Take the fast track to maximum bulk by incorporating our cheat sheet of insider muscle-engineering know-how into your weekly routine.
1 ROLL OVER
It’s not all about grunt, sweat and tears – the smart man bulks up under his duvet: “Your muscles recover twice as quickly in the deep regenerative stages of sleep,” says Gary O’Donnell, lecturer in sport at Exeter University. “If you’re doing full body weights, add an extra hour to your usual sleep quota.”
2 LIFT LIGHTER
“Warming up with plyometrics ‘switches on’ your muscles so you can lift heavier weights quicker, offering greater gains in less time” says Andy Wadsworth, author of Personal Trainer. Try lifting just 30 per cent of your single rep max (SRM) for 10 minutes of fast reps of squats, deadlifts and lunges.
3 SOFA, SO GOOD
“Adding an extra day of complete rest after a heavy session will increase your gains,” says Nick Grantham, director of strength and conditioning at genr8sport.com. “After a workout, your body goes into muscle-growth mode for 48 hours. Interrupt that with another session and you’ll undo your hard work.”
4 PREP TALK
The bulk-up process can begin when you’re lifting your knife and fork. The Journal of Applied Physiology reports you can spike production of the essential muscle-making growth hormone IGF-1 by a fifth when you eat a 200g, 65/35 combo of carbs and protein two hours before a workout…
5 PERFECT DINING
… but don’t leave your pre-workout fuel too late, though. Research at the University of California found that working out with undigested food in your gut can actually inhibit your body’s production of growth hormone by 54 per cent.
6 SKIP SESSIONS
“Combining complex full-body moves three times a week, rather than doing more frequent, body-part specific training, is an effective way to gain muscle,” says Jonathan Folland, lecturer in exercise physiology at Loughborough University. Start with squats, lunges and deadlifts.
7 ZONE OUT
Before lifting, develop a mantra to help your breathing. “These rituals create a hypnotic state that can raise your endurance threshold by 20 per cent,” says British Olympic Association psychologist Carole Seheult. Make it a silent mantra.
8 CLEAN UP
Build muscle in the shower. “After exercise, stand under a cold shower for a minute, then turn up the heat for a minute. Repeat five times,” says Grantham. “Your blood vessels dilate and constrict, flushing out lactic acid so that muscles recover and grow quicker.”
9 LESS IS MORE
Trick your body into growing more by doing less: “Alternating high-rep, lower-weight sessions with your heavy-weight workouts causes a surge in the hormones needed for muscle growth,” says Wadsworth. Interested? Weeks 1 to 4: do 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 15 reps lifting 65 per cent of your SRM. Weeks 5 to 8: do 4 to 6 sets of 3 to 6 reps lifting 80 per cent of your SRM.
10 THE LARD WAY
“Low-fat diets restrict the production of testosterone, limiting muscle growth,” says Folland. But there’s no need to go mad with the bacon butties. University of Scranton researchers in the US found that good fats like omega-3 prevent muscle breakdown. Get your fix with a daily dose of GNC Omega-3 Soft Chews ($57 for 60 at GNC stores).