Maximizing muscle mass

While there are many training techniques that promote muscle growth, here are a few very unique, and somewhat unorthodox, training methods highlighted by Muscular Development recently that potently improve muscle growth. These cutting-edge approaches effectively increase mechanical tension on the muscle cell, increase metabolic stress within the muscle cell, or potently stimulate the production of anabolic hormones that drive the hypertrophic process— triggering considerable gains in muscle mass.

Maximizing muscle mass
Maximizing muscle mass Admin: Gamze Ç.

Bone Up on Muscle Mass

Bones are in a constant remodeling process involving the breakdown or buildup of bone tissue. This process of remodeling is regulated by a variety of factors, including the physical stress associated with weight training that stimulates an increase in bone tissue.

While most dismiss the positive influence of weight-bearing exercise on bone density as a benefit exclusively for the elderly, it is also extremely useful for younger individuals, especially considering the abundance of research indicating that increased bone density actually encourages greater muscle size. This effect comes from the ability of the skeleton-derived hormone osteocalcin, which is produced by bone tissue in response to weight training1,2, to stimulate production of the muscle-building hormones testosterone and insulin3, ultimately supporting greater muscle growth.

Training Approaches for Enhanced Bone Density

Two training characteristics have been shown to most effectively increase bone density.4 The first exercise feature is the rate at which strain or force is put on the bone, meaning that exercises that rapidly generate strain or force cause the most positive influence didim escort on bone density. A typical example of this type of exercise includes jumping or plyometric training, where the rate of impact is very high. The second feature is the magnitude of the exercise-related forces put on the bone, where greater forces stimulate greater bone formation. The best example of this training approach would be high-intensity weight training. Taken together, the use of either ballistic or high-intensity training methods should trigger the greatest increase in bone density, providing a superior foundation for enhanced muscle mass.

The Anabolic Influence of Whole-Body Vibration (WBV) Training

Another relatively new training technique covered in the pages of MD during 2014, known as whole-body vibration (WBV) training, has also been shown to effectively promote muscle growth. WBV is a training method that utilizes a low-intensity vibration, typically in the vertical direction, as an added stimulus for greater gains in lean body mass and strength. The added stimulus comes from the ability of WBV to trigger muscular contraction by izmit escort stimulating the muscle cells’ stretch reflex. The stretch reflex is usually activated when the muscle is quickly stretched or overstretched. The stretching triggers a reflex contraction to prevent further stretching that could cause muscle damage. WBV activates the stretch reflex by lengthening the muscle cell, which the muscle cell interprets as stretching.

How to Use WBV Training

The most prevalent mode of WBV training entails standing on a vibrating platform that vibrates at 25 to 80 hertz (vibrations per second) while doing lower body movements such as the squat or lunge with or without added weight. Each set lasts approximately one minute per set, with a total work time between 15 and 30 minutes. For every vibration cycle, the muscle contracts— meaning that a frequency range of 25 to 80 hertz makes the targeted muscles contract and relax 25 to 80 times per second, which certainly represents a considerable amount of added stimulus to the working muscle groups.

WBV Boosts Muscle Mass

As previously mentioned, this form of training increases muscle mass by intensifying muscular contraction through the stretch reflex. The increased contraction intensity associated with WBV training tends to stimulate a greater number of fast-twitch muscle fibers, as fast-twitch fibers are preferentially recruited during intense muscular contraction. Consequently, because fast-twitch fibers have the greatest potential for muscle growth, combining WBV training with resistance exercise should kocaeli escort lead to greater levels of muscle mass. In addition, WBV training also stimulates anabolic hormone production, further enhancing muscle mass.5 Finally, studies indicate that combining WBV with standard resistance further increases the intensity of muscular contraction for even greater levels of muscle growth.6

High-Volume Training for Muscle Mass

The dominant theory within bodybuilding and powerlifting circles accurately asserts that optimal strength is achieved by high-intensity training requiring the use of heavy weights within a low repetition range, while the best hypertrophic response is stimulated by the use of moderate weights at a higher volume involving an elevated repetition range.7 Heavier weights augment strength principally by inducing greater neuromuscular activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which contract more quickly than slow-twitch muscle fibers, producing more power. The increased activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers from high-intensity training ultimately leads to greater strength gains. On the other hand, higher volume training more specifically amplifies muscle growth— in large part by increasing muscle time under tension, which increases metabolic stress, encouraging muscle hypertrophy.

Several studies highlight the differences between high-intensity and higher volume training, pointing out that training prescriptions for hypertrophy differ considerably from those that preferentially boost strength.8 In fact, as a proof of principle, most powerlifters perform high-intensity training using 85 percent to 95 percent of their one-repetition maximum for three to five repetitions, while most bodybuilders utilize lighter weights in the 75 percent to 85 percent range of their one-repetition maximum, usually for 8 to 12 repetitions.

Combining High-Intensity and High-Volume Training for Maximum Strength and Mass

So, it’s pretty clear that high intensity is superior for strength while high volume more potently elicits muscle growth. Yet, what happens when you combine high intensity with high volume in the same workout? Could this combined training approach simultaneously boost gains in muscle strength and size? For instance, let’s say the typical muscle-building workout included moderate-intensity training for four sets at 10 repetitions per set, equaling 40 total repetitions. Could one acquire both strength and size more effectively by performing higher intensity training at five repetitions, but doing eight sets to match the hypertrophic training volume range of 40 total repetitions?

A study by Schoenfeld et al.9 investigated whether combining high-intensity training with high-volume training could successfully bolster gains in both strength and size. The results of this study clearly demonstrate that combining high-intensity with high-volume training provides ample mechanical tension for muscle growth, along with sufficient neuromuscular stimulation of fast-twitch muscle fibers for strength improvement. So, if you’re looking to simultaneously increase strength and size, additional high-intensity sets that promote strength will be required to reach training volume that also triggers considerable gains in muscle mass.

For most of Michael Rudolph’s career he has been engrossed in the exercise world as either an athlete (he played college football at Hofstra University), personal trainer or as a Research Scientist (he earned a B.Sc. in Exercise Science at Hofstra University and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Stony Brook University). After earning his Ph.D., Michael investigated the molecular biology of exercise as a fellow at Harvard Medical School and Columbia University for over eight years. That research contributed seminally to understanding the function of the incredibly important cellular energy sensor AMPK— leading to numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals including the journal Nature. Michael is currently a scientist working at the New York Structural Biology Center doing contract work for the Department of Defense on a project involving national security.



1. Fernandez-Real JM, Izquierdo M, et al. The relationship of serum osteocalcin concentration to insulin secretion, sensitivity, and disposal with hypocaloric diet and resistance training. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94, 237-245.

2. Menkes A, Mazel S, et al. (1993). Strength training increases regional bone mineral density and bone remodeling in middle-aged and older men. J Appl Physiol 1985;74, 2478-2484.

3. Lee NK, Sowa H, et al. Endocrine regulation of energy metabolism by the skeleton. Cell 2007;130, 456-469.

4. Manske SL, Lorincz CR and Zernicke RF. Bone health: part 2, physical activity. Sports Health 2009;1, 341-346.

5. Bosco C, Iacovelli M, et al. Hormonal responses to whole-body vibration in men. Eur J Appl Physiol 2000;81, 449-454.

6. Delecluse C, Roelants M and Verschueren S. Strength increase after whole-body vibration compared with resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2003;35, 1033-1041.

7. Kraemer WJ and Ratamess NA. Fundamentals of resistance training: progression and exercise prescription. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004;36, 674-688.

8. Masuda K, Choi JY, et al. Maintenance of myoglobin concentration in human skeletal muscle after heavy resistance training. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1999;79, 347-352.

9. Schoenfeld BJ, Ratamess NA, et al. Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men. J Strength Cond Res 2014;28, 2909-2918.

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