close to your daily calories to gain muscle. You don’t need to be massively over it, and you can be slightly under to gain muscle while losing body fat.
Ideally, you should aim to eat as many calories as you burn. If you’re serious about gaining size, eat a little bit more. This will involve tracking your calories and watching what you eat, but it’s necessary to see the desired results. Ensure you are getting enough protein in your diet too – this is the most important nutrient as it helps your muscles recover and get bigger/stronger. The jury is still out on how much protein is needed for optimal muscle growth. Some say 1g per lb of body weight is what you should aim for, but it’s not a golden rule.
There’s actually a really good video that we’ll display below that goes into the science behind this. It’s worth watching to figure out how much protein you should aim for.
Speaking of protein, this leads us to another area of your nutrition: supplementation.
Do you need supplements to gain muscle? No, but they will certainly help. A protein supplement is recommended, and you could consider some BCAAS as they provide essential amino acids to facilitate protein synthesis. Alternatively, if you’re very serious about gaining lots of muscle quickly, consider a few extreme supplementation options like MK-677. This is a peptide that boosts the production of growth hormones, aiding muscle growth. There are lots of MK before and after photos out there that show it does work.
The supplements you use are entirely up to you, just be sure you check for any side effects before using them. Again, supplementation isn’t crucial but it will be helpful if you struggle to reach your desired protein content through food alone.
Let Your Body Rest
The final thing to talk about is resting your body. Rest days are crucial for muscle growth as this is how your muscles get bigger. If you don’t give yourself ample time to recover, you risk overtraining and seeing no muscle mass improvements.
Think of it like this, you’re building a wall, then you knock it down. Okay, let’s rebuild it, but make it bigger and stronger so it’s harder to knock down. Halfway through the rebuild, you knock your wall down again. Now, you have to go back and start from scratch yet again. It’ll take much longer to build your bigger and stronger wall if you keep knocking it down.
The same happens to your muscles; give them ample time to recover – and try to aid recovery as much as possible. Eating nutritious meals and getting lots of protein will help you recover, but you should also consider stretching and massaging the muscles. This increases blood flow and can relieve soreness the next day.
Always aim for 1-2 rest days per week, and avoid training the same muscle group on consecutive days for added recovery time.
On that note, we’re all out of tips. Try following the advice laid out for you and take photos before and after 30 days. If you remain consistent with everything we’ve recommended, you will definitely see improvements in muscle mass.
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