When it comes to building muscle a lot of us want to gain muscle as fast as possible. In this post, we will discuss the MAIN thing you can do to ensure that you are making progress and building muscle as fast as your body is capable of with the use of training. Let’s get started!
The Reality of Building Muscle “Fast”
I might burst your bubble but before moving on you must keep in mind that essentially building muscle is a relatively slow process.
Of course, an effective workout and diet plan specifically designed for muscle growth can get you results much faster than the least effective one. However, even when doing everything RIGHT and perfecting every single factor for your needs and goals you are still not going to gain muscle at the rate we would consider “fast”, so you must keep that in mind. Your growth rate will also be affected by your overall training level. For example, beginners will gain more muscle at a faster rate while intermediate and advanced individuals will gain muscle at a slower rate. In other words, the more muscle you gain on your frame and the more you progress in the gym the slower you will see changes in regards to muscle gains.
How much Muscle Should you Expect to Gain?
Now that you are aware that muscle growth is a relatively slow process, let’s get specific on how much muscle you can actually gain per month.
A beginner will typically make more muscle gains than someone that has been training for 4+ years and has gained a good amount of muscle over that time span.
For example, an untrained male weighing 150 lb’s can expect to gain 1%-1.5% of his body weight per month in his first year of training. Of course, this is assuming that he implements the proper training and diet regimen. Women, on the other hand, can expect to gain half of this amount.
Here is the breakdown for a Beginner:
150 x 0.01= 1.5 lb per month
150 x 0.015 = 2.25 lb per month
130 x 0.005= .65 lb per month
130 x 0.0075 = .975 lb per month
The Breakdown for Intermediate:
As you become an Intermediate trainee your progress will slow down. On average, Intermediate male’s should expect to gain .5-1% while females should expect to gain .25-.5% per month
150 x 0.005 = .75 lb per month
150 x 0.01 = 1.5 lb per month
130 x 0.0025 = .33 lb per month
130 x 0.005 = .65 lb per month
The Breakdown for Advanced:
However, once you become an advanced trainee your results will slow down even more. On average at this stage males can expect to gain .25-.5% while females should expect to gain .12 – .25%
150 x 0.0025 = .375 lb per month
150 x 0.005 = .75 lb per month
130 x 0.0012 = .156 lb per month
130 x 0.0025 = .325 lb per month
These numbers, of course, are assuming you are eating and training precisely and consistently. If not you can expect the rate to be even slower than what was previously stated.
So what exactly is it that you do to ensure that you are making progress?
Yes!! PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD has continuously scientifically been proven to be the best method to continue increasing muscle size, strength, and endurance.
Incorporating a progressive overload will continually force you to challenge yourself. Progressive overload works because when you work harder for your body to get stronger your body is then forced to build more muscle mass in order to keep up with these demands. If you do not incorporate progressive overload your body will eventually adapt and you will fall into a comfort zone which will then cause you to plateau. So you must continually work out harder than you are used to.
How to Implement Progressive Overload?
As you can see progressive overload is crucial and yet it is also very simple to implement into your training routine.
Methods of Progressive Overload
Continually increasing the weight you place on your body as you get stronger is probably the most obvious way to increase the demands on your body. However, some studies suggest that strength becomes more crucial to continue seeing gains as you become a more experienced lifter. This seems to be less crucial for a beginner due to the neurological adaptations that are placed on an untrained individual.
Example on how to incorporate this method:
Week 1, you were able to perform the following:
Set 1: 85 lb x 8
Set 2: 85 lb x 8
Set 3: 85 lb x 7
Set 4: 85 lb x 6
Week 2, you will want to hit 8 reps for all 4 sets
Set 1: 85 lb x8
Set 2: 85 lb x 8
Set 3: 85 lb x 8
Set 4: 85 lb x 8
Week 3, once you have successfully hit your goal, you will want to increase the weight.
Set 1: 90 lb x 8
Set 2: 90 lb x 7
Set 3: 90 lb x 6
Set 4: 90 lb x 6
And so and so forth, then you will just continue and repeat the same process. On that note, studies suggest keeping rep ranges between 8-12 reps in order to maximize muscle growth.
Increasing your overall volume is another way to progressively overload. Volume is sets multiplied by reps, multiplied by the total load. This study found that individuals experienced more muscle growth when individuals increased the number of sets per exercise. Another way to increase volume is by increasing your training frequency. This is a great option especially for any body parts that you might feel like they are “lagging”.
How to incorporate this method:
You can increase your volume by simply keeping your sets in the higher range between (4-6) or by increasing the number of reps per set but remember to stay in between the 8-12 rep range.
Another option is to simply increase the number of times you work out a specific muscle group per week. For example, if you feel like your calves are lagging and you are currently only training them once per week increase your training frequency by working them out twice a week instead.
Go Hard or Go Home
Lastly, in order to provide enough stimulus for growth, you must remember to push yourself hard! If you don’t push yourself hard enough you will not recruit enough muscle fibers to encourage muscle growth. But on that note you also want to be careful and not go to failure for ALL exercises, doing so will cause you to lack performance for the rest of your workout.
So if your main goal is to gain muscle as fast as you possibly can remember that incorporating progressive overload is key. Incorporate progressive overload by simply increasing resistance, volume, and pushing your body to its limits.
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