By Andrew Menechian
If you’re like most people in the gym looking to put on muscle mass, then you’ve probably tried numerous different programs and methods to try and achieve your goals. But don’t worry, where there is a will there is a way! You can put your worries away and be comfortable knowing that if you follow these principles, then you’re doing everything that you can to reach your goal!
Sets for hypertrophy
A recent meta-analysis showed that more than 10 sets per muscle per week elicited a greater hypertrophy response than under 10 sets1. This would be a good starting point. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough research to see if higher volumes would give an even greater benefit however, from anecdotal evidence, it seems it is the sweet spot for more intermediate-advanced.
Reps for hypertrophy
What’s the best rep range for hypertrophy? Well provided volume is equated, a meta-analysis showed that there doesn’t seem to be much difference between different rep ranges2. What does this mean? Basically, if you take an 8-rep set one to two reps shy of failure, or if you take a 30 rep set one to two reps shy of failure, from a hypertrophy standpoint, the results are nearly identical.
The key part of this is making sure you’re taking the muscle close to failure regardless of rep range.
So, how hard should you train? Well, as stated in the last section, you should ideally be training close to failure. While the evidence is somewhat limited, if you take all sets to failure, it can lead to more fatigue than necessary.
This is why it’s recommended to leave some reps in reserve (RIR). Ss stated in the previous section, this is taking a set a certain amount of reps before failure. Ideally, you should aim for anywhere between 1-3 RIR on most sets.
From a nutritional energy balance standpoint, if you’re not eating in a surplus, then you are severely limiting your potential to grow. You don’t need to eat way over your maintenance calories or do a ‘dirty bulk’ as a study showed that this is unnecessary and that an extra surplus provides no extra benefits3.
The takeaway? Stick to 100-200 calories over your maintenance to maximise muscle growth and minimise body fat accumulation.
Overfeeding on a high protein diet, compared to a low protein diet, was linked to higher lean (not fat) body mass gain4. If your goal is to increase muscle mass, ideally protein intake should be roughly 1.8g – 3.0g/kg per day.
Yours in health,
Clean Health Fitness Institute