Maximising muscle growth: everything you need to know
By Coach Hunter Bennett
Building muscle is integral to the development of strength — but even more than that, it promotes better metabolic health, higher bone density, and improved functional capacity.
Oh, and looking jacked at the beach is a positive too.
Building muscle is not as simple as chucking on a stringlet and listening to some sweet EDM — in fact, it is much more nuanced than that.
But don’t worry, we have got you covered.
1. Boost Training Frequency
Most people looking to put on some mass get started with a ‘bodybuilding style’ training split that has you train each individual muscle group once per week.
Now, don’t get me wrong — while I am sure you enjoy having a training day dedicated to nothing but biceps, this is not the most effective way to build muscle (or increase strength for that matter).
Your muscles take between 24 and 72 hours to recover after a session.
While the exact length of recovery is dictated by how hard that session was, you can safely assume that even if you absolutely destroy yourself in the gym, you should be fully recovered in 2-3 days.
This means that no matter how hard you train, you can train any muscle group at least twice per week without any risk of overtraining.
And this is the minimum.
If you have a solid training base and do sessions that don’t have absurdly high training volumes, you could plausibly train a muscle group 4-5 times per week without any issues (obviously this would need to be programmed appropriately…).
So, by simply upping your training frequency, you can seriously improve your results with very little effort.
How should you go about this?
A simple recommendation would be to move away from body part training splits and towards an ‘upper body lower body split’, or even a higher frequency ‘full body training split’.
2. Prioritise Compound Movements
When it comes to muscle growth, compound movements are king (or Queen, I mean I don’t discriminate).
Things like squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows require movements to occur at a number of different joints — and as a result, they use a huge amount of muscle mass.
More importantly, these movements allow you to use the heaviest weights. This places your muscles under more mechanical tension, which is the most important driver for muscle growth.
In short, compound movements place more muscle under more mechanical tension — which is the perfect storm for getting “yakked”.
3. Vary Your Loads
When trying to optimise hypertrophy (a fancy shmancy word for muscle growth). moderate rep ranges are the most commonly recommended.
This means 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps for every single exercise.
Now, while sitting within these loading parameters will play an important role in building as much muscle as humanly possible, they won’t do it all.
You need to vary your loads.
Using heavy loads (sets of 1-6 reps) creates more mechanical tension. Moderate rep ranges (6-12) increase metabolic stress. Finally, lighter loads and higher rep ranges (12-20) increase the growth of slow twitch muscle fibres.
By using different rep ranges within your workout, you can promote growth through different pathways — maximising muscle growth.
4. Train Hard
This last one might sound like an obvious point… but it’s not.
Too many people get to the gym and go through the motions. Week in week out they do the same exercises, use the same amount of weight, and never really push themselves.
And of course, they never build any muscle either.
Because there is no intent to improve.
To actually make progress you need to train hard. You need to attack your workouts, and build up a sweat in the process. More often than not it is those last few reps that lead to change — so embrace them.
Maximising Muscle Growth: Key Points
Building an appreciable amount of muscle is not as easy as you might think — but its not impossible either. By following the four keys outlined in this article you can take your training to the next level and grow some serious muscle in the process.
So why not get BUILT?
Oh, and if you want to know more about diet and msucle gain, make sure to check out are article “how much protein to gain muscle“.