For 99% of the male population who start training in the gym, you can almost guarantee that their key goal is to increase muscle mass and build a lean and muscular physique.
And this is undoubtedly a very good goal.
Unfortunately, despite putting in a lot (and I mean A LOT) of effort, there are so many people who don’t get close to achieving the physique they want. And while most will put this down to genetics, I know for fact that this isn’t really the case.
The reason that these guys are not putting on size is because they are ignoring the key principals of muscle growth. And although they may be training hard, and they may think they are eating right, they really aren’t.
By making a few key changes to their training AND their diet, these people would start seeing vast improvements in their physiques. So in the following article I am going to outline the 5 key changes that NEED to be made, so you can start putting on some serious muscle mass!
1. Prioritize post workout nutrition
While this one may sound a little obvious, you would be surprised by the sheer number of people who fail to eat correctly after a workout.
During a solid gym session we exhaust our stores of muscle glycogen (the compound we use for energy), while also causing some serious damage to our muscle tissue. While this is completely normal, if we do not consume adequate nutrients post workout, we can seriously limit our capacity to recover from our workout – which in turn will impact our ability to repair and build new muscle tissue.
By consuming a meal high in both protein and carbohydrates 1-2 hours after we workout, we can really maximise our recovery. The carbohydrates allow us to refill our stores of muscle glycogen, while the protein provides our body with essential amino acids required to build and repair muscle tissue.
2. Supplement Smartly
When most people start training seriously, they immediately go out and buy a whole heap of supplements because they truly believe that they will help them achieve the physique they want. While supplements can have a place in increasing muscle mass, they are not nearly as important as most people make them out to be.
Supplements are just that – supplements. They are meant to supplement a solid diet and exercise regime. If an individual’s diet is not rock solid, then supplements are just going to be a waste of money.
But, if both diet and training are in order, then there are some (note: some) supplements that can definitely improve our ability to put on muscle mass. Of these, the two most important (and often the only two that I recommend) are creatine monohydrate and a quality whey protein powder.
The consistent supplementation of creatine has been shown to increase strength and power output, and also lead to huge increases in muscle mass. Protein powder is a simple and effective way to maintain a high protein intake, allowing us to hit our macros easily.
3. Prioritize large compound movements
When it comes to both building mass, large, compound exercises are unparalleled (think presses, rows, squats, and deadlifts). These movements use a huge amount of muscle mass at a given time, often using multiple muscle groups per exercise.
As such, by prioritizing these movements, we can train a number of different muscles simultaneously. This will lead to an increase in volume over a given training week, which will lead to large increases in muscle growth.
Furthermore, barbell-based movements allow us to use the most amount of load per exercise. By increasing the amount of load that a muscle receives, we increase the amount of mechanical stress on that muscle group. This increased mechanical stress is known to be one of the key drivers for muscle growth, and by maximizing it we can maximize muscle development.
4. Train HARD
Unfortunately, this is not how it works.
To actually see the change we need to place some serious stress on the muscle tissue. This means genuinely pushing ourselves to our limits, working up a sweat, and often trying to progress each and every session.
By working hard we can actually create significant muscle damage, which is absolutely essential to building larger (and stronger) muscle tissue. If we do the same thing over and over, our body adapts to the stress and therefore sees no reason to make a change. By training hard we increase the stress placed on the body, forcing it to change and adapt (and build new muscle tissue).
5. Use the Principals of Progressive Overload
Progressive overload is essential to see improvement. It refers to the act of making small increase in the amount of work performed each and every session, and is absolutely integral to maximizing muscle development.
Progressive overload can be implemented through two key mechanisms. 1) By increasing the weight lifted from last session, or 2) by increasing the amount of reps performed form last session. Either way we are increasing the amount of work we are performing every session.
This places new stress on the body each session, forcing it to constantly adapt, and build larger and stronger muscle tissue. If we don’t place new stress on our body, we won’t progress.
Finally, to build muscle tissue we actually need to work HARD. This means pushing ourselves to do a little more each and every session, and not merely going through the motions.