We're often asked by clients, friends and gym goers we meet "what is the quickest/best way to gain muscle?" and there really is no simple answer to this as there are multiple factors that will contribute to this, such as genetics, age, gender etc. However, there are some general rules that will breed the best results, this blog is going to be our best tips we can give to anyone looking to gain muscle. A quick disclaimer, we are basing these tips on someone following a strength based training programme with the goal to increase muscle and strength.
Tip #1 - Understanding The Fundamentals - Caloric Surplus
Understanding your body requirements and how many calories you need to gain, lose or remain the same weight is pretty vital if you're looking for consistent results. I'm not going to go into how to work any of this out because we have another blog post you can read about the methods on, I'll attach a link here, but to gain muscle the general rule is you need to be in a caloric surplus.
A caloric surplus consists of consuming more calories than your body burns naturally (your metabolic rate) + how many calories you are burning through exercise. For example, your metabolic rate could be 1800 calories and you burn 200 calories from exercise per day so you need to be eating more than 2000 calories per day to gain weight and therefore muscle, a healthy surplus would be 300-600 calories.
Tip #2 - Frequency Of Training
If you're looking to maximise muscle growth but you're only training each body part once a week you are missing out on huge potential for growth. Increasing your frequency of training for each body part from one to two times a week can be an absolute game changer when it comes to strength and muscle gains. Given that you are getting adequate rest in between sessions, I would advise you to train each muscle group 2 or even 3 times per week to maximise muscle gain.
When we train we are tearing down the muscle fibres which causes the body to rebuild and repair the muscles bigger and stronger so it is able to better cope with this muscular stress when you train again. That is a very brief description of how gaining muscle works but it's important that individuals understand this concept. By training muscle groups 2-3 times per week, with adequate rest in between, you are increasing the rate of muscular hypertrophy (the rate at which one gains muscle) compared to training each body part once per week.
A couple of training splits to follow would be a Push, Pull and Legs Routine (PPL) and an Upper, Lower Split.
Tip #3 - Get In Enough Protein
Protein is the building blocks of our muscles, it is the main component of muscular tissue so when you're looking to increase muscle mass getting in enough protein is a MUST!
But how much is enough protein?
This can vary on your type of training, genetics etc but as a general rule 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight or 2.2g per kg of bodyweight should be enough.
Tip #4 - Train Hard
This can be seen as a very broad term, what determines training "hard"? I was sweating when I left the gym have I trained hard? The best way to really determine whether you are training hard / hard enough is to track your progress across multiple lifts. As you gain strength and muscle your lifts should correlate with this, this is from applying the training principle progressive overload.
Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your strength training routine. Any weight based routine should follow this principle as it is the best way to track and ensure that you will see progress. As time goes on you should be lifting heavier weights or lifting the same weights for a greater number of repetitions. If you do not apply progressive overload to your routine then you will struggle to see significant changes in muscular size or strength.
Other than that, be honest with yourself, have you really put your all into that set or workout? Hold yourself accountable and put in the work to see the results that you desire.
Tip #5 - Stay Hydrated, Healthy and Give The Body Rest
Hydration is key when you are following any training routine, the body is made up of roughly 70% water and the muscles are made up of roughly 80% water. If you're not staying hydrated then you will limit the amount of progress you can make.
Your health is vital, so look after yourself, eat a balanced diet with a number of different fruits and vegetables, give the body rest when you feel you need it or when you have scheduled in to do so. Recovery is so important for any training routine because it is where the growth happens, people are often lead to believe that when you're in the gym that's when you're increasing muscle mass but it is actually when you are resting / sleeping!
For experienced lifters you should give at least 48-72 hours rest before training the same muscle group again, for beginners we would advise at least 72 hours rest. Also ensure that you regularly stretch and warm up the muscles before exercise, there is nothing that will slow your progress more than an injury!
I've tried to cover multiple parts of increasing muscle mass without diving into too much detail, I hope you have found some value in this and can incorporate some of these tips into your own training routines/programmes.