Here’s how to start building muscle mass asap…
A new study this week found that 90 per cent of Australian adults aren’t doing muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days a week, as recommended by the World Health Organisation. If that’s you, then it’s time to get with the program and get more muscular.
Here are five ways to put on muscle fast…
1. Set Goals
How much can you lift? How many set and reps can you do? How many push-ups, sit ups and squats? Make a note of all the numbers in a journal. Your aim is to increase them, whether daily or weekly. Three sets of eight reps today? Aim for four sets this time next week? Then four sets of 10 reps a week later.
2. Go Hard
High-intensity interval training builds muscle fast. Basically this means going full-on and then having a short rest. Train three or four times a week, doing 30 to 45 minutes per session. You want to feel sore afterwards. Lift the heaviest weights you’re able, doing up to four sets of 6-12 reps for bulky muscle growth. If you can’t feel the burn, add weight. When you start to fatigue, consider drop sets – that is, decreasing the weight but continuing sets – to get you to muscle failure for more intense recovery and thus growth. Cardio in shorter, more explosive bursts is also better because after about 20 minutes of slower cardio your body starts consuming muscle for energy—which kinda undoes your good work. For an energy boost and ensure you’re getting enough calories to sustain growth, have a mid-workout shake that includes about 20 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs.
3. Lower slower
Lowering weights slowly – we’re talking three to five seconds – can lead to phenomenal gains in strength because it’s what does most damage to the muscle. One study found strength increases of 46 per cent in a single week from participants following a slow-lowering program. This is also a good time to focus on the muscle-mind connection: that is concentrating on the muscles you’re working and feeling where they’re straining and strengthening.
4. Compound Exercises
These are exercises that work numerous muscle groups at once and they’re brilliant for stacking on muscle fast. While it might look like and feel like you’re only working your legs during squats, they actually contribute 15 per cent to upper body growth. Meanwhile, deadlifts work every muscle you have. Remember: compound exercises lead to mass faster than working the same muscles in isolation.
5. Eat, Sleep, Weigh & Reflect
You’re expending a lot of energy and asking your body to do a lot of repairing and growing. That means you need to up your caloric intake. Many programs recommend aiming at 4000 calories. But you’ll need to tailor it to your size, the shape you’re in and how much and how hard you train. What is constant, though, is that you need to focus on proteins, eat clean carbs and ensure you stay hydrated. Your body repairs and builds muscle during recovery, so ensure you get plenty of sleep, aiming for between seven and nine hours a night. Weight yourself once a week – same day, same time of day, preferably in the morning after urinating but before eating breakfast – and aim to put on about 500g a week. But do this in conjunction with checking yourself in the mirror to make sure the weight you’re putting on is muscle in the right places.