When it comes to creating a ripped physique, the development of new muscle mass can be the most difficult factor for many fitness enthusiasts.
There are three main body types – endomorphs, with high body fat and functional strength, mesomorphs, who are naturally muscular and find it easy to stack on muscle mass, and finally ectomorphs, who are long and lean and experience difficulty in building muscle.
If you have an ectomorph body type, or simply find it hard to stack on muscle, chances are the issue isn’t genetic, but instead is caused by a poorly optimized nutritional or workout approach.
All muscle tissue, regardless of body type, is essentially the same. When the muscles of the body are exposed to resistance training, a phenomenon called hypertrophy occurs, which causes muscle growth.
Regular weight and strength training causes microscopic damage to muscle fibers, which causes the cells within the muscle to divide into two new cells. This process ultimately increases muscle size and strength as the body adapts to what it perceives to be a new environmental requirement, but it doesn’t come for free.
Increased muscle cell division requires a significant amount of energy in the form of calories and raw material in the form of protein.
If you’re experiencing difficulty in building muscle mass, it’s likely that one of two factors in your training regimen are deficient. Either the workout regime you’re following isn’t inducing hypertrophy in your muscle tissue efficiently, or you’re not providing your body with the time, energy, or raw materials it needs to synthesize new muscle.
In this guide, we’re going to break down the nine most powerful and effective tips you can use to increase your muscle mass and push through plateaus. Most of these solutions are extremely simple, but with the right approach, any body type is able to generate a massive amount of lean muscle mass.
Following are the 9 powerful ways to gain muscle quickly and naturally:
1. Increase Workout Intensity & Lower Duration
One of the most common mistakes made by fitness enthusiasts experiencing a plateau in muscle growth is performing extremely long workout sessions. There are many mass gaining and muscle growth boosting strength training routines that recommend high volume workouts, but high volume doesn’t necessarily mean long duration.
As a general rule, it’s best to keep each workout at around one hour in length. Following a four or even five day split that attacks each muscle group separately in under an hour will prevent your body from overtaxing your muscles, and make it possible to isolate specific muscles to turbocharge growth rates.
To increase intensity, keep rest breaks between sets to a maximum of 60 seconds, and increase your rep range to between 10 and 12 reps, in line with the German Volume Training method.
2. Structure Your Dietary Intake
Many fitness enthusiasts that complain of slow muscle growth rates are simply not providing their body with the resources it needs to build new muscle mass.
In order to build new muscle, the body must be provided with a caloric surplus, which means ensuring you’re getting at least 3000 calories daily as a minimum. Many professional bodybuilders increase this caloric intake to as many as 5000 calories a day in order to ensure maximum growth.
Simply eating a large amount of food randomly, however, won’t provide results. It’s essential to break down your macronutrient intake between fats, carbs, and protein, and use a calorie tracking tool such as MyFitnessPal to log your dietary intake.
Increase the amount of times you eat every day to between 5 and 6 separate meals, with roughly 2 to 3 hours between them.
3. Minimize Supplement Reliance
Supplements are one of the most aggressively marketed products in the fitness and health industry. While there are many supplements that are able to assist the body in creating lean muscle mass, they are as their name implies- supplements.
If you rely on a preworkout to gather the energy and motivation to go the gym, it’s important to cut back on your PWO use and focus on getting as much as you can out of your body naturally.
As a general rule, supplements such as protein powders, mass gainers, and clinically proven performance enhancers like creatine and BCAA’s are effective and reliable.
Always be sure, however, to approach supplements with a skeptical perspective and assess the clinical evidence that supports them before investing any significant amount of money into a supplement product.
4. Prioritize Recovery
Even with optimal nutrition, the perfect workout, and the most efficient metabolism in the world, it’s not possible to build muscle mass without adequate rest. Proper sleep hygiene is essential in creating new muscle, as the body synthesizes new muscle protein strands in the deep REM cycles of sleep.
In order to pack on muscle weight, make sure you’re providing your body with at least eight hours of restful sleep every night. If you find it difficult to fall asleep or struggle to maintain a regular sleeping pattern, consider taking a natural melatonin or valerian extract supplement before bed.
Eliminating electronic device use one hour before sleep and investing in a white noise sleep aid is another great way of boosting muscle gains through adequate sleep.
5. Eat Big to Get Big
One of the primary reasons ectomorph body types struggle to pack on muscle mass is an obstinate refusal to adopt a bulking and cutting strategy.
Many fitness enthusiasts that struggle to build new muscle attempt to “lean bulk”, a practice that isn’t viable for individuals with fast metabolic function. If you’ve experienced a muscle gain plateau for more than six weeks, it’s time to throw in the towel, and begin a bulk cycle.
Eating at a caloric surplus of more than 3500 calories daily, combined with intensive compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, clean and jerk, and bench press will pack on a large amount of both fat and muscle mass.
After a four month bulking period, perform a two month cut using a nutritional approach such as the ketogenic diet, and you’ll find you’ve packed on a significant amount of muscle mass.
6. Focus on Progressive Overload
The muscles of the body grow in response to the stresses they are placed under. In order to build new lean muscle mass, it’s essential to constantly increase the amount of weight you push in the various lifts you perform.
To increase your total strength and weight capacity, attempt your one rep max for each exercise at the peak of each exercise group, and adopt a pyramid training technique. If you push 120 pounds as your one rep max for bench press, for example, begin with one set on 100, followed by two sets of 110, perform your one rep max of 120, and then proceed to mirror the progression, pushing two sets of 110 and then one final set of 100 pounds.
7. Increase Rep Range to Push Through Plateaus
Rep volume is essential for muscle growth. There are many strength training programs, such as Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program, which advise performing 5 sets of 5 reps for each lift. These programs, although highly effective in increasing muscle strength, aren’t as effective in increasing muscle mass as high volume sets.
Various clinical investigations into the hypertrophic effects of rep ranges have shown that the optimal range for inducing muscle growth is between 10 and 12 reps for each set. If you struggle to perform 10 reps for a lift, deload the total weight you lift until you can perform a minimum of ten for each set.
A high intensity workout of 5×12 reps for each exercise will not only massively increase muscle mass growth, but will dramatically improve your anaerobic conditioning and cardiovascular health.
8. Incorporate a Caloric Overload Day
The practice of eating at an extreme caloric excess can create a “food fatigue” effect that makes many fitness enthusiasts tired of constant eating. While clean eating is important in remaining healthy, a caloric overload day can provide your body with the metabolic boost it needs to push through plateau.
On a caloric overload day, feel free to do away with your pre-prepared broccoli and chicken breast, and go all-in on a buffet, burger, or pizza feast. Forget about macronutrient intake and simply stack on as many calories as possible.
It’s important to keep sugar intake to a minimum, however- try to limit caloric intake to fats, grain-based carbohydrates, and protein.
9. Add a Mass Gainer to Your Supplement Regime
Mass gainers are highly cost effective ways of increasing caloric intake on a budget.
Eating at a 3000 calorie surplus can become extremely expensive depending on your dietary choices, so adding a product that has been formulated to deliver a highly calorie-dense energy boost to the body to your supplement regime can lower grocery costs while increasing muscle mass growth.
Whole foods are the best choice when it comes to bulking, but mass gainers are ideal for individuals that are already eating a significant amount of food and still struggling to reach macros.
When selecting a mass gainer, avoid supplements that contain too many artificial additives or phytoestrogenic plant compounds, as they tend to compromise testosterone production.
If you’ve incorporated the above tips into your workout and nutritional approach but want to gain an additional edge in building new lean muscle mass, you may want to consider the hormonal balance of your body.
The male body relies on testosterone to build new lean muscle mass, and there are many contaminants, xenoestrogens, and hormonal disruptors in modern food that can lower total testosterone production rates.
To increase your natural testosterone production, you may want to add micronutrients such as zinc and vitamin D to your supplement regime, as they have been clinically proven to increase total free testosterone levels.
Similarly, there are a number of powerful natural herbal extracts such as tribulus terrestris and maca root extract that have powerful testosterone boosting effects.
There are many total male enhancement testosterone boosting supplements that contain powerful, science-backed formulas that combine some of the most powerful hormone boosters on the market into one simple daily supplement, but as with any supplement, be sure to do your homework before committing to a purchase.
9 Powerful Ways To Gain Muscle Final Words
By incorporating all of the tips into this article and maintaining a disciplined, motivated mental frame, muscle growth is achievable, sustainable, and simple. Train hard, eat big, and track your dietary intake, and you’ll be able to reach your strength, fitness, and physique goals.