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Unlocking Muscle Growth: 5 Key Factors Hindering Your Progress

To consistently build lean muscle mass, a strong work ethic and dedication are essential; however, the process is not as challenging as it might seem. Understanding and incorporating these five factors into your training and daily routine can lead to significant gains. With a decade of experience in training and a background in sports science, I can assure you that the insights I am about to share will be valuable!

1. Understanding the Principles of Weight Training

Building muscle is about understanding the principles of weight training, each system has it’s specific training methods, including variations in reps and sets.

A. Building Dense Muscle Mass

This involves lifting heavy weights in a 4-8 rep range, targeting your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which increases their size and density. Notable examples of athletes with lean dense muscle include Anthony Joshua, Jessica Ennis-Hill, and Iga Swiate. These Athletes exemplify the benefits of this kind of training. They demonstrate explosiveness, power, agility, and flexibility in their respective sports. This is largely attributed to their training regimens that focus on developing dense muscle without necessarily adding excessive bulk, which can be a hindrance in many sports.

B. Hypertrophy

Focused on increasing overall muscle size, hypertrophy training requires a rep range of 8-15. This keeps the muscle under longer tension, causing a significant pump that leads to size increase. Athletes like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson exemplify hypertrophy muscles.

C. Building Strength

While you can gain strength with the above methods, optimising strength gains requires lifting very heavy weights with excellent technique in a 1-5 rep range. This approach builds raw strength and power. Eddie Hall and Thor Bjornsson are athletes known for their great raw strength.

2. Understanding Nutrition: Protein, Carbs, and Fats

Effective muscle building hinges on proper nutrition. Think of your body as an engine that requires the right fuel for maximum performance.

A. Protein

Essential for muscle building. Aim for lean protein sources like fish, beef, chicken, chickpeas, and lamb. Your intake should be double your body weight in kilograms – for example, 160 grams per day if you weigh 80kg.

B. Carbohydrates

There are two main types – complex carbs (whole grains) and simple carbs (sugars). For lean muscle building, focus on complex carbs for workout fuel and muscle recovery. Simple carbs are important too, particularly pre-workout for replenishing muscle glycogen stores. Portion control is important when consuming carbs, anything between 100-200g per serving is great!

C. Fats

Crucial for hormone regulation and production. The three main types are monounsaturated fats (like olive oil, avocados, and olives), polyunsaturated fats (in moderation, such as sunflower oil), and saturated fats (also in moderation, like beef and coconut oil). For lean muscle, prioritise monounsaturated fats.

3. Progressive Overload and Time Under Tension

Progressive overload is essential for gaining strength and muscle mass. Aim for small weekly increases in your lifts, targeting a 1.5-5kg increment per week. This approach is akin to “compound interest over time.” Lifting with proper technique and avoiding haste is crucial to ensure muscle stress, which leads to damage, repair, and subsequent strengthening. It is recommended to maintain a 3-second tempo when performing any strength training exercise.

4. What Supplements Are You Taking?

While healthy meals are essential for muscle building, supplements can offer an additional boost for recovery, potentially leading to increased muscle mass and strength. However, finding the right supplements can be challenging due to the abundance of low-quality products on the market. My top recommendations are L-Glutamine, HMB, and Whey Protein, which are available from reputable companies such as Myprotein.

A. Whey protein

Is a high-quality protein supplement derived from milk. It’s a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for the human body. Whey protein is particularly rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), including leucine, which is known for its role in muscle building and recovery.

B. HMB (Beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate)

This is a compound that helps to protect and repair muscle tissue. It’s beneficial for those looking to increase muscle mass and strength.

C. L-Glutamine

An amino acid crucial for muscle recovery. It’s often used to help with muscle soreness and to support the immune system.

5. Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep is vital for recovery because it is during this time that muscles begin to adapt to the stresses and damage incurred from strength training or other physical activities. Muscles recover from workouts while you sleep, as the body produces growth hormone from the pituitary gland for cell repair and regeneration. Therefore, it is essential to ensure adequate sleep daily for effective recovery and overall wellbeing.

Will Duru

Level 4 Qualified Personal Training Coach Sports & Exercise Science BSc (Hons)

Disclaimer: The ideas in this blog post are not medical advice. They shouldn’t be used for diagnosing, treating, or preventing any health problems. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, sleep habits, daily activities, or exercise. WILL POWER FITNESS isn’t responsible for any injuries or harm from the suggestions, opinions, or tips in this article.

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