Although millions of people go to the gym, many fail to get a muscular body despite regular workouts. That’s why we present five scientifically proven methods to achieve this.
It is sometimes infuriating. You regularly go to the gym several times a week, diligently do your exercises like the bench press, squats or bicep curls, but the muscles just won’t grow. At some point, you desperately ask yourself: why is that? What am I doing wrong? Successful fitness YouTuber Jeremy Ethier answers exactly that question. He explains to his 4.54 million followers the best way to force muscle growth. And it’s scientifically proven!
1. Increase the weights, increase the load
Probably the simplest and best-known method that forces muscle growth is to increase weights.1 This increases the load on the muscles. In the recovery phase, the muscles begin to develop in order to be better prepared for the next effort. So try to lift a little more weight each week, especially if you’re doing the same exercises. A training diary is useful so you can document training success and remember weights from the previous week.
Also interesting: Better muscle growth – 8 tips for effective strength training
But there’s a catch to the story, as fitness YouTuber Jeremy Ethier explains: You can’t keep gaining weight forever. At some point, you reach your physical limits. Additionally, joints and tendons can be damaged if you exceed your own performance limit. At this point at the latest, weight stagnates and muscle growth accordingly.
2. A higher rep rate increases muscle growth
Anyone who is stagnant with their weight has another lever to stimulate muscle growth: rep rate.2 So, for example, if you can do 8 reps with the maximum weight, try doing 9 next time.
A word of advice: if you’re working at the limit of your performance, it’s best to have a training partner or helper with you. These can step in to protect you if you can’t complete the last rep on your own.
As Jeremy Ethier explains, just one more rep per week will yield significant gains. Because that means you lift a lot more weight during the week than the week before. According to a 2017 study, you can increase rep rate by up to 30 and achieve steady muscle growth.
Also interesting: How many reps are ideal for strength training to build muscle?
3. Include more phrases in training
If you can’t or don’t want to increase the rep rate, you have another muscle-building tool at your fingertips: the number of sets.3 For example, if you typically do 3 sets of 8 reps, try 4 sets next week. And the following week with five sentences. This dramatically increases the total weight lifted in a week!
However, this method has two pitfalls. Adding sentences increases the training time. It gets complicated, especially when you only have a limited window of time per day to train. Also, the rule of thumb among bodybuilders is that no muscle group should be trained more than 30 sets per week, as anything beyond that won’t produce additional muscle growth.
Also interesting: more muscle and less fat with superset training
4. Do the exercises more slowly
A simple but effective way to stimulate muscle growth is to slow down the pace of exercise.4 Because this increases the muscle tension time at the same time and the load is therefore higher.
“This is especially effective for exercises that work smaller, weaker muscle groups, like the shoulders, where adding a little weight often increases the difficulty disproportionately,” says Ethier. Slowing down is also useful for exercises with your own body weight, because you cannot add extra weight.
For example, if you need two or three seconds for a full sequence of movements, you can give yourself an extra second each week. But it shouldn’t last more than six seconds at the end.
Also interesting: do big muscles automatically mean more strength?
5. With better body control for more muscle growth
An often underestimated factor in muscle growth is the correct execution of strength exercises. But that’s exactly where muscle growth can be stimulated – without extra weight or extra reps.
If you put more and more weight on it and then do an exercise incorrectly, you can even damage your body and risk injury. Instead, you can stay at your usual weight, but pay close attention to your posture, muscle tension, and movement control. For example, if you train with less momentum and try to target the desired muscle in isolation, you will ensure better muscle growth. For best effectiveness, you have to focus specifically on muscle contraction, as studies show.5
- 1. Carvalho L, Junior RM, Barreira J, et. Al. (2022). Muscle hypertrophy and strength gains after resistance training with different volume-appropriate loads: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism.
- 2. Vann CG, Sexton CL, Osburn SC, et. Al. (2022). Effects of high-volume versus high-load resistance training on skeletal muscle growth and molecular adaptations. Frontiers in physiology.
- 3. Schoenfeld BJ, Contreras B, Krieger J, et. Al. (2019). Resistance training volume improves muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine and science in sport and exercise.
- 4. Wilk M, Zajac A, Tufano JJ. (2021). The influence of movement rate during resistance training on muscle strength and hypertrophy responses: a review. Sports medicine.
- 5. Calatayud, J, Vinstrup, J, Jakobsen, MD et al. (2016). Importance of the mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training. European Journal of Applied Physiology.