It seems these days that people are getting away from the basics in hopes of getting a different result with their training. The fact of the matter is, there are still three things you need in order to maximize muscle gains. Regardless of how you split a hair, getting away from these principles will slow down your progress and halt your muscle growth potential.
1. Get enough rest
I’m starting this off with rest and for a good reason, if you don’t get enough of it to help you fully recover from training, you will limit your potential to maximize muscle gains. All of the time in the gym means absolutely nothing if you aren’t allowing the torn down muscle fibers the ability to rebuild and repair to come back bigger and stronger.
What this means is that you should be striving for a minimum of seven hours of quality sleep each night. On top of sleep, you want to give each body part enough rest to fully recover before hitting it again in the gym. This means giving the muscle a solid 24-48 hours (minimum) before you decided to work that muscle group again in the gym.
You can’t maximize muscle gains if you aren’t allowing the muscle to fully recover between training sessions. If you hit the muscle group too early, you risk simply breaking down the muscle again without it recovering first and becoming stronger.
2. Eat enough calories
They say you need to eat big in order to get big, but unfortunately, for too many people that resembles a “dirty bulk” where they consume anything and everything in order to put on size. While they do indeed put on size, it’s unfortunately, a lot of body fat which they later would need to work off.
The best thing you can do is track your calories using something like MyFitnessPal as well as watching the scale and your body fat percentage. If you find you’re putting on body fat, lower the calories while still being in a surplus and evaluate in the coming weeks. If you aren’t gaining anything, increase your calories anywhere from 250-500 per day and see how the numbers look after a couple weeks.
When it comes to the foods you should be consuming, try to keep them as clean as possible. Remember, if you eat junk, the likelihood of you putting on body fat is high. Consume your lean protein sources along with complex and fibrous carbohydrates and don’t forget to include healthy fats as well. The combination of these precise macronutrients can help maximize muscle gains, minimize fat gain, and improve hormone levels which can prime your body to stimulate new muscle growth and proper functioning of not only the muscles but the brain as well.
If you’re having a hard time taking in enough whole food meals, you can always try adding a protein shake or two into your daily nutrition. Something like Beast Protein would fit the bills as one serving provides you with 140 calories and 25g of quality whey protein to help improve muscle gains.
3. Stimulate and break down muscle fibers
Notice how I didn’t say “lift heavy” in the heading? Sure, you don’t want to sandbag it while in the gym, but that also doesn’t mean you need to throw around super heavy weight either. What you should be focusing on is using a weight that is heavy enough for you to use in a slow and controlled motion. You want to squeeze each rep intensely and forgo the use of any body English which will transfer some of the weight during the movement to other body parts (other than the one you are focusing on).
At the end of the day, you want to stimulate the muscle fibers and break them down so that they can be fed and well rested to enhance hypertrophy. One thing to take into account is the fact that everyone is different. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. You might need to go heavy and with a lower rep range around eight whereas I might be able to get the same results by using a lighter weight and going as high as 12 reps per set. The only way you will find out what is best for you is trial and error.
If maximizing muscle gains was a simple feat, we would see more jacked and ripped people walking around in the world rather than watching the obesity epidemic getting worse with each passing year.