Each month, we print training programs and nutrition plans designed to help you put on more quality muscle. But all those things come with a catch: They take time. What if you just want to look more muscular, even marginally, today? Fortunately, there are a few tricks that fitness models and physique pros have been putting to use for years. Try them out and you can look bigger. Like, right now.
1 TAKE CREATINE
In addition to helping you perform more reps with more weight, creatine draws water into muscle cells, helping you look bigger in the process. True, water doesn’t equal muscle mass, but the stretch that gets placed on cells when they’re holding extra water has been shown to promote real, lasting growth. Try 3 to 5 grams before and after workouts daily. If you’re new to creatine, don’t expect the benefits to be instant — a week or so is more reasonable for a noticeable difference.
2 VOLUME TRAIN
Higher-intensity volume training will drastically increase blood flow to working muscles, giving the appearance of a buffed-out, vascular madman. Tabata training, which involves performing eight 20-second segments of work with 10 seconds of rest between segments, and FST-7, which calls for seven sets of 15 grueling reps with minimal rest, are great ways to get that jacked look in a hurry.
3 STEP UP THE CARDIO
Not every “big” guy looks big. He may look doughy or pudgy, but once he starts losing body fat, he suddenly becomes the Hulk. You can do the same by sticking to a high-intensity cardio routine, which burns fat while sparing muscle. In just one energy-sapping HIIT session, you can shed a bucket (we’re estimating here) of subcutaneous water — the kind that makes you look puffy. Water gone, you will instantly look leaner and bigger. Try 15 10-second sprints, resting for 50 seconds in between.
4 CARB LOADING
When you carb-deplete, you rob your muscles of glycogen, which takes up space in cells. When you reintroduce carbs, muscles absorb them like a dry sponge. So eat carbs. A bunch of ’em. Bonus: As your muscles soak up all that fuel, they pull in water from everywhere, including beneath the skin. (See No. 3.) Aim for a day of high-carb consumption from sources such as sweet or white potatoes. But keep the sodium out of the picture — it forces your body to retain unwanted water.
5 WRECK YOUR SHOULDERS
A great physique is marked by a small, lean waistline. Not everyone has a 32-inch waist, but if you have bulbous, striated shoulders topping off your physique, the resulting taper gives the illusion of a much smaller waistline. So next time you’re going to be sleeveless, try crushing your shoulders with a high-volume routine (see No. 2), which will provide a drastic, immediate upgrade to your body aesthetic. Happily, shoulders tend to carry very little body fat and, with the right approach, can take on a strong pump over the course of a single workout. You’re welcome.