4 Sneaky Ways To Build Bigger Muscles

chin ups

November 25, 2014

Today, I'm going to show you 4 ways to get stronger, build more muscle and get you on the road to reaching your goals sooner rather than later. The following methods have always worked wonders for me and I'm 100% confident they'll work great for you. I'll outline how each works, why it builds muscle and the best way to use each technique. Let's get started.

1 - The Giant Set

A giant set is a series of exercises (generally 4 or more) that are completed in continuous fashion with no rest in between exercises as on set. Here's an example using shoulders:

Exercise 1: Dumbbell Shoulder Press – Once repetitions have been completed immediately perform exercise 2 with no resting

Exercise 2: Side Laterals – Once repetitions have been completed immediately perform exercise 2 with no resting

Exercise 3: Front Raises – Once repetitions have been completed immediately perform exercise 2 with no resting

Exercise 4: Reverse Pec Deck.

You can do as many sets as you wish but generally 3 to 5 sets will suffice. Believe me, if you're doing the giant set properly, you physically won't be able to perform anymore sets. Giant sets can be done for a singular muscle group such as shoulder or chest but it can also be used for multiple muscle groups such as upper and lower body.

The great thing about giant sets is that they give a workout a huge boost in exercise intensity while reducing the time spent in the gym.

How Does The Giant Set Build More Muscle?

By increasing the amount of workout intensity, the body is forced to work harder. By working harder, the body must try and reach equilibrium and the ONLY way for it to do this is to adapt. As you all know, the only way the body adapts is by improving its performance in order to meet the demands of the new stimuli (in this case the giant sets). Of course, by improving and adapting the body will force itself to become stronger which will lead to additional muscle growth.

How to Use This Technique

The giant set can be used for all body parts. However, this is a super intense workout technique that can place a huge amount of stress on the body. It's for this reason I suggest using the giant set for 4 to 6 weeks as a break from your regular routine. This particular technique works great for improving weak body parts.

For a more detailed look at the giant set and single muscle group workout, click here.

For a multi body part giant set workout, click here.

2 - Pre-Exhaust

Pre-exhausting is a technique that is used in order to maximize muscle stimulation for a large muscle group, such as the chest or back. The chest for example, is a large muscle group that relies heavily on the shoulders and triceps to move weight. Basic body mechanics dictates that our chests use a “pushing” motion for maximum efficiency and development. In order to push (ourselves or a weight) our bodies will not only use our chests but will also rely heavily on our shoulders and triceps. For example, the bench press not only uses the chest to move the weight but also the shoulders and triceps.

Since our triceps are used on most (if not all) pushing motions, it will be the first to give out first because it's a relatively small group of muscles. It's not the chest that gives out, it's the triceps and because of this, the chest doesn't get maximum stimulation.

The pre exhaust technique is meant to by-pass this situation thereby allowing the targeted muscle group to get maximum stimulation.

The pre exhaust technique will generally use two exercise types, one that hits the targeted muscle such as an isolation exercise and another that uses multiple muscle groups such as a compound movement. The isolation exercise will be performed first that will “pre exhaust” the target muscle group without tiring the secondary muscle group. Here's an example using the chest.

Pre exhaust exercise: Flat Bench Fly

Compound exercise: Bench Press

How Does Using Pre Exhaust Build More Muscle?

By using a pre exhaust exercise such as the flat bench fly prior to a compound exercise such as the bench press, it maximizes muscle stimulation and workout intensity. Over time this equates to more muscle strength and growth.

How to Use This Technique

This technique can be used for all major muscle groups such as the chest, shoulders, back and legs. I suggest using it for one compound movement per muscle group. Here's an example:

  Pre-exhaust Exercise Compound Exercise
Chest Flat Bench Fly Bench Press
Shoulders Bent Over Laterals Seated Dumbbell Press
Legs Leg Extensions Squats
Back Dumbbell Pull Over Chin Ups

I personally prefer to do a “super set” style for my pre exhaust movements. That is, I will perform my pre exhaust exercise first and immediately perform my compound movement with no rest in between. This will boost exercise intensity in addition to maximizing muscle stimulation.

For more information on the pre exhaust technique, see this page here .

3 - Get Big

This particular technique can pay huge muscle dividends. It will allow you to take in a huge amount of calories and expend those calories on a monster compound lift. To do so, you'll need to stock up on a lot of calories the night before doing a compound lift. This technique works best for the dead lift or squat performed on a day when you don't have to work or go to school, preferably on a weekend.

Here's how it works.

Friday night: Consume a huge meal and consistently take in a large amount of calories. For dinner cook up a big steak, a large baked potato and two cups of steamed broccoli. An hour later have a calorie dense power shake that contains at least 600 calories, 50 grams of protein and at least 80 grams of carbohydrates. An hour later sip on 2% or 3% milk until you go to bed. I use to watch a Friday night movie and drink a gallon of milk during the movie, after which I'd go to bed.

In the morning, have a big oatmeal breakfast with at least 50 grams of carbohydrates. Try this meal:

•  ¾ cup oatmeal

•  8 egg whites

•  ½ scoop chocolate protein powder

•  2 tsp pure cocoa powder

•  ½ tsp stevia

•  1 tbsp. flax oil

•  1 cup frozen blueberries

•  ¼ cup water


1. In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients (except for the frozen blueberries)

2. Cook in a microwave for about 3-4 minutes (cooking time vary from one microwave to another) - stir the mix 2 minutes after cooking has started (so the mix doesn't stick or create chunks)

3. Once the mix is cooked, add the frozen blueberries, mix everything and enjoy!

This recipe has been taken from this muscle cook book here .

An hour and a half later, it's time to hit the gym. The secret is to only perform one compound exercise. Yep, that's right...only one. For maximum muscle growth, pick an exercise that uses a system of muscles such as squats. Here's how your squat workout will look like:

Set 1: Warm up – 1 x 20 reps using 40 % of your maximum
Set 2: 1 x 8 repetitions using 50% of your maximum
Set 3: 1 x 8 repetitions using 60% of your maximum
Set 4: 1 x 8 repetitions using 70% of your maximum
Set 5: 1 x 6 repetitions using 80% of your maximum
Set 6: 1 x 4 - 6 repetitions using 85% of your maximum
Set 7: 1 x 20 repetitions using 60% of your maximum
Set 8: 1 x 20 repetitions using 60% of your maximum
Set 9: 1 x 30 repetitions using 50% of your maximum

Take as much time as you need to complete each set. I suggest resting 1 to 2 minutes in between each set. Remember, you're only going to perform squats and nothing else. You can try and do more exercises but I'm confident you'll be lucky just to make it to the change room let alone do another exercise. Remember to ingest a high protein/high carbohydrate drink immediately afterwards.

How Does The Get Big Day Build More Muscle?

The huge intake of calories forces the body into an anabolic state and stuffs as much nutrients into each muscle cell as it can. The workout will be so intense that it will draw upon on all the protein, fat and carbohydrates from the night before and make it work to move the weight. The entire cycle is one big anabolic activator that will force the body to do one thing, grow.

Only use this technique once a week for maximum muscle growth. To do so more often may lead to an increase in body fat. Once a week is plenty and you should start to see results in a few weeks.

For a more detailed discussion using this technique, see our get big page here.

4- Negatives

Negatives will help get you strong, fast. There's no denying the power of negatives but it must be respected and used properly. Once you understand how to use this powerful technique, you'll be able to harness its power to blast through plateaus and greatly enhance strength levels.

Here's how it works. There are two planes of motion when it comes to lifting weights. The first is a concentric motion which is how we push the weight away from our bodies (IE: bench press), pull weight towards our body (IE: seated cable pulls) or curl weight upwards (IE: barbell curls). See figure 1:

Figure 1

The second movement is called an eccentric motion which is the opposite of concentric in which we lower the weight back towards our body as in the case of a bench press. See figure 2:

Figure 2

Big thanks to my friends over at bodybuilding.com for allowing me to use these images.

Its' been shown that we are much, much stronger when we use an eccentric motion. If you think about it, it's much harder to lift a weight than it is to lower it back down. Because of this, we can handle much more weight using the eccentric motion (lowering) than the concentric motion (lifting away from our bodies). By using much heavier weight, we essentially force our bodies to become stronger which over the long run means more muscle growth.

Negative training works by concentrating on the eccentric motion only. The idea is to lower the weight by yourself and have a spotter help you lift the weight back up. The weight you want to use will be heavy enough as to not allow you to perform one complete repetition but not so heavy that you can't even un-rack the weight. For example, if your max bench press is 300 pounds, you'll want to use about 325 to 340 pounds for your negatives. Remember, you will need a spotter so make sure you use one.

A cycle of successful negatives will force your body to adapt to heavier loads which in turn will stimulate more muscle fibre for additional muscle growth. Here is a sample negative workout for the bench press:

Warm up: 1 x 20 reps
Set 1: 1 x 12 no negative
Set 2: 1 x 8 no negative
Set 3: 1 x 3 – 5 negatives
Set 4: 1 x 3 – 4 negatives
Set 5: 1 x 3 – 5 negatives

Important points to remember:

•  Do not use negatives for all you movements – Use only on one compound exercise per workout.

•  Do not use negatives for an extended period of time – Best to use for 4 to 6 weeks.

•  Do not use without properly warming up.

•  Keep the weight reasonable, do not go overboard. To start a negative cycle, start with lighter weight and slowly work up to heavier loads week after week.

•  Do between 3 and 5 negative repetitions.

•  Keep your negative sets between 2 and 4.

For more information on using negatives see our page here.

Here's an example of a negative using the bench press:

These techniques have been proven to work. I suggest using one, perhaps two of these techniques at any one time (although you can use the get big strategy at any time).

Good luck and all the best,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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