Strategies to Increase Muscle Volume


by Josh Hodnik

Some guys are genetically gifted with muscles that stay round and full regardless of how they eat or how they train. The rest of us that are not so gifted may have muscles that appear much less voluminous or flat. The following strategies will show you how to increase muscle volume, leading to rounder, fuller muscles. These strategies will also help to bring up lagging body parts that have fallen behind.

**Intramuscular Glycogen Strorage – Glycogen super compensation is where muscles are able to hold more glycogen that they normally would be able to. This will give the muscles a fuller and more pumped appearance and it also gives the body access to more fuel during training. For every gram of glycogen stored within the muscles, there are three grams of water stored. With more fluid being stored in muscle tissue due to glycogen super compensation, muscles look rounder and fuller, and strength is increased.

The muscles use ATP for energy to contract. The body creates ATP by having creatine phosphate donate a phosphate molecule to ADP. Creatine phosphate becomes depleted rather quickly, and ATP will then have to be created from muscle glycogen stored in the muscles, the more ATP can be produced for muscle contractions.

For glycogen super compensation to occur, an individual will have to first deplete glycogen stores. Since carbohydrates are the body’s main source for creating glycogen, depletion can be achieved by cutting carbohydrates out of the diet. Working out will speed up the glycogen depleting process since glycogen is the body’s preferred source of energy. Carbohydrate deprivation combined with exercise stimulates glycogen re-synthesis.

Scandanavian researchers showed in a series of studies how glycogen could be super compensated by changes in diet and training. These researchers developed a super compensation protocol, and this protocol resulted in very high muscle glycogen concentrations. Researchers had a group of subjects start with a glycogen-depleting exercise sessions. This was followed by 3 days of a high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate diet. Another exercise period was performed on day 4, which was then followed by 3 days of a diet consisting of high carbohydrates. Another group of subjects followed the same exercise protocol, but the diets were reversed in order. The researchers were able to show that the subjects who received the high-protein, high fat, low carb diet, had much higher rates of muscles glycogen re-synthesis, leading to higher levels of glycogen in the muscles.

Glycogen super compensation results in the muscles being able to store more glycogen in the range of 130% compared to the normal 100%. This increase in intramuscular glycogen will result in muscles appearing rounder and fuller. Glycogen super compensation is short-term, but the body will gradually build the capacity to store more glycogen. So the practice of running a glycogen super compensation protocol on a regular basis can lead to higher muscle glycogen stores over the long term. There are some strategies that can be used while glycogen stores are above normal levels to increase muscle fullness, and to bring up lagging body parts.

Glycogen super compensation must start with a glycogen depletion phase, followed by glycogen loading. Muscle fullness from the glycogen load will be most apparent on the evening of the load and the few days following. More attention will be given to training lagging body parts when glycogen stores are at their peak. Below is an example of how one week should look while running a glycogen super compensation protocol.

Sunday: Glycogen depleting should start on Sunday. No carbohydrates should be taken after 5pm. A full-body work out should be performed in the evening for 90 minutes to speed up glycogen depletion.

Monday: This is the first of three days where no carbohydrates will be consumed. Weight training is optional during these three days.

Tuesday: Repeat Monday

Wednesday: Repeat Monday and add 60 minutes of cardio in the evening to prime the body for glycogen loading.

Thursday: Carbohydrates will be reintroduced starting first thing in the morning in the form of simple sugars. Fruit juice is the best choice here and should be consumed continuously over the fist 12 hours of the day. After this, a regular meal containing protein, carbs and fats can be consumed. 60-90 after the meal, weight training should be preformed with a focus on the body parts that need the most attention.

Friday: Carbohydrates should account for approximately 70% of total calories with the rest coming from protein and fat. The calories should come from a combination of whole foods and fruit juices. Weight training should be done in the later part of the day with the focus again on the lagging body parts.

Saturday: Repeat Friday

A very noticeable increase in muscular pumps will occur after glycogen super compensation. It is important to use this as a tool to expand muscle tissue for the long term. Below are two approaches to using the increased glycogen storage as a means to expand muscle tissue.

**Stretching While Pumped – While this is the most uncomfortable time to stretch, it is the most effective. When stretching the fascia in order to allow more room for growth, there needs to be ample tension applied. The increased pumps from the extra glycogen causes more muscle fullness, which causes more tension when stretched. Stretching after glycogen super compensation is the perfect time to expand the fascia to allow for muscle growth. As the fascia expands, muscle separation and striations will be much more apparent.

**Isolate Lagging Muscles – When a muscle appears flat and small, it needs to be applied with direct stress. This happens when isolation exercises are preformed. Compound movements are always important for size and strength, but isolation exercises should be performed when trying to add volume to lagging body parts. For example, if the triceps are under developed in comparison to the chest muscles, they should be trained first using an isolation exercise, such as a trice press down. This will help top add overall stress to the area that needs it the most. When flat muscles are worked in isolation, and then stretched with an extreme pump from high glycogen stores, the muscles will become more full and round.

A glycogen super composition protocol should be used year round. This week long cycle can be run 4-6 weeks in a row with success. The body doesn’t respond as well when this is done long-term. Doing a glycogen super composition over a 4-6 week period, a few times per year, can help add volume to muscles while helping lagging muscles progress.