Can you gain muscle mass while on intermittent fasting (with a caloric surplus)?

The process of building muscle is the same as if you were not on any dietary plan. The difference is in the hormonal changes that IF bring along with it, that you would not get from calorie restriction, or so-called “bulking.”
What I mean by this is that IF produces hormonal shifts in your insulin sensitivity, as well as activating Human growth hormone. Both of these are key to building muscle mass, as well as getting leaner. I do hope you continue with the fasting, as most people are not aware of the power it has when building muscle mass. It’s not about going low calorie here, it’s about restricting eating for specific periods, to produce these significantly beneficial hormonal shifts. Let’s get down to business in terms of the best forms of exercise to hit your goals.

Five ways to build muscle fast, and get higher results whilst on an IF lifestyle plan

  1. Avoidance of slow rate cardio, please. Cardio has the potential to reduce your muscular gains because it triggers different pathways in the body, leading to interference. If you want to complete a vigorous cardio type workout, stick with sprinting or strongman training. These two strategies will not compromise lean mass and will also trigger some beneficial hormonal responses. But do keep in mind that when you are training all out with weights, you will need ample time to recover. It’s best to use recovery as rest days, and complete leisurely walks instead of extremely taxing strongman and sprinting intervals. The choices are yours ultimately, but you will not get the conditioning results you want.
  2. Use multi-joint movements every time you are in the gym. Focus on squats, deadlifts, step-ups, chin-ups and presses. For a change in pace, use a sledge or carrier as you will have the ability to load a lot more weight on these, which will work your entire body. It’s essential to structure your program so that 80% of what you execute, is multi-joint exercises. The rest of your workout can focus on isolated exercises such as calf raises, back extensions, biceps curls, triceps extensions etc. Save those huge lifts when you start training, then finish off with the isolated alternatives. This will give you the best chance of putting on muscle, male or female. I’ve been doing this for more than 12 years, and it’s served me well.
  3. Count your tempo with every single repetition. Always focus on the speed in which you lower and lift the weight. Use the 3-6 second principle on the lowering phase and 1-3 seconds on the lifting phase. This gives you a much longer time under tension, that trains both the slow and fast-twitch muscle fibres. It’s essential to do this as it leads to maximal muscle gains.
  4. To get the best gains possible, you will need to train frequently. An accurate indicator of muscle development is your ability to recover as fast as possible so that you can hit the muscles hard again. I would suggest splitting upper and lower body as the best way to do this because you can lift heavier and at a higher volume. Women will get great results by hitting each body part three times a week, whereas men should train every body part twice. This should allow for proper recovery and add to your muscular growth.
  5. Increase your volume and make sure your weights are heavy enough. With this strategy, you tackle three of the most important factors when it comes to building muscle. They are:
  6. – Muscle damage swelling; The lengthening motion of a muscle contraction creates muscular damage. This is your eccentric phase, and increasing the time within that phase leads to the releasing of growth factors that have a significant impact on stimulating protein synthesis.
  7. – Increased time under tension; Contracted muscles produce mechanical pressure, stressing the muscle which activates genetic pathways that will trigger protein synthesis and growth of the muscle tissue.
  8. – Metabolic stress; This occurs when by-products from anaerobic energy metabolism accumulate, activating dormant satellite cells, which in turn, leads to muscle growth. We want to activate those dormant cells, causing a cascade of muscular change.

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