When it comes to putting on a large amount of lean muscle in as short a time as possible there seems to be a lot of confusion around how it can be done and the best way to do it. Whilst there is no “set way” of doing this, there are certain things you should be ensuring that you are doing in order to maximise the amount of muscle your body will grow.
Try and follow some of these tried and tested tips provided to us by fitness experts who know a thing or two about rapid muscle growth.
1. Increase Your Training Volume
Training volume, your number of reps multiplied by your number of sets, is a primary determiner of hypertrophy (how to grow muscle). To increase volume, you may actually need to go lower in weight than you might guess.
Compared to training for strength, intensity is going to drop during the hypertrophy phase of a program, with intensity sitting between 50 and 75 percent of the person’s 1RM, the maximum weight he or she can lift for one rep. To get the volume your muscles need, it is recommended to perform each of your lifts for three to six sets of 10 to 20 reps.
2. Get More Sleep
Muscle recovery requires more than the right nutrition. It takes time, roughly eight hours per night, dedicated to recovery. When you sleep, your body releases human growth factor, which helps grow muscle and keeps levels of the stress hormone cortisol in check.
Sleeping for five hours, as opposed to eight hours, per night for just one week cuts muscle-building testosterone levels by a whopping 10 to 15 percent. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 sleep seven to nine hours per night.
3. To Grow Muscle, Eat More Protein
Any type of training will break down your muscles. Protein builds them back up and the harder your lifting workouts, the more important the muscle-building foods to consider is protein intake to solidify recovery.
According to research from the University of Stirling, for optimal protein growth, weight lifters need to eat 0.25 to 0.30 grams of protein per kilogram body weight per meal. For a 175-pound person, that works out to 20 to 24 grams of protein at every meal. You’ll get that in three to four eggs, a cup of Greek yogurt, or one scoop of protein powder.
4. Focus on the Eccentric Phase
When lifting any weight, you’ve got a concentric (hard) and eccentric (easy) phase. For instance, as you lower into a squat, you’re performing an eccentric action. When you return to standing, that’s concentric. And, according to research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, eccentric work is far better at triggering hypertrophy.
To increase the amount of eccentric effort in your workout, you can do two things: either slow down the eccentric phase of each exercise you perform or integrate eccentric-only variations into your routine.
Take the squat, for example: To make it eccentric-only, you would lower to the floor, and end the exercise there. Note: If you’re trying eccentric-only exercises, you’ll need to substantially increase the weight that you use. Physiologically, muscles are far stronger moving eccentrically than they are concentrically.
5. Focus on Calorie Surpluses, Not Deficits
This can be a hard one to get used to, especially for those who are used to counting calories in the hopes of losing weight. But to most effectively build muscle mass quickly (that means weight gained, not lost), you need to consume more calories than you burn each day.
That’s because, when your body senses that it’s in a calorie deficit—meaning you’re consuming fewer calories than you’re burning each day—it downshifts your body’s tendency to build new muscle. After all, if your body thinks food is in short supply, getting big isn’t going to be its main priority.
Aim to eat roughly 250 to 500 extra calories per day. To make sure that any weight gained is from muscle, it is recommended that the bulk of those calories come from protein. In a 2014 Pennington Biomedical Research Center study, people who ate a high-calorie diet rich in protein stored about 45 percent of those calories as muscle, while those following a low-protein diet with the same number of calories stored 95 percent of those calories as fat.