Hypertrophy training – Building muscle is a science.
The experts have long told us that impressive muscle growth will only be triggered by combining progressive resistance training with sufficient calories, rest, healthy hormones and optimal protein intake.
Hypertrophy is the scientific term for growing muscle and understanding the process behind muscle growth can be both educational and motivational for any aspiring bodybuilder or strength trainer.
10 scientific protein steps to optimise your gains!
In this article, we look at the role that improving your protein intake – what, when and how – can have on achieving gains. In order to train harder, we must eat smarter.
Step 1: Optimise your protein intake
If you’ve been training for a while, then the chances are you already know that a protein intake in the range of 1.8-2g per kilogram of body mass per day, is supported by hard science, as being optimal for physique trainers.
However, it’s always worth remembering, since it’s amazing how many trainers get poor results simply due to not hitting their needs on a consistent basis. So – calculate your protein needs and track your macro’s!
Advanced tip: Some experts speculate that advanced trainers could become resistant to their protein intake over time – making it potentially less anabolic.
Although this is a new area of research, if you’re a long-term trainer, you may want to experiment by boosting your protein intake to 2.5g per kilogram of body mass. Closely monitor your gains over 4-6 weeks.
Step 2: Eat power proteins
Stock your fridge with these high quality proteins to ensure your muscles have every nutrient they need to grow:
Lean beef provides a trio of muscle growth support – quality bio-available protein, significant levels of zinc and some natural saturated fats aid healthy testosterone. Ideally, opt for grass fed/free-range 2-3 times a week – it’s likely to be higher in protein and contain a healthier spectrum of fatty acid.
Salmon and mackerel are loaded with complete protein, plus high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Mackerel is also a rich source of creatine, so it can help support enhanced muscle power and fatigue resistance. Eat the skin for more omega’s, or ditch it in-line with your calorie and macro needs.
Free-range eggs are an excellent source of usable protein and nutrients that support testosterone synthesis. Cook your eggs in coconut oil if frying and don’t over cook them — this prevents the cholesterol in eggs being oxidised, which is the form of cholesterol that many experts suggest is a health risk.
Beans are a weight trainer’s friend! They’re relatively high in protein, low in fat and contain zinc to support testosterone – plus a ton of fibre! Check out The Protein Works to see how soy protein isolate, pea protein and rice protein can be just as potent as whey protein!
Chicken breasts are pretty awesome when it comes to ultra-lean highly bio-available protein! They’re easy to prepare and really versatile – you can cook 10 at once and keep them chilled in the fridge for days of easy meal prep and snacks.
Advanced tip: If you’re looking for an edge, try taking EVL BCAA Energy with your whole food meals – their concentrated leucine content is a potent way to support protein synthesis and give your nutrition an added boost. Additionally, SCI-MX shakes are pre-loaded with ultra-high levels of BCAAs.
Step 3: Breakfast Protein Pulse
After 7-8 hours sleep (this is the minimum you should be getting if you’re a physique trainer) you need a big hit of protein to spike amino acid levels and trigger maximum protein synthesis. Get a minimum of 30g protein into your system fast!
Optimised strategy: Have a shake containing fast digesting whey protein, followed by whole food proteins such as eggs. Whey is excellent at breakfast time due to its capacity to spike amino levels fast.
2. 4 eggs scrambled
3. 2 slices toasted rye bread
4. 1 bowl porridge + berries
Step 4: Regular Protein Pulsing
While your overall protein and calorie intake is a fundamental key to growth from training, significant research supports the consumption of protein at regular intervals during the day – typically 3 meals plus 3-4 protein-rich snacks.
Your snacks can be whole food proteins such as chicken, or supplements such as protein shakes / protein bliss balls / protein cookies or flapjacks. This strategy spikes protein synthesis multiple times per day, helping to constantly support muscle repair and growth.
Step 5: Pre-workout Protein Hit
When you hit the gym, you want your bloodstream to be rich in amino acids – this will ensure your body can respond to muscle damage as soon as your start hitting up a solid pump and tearing down those muscle fibres! Therefore, one of your protein pulses should be a pre-workout meal containing at least 20g protein 60-90 minutes before training.
Protein bar / bliss ball+ a banana
Small jacket potato with cottage cheese
Protein shake + an apple
Porridge with protein powder
Chicken breast + brown rice
Follow-up with a pre-workout supplement 30 minutes before the gym, such as Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard
Step 6: Intra-Workout BCAA Spiking
Intra-workout amino acids are a must for serious muscle trainers. The BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine) are three potent amino acids found in quality protein in high concentrations.
These critical amino’s play a key role in triggering protein synthesis — the process behind the build-up of new muscle tissue! They’re rapidly burnt-up during training, so drinking an intra-workout such as this one is a good way to support gains.
Step 7: Post-Workout Protein
Phase 1: Drink a post-training shake within 30 minutes containing whey protein. Research shows that whey’s fast digestion speed promotes a rapid spike in protein synthesis, making it a highly effective nutrient to kick-start muscle repair post-weights as well as ensuring growth. The usual brands are are all highly effective.
Phase 2: 90 minutes post-shake eat a meal of lean protein and carbs.
Step 8: Creatine Boost
CREATINE is a naturally occurring compound that’s a combination of the amino acids; glycine, arginine, and methionine – a perfect addition to a high protein muscle growth plan. In addition to boosting repetitive power during weight training, it enhances fatigue resistance and many experts also suggest it has the capacity to increase intra-cellular fluid – also aiding protein synthesis.
Step 9: ZMA Protein Support
The key to muscle growth is to have a decent training plan, optimal protein and sufficient energy intake in order to fuel training and growth.
But don’t forget about optimising healthy natural testosterone synthesis. Eating around 2g of protein per kilogram of body mass is in itself, a science supported way to aid healthy T-levels, but adding ZMA to your diet offers the perfect combination.
ZMA contains zinc to contribute to the maintenance of normal testosterone levels, vitamin B6 to support hormone activity plus pantothenic acid to help combat tiredness and fatigue.
Step 10: Drink Casein for Overnight Muscle
Casein is an awesome protein to take before you sleep!
Found in milk and cottage cheese, it has an ultra-slow digestion speed, giving it anti-catabolic properties that help prevent muscle breakdown for many hours.
Research has also shown that the combination of whey and casein creates a powerful duo that triggers protein synthesis and then combats muscle breakdown – ideal pre-bed and post-training. This Aussie brand delivers a quality Casein protein powder, both flavoured and unflavoured. Chocolate is my go-to.
Follow these 10 protein tips to scientifically grow muscle and see the results.