If you have been to the many thousands of gyms across the nation, you have no doubt encountered a wide variety of individuals from all walks of life. Many of these individuals all have a similar goal, to find the best way to gain muscle naturally.
Gaining muscle is one of the most talked about topics in any gym. Whether referring to a specific body part or the entire body, people want to get bigger.
No matter how rich or poor, tall or short, skinny or thick we are, people always want to look good. This is not just a hunch either, let’s look at what the data has to say about this.
According to Abigail Tucker of Smithsonian Magazine, Men who look better can make up to 13 percent more thoughout their careers. Plus, good loocking guys are more likely to get hired during a recession.
For guys, finding the best way to gain muscle is their ticket to looking good. This post will help you get there.
In this post, we are going to explore the best way to gain muscle naturally.
What Is the best way to gain muscle naturally?
Gaining muscle naturally is simple but it is not easy in any way. By far the biggest roadblock that most people encounter on their quest to hulk status is VANITY.
Wait a minute? Didn’t you just say that the whole reason people want to gain muscle is to look better?
Well yes… but there’s a catch.
If you want to look great, you are going to have to temporarily sacrifice your looks first. This is the cold hard reality that people don’t want to hear. This doesn’t mean you have to look like a sumo wrestler. It just means that you wont be a heart stopping panty dropper right away.
Gaining Muscle = Gaining Weight
Generally speaking, if you want to learn the first step to gaining muscle (naturally) then you better pick up the fork and start eating more.
Calories are like building supplies, you can only build as much as the supplies in your inventory. If you are not providing your body’s muscles with the necesary building supplies, then you will not grow.
**Quick Tip On Looking Better While Eating More**
When taking in more calories, the common mistake is to eat more junk food and “bad calories”. In small amounts this food is not bad but too much will leave you filing an application at your local aquarium. Instead focus on eating large amounts of “clean” foods. These will pack on more mass with less fluff.
Strong Is The New Big
Strength is useful in many areas of life, but it is especially important when gaining mass. Common workout plans focused on increasing muscle size (hypertrophy) will involve low to medium weights for very high reps.
This is effective, at first.
The body will adapt to this type of training very quickly. Instead try to focus on a typical beginner strength training program. Check out my Strength Training For Beginners post for more info!
The strength gained from undergoing a strength training program will allow you to lift heavier weights for the high rep style programs. Which leads to more gains!
The 1 X 20 Program
A while back when I was first learning the tricks of the trade, a buddy of mine told me about this crazy program where you load up a barbell with your 10 rep max and then push yourself to perform 20 reps.
The good thing is you only have to perform one set. The bad news, this is f***ing brutal!
The 20 rep program is hands down one of the best programs that I have ever done. No only is it simple, but it is also extremely effective for gaining muscle.
It is also very flexible. You can apply it to squats, deadlifts, bench presses, hell even bicep curls.
I have always noticed that individuals who perform a program like this look much bigger and more defined after trying this program. The large amount of volume is good for fat loss.
The Rep Max Program
This program is another little trick that I use. The rep max plan is often described by bodybuilders as the best way to gain muscle. I’m not sure I completely agree, coming from an athletic standpoint.
But I do agree that it is a great way to gain muscle.
This is done by completing the heaviest set possible until complete failure. Once you can’t lift anymore you will have your spotter “assist” you with a couple extra reps. These are often called forced reps.
The ides behind forced reps is the time under tension principle.
Time Under Tension
Simply put, the amount of time that a muscle is forced to remain contracted throughout a movement is the amount of time under tension.
The time under tension primciple states that the longer a muscle is under tension the greater the stimulus to grow bigger. This has been proven to be true by many reasearchers.
However, due to the amount of damage to the muscle tissue, the muscle growth will not happen immediately. According to Burd, N.A. et al., the time to stimulate actual protein synthesis can be delayed anywhere from 24-30 hours after exercise (2012).
This implies a large degree of overall fatigue in the body from using forced reps, or large amounts of eccentric reps (negatives).
It is due to these findings that I advise against using these methods on a regular basis. The large amount of fatigue will lead to a breakdown in form and thus increase the risk for injury.
Use the rep max method for only 1-2 cycles max.
The Gymnastic/Calisthenics Approach
Ever taken a look at the body of a gymnast, yeah I know their freaking ripped. Crazy thing is they lift no weights at all and yet they could arm wrestle a gorilla.
However, there is one unfortunate drawback. Gymnasts have to maintain a very lean torso and low bodyweight to perform their exercises. This makes bulking very difficult in their situation. Luckily most of us are not competing in gymanstics, so we can take advantage of their routines to maximise muscle growth.
The secret to a gymnasts physique is they apply a large amount of time under tension throughout a large range of movement. A gymnast uses time under tension the right way.
Consider the L-seat press to handstand.
HUGE Movement and lots of tension moving through extreme ranges of motion. The difference is when fatigue sets in they just stop the movement and don’t force anymore reps. So injury is less likely.
The best time to use this technique is when cutting bodyweight. You will still maintain your muscle mass and look good too. What’s not to like?
When To Diet
The best time to gain weight and bulk up is during the fall and winter months (October-February). Then just before March you should start to diet. This has the best benefit for physique results.
Don’t be one of those New Year’s people. January is a horrible time of year to lose weight, not only is it cold and dark outside, but the reduction in sunlight is strongest around this time of year. Thus, you will be fatigued much quicker.
Instead start in March. The UV index increases and the results come quicker. This is the time to diet.
**Diet Quick Win**
Intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways to both loose weight and improve the quality of your health according to Roger Collier. Intermittent fasting can promote neurological benefits, cardiovascular benefits and improve the quality of your immune system (2013). It will also dramatically speed up the fat loss process in the body. Showing off all that hard work you put in over the winter.
We covered quite a bit in this post. Although there are many methods, there is really only one “best way to gain muscle”.
- You need to eat plenty of calories when trying to gain muscle.
- Gaining weight (good weight) requires getting stronger first, then performing high reps.
- Choose either the 1 X 20 program, the Rep Max program or the Gymnastics program.
- When cutting weight and dieting, DO NOT start in January. Start in March.
When answering the question “what is the absolute best way to gain muscle naturally?” The simple answer is, look at the bullet points above.
Again the answer is simple, but not easy! You wanted a blueprint for gaining mass, you got it!
Tucker, Abigail. (November 2012). How Much Is Being Attractive Worth? Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-much-is-being-attractive-worth-80414787/
Burd, N. A., Andrews, R. J., West, D. W., Little, J. P., Cochran, A. J., Hector, A. J., … Phillips, S. M. (2012). Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. The Journal of Physiology, 590(Pt 2), 351–362. http://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200
Collier, R. (2013). Intermittent fasting: the science of going without. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 185(9), E363–E364. http://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.109-4451