For Fit Bottomed Dudes’ Week, we are super pumped to be featuring a post from Dave Asprey on how to gain muscle strength! Dave is the mastermind behind the whole Bulletproof coffee thing that everyone is talking about (including us!). A Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur who spent 15 years and $300,000 to hack his own biology, losing 100 pounds, upgrading his IQ and lowering his biological age, he runs the The Bulletproof Executive blog about using “biohacking” to increase human performance. You can learn more about biohacking, the art of changing your environment and your biology so you perform better in his new book The Bulletproof Diet and also on The Bulletproof Executive website, Facebook and Twitter.
Even though popular opinion says otherwise, you shouldn’t be spending hours lifting weights at the gym or counting to 100 as you squat in front of a mirror in order to obtain the best exercise results. Instead you should follow these six tips in order to get the same results with minimal effort and in the smallest amount of time while keeping your body and muscles healthy and safe.
6 Faster and Safer Ways To Gain Muscle Strength
1. Know your stuff. This may seem obvious, but knowing the equipment you’re using and the proper alignment for each compound move is a must before you even begin your training. If you are unsure of what the equipment at your local gym does, you can hire a trainer for one session to show you how to use it properly. If you want a different workout environment than a gym, you could find a local CrossFit gym (called a box), where a trainer will teach you the equivalents of the movements you would get from gym equipment but with free weights instead. Just explain that you are new to this and want a very short workout, and you’ll do fine.
2. Learn these five compound moves. The five compound moves that are most beneficial to your muscle growth are seated rows, chest presses, pull-downs, overhead presses, and leg presses. You can do these movements in whatever order you prefer. Perform each one for 1 1⁄2 to 2 minutes (until you couldn’t do another one to save your life). Expect to be very sore after these workouts, and start with just once a week so you have time to recover and build muscle before starting over.
3. Only work out one to three times a week. When it comes to lifting weights, it’s best to work out one to three times per week (in addition to the interval training). You should only train three times a week if you have extra time for sleep and recovery and are not jet-lagged. If you find your training stalling on this program, decrease the frequency instead of forcing yourself to try harder. Remember, there is a point of diminishing returns with exercise. More exercise will not always lead to more benefits, and overtraining is harmful.
4. Practice proper recovery. Keep in mind that proper recovery is extremely important. Whether you are performing weight-lifting exercise or high-intensity interval training sprints, make sure you wait, at the very least, for two days and up to 10 days before your next workout. Between four and seven days is the sweet spot.
5. Your workout should not last longer than 20 minutes. Each workout should not last longer than 20 minutes. Often, 10 to 15 minutes is enough, but your workout should be extremely high intensity, with each movement done to the point of muscle failure. This is when the weight won’t move anymore no matter how hard you try. Unless you’re working with a trainer or are experienced with free weights, it’s best to start with using machines, as pushing yourself to muscle fatigue with free weights increases your risk of injury. A good rule is to use about 80 percent of the heaviest amount of weight you’re capable of lifting one time. The next movement should be performed as soon as possible after the completion of the previous one. The time between movements should not exceed 2 minutes, and less is better.
6. Time your carbs. Eating some extra Bulletproof carbs on the evening of your workout day will help you recover faster. Bodybuilders have been eating carbs after workouts for decades. Carbs increase insulin, and insulin’s job is to carry protein and fat into your muscles. When you stimulate your muscles through exercise, you want to have insulin to feed them, but not too much.
Sometimes doing less really is more. When done moderately and correctly, exercise improves bone density, mood and blood lipids, and increases insulin sensitivity and lean muscle. By following these six muscle hacks, your body stays strong and lean with minimal effort and time to spare. —Dave Asprey