Muscle mass is the straw that stirs the drink in the sport of
bodybuilding. Talk all you want about symmetry, shape and
definition, but in the final analysis, muscle mass is the
defining element of a physique. The mass building equation
has three components: a correct diet strategy, hardcore
training and high tech supplementation. It's not rocket
science, but there are tricks to it, nonetheless.
To save you time and trouble, I've complied 10 tips to jump
start anabolism and create a positive nitrogen balance - to
increase muscle mass, you need to take in more nitrogen
via protein and training than you excrete through the
natural metabolic process.
1. Emphasize the Negative
Muscle growth is the logical byproduct of muscle contraction.
Much emphasis is placed on the concentric phase of a lift
where the muscle shortens as it contracts. But the stretching
of the muscle during the eccentric, or negative, phase where
the muscle lengthens while maintaining tension can directly
cause muscle hypertrophy, too. Emphasizing the negative is
an easy technique to overload muscles and promote radical
gains in mass.
2. Eat Fish
Fish containing higher amounts of fat - salmon, for instance -
provide us with the ever popular omega-3 fatty acids. Why is
this important? The omega-3s make the muscle more
sensitive to insulin; hence, they fuel glycogen storage and
amino acid entry into muscles while also preserving glutamine
3. Increase Sodium Intake
I'm not kidding. Sodium is an essential mineral that is an
absolute must for muscle growth. Sodium has a bad rap
because it can cause water retention - anathema to contest ready
odybuilders. On the plus side, sodium enhances carbohydrate
storage and amino acid absorption while also improving the
muscle's responsiveness to insulin.
4. Stop All Aerobics
Aerobic exercise has a detrimental effect on mass building.
Aerobics interfere with strength gains and recovery while
burning up valuable glycogen and
branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Adding mass is the best
way to upgrade your resting metabolic rate (RMR); is the RMR is
elevated, more calories are burned and it is easier to stay lean.
5. Lift Explosively
The amount of force a muscle generates is proportional to the
amount of muscle growth you'll be able to create. Force is defined
as mass (the weight you use) multiplied by acceleration (the
speed at which you push a weight against resistance). To generate
more force, then, progressively increase your poundages while
lifting explosively - in this context, you actually increase speed
during the second half of the rep.
6. Dramatically increase your calories for three days
You will never achieve a positive nitrogen balance with a low
calorie diet. It takes raw materials - carbs, protein and fats - to
build new muscle mass and support recovery. Increasing your
calories by 50% (from 3,0000 to 4,500 per day, for instance)
for three days can spur growth while adding little if any bodyfat.
The key is to limit the increased calories to a designated three
day period; you'll be able to stimulate growth by improving muscle
sensitivity to insulin and by providing more carbs for glycogen
storage. If you are in a overtrained state - and if you're not g
aining any new muscle mass, this is probably the case - the
additional calories will promote anabolism before fat storage is
able to kick in. That's why you want to limit the 50% increase to
a three day period. After that time, return to your typical intake
of daily calories; you'll have stimulated new growth without
adding unwanted fat.
Many bodybuilders are unable to pack on mass because they
are always training and, therefore, always recovering from
those grueling workouts. Taking a couple of days off can restore
glycogen, increase anabolism and allow hormonal indexes
such as testosterone and cortisol to return to optimal levels.
8. Eat in the Middle of the Night
Anabolism depends on an excess of calories. As you are well
aware, bodybuilders eat four to six times per day to increase
the absorption of nutrients and to provide a steady influx of
carbs, protein and fat. Expanding on the four to six meals per
day plan is to include a protein drink in the middle of the
night that can encourage additional growth.
9. Increase Strength Through Powerlifting
Your muscles respond to training in three ways. When you
train with high reps (more than 15), there is an increase in
endurance with no substantive improvement in size or
strength. The six to twelve rep range - the range that all big
bodybuilders rely on - promotes an increase in both size
and strength. Powerlifters generally stay with low reps, two
to four per set, which supplements strength with slight
variances in size. However, if you set aside one week of
training to pile on the weights with low reps the subsequent
improvement in strength will make you stronger when you
return to the six to twelve rep routine. Here's the formula:
More strength equals more tension on the muscle equals