Building muscle takes a great amount of commitment. You can’t expect to see results over night or even over a few weeks. Building pounds of lean solid muscle takes months if not years. This might sound scary and unattainable for you but there is hope. Here we will teach you how to build muscle effectively in the least amount of time. This however does not mean that you will be looking like a bodybuilder after a month. Like said before this process takes time and a strong mental attitude. We can teach you techniques, strategies, and facts about reaching your goals however we cannot force consistency nor will power upon you. Those factors will be up to you, however the rest of the formula is written below! Read on and let your muscles grow!
Your first step is to find an exercise program in other words a list of workouts for the weeks you will be training (you can find many effective workouts under our workouts tab). There are many ways to create your own workout. You can work out 3,4,5,6, or even 7, times a week. You can do full body exercises, you can do a few muscle groups a day, or you can even do one muscle group a day. You can incorporate cross fit training, super sets, and isolation exercises. You can do 12 sets a day or if you want even 25 sets a day. There are limitless possibilities in creating a workout and that is why it is very hard to answer the question of “which workout will be the best for me”? Everybody’s body reacts differently to every workout and what might be fantastic for one person may not be nearly as effective for you.
So with all these possibilities of workouts where do possibly start? This question once again plays into the type of goal your seeking, your schedule, and your will. Yet there are a few key points that every workout should follow. These include:
· Never working out the same muscle group two days in a row. During a workout the targeted muscles will break down, you may think that your muscle is growing during your workout but it in fact is being destroyed. The time you spend after your workout is actually the time when your muscle will be repairing itself and growing. This can be called your recovery time. If you workout the same muscle group to often you will never allow your muscle a chance to repair and therefore it will never be allowed to grow. The amount of time needed for recovery varies among many people and is usually around 2-4 days depending on how intensely you worked that muscle out. Finding out your specific recovery time is usually done best by trial and error. When you first start training always allow at least two full days before you exercise the same muscle group again.
· Never workout for more than 2 hours! Just because you do 100 more reps doesn’t mean your muscles are going to get 100 times bigger You shouldn’t even be working out close to two hours. In reality the amount of time you workout is dependent upon many things, intensity, diet, how long you’ve been training, routine, even genetics. The higher the intensity of your workout the shorter it should be (generally). When you workout too long you will actually be counterproductive. Two very bad things can happen when you workout too long. One is, due to the extreme depletion of energy during your workout, your body might actually start breaking down your muscle for energy use. This is rare and you wouldn’t lose a lot of muscle but you see the point of counter productivity.
The other is much more common and it is overtraining. Overtraining happens over a small extended period of time where you train your muscles before they are allowed to recover. During a period like this you gain no muscle at all. Overtraining is very common among beginners. They go into the gym every day doing set after set after set thinking they are going to get huge however their workouts have a worse effect on them then just staying at home would. In bodybuilding working out does get you strong and muscular but working out too much gets you nowhere. The main signs of overtraining are:
o Trouble sleeping
o Strength Plateau (your strength is not increasing)
o Elevated resting Heart Rate
o Loss of appetite o Lower concentration
Switch up your routine every 3-4 weeks. During your workouts your muscles start to get accustomed to the routine you are doing. In order to stimulate and shock the muscles switch an exercise for one you’ve never done or one you haven’t done in a while. For example for biceps instead of doing barbell curls do seated alternate dumbbell curls. Keeping your routine fresh and updated will help you increase your muscle mass and strength.
Lift to failure and increase resistance. In order for your muscle to grow it has to be stressed. Make sure that your muscle is burning and exhausted by the time you finish a set. Make sure you cannot do a single more repetion before you put the weight back down. Also do not constantly use the same amount of weight. In order for your muscles to grow bigger you have to periodically be increasing the weight that you are lifting. Heavier weight equals bigger muscles. Benching 135 lbs. 30 times will not give you the same effect as benching 250 lbs. 4 times.
The last key point is to limit the use of machines. Machines control the weight for you limiting the amount of various muscles you put into the exercise. Free weights also stimulate stabilizer muscles which are muscles that keep all your other muscles and other parts in place. Stabilizer muscles also very effectively prevent damage and injury to your main muscles. Some machines are very effective for isolation exercises (one joint movement exercises such as the barbell curl) such as the bicep curl machine and the chest fly machine. Yet, the majority of your workout should be done using free weights, they will make you stronger and make you less prone to injury.
For beginners we recommend a 3-4 days a week workout that involves many compound exercises. (see beginner workouts under our workout tab). To find specific exercises for certain body parts visit our exercise tab in the menu.
Now you got your workout on track so it’s time to change the way you eat. Many people think that in order to obtain maximum results during their training they should eat thousands of calories more than their body requires. They always brag about how much muscle they’ve gained when they fail to see that most of their new weight is fat. Under ideal conditions you can AT THE MOST gain.25-.5 lbs of muscle per week! I know that is not what you would like to hear, but spread out over a year that is 12-24 lbs. of solid muscle! As you gain muscle your body will also naturally retain more water. Per about every pound of muscle gained you will also gain about half a pound of water weight. So throughout the year you can gain 18-36 lbs.! So back towards your diet, eating thousands of calories extra will have no effect on your muscle growth. Yes you are required to eat more in order to obtain muscle mass however you want to do this with obtaining as little fat as possible. There is a point where the extra calories won’t be used towards building muscle and they will just be stored on as fat (read our myth of bulking/cutting cycles article for more information).
So step 1 in your diet is to eat more calories than you burn in order to sustain and build new muscle. Remember that no one is the same and this number can vary slightly from individual to individual. A general guide is to eat about 250-500 calories more than you burn. (to find out how much you burn you can use our BMR calculator located under our tools tab in the menu). If you notice that you are gaining more than one pound per week than that extra weight is most likely being put on as fat. You should constantly monitor your weight and bodyfat percentage to know how many calories you should ideally consume.
Once you’ve figured out your required calorie intake for building muscle you should incorporate a protein, carbohydrate, fat ratio designed to build muscle. A standard ratio for muscle building is 40%, 40%, 20%. Meaning that 40% of your calories should come from protein, 40% should come from carbohydrates, and 20% should come from healthy fats. Always make sure that you are getting around 1.5-2grams of protein per lb. of lean body mass (the 40% of protein should cover that). Lean body mass = Your weight-your weight from fat. You should split your calories up into six smaller meals throughout the day making sure each one has a good amount of protein with it. If you eat six smaller meals a day you provide your body with nutrients all throughout the day so it’s easier for your body to rebuild it’s broken down muscles. One of these meals should be eaten right after a workout, and about an hour after a workout. During this time the body will absorb protein and other nutrients more quickly to rebuild and refuel itself.
Meals should not be eaten right before a workout. Many people drink a protein shake before their workout but they fail to realize that it takes up to 4 hours for protein to be digested and broken down. Therefore their shake has no positive effects during the workout. In fact it robs them of energy, since your digestive system requires a lot of energy to break down food it takes their current energy and uses it for food digestion. What should be eaten before a workout is a small carbohydrate filled snack. Since carbohydrates breakdown within an hour of consumption eating a granola bar an hour before your workout will supply you with energy that will be able to be exerted into your training. The last meal you eat should be right before bedtime, it should be high in protein preferable casein protein (slowly dissolving protein). During sleep you go 8-10 hours without any nutrients so eating right before bed and right when you wake up is very important!
Now you got your diet set up so it’s time to look at other aspects that are important for building muscle. You should sleep preferably 10 hours a day, never less than 8. During sleep is when your muscles are recovering the most efficiently. Lack of sleep can easily lead to overtraining and fatigued muscles. Sleep is crucial to growing muscle.
Drink a lot of water! Your muscles are made up of about 70% water. Keeping your body hydrated is extremely important in trying to build muscle. The amount you should drink varies from person to person but general rules are that if your urine is clear and if you’re urinating every hour to hour and a half than you are hydrated. A formula that estimates required water intake is bodyweight x.6 =amount of water (in ounces). Keep in mind that you will sweat during your training and you will be required to drink more during your workout sessions.
Stay stress free! It has been proven that high levels of stress can affect muscle gains. Stay calm and enjoy life! Limit alcoholic beverages. Alcohol drastically dehydrates the body and hydration is very important in building muscle. Squat!! Many people want to get a huge upper body and neglect legs. Squatting is extremely important to gaining all around size. Squats use very many muscles in your body, big ones and small ones, the stimulation of many muscles creates a high increase in testosterone production. More testosterone will equal quicker and bigger muscle gains.
Take breaks! During constant exercise our body’s testosterone levels slowly reduce. You should take a week break every month and a half or so to increase testosterone levels and to give your muscles a break. Many times you will notice that after the week break you are able to lift more and lift longer! Lifting heavier equals bigger muscles! Take supplements! Supplements are not necessary but can provide a huge performance boost.