Almost all of us who train hard (or not so hard) want to build more muscle and lose more fat.
The best way to achieve both of these goals is to train harder and more efficiently.
However, there is a limit to how much you can train.
For this reason, the past few years I started researching ways to increase the results that I was getting from my training. During these years, I came across numerous techniques and I tried to implement all of them. Some of them worked and some of them didn’t.
In this post, I am going to share with you some of the most effective ways that I have found.
These hacks are not directly related to exercising, but they are rather lifestyle choices. The reason I call them hacks is because they are easy to implement and they don’t require a complete lifestyle change (like becoming an early riser or changing your diet).
So, let’s begin…
#1: Power Naps
Most people are aware of the fact that taking naps is a very effective way of reenergizing your body and mind during the day.
What most people don’t know is that taking naps can help you build more muscle and recover faster as well. When you take naps you increase your body’s anabolic response and as a result growth hormone production increases. In short, you are able to get more muscle gains out of your workouts.
Even though there are people that know the many benefits that come with napping, they still don’t nap because they lead very busy lives.
I used to be one of these people as well. Even though I knew that napping is one of the best (if not the best) natural ways to recover faster, I still couldn’t find the time to implement it into my daily life.
However, when I started to get very serious with my training, I put napping as one of my priorities. Now, I try to squeeze a nap in as often as I can. 🙂
There are many ways to implement napping into your daily life. Some of them are:
- Napping immediately after your workout. This way of napping was used a lot by early bodybuilders.
- Napping after lunch.
- Napping in the afternoon.
- Having multiple naps throughout the day.
Your nap duration can range from 20 to 60 minutes. If you are having multiple naps during the day, a smaller duration is preferable.
You shouldn’t take naps late during the day as you may not be able to sleep well at night.
- Can Napping Help With Muscular Growth?
- Napping For Mental Sharpness
- Tap or Nap
- Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Sleep?
#2: Power Posture
I was always aware that posture is really beneficial for your health and the way you feel about yourself. Nonetheless, I was very reluctant to believe that posture exercises can help you build more muscle as well, but they actually do.
Let me explain how it works…
When you take a power stance (i.e. a stance a powerful person would take) and hold it over a certain period of time, your body starts to release anabolic hormones (like testosterone in men) that make you feel more powerful, confident and assertive. Other than these great benefits, testosterone (and other anabolic hormones) will help you build more muscle and burn more fat too.
Personally, I never had any posture problems but when I tried the power posture exercises I was totally impressed. You can literally feel stronger after just 2 minutes. Of course, this effect subsided over time, but if you practice it daily and multiple times throughout the day, the effects are going to become integrated into your physiology.
You can find more about power posture exercises in this video:
Most people usually think that fasting is only a religious practice. But this couldn’t be further from the truth because fasting has numerous health benefits.
Some of these benefits are:
- You are going to lose weight, by tapping on your body’s fat storages for energy.
- Increase growth hormone production by 1300% in women and 2000% in men. This can help you lose weight and build muscle simultaneously if you follow a sound training program.
- Stabilize insulin levels.
- Detoxify and provide a rest period for your inner organs.
There are numerous variations of fasting methodologies. The one that I enjoy the most, and the most easily implementable, is called intermittent fasting. There are two more variations that I am aware of: whole day fasting and more than one-day fasting.
In this variation, you are fasting for 12-20 hours per day. This is a type of fast which you can easily implement completely in your eating habits. This method is so effective for fat loss that you are going to be tempted to eat foods that otherwise would make you fat.
This approach can be seen as the total opposite of the 6-8 meals per day approach. If you don’t have enough time to prepare your meals or you are working away from home, intermittent fasting can be a one of the best dietary approaches you can possibly follow.
Whole Day Fasting
In this variation, you are going to fast for 24-36 hours.
Unlike intermittent fasting, this can’t be followed every single day.
A good way to implement this is to have a fasting day once per week or once every two weeks.
Like intermittent fasting, the fat loss results are going to amaze you.
More Than 36 Hours Fasting
In this variation, you are going to fast for more than 36 hours. Usually, the fasting lasts for up to 72 hours.
The main purpose of this variation is to help you detoxify your body and it’s not focused so much on losing fat.
This variation of fasting can be applied once every one or two months.
Keep in mind that you should drink plenty of water during your fasting periods.
- The Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
- How to Get Started With Intermittent Fasting
- Why Fast? Part One – Weight Loss
- Intermittent Fasting – The Ultimate Weight Loss Hack
#4: Cold Showers
In modern times, warm water is available to everyone and there are very few people crazy enough to take cold water showers regularly.
I am one of these guys. But I don’t just take cold showers for the sake of it, I actually enjoy them a lot. Maybe, that’s because I am a Lithuanian…
But how can cold showers help you build more muscle or lose more weight?
Cold showering isn’t going to help you build more muscle directly, but it can help you recover faster from your workouts by improving your blood circulation. Faster recovery can allow you to train harder and, as a result, build more muscle.
Other than that, cold showers have other benefits as well. Some of them are:
- Rejuvenates and energizes you.
- Strengthens your immune system.
- Increases mental toughness.
There are more than one variation of cold showers. Some of the are…
Alternating Warm-Cold Showers
In this variation, you are going to alternate between cold and warm water. You should start with very warm water and shower for 1-2 minutes. Then you are going to change instantly to cold/very cold water and stay there for the same amount of time. You can practice this alternation sequence 10 times.
This is really hard for the first 3-5 alternations. After that, you are going to get used to it… kind of.
Full Cold Showers
In this variation you just take a normal shower but with cold water.
If you are new to this, you can start slowly by showering progressively with cooler water every time.
This is the easiest variation.
Here you are going to take a normal shower and at the end you are going to add 3 minutes of cold shower. You can decrease the temperature instantly or gradually to get used to it.
Caution: Cold showers should be avoided if you have high blood pressure.
- The James Bond Shower: A Shot of Cold Water for Health and Vitality
- 5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers
- 15 Benefits of Cold Showers That Will Blow Your Mind
- Why a Cold Shower May Be More Beneficial for Health than a Warm One
- Cold Water Therapy
Meditation is one of the best ways to handle stress in your life. Reducing your stress, leads to a decrease of cortisol and as a result you can stay in an anabolic state longer and build more muscle.
If you haven’t tried meditation before, I recommend you to give it a try for 30 days and see if you notice any benefits, which I am sure you will.
Most people avoid meditation because they think it’s complicated. But it’s not.
There are countless types of meditation. For our purposes, mindfulness meditation will do.
When I started to get into meditation, there were some really complicated and weird variations and I was tempted to give up on it. Then I found about mindfulness meditation, which is the simplest one I am aware of and one that has been proven to work.
Here are some simple instructions for this type of meditation:
- Sit in a comfortable but alert (with your back straight) position. It can be on a chair or on the ground. If you can find a quiet and free of distractions place, the practice is going to be easier.
- Set the timer at the amount of time you want to meditate. You are doing this because you are going to lose the track of time while you are meditating.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing (or Scripture verses – yes, I am a Christian).
- If any thought or discomfort arises become aware of it and return your attention to your breathing.
- Try to be as still as possible.
You can start with 10 minutes per day (5 in the morning and 5 in the evening) and gradually increase it to 30 minutes per day (15 in the morning and 15 in the evening).
- A Beginner’s Guide: Why You Should Practice Meditation and How to Get Started
- Charles R Poliquin’s Q&A: How I Integrate Meditation and Workouts
- Something I Regret I Did Not Learn Earlier…
#6: Increase Sun Exposure
The sun has been getting quite the bad rap during the last few decades. And there are some really valid points about this as excessive sun exposure can be very harmful for your health.
Nevertheless, proper sun exposure is not only beneficial to your health, but mandatory if you really want to be healthy.
Sunbathing doesn’t only help you get a tan, but it is the one of the very few ways to obtain Vitamin D naturally.
Vitamin D is necessary for the good health of your bones, but it can also increase your testosterone, which by now you know that it leads to more muscle gains and faster recovery. In addition, sun exposure can increase the quality of your sleep as well, which leads to even more muscle gains.
Since sun exposure can be harmful, you should be careful with your sunbathing/ sun exposure practice.
The way I like to do it, is to train out in my yard. This way I can get a workout in and get the necessary sun exposure as well.
As with the previous hacks, I recommend you to start slowly so that your skin can get used to sun exposure.
#7: Deep Breathing
Like with having a good posture, breathing properly and deeply is a very fundamental aspect for good health.
The way breathing can help you build muscle is by decreasing cortisol production and helping you have a more drastic anabolic response.
Breathing properly isn’t an exercise, but something that you do on a moment to moment basis. So the best way I have found to improve my breathing pattern, is to relax regularly during the day and pay attention on my breathing. When you are relaxed, you are breathing deeper by default.
Another great way to improve your breathing pattern is to implement it with your meditation practice (if you meditate). This way you are hitting two birds with one stone.
Posture exercises like bio-energetics are going to help you breath deeper as well.
- How Poor Breathing Can Stunt Your Muscle Growth (And How Tt Avoid It)
- Why You Should Practice Deep Breathing (and How to Do It)
Bonus #8: Laughing
Todd are you serious? Will I get more muscle gains just by laughing?
I was surprised as well, but if you actually think about it, it makes total sense.
Laughing can help you relax and feel euphoric. This has a tremendous effect on your physiology as it relieves stress and lowers cortisol production. As you have seen previously in this post, lower cortisol is good for maintaining an anabolic state. In addition to that, laughing can also boost your immune system.
But Todd how can I implement something like this?
This depends on you. Different people have fun with different activities.
One of the things you can do is to find videos that make you laugh and watch them regularly (similarly to the way I described in the previous post).
However, the best way in my opinion is to spend time with good friends or people close to you on a regular basis.
Integrating The Muscle Hacks
Depending on your current lifestyle, some of these hacks are going to be easier to implement and others harder.
If you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry. You don’t have to implement everything at once. In fact, that would be very stressful and counterproductive.
Instead, focus on successfully integrating one muscle hack at a time, which is also the fastest way of doing it.
One Thing At a Time
The easiest way to implement these hacks into your life is with 30-day habits. However, some of these hacks can’t possibly be practiced every single day, like for example whole day fasting.
In this type of hack, I recommend you to have a 90-day cycle where you are exclusively focused on practicing it according to your plan.
For example, if you like to implement whole day fasting. You can focus on fasting two times per month for the next 3 months. After these 3 months, it will be a lot easier to keep fasting every other week or to even increase the fasting frequency to once per week.
Do not think that after you have established a habit you are done.
You will always have to look in the details. Most of the time there are still things that you are missing and that you can develop to improve your muscle gains and lose more fat.
Every 30 days, after a successful implementation, check how everything else is going.
If your previous habits have fallen out of order, there is no point in building new ones over and over.
In this post, I shared with you some of the best ways that I have found to help you increase your muscle gains (without nutrition/fitness). All of these muscle hacks are easy to implement and don’t require a big time commitment.
Even though these hacks are effective by themselves, you should understand that nothing comes close to fitness and nutrition in regards to building muscle. So, I would recommend you to use these hacks as complementary to an already active and healthy lifestyle and not as the end goal by themselves.
Which of these hacks do you think is going to have the biggest impact on your gains if you implement it right now? Let me know in the comment section below.
– Bodyweight Todd
A great list, but I think Yoga/stretching/foam rolling should be up there. That’s my fountain of youth on off days!
That’s definitely something to consider for a future update. I’m a fan of all three.