Muscle growth, or hypertrophy, is a process that occurs when the muscle fibres in your body become larger and stronger. This can be achieved through strength training, which involves performing exercises that challenge your muscles and stimulate them to adapt and grow. If you're a beginner to strength training, here are some key things you should know about maximizing muscle growth!
1) It takes time
Building muscle takes time and consistency. Don't expect to see significant changes in your muscle size or strength after just a few workouts. It's important to be patient and stick with your training program for several weeks or months before you start to see significant changes. This is because although the time course for muscle growth begins early in training, it advances at a relatively slow rate, and differences can start to be detected at 3 weeks (1).
2) Progressive overload is key
In order for your muscles to grow, you need to increase the demand placed on them progressively. This can be achieved by increasing the amount of weight you lift, the number of reps you do, or the number of sets you perform (2). By progressively increasing the demand on your muscles, you can stimulate them to grow and adapt.
3) Recovery is important
Your muscles don't grow while you're working out – they grow during the recovery period between workouts. It's important to allow your muscles adequate time to recover and repair themselves in order to maximize muscle growth. This means letting a muscle group rest 24-48 hours between training sessions (3). To maximize recovery and results, prioritize getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and incorporating 24-48 hour periods of rest between training major muscle groups.
4) Nutrition matters
What you eat plays a crucial role in muscle growth. In order to build muscle, you need to consume enough protein, which is the building block of muscle tissue. Aim to consume approximately 1.6g per kg of body weight per day (4). For example, if an individual weighs 80kg the amount of protein needed would be approximately 128g. In addition to protein, you also need to consume enough carbohydrates to fuel your workouts and provide your body with the energy it needs to recover and grow.
5) Form is crucial
Proper form is important for maximizing muscle growth and minimizing the risk of injury. Make sure to focus on proper form during all of your strength training exercises, and consider signing up for our in-person or online training if you would like to make sure you learn the correct exercise techniques.
6) Variety is important
Your muscles will adapt to the same workouts over time, which can make it harder to continue seeing progress. To keep your muscles growing, it's important to incorporate variety into your training program. This can include using different exercises, changing the order of your exercises, or using different training techniques, such as supersets or drop sets. Some specific examples include:
Shortening or lengthening the rest periods
Speed of muscle contraction: Intentionally slow or fast and explosive
Changing grip or exercise stance
Increasing volume and/or intensity
7) Don't forget to warm up
A proper warm-up is important for preparing your muscles and joints for the demands of strength training. Make sure to spend 5-10 minutes warming up before you start your strength training workouts. For the most efficient results, prioritize dynamic mobility drills (those that move you through a range of motion instead of statically holding) as they have been shown to be just as, or in some cases more effective than static stretching in lengthening a muscle without the downsides of reducing muscle force (5).
By following these tips, you can set yourself up for success in your journey toward muscle growth. Remember to be patient, focus on progressive overload and proper form, and incorporate variety and recovery into your training program. With consistent effort and dedication, you can achieve the muscle growth you're looking for.
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Counts, B. R., Buckner, S. L., Mouser, J. G., Dankel, S. J., Jessee, M. B., Mattocks, K. T., & Loenneke, J. P. (2017). Muscle growth: To infinity and beyond?. Muscle & nerve, 56(6), 1022-1030.
Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.
Kraemer, W. J., & Ratamess, N. A. (2004). Fundamentals of resistance training: progression and exercise prescription. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 36(4), 674-688.
Jäger, R., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. I., Cribb, P. J., Wells, S. D., Skwiat, T. M., ... & Antonio, J. (2017). International society of sports nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(1), 20.
Behm, D. G., Blazevich, A. J., Kay, A. D., & McHugh, M. (2016). Canadian Society For Exercise Physiology Position Stand on the Acute Effects of Muscle Stretching on Physical Performance, Range of Motion and Injury Incidence in Healthy Active Individuals. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 41(1), Supplementary-Appendix.