How to increase muscle size

There are numerous advice, stories, and myths telling you how to increase muscle size. Moreover, you have probably heard expressions like:
  • Lift big to get big.
  • Lift slow to grow.
By all means, both expressions have some merits. Although, they represents a gross simplification. Therefore, I will illuminate how to choose the best methods for increasing muscle size.

Body-building methods to increase muscle size.

Above all, after reading this, you will understand workout sets like:
  • Giga series.
  • Tri-set.
  • Superset.
  • Cheating reps.
  • Pre-exhaustion sets.
  • Forced reps.
  • Partial reps.
  • Superslow training.
  • Drop set.
  • Pyramide sets.

What makes a body-building method effective.

Most importantly, you need to know what makes a workout set efficient. Consequently, you will be able to choose the optimal workout set for you. Nevertheless, the science behind protein metabolism, mechanical pull, and how the hormones affect muscle growth is enough to fill a book by itself. However, we will focus on the workout methods.
The most important training-related factors that stimulate muscle growth are a large mechanical tension in the muscles and metabolic stress in the muscle fibers. The mechanical features of the muscles depend on the resistance to exercise, while the metabolic stress can be affected in different ways during a workout. These two main stimuli for muscle growth act directly on signaling pathways within the muscle cells, they act via local growth factors, and they interact with hormones. Also, satellite cells are stimulated by these factors, so that there is a balance between the change in the volume of muscle cells and the supply of new cell nuclei from satellite cells. [1, p 83] (Translated from Norwegian).
Mechanical tension is when a muscle fiber is exposed to stretch, or lengthening caused by an external pull or muscle activation. This external pull has shown to have a positive effect on muscle growth [2].
In other words, higher weight-load will give higher mechanical tension. As a result, heavyweight is good for increasing muscle size.

What is metabolic stress?

Metabolic stress is a physiological process that occurs during exercise in response to low energy that leads to metabolite accumulation [lactate, phosphate inorganic (Pi) and ions of hydrogen (H+)] in muscle cells. [3]
To clarify, this type of workout is commonly known as metabolite training. For example, sets like, superset and drop sets are typical metabolic sets. In the same vein as any workout routine that aims to induce muscle tension over a prolonged period.
Above all, keep in mind that both mechanical tension and metabolic stress are important for muscle growth. Subsequently, too many repetitions will make it difficult to lift heavyweights. Thus, making the mechanical tension too low. However, few repetitions with a heavy weight-load will not last long. In short, the duration will not last long enough to induce enough metabolic stress. In the same vein, the rest between sets also affect this. Indeed, short rest will accumulate more metabolic stress. Consequently, it makes it harder to lift enough weight-load to create higher mechanical tension.

Recommendations for reps, sets and weight-load to increase muscle size.

Here are a few recommendations from Tudor Bompa that you will benefit from including in your workout plan:
By using the recommendations above or download one of my hypertrophy workouts from my webshop. You will be able to find workout plans structured according to your goals. Nevertheless, if do not find a workout-plan that fits your goals. Then order a customized workout-plan.


[1] Raastad. T, Paulsen. G, Refsnes. B. R, Wisnes. A. R, 2010 «Styrketrening- I teori og praksis.» Gyldendal undervisning.
[2] Goldberg AL et al. Med. Sci. Sports 1975;7(3)185-198
[3] de Freitas. M. C, Gerosa-Neto. J, Zanchi. N. E, Lira. F. S, Rossi. F. E., 2017 “Role of metabolic stress for enhancing muscle adaptions: Practical applications” World Journal of Methodology.
[4] Bompa.T.O, 2015 “Periodization training for sports” Human Kinetics
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