If you want to build muscle, it might feel like a plateau is inevitable. However, there are more than a few ways to sidestep this potential stalemate and, no, none of them involve buying expensive supplements. Follow our tips to ramp up your gains.
1. Do Isometric Exercises
To look shredded like a bodybuilder, put your training on hold: Isometric exercises can make the blood vessels feeding your muscles stand out, according to a British study.
Men who did isometric exercises, which involve performing part of an exercise without movement – like holding the midway point of a biceps curl – increased the size of their arteries by 11%. What’s more, their blood pressure dropped.
The researchers understand that the exercises increased the nitric oxide in the participants’ blood. Do four sets of two minute holds, three times a week, for eight weeks.
2. Soak Up Some Sun
Sunlight is strong! And it’ll help you build muscle. Vitamin D may be the secret to big muscles, says a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Scientists found that people with higher blood levels of vitamin D tend to have stronger upper and lower body muscles.
“The vitamin acts like a hormone. It might affect testosterone,” says Dr Paul Thompson, lead author of the study. Most adults need 600 IU of vitamin D daily.
Time to jiggle: Research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has shown that exercising on a vibrating platform can enhance your upper body workout. So if you’re looking to tone your arms or chest, sign up for a Powerplate class at your local Virgin Active.
But remember, this study concluded that exercising on a vibrating platform would only increase your upper body workout, a vibrating platform was shown to have no effect on lower body exercises.
4. Choose Your Gym Buddy Wisely
Harsh reality: Watching someone suffer through a workout can kill your motivation, according Canadian researchers. When people watched just seven minutes of contestants struggling with exercise on the reality TV show The Biggest Loser, they showed little desire to hit the gym afterwards.
Bottom line: keep a positive attitude and focus on your own routine.