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Muscle Growth

8 Graphs Showing You How to Double Muscle Growth (Proven by Research!)

The secrets of muscle growth you’ve been waiting for..

We know that to achieve muscle growth you must train hard and eat plenty of protein. be in a caloric surplus. But, there are some effective strategies that can be found (as proven by research) to help you not to only achieve muscle growth, but DOUBLE your gains. Might as well make the most gains you can, right?

Here we go…

1. Supplement with Creatine

Creatine is one of the most extensively researched supplements, with plenty of evidence on performance enhancing benefits (Cooper et al., 2012).

In this study, two groups were compared during and after 10 weeks of a resistance training program. The Creatine group received 5 g of Creatine monohydrate (2.5-g tablets) twice per day, while the placebo group received identical dosages of a placebo supplement (Vandenberghe et al., 1997).

Compared with initial values, the group taking Creatine increased fat-free mass by roughly 60% more than the placebo group. Additionally, the group taking Creatine was able to hold onto the increases in lean body mass during the period of not training.

creatine

While Creatine has been shown to improve performance, these results show that it can be beneficial for hypertrophy as well. It seems to be a win-win for all who are interested in having the most muscle.

Here’s another study by Volek et al. in which he measured actual muscle fiber size. As you can see, growth increased by up to 300% in the creatine group! This study demonstrates creatine can help you add actual muscle proteins and not just increase water content.

Changes in Muscle Fiber Size with Creatine - Volek et al.

What to do: Supplement daily with 5g of Creatine monohydrate, when starting off you can load with 4 servings per day for 7 days (20g) to increase muscle stores quickly.

2. Blood Flow Restriction Training

Training below an intensity of 65% of 1-RM rarely produces increases in muscle size or strength (Kraemer et al., 2004).

In contrast, research has reported that low intensity resistance training (20-50% of 1-RM) combined with restriction of muscular venous blood flow (BFR) can increase muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) and strength in a similar manner to traditional high intensity resistance training (Loenneke et al., 2012).

A previous study looked at two groups, one that trained using blood flow restriction, and one that did not, using 20% of 1RM (Abe et al., 2005).

The BFR group saw significant gains in the size of their quads, hamstrings, and adductors, whereas the non-BFR group saw hardly any increases.

bfr

These results show that you don’t necessarily always have to train with maximal weights. Instead, you can still achieve hypertrophy with the use of light weights in combination with BFR. If doing a de-load or injured, the use of BFR can increase muscle size even when using very light loads.

What to do: If you don’t feel like messing with heavy weights, use blood flow restriction to provide a new stimulus. The traditional protocol is 4 mini sets of 30, 15, 15, and 15 with 30 seconds in between sets. 

3. Undulating Periodization

Periodization is the process of organizing training in periods of macrocycles (often six months to one or more years in length), mesocycles (often one to three months in length), and microcycles (often one week in length). One period may emphasize strength, while another may emphasize hypertrophy, conditinoing or fat loss.

Periodization in block form has been suggested to be linear in nature and thus results in too little variation for optimum performance adaptations.

Conversely, daily undulating periodization (DUP) models use a form of variation in which repetitions are altered each training session throughout the training week, creating greater variation in training stimulus.

A recent study sought to determine whether DUP was superior to traditional block programming (Painter et al., 2012).

The UP group in this study increased body mass by 3.7% while the BP group increased body mass by 1%.

This equals over 300% more muscle growth!

dup

It seems that specific periods of strength, hypertrophy, and fat loss focus are inferior to those combining those focuses at some point over the course of a week.

What to do: An easy way to do this is to vary the intensity and rep ranges trained from session to session, or within each session. If you train each muscle twice per week, make one session heavier (5-8 rep) and the other set lighter (10-20 reps).

 

4. Turn Up the Volume

Previous research compared the effects of single to multiple sets on strength, concluding that strength increases were 46% greater strength gains in both trained and untrained subjects doing more than one set (Kreiger 2009).

The purpose of this another study by the same author was to compare the effects of single and multiple sets per exercise on muscle hypertrophy (Krieger, 2010).

Looking over 55 previous reports, multiple sets were associated with 40% greater hypertrophy than a single set, with 4-6 sets resulting in even greater gains.

volume

What to do: If you want to continually grow, your going to have to add more volume. Do a minimum of 2-3 sets per muscle group. If you already train with large volumes, you may need more than 2 – 3 sets per muscle of course. Now, you can’t just keep adding volume and growing. Eventually you will need to manipulate rep ranges, tempo, strength curve, frequency and other advanced training variables.

5. Train Each Body Part More Frequently

Everyone knows somebody or has been guilty of doing a body part split, where you have a dedicated a whole day for chest, back, shoulders, and even arms (maybe throwing legs in there at some point?). While everyone may have gave this a go, thinking the classic bodybuilder “bro split” is optimal, hopefully you’ve now switched to a higher frequency plan.

A recent study investigated the effects of training muscle groups 1 day per week using a split-body routine (SPLIT) vs. 3 days per week using a total-body routine (TOTAL) on muscular adaptations in well-trained men. Volume was equal between groups to make frequency the main variable that was changed (Schoenfeld et al., 2015).

growth training freq

Results showed significantly greater increases in the thickness of the forearm flexor and forearm extensors in the TOTAL group compared with SPLIT. Even more notable was a 68% increase in vastus lateralis thickness in the TOTAL group.

The findings suggest a potentially superior hypertrophic benefit to higher weekly resistance training frequencies. It must be noted for someone more advance they should get a balance between volume and frequency.

Based on the current research, around 2 workouts per muscle is a good balance for most of us that have trained for a couple of years or more. If you are new to weight training you can use less volume and may benefit from more full body workouts, training each muscle  3 – 4 times per week.

What to do: Move your training up from hitting a body part once per week to 2-3x per week and start growing. You can also periodize your volume and frequency, try some blocks very high frequency (lower volume) and then some very high volume (lower frequency).

6. Eat a Higher Protein Diet

Previous work has suggested that protein intakes in the range of 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram (kg) body weight per day (g/kg/d)are needed in active individuals (Cambell et al., 2007). According to the Position Stand by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, intakes of 1.4-2.0 g/kg/d are needed for physically active individuals [Cambell et al., 2007].

In contrast, the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is0.8 g/kg/d. The average protein intake for US adults is 91 grams daily or ~1.0 g/kg ideal body weight (Fulgoni, 2008).

If some is good, then more is better, right?

A study sought to determine the effects of a very high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained men and women (Antonio et al., 2014).

The results of the study showed a 52% greater increase (1.7 vs. 0.8 kg) in bodyweight in the high protein group versus the normal protein group.

protein

Even more, they actually lost 0.2kg of body fat, while the normal group gained 0.3kg.

What to do: Don’t fret about bumping your protein intake. To be safe, make sure you are getting 1g/lb (2.2g/kg), but more protein may not be a bad idea to fill the rest of your calorie intake with.

7. Supplement with BCAA’s

Numerous studies have reported the effectiveness of a BCAA supplementation in promoting and regulating protein synthesis and suppressing endogenous (within the body) protein degradation post-exercise (Krieder et al., 2010; Shimomura et al., 2010).

However, little was known about the response to BCAA supplementation in individuals who were dieting.

In this study, 17 resistance-trained males (were randomized to a BCAA group or a carbohydrate (CHO) group, who both received their respective supplement during the 8 weeks of a prescribed body building style resistance training protocol. Subjects were prescribed a hypocaloric diet to mimic “dieting” that was to be followed during the study (Dudgeon et al., 2015).

The BCAA group actually gained 0.4kg of lean mass, while the CHO group lost 0.9kg of lean mass.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 6.56.31 AM

 

One point to consider is most studies on BCAA is in those with only low or moderate protein. If you are consuming large amounts of protein per day / meal then BCAA may have less benefit.

For most bodybuilders, daily protein intake is likely high enough to mean BCAA are just expensive water. However, for most general clients or vegetarians, 1 – 2 scoops of whey protein and/or the use of EAA or BCAA can be a very easy strategy to aid muscle growth and fat loss.

What to do: Ensure your protein intake is high. If you struggle to get enough protein, supplement with 1-2 scoops BCAA’s to help promote lean mass gains and recovery.

8. Supplement with Whey Protein 

Whey protein supplements contain a very high concentration of essential amino acids (45–55 g/100 g of protein), being the richest known source of branched-chain amino acids, particularly leucine (up to 14 g/100 g protein) (Driskell et al. 1999).

Leucine has been identified as a key regulator in the process of increasing muscle protein synthesis, the main cellular process behind muscle growth in our body (Norton & Layman, 2006).

A previous study looked at a dose of whey protein isolate (1.2 g/kg/day) versus a carbohydrate supplemented group in resistance exercise-trained individuals. (Farthing et al., 2001)

The whey protein supplement resulted in an almost two-fold higher gain (2.1 vs. 1.2 kg) in LBM and better gains in bench press strength.

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 8.30.05 AM

While total protein intake is important, making sure that you get high quality protein source rich in leucine will help you to maximize muscle growth.

What to do: Consume 1-2 scoops of a high quality whey protein supplement pre and/or post workout. Whey protein can also be used at any other meal or as a snack. It’s great as a meal replacement when dieting and as above, it’s perfect for people who struggle to hit a high protein intake.

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References

Abe, T., Yasuda, T., Midorikawa, T., Sato, Y., Kearns, C. F., Inoue, K., … & Ishii, N. (2005). Skeletal muscle size and circulating IGF-1 are increased after two weeks of twice daily” KAATSU” resistance training. International Journal of KAATSU Training Research1(1), 6-12.

Antonio, J., Peacock, C. A., Ellerbroek, A., Fromhoff, B., & Silver, T. (2014). The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr11(1), 19.

Campbell, B., Kreider, R. B., Ziegenfuss, T., La Bounty, P., Roberts, M., Burke, D., … & Antonio, J. (2007). Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition4(8), 8.

Cooper, R., Naclerio, F., Allgrove, J., & Jimenez, A. (2012). Creatine supplementation with specific view to exercise/sports performance: an update. J Int Soc Sports Nutr9(1), 33.

Dudgeon, W. D., Kelley, E. P., & Scheett, T. P. (2016). In a single-blind, matched group design: branched-chain amino acid supplementation and resistance training maintains lean body mass during a caloric restricted diet.Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition13(1), 1-10.

Driskell, J. A., & Wolinsky, I. (Eds.). (1999). Energy-yielding macronutrients and energy metabolism in sports nutrition. CRC Press.

Fulgoni, V. L. (2008). Current protein intake in America: analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003–2004. The American journal of clinical nutrition87(5), 1554S-1557S.

Kraemer, W. J., & Ratamess, N. A. (2004). Fundamentals of resistance training: progression and exercise prescription. Medicine and science in sports and exercise36(4), 674-688.

Krieger, J. W. (2009). Single versus multiple sets of resistance exercise: a meta-regression. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research23(6), 1890-1901

Krieger, J. W. (2010). Single vs. multiple sets of resistance exercise for muscle hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(4), 1150-1159.

Kreider, R. B., Wilborn, C. D., Taylor, L., Campbell, B., Almada, A. L., Collins, R., … & Kerksick, C. M. (2010). ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 7(7), 2-43.

Loenneke, J. P., Wilson, J. M., Marín, P. J., Zourdos, M. C., & Bemben, M. G. (2012). Low intensity blood flow restriction training: a meta-analysis.European journal of applied physiology112(5), 1849-1859.

Nissen, S., Sharp, R., Ray, M., Rathmacher, J. A., Rice, D., Fuller, J. C., … & Abumrad, N. (1996). Effect of leucine metabolite β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate on muscle metabolism during resistance-exercise training. Journal of Applied Physiology81(5), 2095-2104.

Norton, L. E., & Layman, D. K. (2006). Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. The Journal of nutrition,136(2), 533S-537S.

Schoenfeld, B. J., Ratamess, N. A., Peterson, M. D., Contreras, B., & Tiryaki-Sonmez, G. (2015). Influence of resistance training frequency on muscular adaptations in well-trained men. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research29(7), 1821-1829.

Painter, K., Haff, G., Ramsey, M., McBride, J., Triplett, T., Sands, W., … & Stone, M. (2012). Strength gains: block versus daily undulating periodization weight training among track and field athletes.

Shimomura, Y., Inaguma, A., Watanabe, S., Yamamoto, Y., Muramatsu, Y., Bajotto, G., … & Mawatari, K. (2010). Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness.International journal of sport nutrition20(3), 236.

Wilson, G. J., Wilson, J. M., & Manninen, A. H. (2008). Effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) on exercise performance and body composition across varying levels of age, sex, and training experience: A review. Nutrition & metabolism5(1), 1.

Vandenberghe, K., Goris, M., Van Hecke, P., Van Leemputte, M., Vangerven, L., & Hespel, P. (1997). Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. Journal of Applied Physiology83(6), 2055-2063.

 

 

 

About the author

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Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

Rudy has a 1st class BSc in Exercise, Nutrition & Health and a Masters in Exercise & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa. Rudy currently works as a Human Performance Researcher, Sports Nutritionist and Physique Coach. Over 7 years he has helped over 500 people around the world achieve long last physique transformations.

He now works closely with a variety of professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, USA Athletics, World Triathlon Gold Medalists, Hollywood Celebrities and IFBB Pro Bodybuilders. If you would like to get in contact or work with Rudy please contact him on social media.

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