Article by Kari Fry with Colin Archer
Many people often enter the gym or work with a personal trainer with the goal of gaining muscle. We spoke with Personal Trainer and Study Active assessor Colin Archer to get his recommendations for how to gain muscle mass effectively.
IMPORTANT: The ideas in this article are the views of the interviewee and are intended purely for information only – they are not intended as bespoke exercise advice. Please do not start an exercise programme until you have completed a PAR-Q and if necessary, received medical clearance. Always warm up and cool down and never do any exercise that you are unsure of without the support of a qualified professional.
What are some of the best ways to gain muscle mass?
In order to gain muscle mass, we need to progressively overload the muscle through resistance training. The body will then progressively adapt, resulting in an increase of muscle fibre size. Training effectively with sufficient intensity on a consistent basis will deliver muscle stimulus to release muscle building hormones.
If a client was looking to gain weight and muscle, what would you recommend?
Your diet plays a pivotal role in weight and muscle gain. Protein is the foundation of muscle growth as the amino acids are the building blocks that repair and maintain muscle tissue, however, along with protein it’s vital that sufficient amounts of carbohydrates are included in your diet as this is the muscle’s primary source of fuel. These two elements along with an increase in calorie intake will result in weight and muscle gain when combined with effective resistance training.
Are there any ways to gain muscle mass fast?
A consistent and effective training schedule paired with a muscle gaining diet can produce results within a few months for someone new to training, however everyone will start to plateau over time and find it harder. This means that strategies will need to be put in place to break through plateaus, such as incorporating different training technique systems, and increasing frequency and/or volume.
How would you exercise to gain weight? What might that look like?
Firstly, I would base my training around compound movements, these are multi-joint exercises that allow you to lift more weight which is a key stimulator for growth. Performed with intensity, these exercises will promote muscle growth. The next step would be to consider the type of muscle fibres that your muscles consist of, fast and slow twitch. To hit optimal muscle growth it is necessary to progressively overload both. This can be achieved by a broad rep range; a good start would be 8-12 rep range (Hypertrophy).
And finally, a popular question is often how to gain arm muscle – what would you recommend?
To focus on a particular muscle group, then it would be wise to look at the frequency and volume of your training for that particular muscle group. Depending on how often or how much time you have to train, then you may need to consolidate in another area whilst you focus on a weaker area.
Summary - How to Gain Muscle
Thank you, Colin for taking the time to talk about muscle gain strategies and explaining how with consistent focus on diet and effective training routines, it is possible to achieve muscle mass growth and work towards your fitness goals.