You might not have heard but its “bulking” season, so it’s time to start lifting heavy and filling out the oversized tops you were bought for Christmas. In this article I’m going to talk about increasing muscle size, the science, techniques and diet behind it all. First things first get rid of that idea of eating pizza, burgers and any other high calorific foods you’ve been salivating over.

That is not the way to increase your muscle size, the aim is to increase “lean muscle mass” rather than just grow in bicep diameter and waist size.

So before we start throwing weights about and stretching out t-shirts let’s get down to the basic science behind growing muscle. After all it’s easy to follow a set workout plan but if you don’t understand why you’re doing it and how to progress it becomes a pointless exercise.


 The Basic Science

First things first. What you’re looking to create is Hypertrophy – the growth and increase in size of muscle tissue. This is achieved by overloading the muscle, tearing the muscle fibres causing them to repair and grow each time.

Rep ranges

The “ideal” rep range for hypertrophy has always been set at between 8 – 12 reps per set but this has always been a guideline. This can differ slightly depending on the person but it takes a while to understand your body and how it reacts to certain exercises, foods and rep ranges.


In order to effectively repair and grow your muscles need the right ingredients coming in, perfect example of diet and training working hand in hand. The generic make up of a muscle building diet is a 40/30/30 split – 40% coming from carbohydrates, 30% from protein and 30% from fats.

How to increase muscle size_2

The Plan

So here’s how you’re week’s going to look in order to reach that goal of Increasing Muscle Size.

You’re week will be split into muscle groups and rest days, it is important to incorporate these especially when the aim is to increase muscle size. Your muscles need rest in order to repair themselves properly and prevent the risk of injury.

There is also a Strength and power day as well, the aim of this is to add something different to your routine. The main difference here will be the rep range and weight used, this in turn shocks the muscle that little bit more adding that extra encouragement to grow. You should also notice a change in your strength over the month which is great for keeping yourself motivated in the gym.

Monday Quads, Hamstrings & Calves
Tuesday Chest & Triceps
Wednesday Back & Bicep
Thursday Shoulders
Friday Rest Day
Saturday Strength & Power Day
Sunday Rest Day


Exercise Reps Sets
Leg Press 12/10/8/8 4
Stiff Leg Deadlift 12/10/8/8 4
Leg Extension 12/10/8/8 4
Lying Leg Curls 12/10/8/8 4
Calf Press (double pyramid) (double pyramid) (double pyramid)

Double Pyramid Set

The double pyramid set is exactly that, it involves increasing the weight till only 4 reps can be performed and then lowering it back down to the starting weight again. So in this pyramid we will start with 20 reps and decrease by 4 reps each time. This helps with muscle growth and endurance.

Calves are the perfect example of how this technique can be used effectively. Our calves over time have developed a different balance of fast and slow twitch fibres. This is due how heavily used our calves are in everyday life. So training these heavy with few reps is not going to be effective in stimulating increase in muscle size like other muscle groups. To stimulate growth in your calves you need to push them to extraordinary levels and force them to grow.


Exercise Reps Sets
Dumbbell pullovers 12/10/8/8 4
Incline dumbbell press 12/10/8/8 4
Dumbbell flyes 12/10/8/8 4
Cable crossover/ press – up 12/10/8/8 (press-ups to failure) 4
Skullcrushers / close grip press 12/10/8/8 4
Cable triceps pulldown 12/10/8/8 4
Dumbbell tricep extension 12/10/8/8 4


Exercise Reps Sets
Lat Pulldown 12/10/8/8 4
T-bar rows 12/10/8/8 4
Deadlift 12/10/8/8 4
Alternate dumbbell curls 12/10/8/8 4
Hammer curls 12/10/8/8 4
21’s (EZ bar) 12/10/8/8 4


21’s are a good way to really finish off your arms and get everything out of your muscles. The way this works is by completing 7 partial reps curling the bar up till you create a 90degree angle at the elbow. Then complete the opposite part of the movement 7 times and then complete 7 full reps to finish.


Exercise Reps Sets
Military Press 12/10/8/8 4
Lateral dumbbell raises 12/10/8/8 4
Rope high pulls / Plate shrugs 12/10/8/8 4
Rear delt flyes 12/10/8/8 4
Leaning Cable raises 12/10/8/8 4


Saturday is strength and power day, this means pushing yourself to hit those PR’s in the gym. Hitting some high weight low rep powerlifting exercises as well as the complex Olympic lifts, this will help improve testosterone production as well as keep you motivated through this programme. You can find an example of strength and power day sessions.


WatchFit Experts change lives!

And they can do the same for you.


Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans