To increase muscle mass, the best type of training is hypertrophy/resistance training.
What is hypertrophy?
Muscle hypertrophy occurs when you keep challenging your muscles to overcome external forces (in the form of weights or resistance). During hypertrophy training, your muscle fibers sustain microtears. The body then fuses these repaired fibers which cause your muscles to increase in mass and size.
Key variables to consider for hypertrophy training
For muscle growth to occur, you need to subject your muscle fibers to stress and fatigue. The intensity should be at that point that is high enough to produce stress but low enough to allow enough reps for fatigue.
It’s been found that training at a moderate intensity i.e. around 75-85% of your 1- Rep Max is sufficient.
Figure out your 1-Rep Max right here.
The key to increasing muscle mass and size is volume i.e. the number of sets and reps of an exercise.
Perform a moderate number of reps (6-12) at moderate intensity and tempo.
As a beginner, you could perform higher reps at a lower intensity. Then as you gradually increase your intensity, you can decrease your reps.
Aim for 3-5 sets of each exercise for optimal hypertrophy.
As your body is still trying to adapt in the beginner stage, you should aim for a lower number of sets and then gradually increase it.
3. Rest period
For muscular hypertrophy to occur, the ideal rest period between sets should be 60-90 seconds. Increasing your rest period beyond this could reduce the hypertrophic effect of training.
4. Repetition tempo (Time under tension)
Time under tension is the time for which a muscle is subjected to tension during an exercise set.
In a TUT workout, you slow down the tempo of your sets by taking reps at a controlled pace. This puts more stress on your muscles thus stimulating higher muscle growth.
Research suggests that spending double the amount of time on the eccentric (lengthening) phase than the concentric (contracting) phase of an exercise has a positive effect on muscle growth.
5. Choice of exercises
Aim to do compound exercises (think bench presses, deadlifts, squats, rows, etc.) as these help promote uniform growth of muscle tissue resulting in better muscle girth. Try exercising at various angles and positions for maximum muscle growth.
How often should you do hypertrophy training?
Studies show that doing around 15-20 sets of demanding hypertrophy exercises per week is the perfect stimulus to increase muscle size. You can split this workload throughout the week, say over 4-6 days a week.
Ensure that you train every muscle group within 48 hours for maximum muscle growth.
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How long will it take to see results?
When you first start out with a hypertrophy training program, you would initially gain muscle strength along with neural adaptations but not size gains. You can expect to see some muscle growth at around 6 weeks.
If you’re an advanced lifter, you could see size gains within 6 to 8 weeks after starting a new program.
But keep in mind that how fast you gain muscle depends on several factors including your protein and calorie intake, sleep schedule, your actual age and training age, genes, hormones, etc.