With Coach Luke

Building muscle is a common goal for most, but it’s more than just lifting weights in the gym; it’s about application of stress, optimal nutrition and ensuring you’re able to recover from the training stimulus. If you can master these three things, you’re sure to pack on some size and quality muscle tissue.

Mechanical tension sits at the head of the table when it comes to building muscle. It’s the amount of force placed across our muscle during an exercise; the more tension we can create, the greater the response we’re going to get. We can increase the amount of tension placed across a muscle through both load and duration, following the principles of progressive overload; a tool we can use to help quantify tension and track progression. 


If we’re looking at building muscle, we must also look at metabolic stress, otherwise known as ‘the pump’. Favouring higher rep ranges at slightly lower intensities, this is great way to add volume to your training throughout the week while managing fatigue and continuing to promote muscle growth. 


Mechanical tension or metabolic stress, the important thing is working close to failure. We want to get to a point where our reps start to (involuntary) slow down. This is where we’re going to have the most amount of tension on the muscle and maximise growth and gains! We don’t need to work to complete failure and this is where an RIR (reps in reserve) scale can be useful – we want to aim between 0-3RIR with our working sets.

Train as hard as you can recover; if you’re still sore and can’t train three days later, you’ve done too much. This will keep you in a state of fatigue for longer than you want to be, and will also interfere with your consistency of training. We want to be applying a level of stimulus that we can recover from. This is where we grow. Focus on the bigger rocks first – look at getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and know that jumping in an ice bath or cold plunge following a strength or hypertrophy session might not be the best idea if you’re looking to maximise on your gains. 


Fuelling your growth. It goes without saying, that if you want to grow, you need to be eating in a calorie surplus. This will differ from person to person, but aim for anything between an additional 100-500cals per day (my advice, start low and increase if needed). Alongside this, you will need to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of protein in your diet as this helps to build and repair muscle fibres. The general recommendation here would be aiming between 1.7-2.2grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day. 

Trust the process, keep showing up and keep chipping away. Favour a programme and training split that makes this achievable; spread out your workload and aim to train each muscle group multiple times across the week, (10 sets on each muscle group is a good rule of thumb to follow) – this will help to keep you working at higher levels of intensity and make it easier for you to show up week after week.

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In Summary

What Drives Hypertrophy? 

  • Mechanical tension (force/load) 
  • Metabolic stress (the pump) 


Fuelling Your Growth 

  • Calorie surplus between 100-500cals per day 
  • Daily protein intake between 1.7-2.2g per kilogram of bodyweight

Need Further Support?

If you’re looking to build muscle and some size and strength and would like to see how we do this at MBP, sign up to today to either our TRAIN or PERFORM monthly programmes!