When lifting any weight, you’ve got a concentric (hard) and eccentric (easy) phase. For instance, as you lower into a squat, you’re performing an eccentric action. When you return to standing, that’s concentric. And, according to research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, eccentric work is far better at triggering hypertrophy.
"It's especially important to eat a carb- and protein-rich meal immediately after a workout," Aceto says. "Right after training, it turns out that your body is really lousy at taking carbohydrates and sending them down fat-storing pathways," he says. "So post-training, carbs will be sent down growth-promoting pathways instead." And when these carbs are combined with a protein source, you've got a strong muscle-feeding combination because carbohydrates help deliver the amino acids into muscles by boosting insulin levels. This anabolic hormone drives nutrients into the muscle cells and kick-starts the muscle-growth process.
If you're serious about putting on some muscle, then the most efficient way to do it is with three intense resistance training sessions and two lighter intensity workouts per week. “You need to have consistency in a workout program, hitting at least each muscle group two times a week to build muscle,” explains Lovitt. If you’re looking to switch up exercises, Olson suggests swaps such as sumo squats instead of traditional squats; step-ups on a bench instead of lunges; and then rotating back to the former. “These types of variation can be very effective in developing muscles, but the weights must still be fairly heavy that you’re using,” she says.
Even if you have a schedule that allows for a 5-day workout split, many people (I’d even call it the majority) simply don’t have the recovery capacity needed to make that work. This could be due to genetics, age, injury history, various lifestyle factors (sleep, stress, etc.) and more. In these cases, better results would be seen with 3-4 workouts per week instead.
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Contrary to certain rumors that animal-based protein is more suitable to trigger muscle growth than plant-based protein, a study by Mangano et al. (2017) could not provide any evidence for this. In contrast, if combined properly, plant-based protein can even have a higher biological quality. A combination of one part wheat protein (e.g. seitan) and two parts soy protein (e.g. tofu) has thus been favored by many bodybuilders. Some bodybuilders, such as Patrik Baboumian and Robert Cheeke, follow a strict vegan diet.
Eat healthy fats. That's right—not only does it make food taste good, fat is good for you, as long as you are eating the right kinds and amounts of fat! Saturated fats—the fat you'll find in a stick of butter, a bag of chips, or bacon—should be limited to about 20g or less. That's the bad news. The good news is that unsaturated fats are actually beneficial, even necessary. Fat is necessary for the proper distribution of vitamins A, D, E, and K, helps promote better eyesight, and healthy skin. Fats are also important for the synthesis of hormones, so maintaining an adequate intake of them will speed up muscle-building and recovery.
Just because your hip flexor region feels sore doesn’t necessarily mean the muscles there are tight — in fact, they might need strengthening. This is where that sports science debate we mentioned earlier comes into play. It’s important to identify whether you’re tight or if the muscles are weak. Again, the Thomas Test will help you identify if you’re maybe stretching something that actually needs strengthening.
How to do it: Lie on your back with both feet planted firmly against the flat base of a Bosu ball, knees bent. Stabilize your body. If you’re feeling a bit wobbly, your arms can hover on either side of you in case you fall in one direction. If you feel balanced, raise your arms straight up above your chest, hands clasped to challenge and work your stability. Drive your hips toward the ceiling, then lower and repeat.