1. Plan Your Training!
Go into the gym, do some curls, a set of squats or two, and hop on the bench – only to find yourself moving the same weights at the same size year after year- sound familiar?
My grandfather was a Marine Colonel and used to tell me when I was small, ” Remember your P’s! Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!” While this is albeit a bit corny it’s very accurate when it comes down to making progress in training endeavors.
Hire a coach or purchase a plan from an educated professional. Unbreakable offers a wide range of coaching services including customized programming and pre-written programs which you can find here on our website.
Developing a simple, progressive, and goal oriented plan and adhering to it consistently over time is more important than having a “perfect” or excessively complex program.
2. Manipulate Volume!
When it comes to Hypertrophy (gaining muscle size) volume of training measured as total work sets per body part or measured as load x reps x sets within a session/week/cycle is paramount.
It is beyond the scope of this article to go in depth about debates and current research surrounding volume at large however the important take-away here is to know that volume appears to have a dose dependent relationship to hypertrophy and an upper limit ceiling to that dose before it exceeds the individuals ability to recover.
In short, monitor the volume you’re doing – if you’re stagnating and between 10-20 sets per body part per week experiment with raising your volume slightly – if you’re sore and fatigued and also stagnating try reducing your volume a bit and improving recovery measures such as eating and sleeping.
For further reading Mike Isratel writes about these concepts in depth in his book “The Scientific Principles of Hypertrophy Training” as does Brad Schoenfield in “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy.”
3. Eat and Drink Enough!
When we train for hypertrophy, we’re trying to entice our body to create and maintain new tissue. New tissue requires we supply sufficient building blocks and energy supply in the form of food. Chronic dieting or haphazard under-eating will dampen hypertrophy efforts.
Current research suggests that in order to add maximal quantities of lean tissue in a hypertrophy phase athletes need a moderate caloric surplus and sufficient protein intake at around 1-1.2 g per lb of bodyweight.
While not caloric in nature, maintaining hydration is essential for optimal performance in the gym, energy, and recovery. Even a loss of 2% bodyweight from dehydration can significantly impair performance. Weighing in before and after a workout and drinking 16oz for every lb lost is an easy and effective strategy for maintaining hydration. We don’t simply lose water when we sweat, we also lose salts! Replacing fluid with an electrolyte enhanced solution such as Pedialyte, LMNT, or another replacement mix will lead to better re-hydration than water alone.
4. Sleep More!
Lack of sleep is associated with impaired insulin sensitivity, reduced muscular strength output, and impaired hormone levels in particular regarding testosterone and thyroid levels.
Generally sleeping 8 hrs a night is recommended, but most of us know that already and simply knowing it doesn’t help much! Creating patterns and habits that curate good sleep hygiene such as turning screens off at least 1hr before bed, avoiding eating or drinking excessively right before bed, ceasing caffeine intake 6-8 hrs before bedtime, and waking/going to bed at a stable time are all strategies that can improve sleep quality to support performance.