3 Essential tips to build more muscle without spending an extra minute in the GYM!
Building Muscle is awesome. More food, great workouts, and usually a lot of sessions where you feel like a beast! But unfortunately, most muscle building programmes are a complete failure.
Now, we’re told that we need to eat enough, and follow a progressive programme (If you’re not even doing this, then what are you expecting?), but this is only a part of the equation. People get into the finer details of some aspects, and forget the bigger picture- reps vs sets, this exercise is better than that exercise, and people who have the programmes and nutrition plans broken down to finite details and followed them exceptionally, to realise that at the end of the day, they’re not much stronger, and the weight they’ve gained will probably come off as soon as they try to cut again.
Now, If you’re already hugely successful at gaining muscle and strength naturally, I’m sure this article will be backing up things you already do (or give you a new area to consider!), but if like most guys you’re looking to finally get results in the gym, here’s some great tips to consider alongside the food and nutrition plan you have in place.
Train each muscle group more frequency!
Here’s one that took me a while to realise. I suppose it’s with the number of programmes that I had seen that DIDN’T do this. Frequently, I see people hitting huge amounts of volume in each of their 5 workouts a week- 1.5 hours per training session- and still only managing to hit each muscle group 1x per week.
Here’s the issue- you’re probably doing way more work than you need to on that muscle group per session, maybe even to the point that half of the workout is of poor quality, and provides no additional benefit- it may even be detrimental from an injury and recovery perspective.
Now, imagine that the 20 sets on big heavy compound pressing exercises for chest was reduced to say 5-8 sets, followed by some good muscle pump exercises- try 2-3 sets on a crossover- that muscle group/ movement can be covered in around 25-30 minutes. But rather than take this as a win, why not add a few more muscle groups in- triceps and shoulders maybe? They wont need as much work as the heavy compound pressing will work these, so add some good muscle focused isolation work for them. This way you can really start to see some big changes without spending an extra minute in the gym. You may get the same response per session, but by doubling the frequency, get twice the response in the training period! The new split could look something like this:
Monday: Chest, triceps, shoulders, abs
Tuesday: Back, biceps, Legs, obliques
Thursday: Shoulders, chest, triceps, abs
Saturday: Back, biceps, obliques
Here, with the exact same total training frequency, we can increase the frequency of stimulus to each area. Obviously, intelligent planning is essential to work out what you adapt best to, but providing you can recover effectively (which should be controlled by the session difficulty), a 2x per week per muscle group frequency can be a great strategy to increase muscle mass.
Adequate sleep is crucial for us to function well, but for whatever reason, this gets ignored when it comes to building muscle. We often consider training and nutrition as number 1, but sleep is at least as important for health and body composition as these other essential factors.
Adequate sleep is essential for not only daily function, health and performance, but also for muscle building and recovery. When we sleep, we switch from a system focused on breaking down, into a system focus on repairing and rebuilding damaged cells. In addition, our natural hormone production is optimised in a state of low stress and adequate sleep, so to be in an optimum physical state for muscle growth and muscle preservation during fat loss, getting enough sleep is critical.
A lack of sleep will also lead to poor energy levels, a lack of focus and motivation, and generally sub-par performance in all areas. And if that’s not enough, the reduced insulin sensitivity and leptin and ghrelin disruption may make it difficult to stick to the plan, even on a calorie surplus- or lead to body-fat increase way above what’s expected for the amount of muscle gained. Ultimately, sleep is crucial, so make sure you’re getting between 8-10 hours a night.
A number of things can help you to optimise your sleep, including sleep and recovery trackers, various supplemtns and blue light blocking glasses. But initially, a good solid bedtime routine with adequate nutrition can go a long way!
3. Execute the movement better!
This is probably one of the most underrated aspects of training. Exercise execution. I STILL see countless people looking to build muscle with NO IDEA on how to execute the movement correctly. This is a much bigger, complex topic, but for today I’ll keep it short. The reps, sets, intensity and density of your workout doesn’t mean shit if you can’t execute the movement in a way which will activate the target muscle. AND THIS IS THE KNOWLEDGE BOMB. I’ll repeat it…. The reps, sets, intensity and density of your workout doesn’t mean shit if you can’t execute the movement in a way which will activate the target muscle. MIND- BLOWN. But how obvious is that? When you’re shoulders are in bits during and after a bench press, your chest is fine, but you just cant seem to get it to develop regardless of how much or how often you bench, you need to learn to execute the movement and activate the target muscle.
NOW- I’m not saying form is ALL that matters, great form with no effort won’t make you build. You need great form AND high effort- work hard, lift big, but be intelligent and focused on every single rep you perform, and make sure that it’s earned its place in your plan. If it doesn’t work for you, learn how to execute it properly, or switch to something more suited to your body and goals.
And, for today, that’s that. If you need help with this, you know where we are. Just email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to find out more information about optimum training and nutrition? check out the rest of our BLOG.
Happy lifting guys- go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN…. Coming soon….
Josh Kennedy MSc, ASCC, CSCS