1: Favor accumulation phases with a higher volume (8 to 12 reps) with moderate loads (65 to 85 percent of the 1RM) and more sets (4 to 8).
2: Train to failure to produce muscle damage and a large protein synthesis response.
3: Periodize your workouts. Sets, reps, loads, and exercises should change every 2 to 3 weeks. Alternating between accumulation and intensification phases every 3 weeks will reduce central nervous fatigue.
4: Include select intensification training phases that favor heavier loads (above 85 percent) and lower reps (6 or less).
5: About 70 percent of workouts should push volume and moderate loads, and 30 percent should be trained at a higher intensity with heavy weights.
6: Train for metabolic stress by using higher volume, moderate intensity, and short rest periods (10 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on protocol).
7: Train based on your muscle fiber type. If you’re fast-twitch with exceptional speed and jumping skills, train with heavy weights and low reps. For slow-twitch, go high rep, high volume.
8: Don’t neglect the slow-twitch fibers completely. They make up the majority of whole muscles and growing them will maximize muscle size.
9: Strength and power athletes trying to gain size while enhancing performance should train and grow fast-twitch fibers.
10: Do eccentric-enhanced training. Start with a longer tempo on the eccentric motion (4 seconds) and 1 to 2 concentric.
11: Progress to advanced eccentric loading with supramaximal loads for the eccentric phase of the lift.
12: For advanced hypertrophy, use a dynamometer that provides a consistent resistive force that is not gravity dependent like dumbbells. This will allow you to train a fast tempo for maximal muscle growth.
13: Training frequency is an often overlooked hypertrophy variable. Favor multi-joint lifts with training splits to maximize recovery and allow for the greatest training frequency.
14: Intermediate and advanced trainees should include select single-joint training because fast- and slow-twitch motor units are scattered throughout individual muscles.
15: Focus on recovery: Besides genetics, the true indicator of muscle development is your ability to recover rapidly so you can hit it hard again in the gym.
16: Avoid steady-state and long duration cardio. Stick to sprints, strongman, and loaded conditioning.
17: Pick a priority and train accordingly. Although it is possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, massive muscle is best accomplished with a hypertrophy lifestyle (thrash muscles, eat, rest, recover, avoid extra activity).
18: Improve your training technique. Avoid regular cheating, or always using momentum to get the weight up. Follow tempo prescriptions and avoid letting weights fall with gravity.
19: Set goals. We’re talking specific load and volume numbers you need to hit for every lift, every workout, every week, every training cycle.
20: Develop a hypertrophy lifestyle: Train, eat, sleep, recover, think hypertrophy.
21: Record the details of your hypertrophy-lifestyle. Track everything: workouts, sleep, diet. Evaluate your performance every time you change your training program.
22: Train for the pump. A muscle pump occurs when you train a high volume that relies on the glycolytic energy system. This leads the muscle cell to swell with liquid, which is perceived as a threat to the cell, leading it to grow.
23: Do forced reps to recruit high-threshold motor units that target satellite cells, which maximize growth. Pick the maximal load you can lift for 12 reps. Increase the load and do 4 sets of 12. Get assistance from a partner when necessary.
24: Do “X” reps: These are partial reps that are done after you achieve full-range failure on a lift. For the bench press, once you can’t do anymore full-range reps, do 6 to 10 inch partials in the top range until failure. Use a spotter.
25: Do drop sets. Do a high-intensity set followed immediately by the same exercise at a low-intensity with 50 percent of the 1RM. Go to failure on the last set.
26: Throw in some “death circuits” that alternate agonist/antagonist muscle exercises and have no rest between exercises for a set time goal. This will lead to lactate buildup, metabolic stress, and a monumental growth hormone response.
27: Don’t ignore the power of strength for muscle growth. Giving your greatest effort during intensification cycles will help you achieve larger mass gains in the long run.
28: Eat enough protein. Vegetarians and women, this means you.
29: Eat high-quality protein and fat at every meal. Favor foods that provide at least 10 grams of essential amino acids every time you eat.
30: Eat MEAT! There’s evidence that there is something about “the meat itself” that yields maximal muscle gains.
31: Hit your protein goal every day. Eat between 1.6 and 2.4 g/kg/day of protein to maximize muscle development from strength training.
32: High-quality calories are king when it comes to muscle building. Opt for a high meal frequency in which you eat or take protein every 2 to 3 hours.
33: Take whey protein post-workout because it is superior to all protein sources for elevating protein synthesis. If you’re allergic, take essential amino acids with extra leucine.
34: Depending on body fat percentage, dose with 20 grams of whey every 3 hours on training days to repair tissue for mass gains.
35: Cycle carbs to promote insulin sensitivity for mass gains. De-emphasize them on off days, but go higher carb on training days.
36: Workout carb intake is not imperative for protein synthesis but it can reduce cortisol during training. A carb-to- protein ratio between 2:1 and 1:1 is indicated.
37: Have a higher carb, high calorie day every 5 to 7 days in which you increase calories by up to 50 percent.
38: Balance your omega-3 to omega-6 fat intake: Eat fish, pastured animal products, take fish oil, and avoid vegetable oils.
39: Eat beneficial fat and avoid low-fat eating like the plague. Fat provides cholesterol, which supports hormone balance and recovery from intense exercise.
40: Favor saturated animal fats (butter, cream, meat), omega-3s, and monounsaturated fat (olives, avocados, macadamia nuts).
41: Attend to your body’s pH. Drink lemon or lime water, and eat a boatload of green vegetables and nutrient-rich fruits to become more alkaline.
42: Ensure hydration: Dehydration will significantly elevate cortisol and most people are chronically dehydrated. Shoot for drinking 37 ml/kg of body weight. For a 75 kg person this equals 2.8 liters.
43: Optimize gut health. Take probiotics on an empty stomach. Always pair protein with high-fiber foods (veggies and fruit) to improve protein digestion so that it doesn’t pass through to the intestinal intact.
44: Get extra B vitamins, particularly B5, because they are depleted in people who experience a lot of stress, both physical and mental.
45: Balance your cortisol: Get 2 to 10 grams of vitamin C post-workout or anytime you’re stressed. Be smart about caffeine and never take it when anxious or post-workout.
46: Optimize baseline levels of hormones, particularly testosterone, because it is a significant indicator of athletic ability. Higher resting T means you’ll get more out of workouts to induce greater muscle gains.
47: Embrace sleep. It’s been called the “athlete’s steroid” because it can boost athletic performance by as much as 10 percent. Shoot for at least 10 hours a night if you’re trying to gain muscle.
48: Train in the afternoon between 2 and 5 pm because muscle strength peaks during this window and protein synthesis peaks at 5 pm.
49: Sleep according to your natural tendency (called chronotype) because this optimizes hormone balance. Men who sleep according to their chronotype have higher testosterone.
50: Attend to your vitamin D level: Achieve a year-round level of at least 40 ng/ml. People in Northern latitudes or who do not get daily sun exposure require 2,000 to 5,000 IUs daily to achieve this baseline level.
51: Ensure magnesium status by getting a red blood cell test. Scientists suggest athletes should supplement with 500 mg of high-quality magnesium daily. Take it post-workout.
52: Dose BCAAs with leucine in a 4 to 1 ratio to valine and isoleucine. Research indicates 40 grams of BCAAs over the course of a workout can increase protein synthesis and reduce muscle breakdown.
53: Take 5 g/day of creatine to experience double muscle gains. One review found an extra 2 to 4 pounds of muscle mass gained in athletes.
54: Take beta alanine because it helps the body remove waste during intense muscle contractions. Try a high-low dosing format of 4 to 6 g/day for 4 weeks, followed by 1.5 to 3 g/day for 4 weeks.
55: Use caffeine pre-workout anytime you have poor motivation, are sleep deprived, or have a blue mood. It’s the most effective legal performance-enhancing aid available.
56: Take up to 4 grams of fish oil post-workout to improve protein synthesis and reduce inflammation.
57: Load up on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) by eating pastured, organic dairy and beef. CLA can increase muscle gains by a few pounds over a placebo.
58: Take citrulline to improve blood flow and energy levels. It also boosts arginine for greater growth hormone release.
59: Try taking glutamine in doses throughout the day. Use it anytime you feel your immune system suppressed or are nearing an overtrained state to improve recovery.
60: Work harder. You’re less likely to be a “hard-gainer” if you work harder and smarter.