How To Build Muscle
So your goal is to build muscle? You’ve came to the right place. Building a physique that demands respect is too often made more complicated than it needs to be.
The truth is, the process of building muscle and sculpting a physique you can be proud of can actually be simplified into a few key components.
3 Keys to Building Muscle
- Dedication. Being dedicated means getting to the gym week in and week out, month in and month out. You can’t build quality muscle if you continue to miss workouts every week. If you’re not dedicated with your workouts, nothing else will matter.
- Workout Selection. To build muscle you will need to use the proper tools. Exercises are your tools. The most effective exercises are compound and bodyweight movements.
- Proper Nutrition. You can workout like a beast but if you’re not eating properly you won’t build muscle. Bodybuilding nutrition isn’t simply about “eating clean”. You must also be aware of how any calories, and grams of protein you are taking in each day.
Now that we’ve covered the three main keys to building muscle, let’s take a further look into each key factor.
Staying dedicated to your training and nutrition is often the hardest obstacle to overcome.
Get a Workout Partner
One way of keeping the flame alive is to socialize with your friends. Try inviting a friend to workout with you. Having a workout partner will help to keep you accountable and on-track of your fitness goal.
Track Your Progress
Another way to stay dedicated to your goal is to keep track of your progress. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day grind and monotony of working out. So snap a couple before pictures and start logging your workouts so you can start to notice some short-term physical changes.
Remember… building muscle won’t happen overnight. You have to realize that even small progress is still progress; and it’s that small progress that adds up to something BIG!
Also be sure to check out the section of our website dedicated to Motivation.
Muscle Building Workout
Working out to build muscle is all about progressive overload. Simply put, this means you must continually overload your muscles with resistance, most commonly in the form of lifting weights.
Most muscle building workouts will focus on the following primary muscle groups:
To effectively build muscle for these primary muscle groups we want to focus mainly on barbell and dumbbell compound lifts, but bodyweight and machine compound exercises can be very potent as well.
The following lifts are arguably the best muscle building exercises.
- Squats. Squats are the king of all muscle and strength building exercises. No workout should be without deep squats. They are performed with a barbell, generally in a squat rack. Squats not only build massive legs, but also stress most of the upper body. They are like hormonal gamma radiation – taxing the entire body, forcing it to get bigger and stronger with ever rep.
- Deadlifts. Second only to squats in effectiveness (and a very close second at that), deadlifts are another manmaker that will pack on slabs of muscle mass while helping you become as strong as a bear. Like squats, deadlifts are a barbell only exercise.
- Dips. Dips are often called the upper body squat, and for good reason. Dips work the shoulders, chest and triceps very hard, and are a great overall exercises for building a beefy upper body. Dips should be performed at a parallel bar dipping station.
- Pull Ups. It seems that even the strongest and most fit lifters can barely squeak out more than a few pull ups. The pull up is an excellent exercise for building the back and biceps, and should be used instead of exercises such as the lat pull down when possible.
- Bench Press. The bench press is an upper body staple. There are several highly effective variations including the flat bench barbell press, flat bench dumbbell bench press, incline bench barbell press and incline dumbbell bench press.
- Overhead Press. As with the bench press, there are numerous quality variations of the overhead press that can be used. Nearly all seated and standing dumbbell and barbell overhead presses are solid choices.
- Rows. Both barbell and dumbbell rows are tremendous upper back exercises. Old school barbell T-bar rows are also a solid choice. While cable and machine lifts are generally sub-par back exercises, seated cable rows can be very challenging and effective.
For more muscle building workout information, we recommend the following articles:
- The Most Effective Muscle Building Exercises
- 8 Critical Exercises To Pack On Muscle
- 11 Training Tips For The Skinny Fat Ectomorph
Nutrition for Muscle Building
If you’re not eating properly, you won’t build much muscle. Many lifters focus all their attention on planning a workout split and training ferociously in the gym, but have no clue how many calories or grams of protein they are eating per day. This is a big issue that can really stall your progress.
The body must synthesize muscle tissue from energy. All the training in the world won’t build muscle if there isn’t enough energy supplied to fuel the accumulation of new muscle tissue.
In simple terms, you must consume more calories than you expend over a period of time in order to build new muscle.
- Calories. You must be eating a consistent amount of daily calories. This intake should be substantial enough to allow the body to build muscle. Undereating is one of the major contributers to lack of gains.
- Protein. You must be monitoring your protein intake. Increasing your daily protein intake while on a resistance training program helps to increase lean muscle mass. The human body is in a constant state of “protein turnover.” Muscle tissue is continuously being repaired and replaced. To maximize this repair, you must maintain a protein positive nitrogen balance.
- Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates play two key roles in muscle building. The first is energy. Your body needs maximum energy to perform at maximum level. Second, insulin spike post workout. Insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the human body and drives nutrients from the bloodstream into muscle cells. When you finish your workout your muscles are desperately trying to repair and rebuild and are crying out for energy and nutrients. This is the only time when simple carbohydrates will benefit you for muscle building.
- Healthy Fats. A low fat diet is not always a healthy diet. The body requires healthy fats for a myriad of reasons. Undereating healthy fats can compromise sleep, lower cardiovascular function, slow recovery and increase the likelihood of overtraining. You must be monitoring your fat intake to some degree so that you are certain it is at a productive level.
For more muscle building nutrition information, check out the following articles: