All too often muscle growth is made out to be this highly advanced concept that requires extreme micromanagement of all the finer details. It’s as if growing muscle is this mythical concept that only the smartest of the smart can achieve… but it doesn’t have to be that way. This is muscle growth made simple!
1. Train no more than 5 days per week
Contrary to popular belief, a muscle does not need to be ‘damaged’ in order for it to adapt and grow. While the breakdown of muscle does require a phase of repair, this is not directly indicative of achieving muscle growth. Instead, muscle is grown after receiving a stimulus it cannot maintain long-term without growing.
Focusing your training to 5 days per week will allow for maximum performance and also maximum recovery.
If you can't recover then you will never progress... remember that!
2. Train each body part 2x weekly with a minimum of 48hrs rest between sessions
If you are a beginner who has never trained you can get away with a 3-day split or a 1 body part per day split but the research shows the more advanced you become the greater the importance of multiple day stimulation becomes.
A body part will recover and have enhanced protein synthesis and muscle glycogen storage sensitivity for 48-72 hours post-exercise. Allowing the muscle time to recover is important for performance, so don't provide the next bout of stimulus until this time has passed.
The only time this changes is when training volume is very low, with the frequency very high, as damage is minimal in these training sessions.
3. If a body part is lacking, add in a 3rd day of training
As per principle #2 above… increasing the frequency of stimulation is a great way to enhance muscle growth. Adding in a 3rd low volume session on a weaker body part is a great way to force it to grow more.
Remember, the 3 primary principles of strength training you can progress on are intensity, volume, and frequency.
Manipulate them to suit your preferences.
4. Focus on progression. One way or another you need to measure your progression if you want to grow muscle
You need to lift heavier, do more sets, increase the reps or increase the frequency of stimulation over time in order to force growth progression.
Focus on 1-2 of the 4 principles at a time otherwise, fatigue will be imminent.
If the volume is high, intensity should be low and vice versa.
If the frequency is high, intensity can be low or high depending on the amount of volume per session/week.
Don’t ever increase frequency, intensity, and volume at once unless specifically using this method to overreach for 1-2 weeks at the end of a program.
5. Vary your rep ranges within your program
Muscles respond to both fatigue and load/intensity. Throughout your program, there should be elements of lower repetitions and higher repetitions to maximise hypertrophy.
6. Only take your final set of each body part to failure
Growth is not dependent on achieving failure, whereas failure training can impact recovery negatively, which long-term will also negatively impact your ability to get stronger and progress in the gym.
If you are too sore too often you will not train or grow to your full potential.
Stay between 1-2 reps from mechanical failure in your working sets and save the failure stuff for the end of your session.
7. Don’t over emphasise the eccentric phase of a lift
While the eccentric phase may be your strongest portion of a lift and it creates the most amount of damage, this damage is also responsible for the extreme post-workout soreness known as DOMS.
Remember, muscle growth is not dependent on muscle damage.
While forcing your limbs through excessively slow negatives may burn and leave you sore, they can also impact recovery speed tremendously, which long-term may reduce performance.
The eccentric phase of a lift should always be controlled but never excessively slow, unless being used as an overload principle to achieve a particular outcome in an advanced lifter.
And there you have it…7 simple tips for max muscle growth.
What more could you ask for?