It takes a lot of time, hard work, and consistency to build muscle. There are times when you could do everything right and still only add just one or two pounds of muscle every month.
There are a couple strategies that can be of help. If the aim is to build muscle faster, here are eight tips that you must keep in mind. They will help bring a consistent increase in muscle size, strength, and overall fitness..
1. Increase your training volume
Studies show that higher volume generally translates to more muscle.
Volume is the total load with which you stress a muscle in a workout. If you wish to calculate volume, just multiply your sets by your reps by your weight. For instance, if you bench press three sets of 10 reps at 100 pounds, then the volume for the bench press session is 3,000 pounds.
With a specified rep range, you can grow muscle faster. The conventionally accepted hypertrophy rep range for each set is to lift 8 to 15 reps for each set. If at present, you are lifting fewer reps, try to increase your rep range, knowing that you have to decrease your weights. If you are lifting more than 15 reps at present, try to lower the rep range and increase the weight.
2. Increase your training frequency
Research shows that how long you train for, and its frequency is of equal importance as training volume if you want build muscle. Frequency is how often you train the muscle or muscle group in a week. The more you train a muscle, the better its potential for growth.
The strategy is effective but can be proven dangerous if one is not careful. Try to increase the frequency slowly if you use this technique. Do not suddenly start doing leg workout thrice a week, when you were only doing it once earlier.
3. Lift heavier weights
There is a direct correlation between bigger muscles and better strength. However, being less muscular and still very strong is also possible.
As ou lift heavy weight, the muscles take more fiber tears, and hence, induce more muscle protein synthesis. This is the process via which your muscles take up protein for repairing and building.
When we say ‘heavy’, it is relative and we do not mean that you should max out on your deadlifts every week. Select weights that are heavy enough to bring you to fatigue on after a set of 8 to 15 reps. You can also choose to lift heavy in a lower rep range, like 4 to 6 reps, and focus on building strength.
The meaning of repping to faigue means going on until you are just about to fail. If you are doing so many rep, that you finish your set with an incomplete rep, you went a little too far and repped to failure.
4. Switch to compound lifts
The most effective and efficient movement to build muscle is compound lift. The movements that involve multi-joint movement and not just single-joint movement are compound movements. For instance, a squat is a compound lift, but seated leg extension is a single-joint movement.
Compound exercises engage more of the muscle fibers from the targeted muscle group, and also tend to engage the entire body as opposed to just one muscle group.
If you use the squat and the leg extension example again, as you squat, you engage your quads, hamstrings, glutes, back and your calves. But when you do a leg extension, you only engage your quads. So, it is clear that with compound lift, you have more potential for muscle growth.
5. Eat more protein
Protein literally works to build and rebuild your muscles. The primary role of dietary protein in the body is to repair cells, including the muscle cells that are damaged as your lift weights. The supplementation of protein helps increase muscle protein synthesis, which is the process that repairs and builds muscles.
The recommendations for protein intake differ, but generally, to grow muscle, you should eat about 2 to 3 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. For folks who work out and have an imperial mind, 0.9 gram to 1.36 grams per pound of bodyweight is recommended.
The Dietary Reference Intake established by the Institute of Medicine is 0.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight.
Keep in mind that if you are having protein before bed, you can maximize your gains.
6. Eat more in general
The bodybuilding community generally says that ‘mass builds mass’. Bodybuilders take an off-season between the competitions, and the goal during that is to build as much muscle as possible. For that, they eat in a caloric surplus to help strengthen gains and grow muscles.
It is known that extra calories will help build muscle- that is as long as you are simultaneously lifting weights too. If you consume extra calories but do not overload your muscles by an increase in weight, volume, or frequency, you will end up gaining more body fat, rather than lean muscle.
7. Get more sleep
If you are sleep-deprived, it would not matter however hard you work out, and how heavy you lift, and the amount of protein you eat, because you will just not see any optimal results with the muscle building.
Sleep helps the muscle recover. Studies have shown that while we sleep, most of the process of muscle repair takes place and that sleep has an important influence on hormones like cortisol, human growth hormone, and insulin growth factor, all of which have a huge role to play in muscle maintenance and growth. A study has shown that just one night of no sleep can also ruin your muscle-building efforts with an increased protein breakdown.
8. Prioritize recovery
One cannot stress enough on how important workout recovery is.
If you are constantly beating your muscles down and not giving them a chance to rest and rebuild- they will not grow. Other than that, you will get symptoms of overtraining syndrome. Bodybuilders use workout splits to workout several times every week, so that they do not overwork a given muscle group.
For example, a common split is push-pull-legs. It looks like this:
Upper body pushing movements (focus on the chest, shoulders and triceps)
Upper body pulling movements (focus on back muscles and biceps)
Legs (focus on quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes)
All of these are scientifically proven ways that will definitely help you increase muscle quickly.