Count the tempo. Go for longer duration reps for a greater time under tension.
The tempo is defined as the speed at which you do the concentric and eccentric phases of any exercise. The concentric phase is when you pull or press the weight and the eccentric phase is when you lower the weight. A general recommendation for building muscle mass is to do moderate-speed eccentric (3-6 seconds) and fast concentric tempos so that you increase the time “under” the weight, also known as “time under tension“.
This training variable is one of the most important drivers of muscle development. In general, a longer time under tension increases the training stimulus for new muscle to be built and promotes fat loss, whereas shorter time under tension builds strength.
If you haven’t tried slowing down your tempo then you’ll be in for a big surprise. The same weights will feel a lot heavier and you’ll feel a hardness in your muscles that you may not have experienced before. So, when lowering the weight use a longer tempo, also known as negative-enhanced training, and when trying to press or pull the weight do it in a fast and explosive manner.
Eat a lot of food
When it comes to building muscle there is nothing more important than consuming high-quality calories. High-quality calories come from the most nutrient-dense whole (unprocessed) foods in the world. If you are trying to gain muscle, you should strive to eat several meals throughout the day filled with high-quality protein, healthy fats and complex carbs every 2-3 hours.
Studies have shown that to achieve optimal muscle growth, in combination with frequent and intense training you should eat between 40-50 calories per kg of body weight a day. For example, a 150lbs person would have to eat 3000-3450 calories a day.
Calculate your daily protein intake goal and strive to reach it every day
A general recommendation is that you consume upwards of 1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight of protein a day. To fully support your muscle-building efforts you should go up to 2.5 grams per kilogram a day.
Employing the strategy of increasing protein consumption to coincide with the muscle-building phases has already been established by numerous studies. It has been shown that in studies that test how multiple protein intakes affect muscle growth, evidence of a so-called “protein change” effect comes up.
Whey protein is a superior protein source for building muscle and strength. Consistent whey supplementation has been shown to produce better results compared to casein, soy or some other plant-based protein sources.
It is strongly recommended that you consume high-quality protein containing at least 10 grams of essential amino acids one hour before and after your workout. Meat, eggs, and fish should be the staples of your diet and main protein sources. You simply cannot expect to make drastic changes to your body unless you strive to consume high-quality protein every day.
Eat more carbohydrates on training days, and less on rest days
If you remember, the first entry on our list was getting lean first and only then starting to building muscle. The reasoning behind this was that you need to make your body as insulin sensitive as possible. When you do that you make it far more likely for the body to take advantage of the high calorie and high carb intake and use them for building new muscle tissue instead of fat. This is where the real magic happens.
It’s worth noting that high carb intake is not essential to protein synthesis, which is the process that needs to occur to make muscle grow, however, there are still several muscle-building benefits to consuming carbs:
They decrease the stress hormone cortisol during training and help you maintain steady cortisol levels throughout the day.
They support the functioning of the thyroid gland, which plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy body composition.
They allow you to exert greater effort during intense and exhausting workouts. Being on a high-carb diet will decrease fatigue and make your workouts feel easier.
The amount of carbs one should eat during the day depends on the individual, but chances are that you’re somewhere in the 150-300 grams-a-day range during training days when ingesting them will be most conducive to muscle building. Again, a precise recommendation about daily carb intake cannot be given since it’s highly individual, depending on personal genetics, the amount of body fat you currently have, how insulin sensitive you are and what your eating habits are.
You should always favor unprocessed, whole foods filled with complex carbs such as starchy vegetables, boiled grains, fruit, and legumes instead of processed junk foods filled with simple carbs. If you consume carbs during your workouts, go for a carb-to-protein ratio of 2:1 to 1:1.
In addition to quality sleep and stress reduction, diet is the third most important factor in regards to recovery. This is why eating nutrient-dense foods is so crucial to the entire effort of building muscle and losing fat. Your body will need a huge supply of antioxidants in your blood to get rid of all the waste compounds produced during workouts. They also decrease inflammation and increase insulin sensitivity.
Fat is the only macronutrient that we haven’t discussed in much detail, however, it is no less important, as it plays an essential role in maintaining hormonal balance and optimizing recovery since it provides crucial minerals and vitamins. High-quality fat sources include all kinds of fish, meat, dairy products and monounsaturated fat sources such as olives, avocados, and nuts.
Besides your genetics, the main determining factor of the speed of your muscular development is the rate at which you recover from an intense workout so that you can hit the same muscle group again.