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Trying for controlled masseter hypertrophy - need tips from those who tried it
So here are some basic facts about me:
- very narrow face
- quite a few tooth extractions - but still have most teeth (all front ones btw), just don't have a few of them in the back of my mouth
My current regimen:
- chewing for 15 minutes per side using normal gum, 3 times a week
- plan on slowly building up to an hour per side, then building up up to 3 gums and then switching to harder gums
1) Do you think my current approach with 3 times per week training is good? My reasoning is that like with every muscle you don't work out every day, you give some time to "recover" and let the muscle actually grow. I try to chew on high intensity, just like I'd train my any other muscle for hypertrophy. I see some people chew like every day or even "all the time". Wouldn't that actually make hypertrophy weaker plus be very taxing on the joint?
2) I don't know how am I supposed to chew in order to provide optimal growth. Should I use mostly / only back teeth? As I said I had a lot of extractions and have some spaces between back teeth (two furthest molars in the lower jaw standing "alone"). I have a feeling that I use the most force when I use those two molars for chewing, whenever I try to use more forward positioned teeth the force is not nearly as big plus I fear that when I don't use all teeth groups equally it will cause some imbalance / assymetry (like more growth on one side vs the other).
In short: I'm contemplatic using only those most backward positioned molars for chewing and chew with high intensity non stop during my training. Would this be a good idea? Or will I miss something by not using other teeth. I feel like using those back ones is the most efficent and it's difficult for me to use other teeth due to extractions (empty spaces between teeth).
You're logic is wrong; it's proven that high frequency is what effectively builds muscle the most. Looking at the Norweigan frequency study even with the same routine, exercises, volume, and intensity, training 6x a week builds more muscle and strength than 3x a week. So how does this relate to chewing and masseter hypertrophy? In the study I mentioned, they were doing FULL BODY WORKOUTS. You will recover super quick training small muscles like forearms, calves, and masseters. These muscles are totally capable of withstanding daily stress. What I'm trying to get at is that it is much more effective to chew every day even at lower intensity and volume then chewing several times a week at a higher intensity and volume. Don't go overboard, our ancestors chewed hard foods daily for extended periods of time only because they had perfect posture. If you don't have perfect tongue posture chewing marathons can lead to jaw problems and TMJ. Which is why I said chewing daily at a lower intensity and volume is much more effective and safe.
1. Chewing standard gum will cause stomach problems over time
2. Standard gum is VERY soft and useless
3. You need INTENSITY and consistency not volume, because volume will fuck up your joints and ruin your jaw. Volume without intensity is a waste of time.
Consider buying Mastiha gum off Amazon. It is a resin you chew into a VERY HARD gum, it doesn't harm your stomach either: Mastic Gum Greece
4. Chew 30 minutes each side (time it with your phone) daily. Closed mouthed, otherwise you will swallow a lot of air.
It's good that I created this thread because otherwise I would be doing it wrong. I tried to chew at highest possible intensity during these 15 minutes and indeed I feel some TMJ related pressure / slight pain after a few minutes of intense chewing. So let me rephrase what you said in order to make sure I got it right. I should aim for consistency (every day) rather than intensity / volume so I should chew for shorter periods of time and if I feel TMJ related pressure / pain I should relax a little and decrease intensity right? Not chew like my life depends on it? That way I should gain faster / better hypertrophy and spare my joints. I'm chewing right now and indeed when I start to chew less intensely after I start to feel that TMJ pressure I feel better after a while.
Do you think I can expect results by chewing normal gum for some time and then moving on to harder ones? I feel like my jaw is so weak and underdeveloped that I tend to experience some TMJ taxation when intensely chewing that normal gum.
My current plan is to chew as intensely as possible without causing pain / discomfort. Hopefully over time I will be able to increase intensity and then move on to harder gums. Does it sound like a good plan?
Also why close mouthed chewing? Wasn't it recommended in some threads to aim for open mouth chewing as it gives better results? I'm OMCing right now but might reconsider my technique after your post.
If you feel that you can not keep up with harder gums or with the higher frequency it's okay to chew less or chew softer gums. Build up to harder gums if need be, build up the ability to chew for longer, more frequently, etc.; that's what progressive overload is all about. Finally, absolutely DON'T neglect tongue posture. I agree with what Dominik said, your joints will give out before your masseters do. You may be able to chew your way to big masseters as these muscles recover very quickly but you can easily develop jaw joint problems. My personal assumption for the reason this occurs is that most people have jaws too far down and back. While it's true that the tongue posture is essential if you want to chew safely, it isn't tongue posture itself that prevents jaw problems but how forward the jaw is that prevents it; mewing is the way you get that forward and upward jaw. Jaw problems are only emphasized and exaggerated when you chew. At the same time chewing can help to close your mouth and make sure you're breathing through your nose even when you're asleep, which is why you have to make sure to not overchew and work on tongue posture as well.
As for jaw growing too far down and back - I feel you on this one. It's exactly how my jaw looks like and the reason I want to develop that masseter hypertrophy. I've seen people claiming varied results from improvement to worsening of appearance. I've read anecdotal reports on several occasions that people with narrower and longer faces like me seem to benefit from masseter hypertrophy the most. That's why I have hope in the process but at the same time want to do it in a more controlled manner (with weekly photos etc.).
After reading your and others' advice my current plan would be to chew every day, 15 minutes per side with an intensity which doesn't make my TMJ feel uncomfortable. Over time I might build up to chewing up to 30 minutes per side or so and moving on to harder gums. Alternative path would be to just train more frequently, so stay with 15 minutes per side but do it twice a day or so. By the way - from hypertrophy perspective which option seems to be better one? I feel like splitting it into more frequent, smaller periods of training would be more beneficial for my joint.
Of course I'm gonna stay with my current 15 minutes per side per day for a longer time, modifying intensity by chewing technique and type of gum. But I'm talking about a scenario when I will not yet be satisfied with results and want to step it up (but will definitely not overdo it to spare my TMJ). Anyway - what do you think about my general plan in general? Is it solid and I can move on to implementation or is there something more I should consider?
By the way - thank you for help so far!
Tbh either of those two is fine, however, imo maybe the 2 sessions a day would be easier on the joint and would give you more rest. In terms of muscle hypertrophy, I don't think it would make a difference, the only thing that could perhaps make a difference is the rest between the two sessions will allow you to chew more intensely. Like with my other comparison to weightlifting, many weightlifters, especially Olympic weightlifters, do 2x a day, 6x a week sessions (although drugs may be involved). Muscle protein synthesis only lasts around 24-48 hours depending on the muscle (smaller generally recover faster; the opposite is true for bigger muscle groups). Weightlifters do these 2x sessions because it's hard to have one super long workout. Imagine if the total time working out is 4 hours; obviously separating it into 2 sessions would be more realistic and less taxing.
edit: Try experimenting with the time you spend chewing on each side. I'm not sure if 15 minutes each side is the best way to go about it. Maybe something more like 1 minute each side and keep alternating. Just something you can try. Not saying 15 minutes each side is bad you should just try other time frames.
I think alternating is an excellent idea! I noticed my joints are getting overly taxed only after a few minutes of chewing. I think alternating between sides every minute or so might be a great idea and I think I will try it right away.
As for the technique - that would definitely be my last question. Do you think that in my situation (some extractions) I should concentrate on my back molars when chewing? That's where the biggest force is and the other closest contact point between teeth is relatively forward positioned. For now I think I will stick to using back molars only but if you think it's not optimal - feel free to share your opinion.
I actually want to do a timelapse with weekly photos in order to track progress and be able to evaluate whether it looks better. Might post it sometime after things get better.
I suggest you read this thread https://the-great-work.org/community/main-forum/can-someone-explain-to-me-what-mike-mew-is-talking-about-1m-1s/ and watch the video I linked there.
Here's what I suggest, you should incorporate some harder/crunchier foods in your diet; kale, carrots, lettuce, that sort of thing. Another thing is to try not to cut up food in really small portions, especially meat; when food is nicely portioned you can pop it right to your back molar without getting those canine and front teeth involved.
For chewing and whether you should incorporate the front teeth, that's up to you. However, it might be a good idea to incorporate some front teeth involvement, even if it's not your main focus. You could do something like 20 minutes of alternating chewing using the molars and then 10 minutes of bolus chewing (chewing from one side of the molars and moving the gum slowly around to the other side; it's in the video I linked), or dedicating x amount of time to chewing with the front teeth, and x amount of time with the molars; it's really up to you. Also, make absolutely sure when chewing that you maintain the bolus, you don't want the gum to flatten. If the gum flattens up there's less resistance against the teeth so it doesn't work the masseters as much.
Open mouth chewing vs. closed mouth chewing: Doesn't really matter much. If you're going to open mouth chew don't exaggerate it too much. A good way to tell if you're exaggerating too much is if you get those wrinkles you get from smiling; if you get these wrinkles around the mouth while chewing open mouth you're activating those muscles around the lips too much; remember to just relax that area and focus on chewing just using your jaw, no need for exaggerated facial/lip muscles.
-tree resin (mastic/mastiha or wild siberian cedar)
Falim gum typically get softer as you chew, there are ways to add resistance and make it harder:
-Add another stick
-Put it in water (gum hardens in water), you can talk a drink of water and let the gum sit there or just put it in a cup of water
-Put it in the fridge
-Put it in a cup of water INSIDE the fridge (ok maybe you don't need to do this)
Thank you for link! I found it quite helpful. As for the food - I already incorporated some harder foods into my diet, mainly raw vegetables. Actually I just started eating veggies raw. I consciously avoid using buccinator muscles while chewing. As for my current routine, after a few trials and errors I decided to settle at this:
1 minute of chewing with molars on the left side
1 minute of bolus chewing
1 minute of chewing with molars on the right side
Repeat x10 (overall 30 minutes)
I find this way to be the least taxing to my joints because bolus chewing is somewhat less intense and serves as "rest time" for my TMJ. Moreover I found that for some reason my TMJ-related discomfort gets progressively less intense with every day that passes. Right now it's almost non-issue. Is there any logical explanation for that? I feel nice burn after chewing even the normal gum so far - it seems that my jaws are so underdeveloped that even that gives me a solid workout. I will do this for a month or so and then will evaluate my position, maybe move on to a harder gum. Does my current approach seem reasonable?
And one last thing as to bolus chewing. Am I supposed to keep the gum circular / not flat by "shaping" it with my tongue? That what I do now. If I use teeth alone it tends to get flat obviously so I correct it on fly with my tongue. Judging from the thread you linked it seems like a good approach but I prefer to ask just to be sure.
As you undergo correction in the near future, please consider keeping records for your own sake and for others. Pictures of dental impressions, scans, medical reports reports can be very helpful even with all personally identifying information blocked out.
Your input could help many, many people