Lean Bulking: Insights from the Science Elite

Expert Cited: Jeremy Ethier

Written by
Brian Leddy
Jeremy ethier hero
Source: builtwithscience.com

Do you sometimes feel like you should be getting more out of your strength training efforts than you're seeing in the mirror? If you're wondering why those gains aren't coming as fast as you like, it might be time to shift away from the bro-science that's permeated the strength side of our thinking about bulking and strength and instead catch up on cutting-edge research that's transforming how we build muscle. 

Expert: Jeremy Ethier

Field Of Study: Fitness Training & Nutrition

Bio: Best known for his popular YouTube channel, Jeremy Ethier seeks out science-backed research to support improving health and fitness. He regulalry connects with and interviews various health and fitness experts

Jeremy Ethier has probably one of the best videos on the internet about this subject. We highly recommend you give it a watch because he pulled together some of the best experts out there today to discuss muscle building.

If you don't have the 30 minutes, we've distilled the wisdom of those seven muscle-building scientists into a blueprint you can use to sculpt the physique you've always dreamed of.

Exercise Selection: Quality Over Quantity

Forget about endless workout routines that leave you exhausted and confused. Dr. Mike Israetel, a professor and PhD in sports physiology, emphasizes that you don't need a laundry list of exercises to stimulate growth. In fact, overdoing it can actually hinder your progress by burning through your most effective movements too quickly.

Instead, focus on 2-4 exercises per muscle group per week. Dr. Israetel recommends a mix of compound movements (like squats, deadlifts, and rows) that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, along with isolation exercises (like bicep curls and tricep extensions) that target specific muscles.

Don't Be Afraid to Change Things Up

While consistency is key, sticking with the same exercises for too long can lead to plateaus. How do you know when it's time for a change? Listen to your body. If an exercise is causing pain, boredom, or simply not delivering results, swap it out for a different one from the list of recommended exercises. Remember, there are no "must-do" exercises – only the ones that work best for you.

Volume and Frequency: Finding Your Sweet Spot

Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, a leading researcher in muscle growth, suggests aiming for 10-20 sets per muscle group per week. This range is flexible, so experiment to find what works best for you. If you have a stubborn muscle group, you can even try a specialization cycle where you temporarily increase the volume for that specific area.

Contrary to popular belief, training a muscle more than once a week doesn't necessarily lead to faster growth, especially if you're doing a moderate volume. However, if you're doing higher volume (e.g., 16 sets per muscle group), splitting those sets across multiple days can be beneficial. An upper/lower split is a great starting point, and you can even add a total body day for extra volume.

Intensity: Train Hard, But Smart

While training to failure (the point where you can't lift the weight anymore) can stimulate growth, it also creates a lot of fatigue. Josh, a researcher from Data Driven Strength, recommends training to 2-3 reps shy of failure for most sets, except for the last set, which you can take to failure. This approach allows you to push your limits without overtaxing your recovery abilities.

The New Growth Hack: Lengthened Partials

Dr. Milo Wolf, an expert in muscle growth research, reveals a groundbreaking technique that can accelerate your gains by 5-15%: lengthened partial reps. This involves performing reps in the lengthened position of an exercise (e.g., the bottom of a bicep curl) using about 50% of the normal range of motion.

You can incorporate lengthened partials into your routine by either replacing some of your full range of motion sets with them or adding them to the end of your sets after reaching failure. This technique is particularly effective for exercises like lateral raises, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, and chest flies.

Fueling Your Gains: Nutrition Matters

Dr. Eric Helms, a pro bodybuilder and scientist, emphasizes that nutrition plays a crucial role in muscle growth. While a calorie surplus is generally recommended, the size of that surplus should be adjusted based on your experience level and body fat percentage. Beginners can aim for a larger surplus (300-500 calories), while more advanced lifters should opt for a smaller one (100-200 calories).

Protein intake is equally important. Alan Aragon, a renowned nutrition researcher, recommends consuming 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or 0.7-1 gram per pound) per day. Spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day to maximize muscle protein synthesis.

The Takeaway

By incorporating these evidence-based strategies into your training and nutrition, you can unlock your full muscle-building potential and achieve the results you've been striving for. Remember, consistency, smart training, and proper nutrition are the keys to success.

Brian Leddy Profile Image
Brian Leddy CEO & Co-Founder, BodyStack (FDN-P)
Certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner (FDN-P) and owner of Leddy Functional Wellness. Formerly an Adweek Executive and Media Entreprenuer, Brian pivoted his career to focus on inspiring and coaching people from all walks of life to make positive strides in their respective health journeys. Brian is a Co-Founder, and now serves as the CEO of BodyStack.
Share with your friends
Copy Link Link Copied!
Join the club

Get regular health hits delivered to your inbox.

Join BodyStack

Create an account for all-access to BodyStack

Membership access to deals on some of the best products and services in the longevity industry.

Already have an account? Sign in