Training a few times a week, a healthy diet and adequate sleep is a good start if you want to build more muscle. But that is not always sufficient. Sometimes you get the idea that you are doing everything for it, but that the results you are looking for are not included. That may be demotivating, but we will reassure you: more results usually only require a few minor adjustments. If you already have the basics in order and are ready for more results, this article is for you: more muscle growth in 5 simple steps!
1. Count your diet
Focusing on healthy food is always a good starting point. Think of lean protein sources, complex carbohydrates, good fats and of course a lot of fruit and vegetables. Yet that healthy diet also has a downside: it happens that you do not eat enough for muscle growth.
This is because most healthy, unprocessed food has a low energy density. This means that you get a lot of food for relatively few calories. As an example: suppose you have a meal consisting of 100 grams of rice, 150 grams of chicken fillet, 200 grams of vegetables and 15 grams of almonds. That is a lot of food, but in the end this meal is 'just' such an 500 à 600 kilocalories. If you eat 5 of such meals in one day, you will undoubtedly receive a lot of nutrients, but at the same time this will only add up to such an 2500 to 3000 kcal.
For the lighter, less active athletes among us this may be sufficient to gain muscle mass, but for a large group of people this is simply not enough. Especially when you weigh more than 85 kilos or are very active during the day, there is a good chance that your maintenance needs will go towards the 3000 kilocalories per day.
Tip 1 is: count your nutrition with an app such as Myfitnesspal. That way you know exactly how many calories, proteins, carbohydrates and fats you get in a day. Then calculate how much you should eat to build muscle mass and adjust your diet accordingly. This way you prevent that all your time and effort is put into your diet and training, without the desired result.
Inspiration-free? Then take us feeding schedule for muscle building as guidance!
2. Keep a training log
Going to the gym four times a week is good, but how much do you achieve if you don't know exactly what you are doing? Unfortunately it happens too much that pure training is done without feeling what the result is.
Yes, it is nice to try new exercises that you have seen on Instagram or YouTube every training session, but that is not a good strategy to get the most out of your potential. Instead, make sure you have a good training schedule that matches your experience and goal. Do not stop at the training schedule, but also keep track of your training sessions! If you can bench press 80 kilo 8 times today and you do exactly the same in half a year, chances are that you have little muscle mass.
Did you increase from 80 kilos to 100 kilos instead? Well done, then you have clearly become stronger and you have probably also built up muscle mass! Don't be fooled by people who say bodybuilding is not about weight. Of course weight is not the only thing that counts, but literally every successful bodybuilder or athlete moves considerably more weight than a recreational athlete.
Look at it this way: person 1 bench presses 80 kilos for 10 repetitions. Person 2 bench presses 140 kilo for 10 repetitions. Which of the 2 do you think has more muscle mass? Right…
Tip 2 is: keep track of your training and focus on progressive overload with the right technology in the long term. No, you don't have to lift more weight with every workout, but after weeks or months there should definitely be progress.
3. Take creatine
We already have it written about it more often, but if there is one supplement that contributes to strength and muscle growth, it is creatine well. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of creatine and all outcomes point in the same direction: Creatine supports the building of strength and muscle mass with explosive strength training.
As a bonus, creatine is safe to use, no breaks are required and it is also a dirt cheap. We will not make an extensive article about creatine here, so if you want to know more about creatine, read here! the 6 reasons why you should take creatine.
Tip 3 reads: Buy a jar of creatine and take one dose per day. It is the most proven supplement when it comes to strength and muscle mass. So it's a shame to pass up!
4. Choose fatter protein sources
As we mentioned at point 1, healthy food has a small disadvantage when it comes to muscle growth. By focusing solely on healthy food, chances are that you will not eat enough to build up muscle mass effectively. Do we mean that you should start eating unhealthy food? No absolutely not! What we do want to say is that your food choices should be different than with a diet for fat loss.
The easiest and healthiest way to achieve this is by eating fatter protein sources. You may have always thought that you should avoid fats, but nothing could be further from the truth. The right fats are incredibly good for you, easily add calories and are super easy. Think about it: most protein sources naturally contain a fair amount of fat. How about eggs, ground beef, chicken thigh fillet, fatty fish or full-fat dairy. All great options during your clean bulk if you want to build more muscle mass.
4 tip in brief: Exchange your lean protein sources for the somewhat fatter version. Choose whole eggs instead of egg protein. Take chicken thigh fillet instead of chicken breast fillet. Choose ground beef instead of steak. Choose a piece of salmon instead of coalfish. Effective, tastier and usually you hardly notice the difference in your wallet!
Oh, bonus advantage, chances are that you will automatically tackle point one if you apply this strategy!
5. Train every muscle group 2 times a week
If you train according to a traditional split schedule, the step to more results may be easier than you think. Where this scheme worked well when you started and you have gained a lot of gains, it is quite possible that the effect has slowly decreased.
This may seem strange, but it is actually very logical to explain. This is due to the following 2 things:
- Your body has become better used to strength training. Where you previously had a limp for a whole week after an intensive legday, that's not so bad nowadays. The effect per training is therefore less than before.
- Not only is the effect per training less, you also recover faster. After all, your body now knows what to expect and can recover at lightning speed. For advanced athletes, a muscle may have recovered even in a period as short as 24 hours!
The damage per training is therefore less significant and you also recover faster. Isn't it surprising that every muscle group training once a week is no longer sufficient? Instead of making progress, you end up at about the same point at the end of every week.
Go train every muscle group twice a week! This means you no longer give your body the chance to fully recover and fall back to the starting point. By training a muscle group every 3 or 4 day you stay longer in an anabolic state and you notice that your strength and muscle mass slowly but surely increase again.
Do this of course wisely. Do not start your complete training twice a week, then you run the risk of getting overtrained or even injured. So split your training in 2 and add another exercise if necessary.
So instead of doing 5 exercises for your chest once a week, you now divide this over 2 sessions with each 3 exercise. With both sessions, focus on heavy, compound exercises and use isolation exercises as support to fully train the muscle.
5 tip in brief: start training every 2 muscle group a week and emphasize heavy basic exercises. Oh, and while we're at it, apply tip 2 as well where you try to make a little more weight or a little more repetition every workout.
The 5 simple steps for more muscle growth
That's it! The 5 simple steps for more muscle growth. To summarize it briefly for you, apply the following 5 tips and get more results in the gym:
- Count your diet with an app like Myfitnesspal and make sure you eat enough to build lean muscle mass
- Keep a record of your training sessions and make sure that you get stronger over time
- Take creatine to support your diet
- Replace your lean protein sources for a fatter alternative
- Train each muscle group twice a week with a focus on heavy basic exercises
Easy right? Time to work on it!
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Written by Mathias Jansen