If you’re one of those Blackberry-toting I-can’t-wait-a-minute-for anything impatient types, then you might get frustrated by the time it takes to see results from lifting. While there’s nothing you can do about biology –muscle growth does take time– that doesn’t mean that you have to wait around idly and count the days until you’re ripped.
By taking these 10 steps today, you’ll be plating the seeds for explosive muscle growth tomorrow.
10 Steps to Increase Muscle Growth
1. Sleep More: Sleep may be the most underrated aspect of muscle building. Not only does catching z’s help you perform better in the gym, but it’s prime time for muscle building. That’s because you actually grow most of your muscle after your workout, not during. The deep stages of sleep – known as stage 4 sleep – promote the release of the muscle fertilizer known as growth hormone.
2. Go Heavy: It’s important to mix up your rep ranges in order to keep your muscles guessing. However, you should spend most of your time in the heavyweight 4-6 rep range. Researchers from the University of Oklahoma found that heavy weights stimulating more muscle growth than higher rep ranges.
3. Produce Produces Muscle: Protein is a must for muscle growth, but that doesn’t mean that the only foods that matter are chicken, eggs and beef. Fresh produce like fruits and vegetables are an incredible source of slow-digesting carbohydrates and vitamins to fuel your workout.
4. Down Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an important vitamin as it helps promote the growth of connective tissue and aids your immune system functioning. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that vitamin C also helped curtail muscle damage after a workout –which can help speed recovery between workouts. Healthy sources of vitamin C include oranges, broccoli and kale.
5. Love Intervals: Interval training – where you alternate between intense bouts of activity and short periods of rest – is the only anabolic form of cardio known the man. It also torches more body fat then traditional, steady-state cardio like treadmill jogging.
6. Squat: If you’re not squatting then you’re putting a cap on how big your legs — and the rest of your body — will grow. Squats are incredible because they put the most amount of “good strain” on your major muscle groups, like your quads. Also, multi-joint exercises like squats increase the release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and IGF-1, the University of New Mexico reports.
7. Hydrate: Even though your workouts may take place in a climate-controlled, air-conditioned gym, that doesn’t mean that hydrating isn’t important. Not only does dehydration damper workout performance but a team of German scientists discovered that hydrated muscle cells underwent significantly more protein synthesis than those without enough H20.
8. Use Barbells for Bench Presses: Bench presses are the squat of the upper body. However, studies show that using a barbell recruits and stimulates muscles more than dumbbell exercise – even at the same weight. However, if you have uneven muscle strength opt for dumbell bench presses until things are evened out.
9. Love Legumes: Beans don’t get a lot of love from the bodybuilding community even though they’re loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals. If you’re tired of brown rice and other bland grains, try black beans instead. They give your body the same amount of good carbs and twice as much protein as the equivalent amount of whole wheat bread or brown rice.
10. Get Tan: Vitamin D isn’t just important for building bones –several studies have found that low vitamin D levels interfere with muscle strength. To find out if you’re deficient –experts estimate that 25% of Americans are—check in with your doctor to get a blood test.