Adding muscle and strength is a common fitness goal for many people. Increased strength can have a positive impact on many aspects of life, from athletic performance to even moments like carrying groceries. Many people also find it rewarding to be able to progressively add more weight to an exercise as this can be a great indicator of progress from hard work. While adding muscle (or retaining it during a fat loss phase) can help sculpt your ideal physique.
Something that lifters come to quickly find out is that muscle and strength gains can often plateau. Initially, many beginners may see relatively fast increases in strength on certain exercises due to improved technique. But after a while, strength and muscle gains start to slow. It becomes difficult to continuously add plates to the barbell each week. It’s usually around this time that people start to assess gaps in their program so that they can break out of plateaus.
The first areas of focus they should look at are training, nutrition, and recovery.
How to Train for Muscle & Strength
Research shows that both high load/low rep and low load/high rep training can improve muscle and strength gains, with higher loads having a greater effect on strength gains. When it comes to muscle growth, with all other things being equal, one of the biggest determinants of success was the number of sets taken to failure each week.
Whether you prefer high reps or low reps, aim to train with enough intensity every week. For many people this means at least 10 sets to failure per muscle group.
Needed Nutrition for Muscle Growth
In one study, researchers made recommendations for bodybuilders in the offseason, recommending a caloric surplus of about 10-20% of their daily calories and a daily protein intake of 1.6-2.2 g/kg spaced out throughout the day.
Be sure to eat enough calories every day, especially protein to support muscle growth and recovery.
How to Recover for Optimal Results
An overlooked aspect of many training programs is the recovery component. This can be a mistake because research shows that inadequate sleep can compromise muscular strength performance, especially when it comes to compound movements. [4,5]
Compound movements are multi-joint exercises like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. These lifts are often the bread and butter of most training programs focused on increasing strength. Make sure you prioritize getting a full-night's sleep.
The next step is selecting essential muscle and strength building supplements to help optimize results.
The Best Muscle Building Supplements
- Creatine Monohydrate
Creatine is made up of three amino acids: arginine, glycine, and methionine. Several research studies have shown significant increases in strength and muscle size in subjects that add creatine monohydrate to a strength training program. Creatine monohydrate is considered among the most effective nutritional dietary supplement currently available for increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass.*
- Protein Powder
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are commonly referred to as the building blocks of muscle. In their position paper on protein and exercise, the International Society of Sports Nutrition stated that a daily protein intake of 1.4-2 g/kg is sufficient for most individuals exercising for the purposes of building or maintaining muscle mass.
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis to determine the efficacy of whey protein supplementation in athletes looking to increase strength and muscle mass. The authors concluded that whey protein supplementation could contribute to increases in strength and muscle mass, in athlete’s whose training and dietary practices were suitable for this goal.*
- Mass Gainers
Mass gainer supplements traditionally combine carbohydrates with protein in one formula. They’re popular with individuals following a high calorie diet as they can be a convenient way to increase overall caloric intake. Mass gainers require minimal prep time and they may decrease the overall volume of food that someone might need to eat in a day to meet their daily caloric intake goals. It’s generally recommended that individuals seeking to gain muscle mass consume an additional 1,500 – 2,000 calories per day to increase skeletal muscle mass while minimizing gains in fat mass.  In some individuals who struggle with lean mass gains, this number may be as high as an additional 4,000 calories per day.*
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that combines with the essential amino acid histidine to form carnosine. Carnosine is a lactic acid buffering agent in skeletal muscle. Studies have shown that beta-alanine supplementation may increase the number of repetitions one can do on an exercise. In two studies on field sport athletes (football players and wrestlers), daily supplementation of 4 g of beta-alanine during 8 weeks of high-intensity in-season training resulted in larger gains in lean body mass than the placebo groups.* We use CarnoSyn® beta-alanine in all our C4 pre-workouts, CarnoSyn® beta-alanine is a premium form of beta-alanine that is backed by years of scientific research.
How To Build Your Own Muscle and Strength Stack
Fortunately, these supplements all make up part of the Cellucor® family, so it isn’t hard to find them. If you want to add a creatine supplement to your muscle and strength building program, both COR-Performance® Creatine and C4® Sportfeature creatine monohydrate.
Need extra help adding protein to your diet? COR-Performance® Wheyand Whey Sport are premium whey protein supplements<. Having trouble eating enough calories in a day? COR-Performance® Gainercontains quality protein, carbohydrates and fats. And if you’re looking for more muscular endurance, all C4® pre-workouts feature CarnoSyn® beta-alanine.*
Increasing muscle and strength, isn’t an easy task, so it’s important to have the foundation of your program in place. Make sure you’re training with the right intensity and have the proper diet and recovery in plan to keep up the pace. Once these things are in order, adding supplements like COR-Performance® Creatine and COR-Performance® Wheycan further support your goals of increasing muscle and strength.*