It’s the age-old argument, how can you grow maximum muscle in minimal time? Every day a new group of boys and girls or men and women join their local gym motivated to either lose weight, get fitter or to pack on muscle. Every day we are taunted with bikini body beach babes in magazines and muscled up model men all over social media.
We see men with 6 pack abs, pecs, a big set of delts and massive arms hanging by their sides like the human gorillas of the concrete jungle.
Women are plastered over billboards with small waists, big bust lines, beautiful hair and buns of steel with the hashtag #perfectpeach right next to their derriere.
Is this what is considered to be a successful physique? Or are our expectations of what we can achieve in the limited time we try too high?
The reality is this -
- We have filters
- We have photoshop
- We have highlights
- We have lighting
- We have oil
- We have fake tan
- We have banned substance abuse
Everywhere you look, you see “picture perfect” physiques that are more likened to the perfect example of a computer-generated human than they are a real one walking around the city you live in.
You can’t grow enough muscle fast enough!
And you never will either… especially when you have distorted expectations on what’s actually achievable.
So here is another reality -
Gaining muscle takes time!
But let’s not get down about it because the future is still bright for anyone with the right attitude behind why they want to grow muscle.
Growing muscle takes 2 primary things:
- Sufficient calorie intake - Alongside an appropriate macronutrient (protein/carbs/fats) split
- Increased performance in the gym - You must get stronger, lift more volume (total weight lifted) or stimulate the muscle more frequently
These are the 2 most important variables to consider.
And then we have genetics, which is your own personal pre-disposition on how efficiently you can either grow muscle or lose fat at a certain speed.
Which brings me to the fun part of this article…How you can grow muscle in the fastest way that is humanly possible...
Multiply the caloric maintenance by 1.15 to work out 115% of your maintenance calories, which will be a good starting point for muscle growth.
Work out 20-30% of those calories and divide it by 9 to give you how many grams of fat you need in your diet. Whether you choose 20% or 30% is up to you, just so long as you fall somewhere in the middle.
Now take your 115% calories and minus the protein and fat calories, remembering that protein is 4 calories per gram. The remaining amount of calories should go to carbohydrates, which all you need to do is simply divide the remaining calories by 4 to get the grams of carbohydrates you need.
This is a great starting point and should be your baseline calories for at least the first month of training. If after that month you aren’t gaining any weight, simply add another 5-10% of calories to carbs and fats and focus on your training.
In all my years of experience, people who train love 2 things…
- The pump
- Getting stronger
And the great news is, these are 2 factors we focus on to maximise muscle hypertrophy (growth). Scientifically speaking, hypertrophy can be stimulated in 2 primary ways:
- Mechanical load progression - Increasing the weight lifted per exercise or total weight per session over multiple exercises
- Metabolic fatigue - Accumulating lactate and by-product of exercise to force adaptation
Stepping away from all the sciencey terminologies, the reason why these two factors are of interest to us is they are directly related to getting stronger and getting a pump.
Without making your training too monotonous, regimented or boring, my recommendation for ensuring you are growing maximum muscle tissue is as follows:
|1. Choose 2 compound exercises every session to measure your strength progression.|
|Your goal for these 2 exercises should be to focus on strength in the 5-10 rep range and attempt to get stronger or lift 1 additional rep each week. Make sure you train these lifts in the same order and the same rep range each week so you can measure your progression properly.|
|2. Follow these 2 exercises with whatever exercises you like thereafter and focus on getting maximum blood and fatigue into the muscle.|
|Aim for a total of 10-14 working sets in a session for your major groups like chest, back and legs and aim for 4-8 sets of additional isolation work on shoulders, arms and calves.|
|3. Stimulate all muscle groups 2x per week with a 48-72hour gap between training the same muscle group.|
|Following an Upper, Lower split will allow you to do this most efficiently or a Push, Pull, Legs split will work well also.|
|4. Stimulate your weakest muscle group 3x a week.|
|Use fewer sets per session to minimise fatigue and improve recovery and be sure to change the rep range and intensity of each session to ensure variability. By the end of the week, your total sets should be greater over 3 sessions than they would be over 2 sessions, despite doing less each time you are at the gym.|
|For example, 3 sessions with 6 sets are better than 2 sessions with 8 sets.|
|5. Stimulate your strongest muscle group 1x a week.|
|Your strongest body part needs less attention so stick to 1 session a week focusing on this body part but take it through both a strength (measure it) exercise and a traditional higher rep approach at the end.|
Training and food should be fun!
There is no point writing yourself an eating or a training program that you don’t enjoy, as you will be less likely to adhere to it consistently over time. Following this simple approach of measuring the food you eat, against the training you achieve, is the fastest way to ensuring maximum muscle is grown in minimal time.
Set your expectations according to your own ability and forget about the oiled up, over tanned and over edited photos of fitness models who look nothing like in person as they do in a magazine.
Finally, focus on competing against yourself instead of comparing yourself to others and before you know it, the future you will be outperforming the current version of you without you even realising.