For many people gaining muscle is hard and they cannot get the muscle mass they want. There is so much advice out there how to do muscle building workouts efficiently in order to build larger muscles. However, there are a few basic rules that are always suggested.
Below I have listed these rules.
But, before here is a great presentation how muscle growth works.
1. Do not Take Every Advice You Hear
I remember when I began bodybuilding, at the age of 16, whoever I talked with gave various suggestions on how to gain muscle mass. I was disconcerted, and I skipped from one strength training program to another. Now, I know it was a huge mistake.
Not each advice you hear at the gym is useful for you even it is said by a groovy bodybuilder. Each of us is different with different body type, basics, metabolism level etc. There is not such thing as the best workout to have bigger muscles for everybody.
It is undoubted that taking the suggestions of a professional trainer can help, but most of us cannot afford to have one. Therefore, you need to find out which is the optimal workout program for you.
Pick a routine you think will benefit and stick to out for some months. Tweak it and measure your progression and if you do not see changes, switch to another one.
2. Workout Less, Rest More
Many beginners think the more times they train and longer, the better. This is a huge misconception. Your muscles grow when you rest and not when you perform the exercises. During workouts, muscle fibers are damaged, and they recover when your rest.
If you want to build mass, you should not workout more than 3-4 times a week. You need to sleep enough (at least 8 hours) to help your muscle tissues to recover. Rest is among the most important factors affecting muscle growth.
3. How to lift weights to build muscle fast?
Focus on multi-joint exercises!
Have you ever seen those enormous weightlifters? They have unbelievably big muscles. What are the primary exercises they always do? Bench press, squat and deadlift. These exercises are crucial if you want to develop and strengthen your muscles.
These compound exercises train all the muscles at once and can help to boost your strength radically.
Why they are so effective?
- They work small and big muscles at once. Because of the motion, stabilizer muscles are activated, the smaller ones while the big ones do the hard work. This way, these practices teach the body how to coordinate various muscles groups.
- Since many muscles work at once, they develop your cardio and endurance. Also, they burn more calories.
- You can lift heavier weights that is required to be stronger. And, you know, strength is size.
Learn why compound exercises so important to gain muscle mass.
4. Use Free Weights
When you step into the gym, you see long rows of different machines. And guess which are the most suitable to build muscles, simple free weights. 5-4 decades ago bodybuilders, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, used mainly free weights and bodyweight exercises to build their immense body.
The biggest advantage of using free weights is that they need more control than machines. This way free weight exercises train muscles better.
I do not say that machines cannot work, but free weights are the best.
Related Free weight vs. Machines
5. Progressive Overload
Progressive overload is a technique when we frequently increase the intensity of the workout. This way, the muscles cannot get used to the strength training, they have to adopt, and with that, they develop.
There are various ways to get it. For example, you increase the reps, add sets, increase the resistance, have shorter rests between or add a more advanced exercise to your workout routine from time to time.
In this case, since the size is what we want here, adding more resistance is the best option.
If you want to develop big muscles, you need to utilize heavier weights and fewer repetitions. Instead of doing 12 reps, change to 5-6, but use weights, which are really hard to handle at the last repetition.
What I have learned during the years is that the last truly hard repetition is what really count. The last repetition, which is very hard, will help your progress.
6. Do Short, but Intensive Workouts
Are you the man who is the gym for 2 hours and walk from one machine to another, but does nothing serious? If yes, you will never have the body you want.
You workout must be short and intensive. Your workout time is not for chatting or thinking about the big problems of life. You are there to work.
Your routine should not be longer than 45-60 seconds.
That is the reason experts suggest to do split training.
Anyway, it has been proved that workouts last longer than 60 mins burn fat really well, but human body starts to break down muscle fibers, as well.
7. Diet tips for muscle building
What do you think? Is training or diet more critical for muscle size?
7 from 10 would say working out, but that is not true. What you eat is what you are.
I believe muscle building is 60-70% nutrition, and working out is the rest.
I give you a rather stupid example.
On the farms, we can see animals that have fantastic muscle mass such as bulls. They have never lifting weights in their life :), but they are enormous and strong. We can see the big flesh under their skin. (Yummy! I love beef!)
Because the farmer knows what type of fodder is required for the animal to grow. He knows what the optimal mixture of micro and macronutrients is.
The same is true for human beings. If you eat right, you grow. If not, you will not develop as you want even if you lift day and night.
Muscle building nutrition is a vast topic. Actually, there are books with hundreds of pages about it. So, I only list the most essential rules.
- Eat small portions of healthy foods every three hours. This way, your body continuously gets quality nutrients. Also, more frequent eating leads to a faster metabolism.
- Consume protein with each meal. And, eat real food like lean meat, fish, etc., that are naturally high in protein. Try to have a little protein shake as possible daily. You need to have 0.7 grams of protein or 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight. Read more.
- Eat whole foods. Avoid processed and junk. Those are packed with artificial ingredients and useless calories.
- Consume a bit of fruit or veggies with every meal for dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Have healthy fats in the way of fish and healthy oils.
- If you have to increase calories to gain weight, get it from healthy foods.
- Pay attention to post-workout nutrition to refill your body.
- Consume healthy carbs (no sugar that only contribute to unhealthy weight gain). Whole grains are the best sources.
- Drink a lot of water to keep your body hydrated. It also supports recovery.
These are just some of the basic tips for building muscle you need to follow if you want to be big. Simply, have intensive workouts with difficult weights, sleep enough and have muscle building foods.
This infographic recas the most important tips to gain muscle fast.
Can I build muscle without exercise?
Depends on. If you have a job in which you have to lift heavy things day by day and you take in the right type of nutrients, you can surely build muscles. But if you only sit in front of your PC, then you will hardly build any muscles without exercising.
How to build muscles at home?
The muscle fibers do not care about where the resistance comes from. If they have to work, they adopt. Hence, you can use your body weight as resistance. There a lot of calisthenics exercises for every muscle group. For example, push-ups for the chest or pull-ups for the back.
Is cardio bad for muscle building?
From my experience, I have to say no. Cardio training is crucial for burning fat and with that to have lean muscle mass. In addition, it develops your cardiovascular system and endurance. However, there is no need to overdo it if your aim is gaining muscle. The best is the high intensity sprinting.
Do you need supplements to build muscle?
I know, supplement ads are everywhere saying they make you big, but they will never be as healthy as real food. If you eat well, you can give all the required nutrients for your body to gain. It is not as easy as if you gulp down a shake or take pills, but healthy. So, you do need supplements.
Why stretching is important?
It has been proved that stretching before and after the workouts not only helps the recovery of the muscle fibers but also increase the strength of those. In addition, you can avoid injuries and perform the exercises more accurately.