How can I increase muscle size?

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Increasing muscle size is accomplished by adhering to the proper strength training program and following it up with proper nutrition. Increasing muscle size is called hypertrophy. According to the Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning textbook, hypertrophy is the increase in he cross-sectional area of muscle fibers that results from strength training. There is also a theory that the muscle can undergo hyperplasia, which is the longitudinal splitting of the muscle fibers (although this has only been found to occur in animals).

Different formats of training will elicit different muscular adaptations. Typically, if you are want to focus on increasing muscle size, your training should consist of high volume, moderate loads and shorter rest periods. This is usually called a 'bodybuilding' routine. An example of this type of routine would be to perform 3-4 sets of 6- 12 repetitions per muscle group, resting for ~60 seconds in between sets.

It is highly important to make sure your nutrition supports your workouts. If you are not focusing on your nutritional needs (especially consuming enough protein) your body will simply not have the tools it needs to create new muscle, period. It is also just as important to focus on nutrition timing. You have a 1 1/2 hour window after your workout (at the very most) to consume some high quality protein. Remember, you don't build muscle while you are in the gym working out, you build it when your body is resting and repairing the muscle.

References:

Earle, R. & Baechle, T. (2000). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 2nd ed. U.S.: Human Kinetics. p20, 64-66.

Increasing muscle size requires a mix of consistent use of strength training exercises and a proper diet. When strength training, performing three to six sets, of 6 - 12 repetitions, at 75 - 85% of your one repetition max has been shown to significantly improve muscle size. However, before jumping into a strength training program specific for increasing muscle mass, it will be important to prepare for the stresses you're about to place on your body to minimize injury risk. It is suggested to start with a stabilization (muscular endurance) program where you create the postural stability and foundation from which optimum movement can then be created. In a stabilization program, (which should last roughly four weeks), you should perform one to three sets of 12 - 20 repetitions at a lower intensity level of 50 - 70%. Because you're using lighter weights and higher repetitions, you're preparing the muscles, tendons and ligaments for the heavier weights that will follow.

Continue Learning about Types Of Exercise Programs

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.