Building muscle doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Often times, lifters will make the process much harder than it really is. You do need to know how to group body parts, which exercises to do, as well as the number of sets and reps, but to build muscle you don’t need to make it meticulous calculations.
To help simplify things I’m going to share a few secrets on building muscle so you can train optimally, without overtraining leading to muscle wastage and without spending half your day in the gym.
Tips on How to Build Muscle and Keep it
Building Muscle Requires Muscle Stimulation
How often should you train? Good question. Most lifters, even bodybuilders, overtrain and don’t even know it. Many of the workout programs people e-mail to me and ask me to review are just complete train wrecks. With the amount of training on most of these programs, well, I can see why the users aren’t building any muscle.
Muscle building programs are a dime-a-dozen, and most are worth just that. A lot of muscle building programs are thrown together with no rhyme or reason. A good program for building growth will be based on your body type and primary goal. Your goal and body stats have a huge impact on how often you should train, what exercises, as well as how many reps and sets you should do. When you get on the proper muscle building program then you’ll start to see changes.
Another critical aspect to building muscle is muscle stimulation. Muscle stimulation is training the targeted muscle group with proper form using heavy poundage, using maximum anaerobic intensity with few reps and sets. Therefore, doing an exercise with the heaviest weight you can lift with good form for 3 sets using 6-8 reps will stimulate the muscle for growth.
What many people are losing sight of is, you don’t need to get into a training marathon to build muscle. Using heavy poundage in the lower rep range stimulates the type 2B muscle fibers, the ones responsible for building muscle.
Building muscle also requires your muscles to rest for growth. If you are using maximum intensity with every set, you need at least 2 full minutes of rest between sets. This provides enough time for the muscle to recover so you can put just as much intensity into the next set. If you don’t rest enough between sets, you’ll have less strength for your next set.
Progressively Overload Your Muscles
Building muscle requires you to progressively overload them every time you train. You can’t will your muscle to grow. You have to force them to grow. You see, your body and muscles are programmed for adaptation. If you don’t give your muscles a reason to grow, they won’t.
The progressive overload principle is designed to continually push your body out of its comfort zone. If you make it a point to improve at least one lift each workout, you will build muscle. Lee Hayward, fitness expert and bodybuilder, explains, “Progressive overload is the cornerstone of all successful workouts. You need to gradually increase the weights you are lifting over time in order to make progress. “
Here’s an example: If you can flat press 85 pounds for 8 reps and you do that every time you train chest, your muscles will adapt to that threshold in a matter of weeks. When adaption occurs, muscle growth doesn’t. Muscle growth and muscle adaption can’t exist on the same realm.
To build muscle with that 85 pounds bench press, you need to challenge your cheat workout the next week. The next week you go in the gym you need to load 90 pounds on the bar. If you can do more than 8 reps with good form using 90 pounds, then you need to go up to 95 pounds on your next chest training day.
You have to progressively overload your muscles if you want them to grow. The growth fibers (type 2B) are stimulated with heavy poundage in the low rep range.
Rest for Muscle Recovery and Growth
Resting for muscle recovery is highly preached, yet rarely practiced. Building muscles requires rest for recovery. There’s no two ways about it. If you don’t let your muscle recover, they won’t grow.
Training with weights is the stimulus for muscle growth to occur. Your muscles aren’t growing when you are in the gym training. You are breaking your muscles down in the gym. Training creates a breeding ground for muscle growth to occur. The muscle growth process takes place outside the gym, when you are resting.
It takes about a week for a muscle to recover fully and naturally. If you train that muscle group before it’s fully recovered, it won’t grow because the fibers weren’t fully healed. Continually tearing down muscles that aren’t recovered can even lead to muscle loss. This is why rest is of absolute importance because that’s when your muscles rebuild and grow in size and in strength.
To boost muscle recovery, be sure to take in some carbs, even simple sugar, proteins, BCAAs 20-90 minutes post-training. The sugar will shuttle the nutrients to the depleted muscles to promote recovery even faster.
Building muscle requires some supplementation, such as and glutamine, pre- and post-training. Glutamine is the major transporter of nitrogen into the muscle cells which improves growth hormone levels and protein synthesis. This is a good one to invest in.