Muscle Building: Science Based Overview

Muscle Building/ Hypertrophy: The process of building larger and more dense muscle

1. Total Volume + Mechanical tension

Your muscles adapt to the total mechanical stress they are put through, AKA total training volume and is most easily measured with reps x sets x weight. 

Almost all of the evidence supports the fact that training volume is the key factor and directly correlated with muscle hypertrophy. 

Which means that to grow a muscle, you need to train it more. 

Aim for a minimum of 10 sets per muscle group per week, split over 2 days to be most effective. 

2. Protein Intake

Anywhere between 1.6 - 2.4 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight, depending on training age, experience, and a few other variables. 

Key take away, if you’re someone who wants to ensure growth, look towards upper limits to ensure growth and repair. No conclusive evidence linking kidney failure and excessive protein intake. 

3. Protein Quality

There is much debate about the type of protein you need (plant or animal). The biggest factor of this is the total essential amino (EAA) acid complex that is oxidised by your body. 

Animal protein has a much higher % of EAA per gram compared to plant protein which means you would have to increase the amount of protein as a whole, in order to get the same amount of EAA. 

EAA is where the growth and repair qualities of the protein lie. The other AA can be endogenously (internally) manufactured. 

Conclusion: doesn’t matter, just make sure you’re getting enough. 

4. Shakes or real food?

Same as above, as long as the total EAA is met each day. Shakes can often be oxidised a lot faster than food based on not having to be digested and broken down, as well as the ease of increasing total consumption based on being a liquid. 

5. Anabolic window? 

Some truth, some myth. Total consumption post 24 hours of a work is what really matters. 24 hour anabolic window, not 30 minutes like once believed. 

As above, hit your daily targets of EAA coupled with a calorie surplus. 

6. Will I Gain Fat? 

Some fat gain may occur, but sticking to a small increase of around 200-250 calories per day will allow you to monitor fat gain more closely.