Want to get bigger? You need to shock your muscles, then help them recover. Here’s a half-century of ways to do just that
1. Chalk up
More weight means more muscle, and using chalk means more weight. ‘Chalking up to improve your grip can add 10kg to some exercises instantly,’ says strength coach Sean McPhillips. If your gym doesn’t allow it, try the liquid variety – or change gyms.
2. Think big
Big, compound moves such as the squat, bench and deadlift should be the staples of your programme. Studies have shown that they’ll lead to surges in testosterone and growth hormone as well as recruiting huge numbers of muscle fibres – all essential for growth.
3. Add volume
Heavier weights and more volume will both work – but they’re better together. ‘Lift heavy at the start of each session, using sets of one to three reps,’ suggests strength coach Ben Coker. ‘Then, in your assistance moves, drop down to six to eight reps per set, with more focus on muscle damage and metabolic stress. The heavy lifting will recruit the fast-twitch fibres for the whole session.’ Try mixing heavy bench presses with lighter dumbbell benching for great results.
4. Get fired up
‘Post-activation potentiation’ sounds complicated. It isn’t. ‘Do a heavy single at 90-95% of your one-rep max, then go straight into a working set,’ says Coker. ‘This will recruit more type 2 fast-twitch muscle fibres, which you’ll fatigue throughout the work set.’ And that means growth.
5. Cluster up
To add more volume, try cluster sets. ‘Let’s say you can get four reps at 90% of your one-rep max weight,’ says Coker. ‘If you “cluster” those sets by taking ten seconds’ rest after each one, it’s likely you could manage six reps. Across several sets that’ll make a huge difference.’ This works better on moves with minimal set-up time – think deadlifts, not overhead squats.
Supercharge your warm-up
6. Wake up
A solid warm-up will let you lift more weight later, meaning added muscle. ‘Remember, the point of your warm-up is to open joints, stretch ligaments, tendons, increase your muscle temperature and wake up your nervous system,’ says McPhillips. ‘If you’re doing a heavy session, start with basic bodyweight movements to get things firing.’
7. Unleash bell
Add kettlebell moves to your warm-up to prime your muscles. ‘Swings and presses will get everything firing,’ says McPhillips. ‘It’ll mean you can move more weight for more reps later.’ It’ll also add a bit of volume to your workout.
8. Ramp it up
Don’t just jump in at the heaviest weight you can lift. ‘Working up to a top set of three to five reps after seven sets of progressively lighter weights allows you to do speed work early on, and then go on to some heavy work too,’ says strength coach Joseph Lightfoot. ‘It also keeps the volume high.’ So make sure the bar’s moving fast when the weights are low.
This technique is highly effective …read more