Looking to quickly add some muscle tone and definition? Here are 7 key components of exercise and nutrition you need to focus on for extraordinary results.
Boost Your Intensity Levels
Building muscle isn’t an easy thing to do. Simply going through the motions and feeling comfortable during your workouts isn’t going to cut it. To build muscle fast you must take your intensity levels up a notch.
That means taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to push yourself beyond your preconceived mental limitations. You’d be surprised at just how much weight you can lift or extra reps you can inch out if you just put your mind to it. Mind over matter.
Focus on Compound Exercises
No other movements build muscle as well as compound exercises. Compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups at once. By default they boost your exercise intensity levels.
There are numerous compound exercises you can do. Some of these include the bench press, squat, deadlift, pushup, pullup, and row. All of these exercises work numerous muscles at once through the movement of multiple joints. Isolation exercises are fun, but they aren’t the best way to build muscle quickly – compound exercises are.
Eat More Calories
Trying to put on some muscle while in a calorie deficit is possible but is a very difficult and slow process. You need to eat if you want to grow. That doesn’t mean you have to put on a bunch of body fat in the process, however.
Track your calories and try to eat around maintenance levels or 200-300 calories above. This will ensure any weight gain is muscle. If you choose to eat at maintenance calories you can expect both a decrease in body fat and an increase in lean body mass, although the process will be slow for all but the novice lifters.
Optimize Recovery Time
You must find that sweet spot for your recovery time – one that is long enough to allow full recovery, but short enough that you can get your next workout in and start stimulating muscle growth again. This takes some experimenting.
Ideally you’d work a particular muscle the next day after full recovery. This enables you to get in more workouts in any given time frame. The more workouts you can get in, the more opportunities for growth you will have.
Hitting the same muscle intensely once every 4-5 days is usually doable for most, and some can train the same muscle 2 or even 3 times in the same week. Recovery abilities will vary and depend on several factors – nutrition and experience being two big ones.
Apply Progressive Overload Principle
Don’t expect to put on any muscle if you do the same thing each time you go to the gym. Your muscles will only grow as big as the stimulus you place on them. That means if you do bench press with 200lbs for 3 sets of 10 one day and then do the exact same thing the next time, you did nothing other than burn some calories. And your body will burn fewer calories each time you do it as it adapts to the stimulus and becomes more efficient with it.
Progressive overload is the process of placing more and more stress on a particular muscle in each successive workout. You should either be adding more weight, more reps, decreasing time between sets, or doing other things to place greater stress on the muscle than the time before.
Increase Your Protein Consumption
Muscle is predominantly made up of water, protein, some fat, and very little carbohydrate . Since your body cannot manufacture essential amino acids, you must get your protein requirements from your diet.
Building muscle and increasing activity levels create a higher demand for protein. Getting an optimal amount means you’ll be able to stimulate higher levels of protein synthesis (muscle creation) and improve your recovery time. For fast muscle growth, benefits have been seen from increasing protein intake to levels of 1 gram/lb of body weight or above.
Periodize Your Workouts
Periodization is a highly effective way of planning your workout program. The idea is to take a final goal and divide up the necessary time to get you to that goal into smaller cycles. Each cycle works towards getting you to the final goal.
Periodization works in conjunction with progressive overload. Progressive overload is somewhat flawed in that you can’t just have a linear increase in weight or reps for eternity. If you could, there would be some insanely strong people in this world. After all, adding 5lbs per week to the bar for 4 years means an increase of 1000 pounds. That’s just not reasonable.
To get around this limitation you need to plan variation into your workout program. That means changing up exercises from time to time, or working on particular rep ranges during each cycle. There are numerous ways to periodize your workouts, so I’d suggest you read up on the topic if you’re interested.
Apply every single one of these 7 principles into your fitness routine to quickly build muscle. You must be patient, however. Even with these principles incorporated into your program, muscle growth is a slow and steady process, but well worth the effort.