In strength training, it's best to coax or nudge adaptation, or so we're told. The body can only adapt at a certain rate, and trying to force adaptation will only invite trouble.
This is true a good deal of the time. But there are times when your schedule, circumstances, and budget all line up perfectly to change your mindset to "the greater the risk, the greater the reward!"
Yes, there's a way to force the issue and get quick muscle growth while reducing the risk of overtraining and injury. It won't be easy, and it's definitely not for everybody. You'll have to force training, force eat, and force sleep. I've got your guide for all three.
If you're up for it, here's how to get the gains of a lifetime!
Force Training With Three-a-Days
Getting more usually means doing more, and doing more in strength training often results in overtraining, leading to a lack of progress at best, and injury at worst.
But overtraining isn't really the problem; the problem is under-recovery. You can provide any stimulus you want; you just need to make sure you can recover from it. If you go too quick before your next workout, don't eat or sleep enough, and don't fully recover, you won't make adequate progress.
Of course, you'll need a greater volume of training for a greater volume of muscle. But trying to squeeze all that volume into one session isn't the way to go. If you do marathon workouts, you'll end up looking like a marathoner! It's much better to do shorter workouts spread out throughout a day than one mega-long workout.
If you want quick results, training more often is the answer. And if you're training more often, doing multiple sessions a day, you'll need to split your training for different body parts, to give them ample time to recover. A triple-split system works best in this case.
Here's an example:
Workout 1: Chest and Back
Workout 2: Chest and Back
Workout 3: Chest and Shoulders
Workout 1: Thighs
Workout 2: Thighs
Workout 3: Abs and Calves
Workout 1: Upper Arms
Workout 2: Upper Arms
Workout 3: Forearms
You're probably looking at the program and thinking to yourself that it's not a big deal. If you really wanted to, you could likely combine all three workouts together and get it done in around an hour. To truly reap the benefits of this program though, you need to concentrate on the quality of training in addition to the quantity of work.
Each set must be taken to concentric failure, and the final set should go beyond that! Basically, take the last set to oblivion, until you can't go anymore, using methods like forced reps, rest-pause training, slow negatives, static holds, dropsets, and partials. Give it an all-out effort, and then get out of the gym.
As far as frequency is concerned, here's how I would approach it for three different age groups:
- 18-29: Day 1/Day 2/Day 3/Off
- 30-49: Day 1/Day 2/Off/Day 3/Off
- 50+: Day 1/Off/Day 2/Off/Day 3/Off
Keep in mind that this is not one of those overreaching protocols where you train daily without rest for two or three weeks in an attempt to deplete the body as much as possible, and then experience a rebound effect after resting for 5-7 days. That strategy will make you weaker and smaller while you're doing it, and it can only be done for a short period of time.
The protocol I'm suggesting will allow you to get in more training units, and push hard without digging a huge hole you can't get out of without taking time off from training. Rather than get weaker and smaller, you'll get bigger and stronger quickly with this plan, and you'll continue to grow for an extended period of time, but you can only force those types of results if you recover sufficiently.
That means you need to eat and sleep big to get big!
Force Feeding With Nighttime Meals
Most guys don't realize how much food they really need to eat to make "massive" gains. Quite frankly, most so-called hard-gainers have a hard time gaining because they eat as much in a day as they should eat in a meal!
To pack on muscle quickly, I recommend eating eight meals a day: four solid meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a bedtime meal) and four liquid meals (one after each workout and one in the middle of the night). On this plan, if you don't do eight, you won't gain the weight!
I won't get into all the specifics of what you should eat at each meal. You can check out my book Mass Explosion for that, but I do want to discuss two meals that will make a "huge" difference in your progress: the pre- and intra-bedtime feedings.
Pre-Bedtime Gainer Meal 1
I've come up with a bedtime concoction over the years inspired by nutrition expert Rheo Blair, which I detailed in my previous article "The Protein Pioneer: Lessons from a Golden Age Nutritional Guru." My Blair-like protein pudding involves a mixture of full-fat ricotta and cottage cheeses, colostrum, a raw pasture-raised egg, and organic heavy whipping cream. Add organic berries, a touch of raw (unpasteurized and antibiotic-free) honey, and feel free to add some protein powder to the mix.
Sit down and eat that concoction slowly. To aid digestion, take some betaine HCL and broad-spectrum enzymes with this and every other meal, just like Blair recommended many moons ago.
Not only does this meal taste great, it sits quite well in the stomach, and I swear it builds muscle! It makes for a great snack before bed.
Pre-Bedtime Gainer Meal 2
Mix a scoop of gelatin, whey, and yogurt in a small bowl and enjoy before bed. Choose a plain/unsweetened, full-fat, certified-organic, Greek-style yogurt (three excellent brands are Nancy's, Straus Family Creamery, and Wallaby Organic), or try yogurt made from sheep or goat milk if you're lactose intolerant. If you wish, you can add some organic berries and honey to the mix as well.
Don't use an electronic alarm clock to wake you up in the middle of the night. Use your "bladder" clock instead. To do this, drink a large glass or two of water before you retire. For most people, that will do the trick.
You'll wake up sometime during the night to urinate, and your whey/casein shake will be right there waiting for you! It's an easy, natural way of disrupting sleep briefly for a feeding. You should be able to fall right back asleep afterward, and it's important that you do, because you'll need all the sleep you can get to force growth on this program.
Force Sleeping: Rediscover the Nap
Constantly interrupted, fragmented sleep at night will destroy you, but fragmented sleep during the day will restore you. Just ask any parent how much muscle they gain the first few months after having a newborn. Most guys and gals I know shrink during that period. Well, their muscles shrink, not necessarily their bellies! Why? Because they're constantly tired!
On the other side of the coin, when you're able to get plenty of sleep—both day and night—you can grow like a weed. Muscle growth occurs while you sleep, not while you train. The message to grow occurs while you train, but the actual growth occurs while you sleep.
Strive for a minimum of eight hours of sleep at night, and try to get a couple naps during the day, one after each of the first two workouts. Right after each workout, have a shake that contains fast-acting whey protein and high-glycemic carbs, and then try to catch a 20-minute nap. Consider using a Chi machine while napping. It's a portable electrical device that features a padded ankle support that moves side to side. You just lay down on the floor, rest your ankles on the pads, use the remote to control the speed, and the machine will do the rest. I swear by these things.
On your off days, use restoration methods such as contrast showers, salt baths, soft-tissue work, stretching, massage, or electronic muscle stimulation to enhance recovery. Feel free to use your Chi machine then as well.
Commit to This Plan, and It Will Work!
Results won't occur overnight, but they'll come pretty quickly if you force things properly. Make sure to monitor your body weight daily. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning. If your weight drops, up your carb intake that day, and make sure you do nothing but eat, sleep, and train.
Obviously, this is not the type of program you squeeze into a busy schedule, so plan accordingly. You'll find that your weight might not budge for a while, then all of sudden, you'll wake up a few pounds heavier. It tends to come in spurts.
Frequent short workouts, feedings, and bouts of sleep maximize anabolic events and minimize catabolic events. When anabolism exceeds catabolism, you have growth. If you want to force results from your training, make sure to force recovery as well.