Ever considered what it takes to dot all of your I’s and cross all of your T’s when it comes to maximising muscle growth? Well, look no further because this is the article you need to read! Today we delve into the minutia of muscle growth and discuss all of the finer details you may need to consider if you want to grow the most amount of muscle possible.
Let me start off by getting something out of the way first…
This article is designed to discuss the minutia. By definition this means we will be discussing the small, precise, detailed and often trivial details of what it takes to optimise muscle growth.
You by no means MUST do these things, and nor will they have a profound affect on muscle growth acutely, but over time they may add up and over time you may grow more muscle than what you would if you didn’t control all of the variables.
What are the Minutia?
What can we do to use them to our advantage? Well, before we get there let’s state one more must know fact.
Total caloric intake over time will be the primary determinant for weight gain, while total macronutrient intakes consumed concomitantly to the aforementioned calories will be the primary determinant for body composition change.
To drive this home just a little more…
Total calories + controlled macronutrients + consistency = 90% of your muscle growth potential from a nutrition standpoint.
Add in training and the stimulus you achieve in the gym is what will determine how effective your nutrition is on growing muscle.
But we aren’t here for the generic stuff, we are here for the minutia. So lets tackle exactly that.
What should your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly nutrition and training programming look like?
Provided you are consuming adequate calories to support a positive growth environment, below are some of the finer details you can focus on to max out your muscle gains.
Protein Feeding Quantity - How much per meal?
To optimise muscle protein synthesis (MPS), aim to consume between 25-35g of protein from a protein powder or 35-40g of protein from a meat/fish/poultry source at each meal.
Consuming this amount of protein will ensure you are consuming an adequate amount of essential amino acids (EAA’s) but more specifically, enough Leucine (>2500mg) which is the amino acid responsible for stimulating MPS.
For those following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, consume a minimum of 2 serves of a protein powder containing 2500mg or more of Leucine and supplement a minimum of 2 other major meals with 5-10g of EAA’s to achieve the Leucine threshold at each meal.
The goal here is to maximise MPS at each meal.
Protein Feeding Frequency - How often should you eat?
With the primary focus being on achieving MPS, individuals can spike and re-spike their MPS response every 3-5 hrs after consuming a complete meal. This means consuming your 25-40g of protein per meal should be focused around eating every 4 hours on average.
Eating earlier than 3 hours may cause a blunted effect on MPS and thus is not recommended as you will not achieve an optimal protein response, as MPS has not had enough time to enter its refractory phase.
You can attempt to double down on this concept by consuming a bolus of free form EAA’s in between meals at the 2hr mark, however, this is not even a minutia that I would consider following.
Carbohydrate Feeding Frequency - Pre / Post / Intra meals
For most people, carbohydrates are considered primarily for their benefits in energy production and restoration, which it does support, however, it can also be used to support an anabolic environment as well.
Carbohydrates can be used in two primary ways.
Re-stimulate and support MPS
Consuming 30g or more of a carbohydrate in between major meals (as opposed to free form EAAs) may re-stimulate MPS due to their impact on ATP resynthesis and its perceived benefits for stimulating MPS.
Insulin is an extremely anabolic signalling hormone that can be used to promote an anabolic environment that helps facilitate more muscle tissue. Consuming the majority of your carbohydrates in the pre and post phase of your training session may be advantageous to maximising both performance and muscle growth.
Some people will suggest percentages, such as consuming 40% of your daily target pre and 40% post, which is a viable recommendation, however, finding the amount that allows you to maintain the most dietary consistency is the most anabolic approach long term.
Utilising a cyclical approach to carbohydrate feedback may also be advantageous long term, whereby you may wish to focus heavy caloric days on being primary carbohydrate days and to ensure these days also coincide with your training days as well.
There are three primary schools of thought when it comes to using supplements to optimise muscle growth:
Within this category you are looking at maximising the primary anabolic hormone in testosterone, as it has a major impact on your ability to maintain nitrogen from dietary protein and to synthesise new muscle tissue. For men under the age of 30, it is highly likely that any attempted intervention with a natural product will lead to very little significant change in both serum testosterone levels but also in increased muscle growth.
For men over the age of 30, traditionally speaking your testosterone levels over time will subside and your total environment for anabolism will also become reduced.
For such a population as this, using a product that both controls the production of testosterone while also ensuring it remains free and usable would be favourable.
Furthermore, by improving the overall hormonal environment, older men may find their general energy, vitality, performance and strength are improved, which can have both a direct and indirect impact on muscle growth as training performance is paramount when it comes to stimulating tissue growth.
Blood sugar regulation
In the presence of large caloric intakes, ensuring you are utilising your nutrients is a great way to optimise muscle growth while also minimising fat gain. To do this, the focus should be primarily situated around ensuring carbohydrate tolerance and insulin sensitivity is kept as high as possible as this can help facilitate more nutrient delivery.
For performance enhancement there are 4 primary supplements that everyone can benefit from that will have a direct impact on strength, power and general anaerobic capacity.
Combining Creatine, Beta Alanine, Citrulline Malate and Caffeine is a fool-proof way to ensure both physiological and psychological performance are at their peak.
- 5g Creatine Daily
- 4g Beta Alanine Daily
- 6-8g Citrulline Malate pre workout
- 3-6mg per kilogram of bodyweight for Caffeine pre workout
These 4 supplements will increase performance in its entirety and this will directly improve muscle growth long term.
And there you have it…
In this article we have discussed 4 primary things that may be worth considering when trying to optimise the muscle growth environment by controlling the minutia of protein synthesis, energy availability and hormonal health.
Please note! If you cannot nail your daily nutrition and optimise your training for at least 12months consistently, DO NOT bother with trying to optimise the minutia!
Muscle growth is about consistency over time! So while the minutia may be fun to control, focus your efforts on the things you can do consistently and it is then that you will profit the most!