Question you must ask yourself before attempting my following advice:
Are you comfortable with your current leanness?
No? Go back to the fat loss drawing board and read the first part of this series.
Yes? Get ready for fun.
SENDING THE MUSCLE GROWTH SIGNAL
With muscle (and unlike fat), there is a limit to how fast and how much we can create. Once we evolve past the “noobie gains” stage where putting on 10 – 15 lbs of muscle in a year is feasible, muscle growth can slow to 1-2 pounds a year (if we do everything right) or maintenance and even muscle loss (if we don’t).
And as far as the whole “I don’t want to get bulky” debate goes, it is fat that makes us bulky. If you are afraid of getting too big spend time getting lean first.
Now, when it comes to muscle growth, we have less variables to play with.
Sleep is super important for muscle growth, but by itself, it is not enough to tell your body “to grow“. Eating will do this but without a proper stimulus, the excess calories will just be stored as fat (and not help make muscle). And if we train “bawlz out” but neglect sleep and nutrition, we won’t be going anywhere either.
So, as you can see, muscle growth can be hard.
THE ONLY OPTION: PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
Muscle Growth for Dummies:
When we lift something heavy (could be a barbell or a fridge), the muscles that we used “tear” and become damaged. This is the stimulus. It is telling your body “Hey bro, we need bigger muscles“. So with enough sleep, calories, and time, your body will allow for that to happen. For those same muscles to grow again, however, the resistance has to become greater. Our body needs a new reason / signal. So we either have to lift a heavier weight or lift that weight more times (sets and reps) to accrue the proper amount of damage (ie another stimulus).
It really doesn’t have to be harder than that.
- Progressively overload (continually add weight to the bar or your body and attempt to do more sets or reps) to give your body reasons to change.
- Sleep (8-9 hrs for intense trainees).
- Eat slightly above your caloric maintenance.
For this last one, you cannot grow muscle if the building blocks are not there. Or to put it another way, a construction site can have all the workers in the world, but no building will be built if the bricks are not present.
Now what is slightly above? In terms of calories, 250 – 400 more a day should be enough. In terms of feelings, don’t go to bed hungry.
Also something worthy to mention is the fact that people tend to chase feelings/physiological states in the gym such as making sure they get a pump or making sure they are completely pooped after their workout.
This type of training is only reserved for those that have the ability/capacity to recover. A key question to ask yourself is, “Are my numbers going up?”. If the answer is no, scale back the stimulus.
Stimulate, Don’t Annihilate.
That’s all I have.
Hopefully these 2 posts will have left you pondering the signals you are currently sending with your own training and lifestyle. And if you can probably imagine, it just doesn’t end with fat loss and muscle growth.