How to Build Muscle Mass?
Let’s be honest, building muscle is not easy. If you lack mental toughness and intestinal fortitude you will never be able to build the body of your dreams. And it’s the very reason that you can spot thousands of guys walking around looking weak and puny. Everyone wants to know how to build muscle mass as fast as possible, and we are here to cover the topic.
Truth be told, it takes 3 very important ingredients to build serious muscles—time, commitment and proper knowledge. While I can’t help you with the amount of time you are willing to put in at gym or the level of your commitment, I sure can help you with proper knowledge. Knowing is half the battle won, for sure. The other half, of course, is implementing what you’ve learnt on a consistent basis.
Today I’m going to share with you 9 simple, yet very effective muscle building tips. Irrespective of whether you have average genetics or consider yourself a hard gainer, these tips will come in handy for you. Let’s get started by discussing some of mistakes you must avoid if you want to maximize your gains.
- Building muscle mass requires time, commitment, and proper knowledge. Knowing what to do and avoiding common mistakes can help you maximize your gains.
- Common mistakes to avoid include focusing on body part split routines, lifting for hours on end, not eating enough, being impatient, and not tracking progress.
- Compound exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, are more effective for building muscle mass than isolation exercises.
- Proper nutrition is essential for building muscle mass. You need to consume a diet high in quality carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and eat enough to support your goals.
- Building muscle mass is a long-term process that requires patience and consistency. You need to focus on making small improvements every week and tracking your progress to achieve big gains over time.
5 Mistakes Preventing You From Building Serious Muscle
The gym is full of guys who spend hours on end in the gym but can’t seem to make any real progress. In most such cases, they are making a series of mistakes that are keeping them skinny and weak. Here are those top 5 mistakes you must avoid if you are serious about packing on massive muscle.
Mistake 1: Focusing On Body Part Split Routines
Walk in any gym and you’ll notice most of the guys are busy doing isolation exercises. It’s no wonder most of them take the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ approach. In other words, they copy what they see others doing. They will hammer the life out of one muscle group, six days a week, for hours on end. All with hopes the practice will help them build the body of their dreams. Needless to say, they are not following the right lead. The truth is that very few guys are able to build muscles following this approach. And the few who do have either been blessed by the genetic Gods, are taking steroids or have been weight-lifting for years. The serious weight lifters would use body part split routines as a way to completely chisel their physique.
For those who want to build muscle without the use of drugs, body part split routines are a complete waste of time. Instead you should focus on compound exercises which we will discuss later on in this article.
Mistake 2: Lifting For Hours On End
Yes, lifting weights will help you build muscle. However, that doesn’t mean you should spend 3 hours in the gym lifting weights. In fact, after a certain point you will no longer be getting the benefits of lifting weights. If you have an intense lifting session that last longer than a hour, your body will start to release cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone and it will prevent you from building muscle. To avoid spending hours in the gym you should simplify your workout routine. Any exercises that aren’t helping you reach your goal should be cut out.
According to fitness expert Jason Ferruggia, 45 minutes is all you need at the gym. In 45 minutes you should be able to do 8 different exercises. His advice is to master the basics. Don’t waste time doing different variations of the same exercise. You must also be sure to warm up and cool down before and after you workout.
Mistake 3: Not Eating Enough
For most scrawny guys nutrition is a huge obstacle that prevents them from reaching their goals. Figuring out what to eat and how much of it you should eat is no easy task. Most guys think eating additional calories will make them fat instead of big and muscular. Nate Green, program director for Scrawny To Brawny, says its very important you understand the difference between eating a lot and eating enough. If you are just eating a lot for the sake of eating then yes, you will probably pack on an extra layer of fat. If, on the other hand, you are eating enough to help you reach your goals, the results will be drastically different.
In the words of Chris Jones, in order to get big you have to eat big. To do this you need to consume a diet high in quality carbohydrates, proteins and fats. You can have the occasional cheat meal but don’t overdo it. Keep your diet clean and you will pack on lean muscle instead of fat. Later on in this article I will go into detail about what you should eat to build muscle.
Mistake 4: Being Impatient
Building muscle takes time. It’s no wonder that most guys want overnight results. And that desire alone leads them to training 7 days a week for months on end. While this approach may work in the initial stages, at some point it will become counterproductive. Especially if you are a hard gainer. If you look at some of the top bodybuilders in the world such as Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman, one thing you will always hear them say is how many years they have dedicated to building their physique. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is being impatient and letting the process frustrate you. Just remember that building good quality muscles takes time and effort.
You will need to track and measure everything throughout your journey. For starters, you must focus on small improvements every week. Those small improvements will add up to big gains in the long run. Even something as simple as adding 5 pounds to your bench press every few workouts can keep you moving in the right direction.
Mistake 5: Not Allowing Enough Time For Proper Recovery
When you are weight-lifting, it is considered a catabolic activity. That means that you are breaking down your muscle fibers every time you lift weights. It is during recovery time that your body builds more muscle. In other words, it doesn’t matter how great your training program is. If you aren’t allowing your body enough time to recover, you will never get the results you are after.
Instead of obsessing over your training schedule, you must take a little time to focus on nutrition and sleep. These are the two things that will have the biggest impact on your overall results.
How to Build Muscle Mass Regardless of Your Genetics
Now its time to get down to the meat and potatoes. It doesn’t matter what your genetic make up is or how long you have been trying to build muscle. If you follow the tips below, you will get big.
Step 1: Focus on Building Strength
If you are serious about getting big, you need to get serious about building strength. According to Mehdi, the creator of StrongLifts.com, more strength is more muscle. It’s not about confusing your muscles, tearing your muscles or even getting a better pump. It’s about getting stronger everyday.
If you are lifting the same amount of weight you were lifting 2 months ago, that’s a sure sign you aren’t building muscle. Let’s stop for a second and think about some of the best physiques in the world—guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler and Kai Green. Do you know one thing all of these guys have in common? They are all unbelievably strong. They understand that with more strength comes more muscle.
At one point Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to deadlift 710IBS. He was able to do this years before he stepped foot on the Mr Olympia stage and blew everyone else out the water. In his Autobiography Total Recall, Mr. Schwarzenegger said something that clearly proves building strength is the key to building muscle. Here is what he said and I quote, “The truth is that not all bodybuilders are strong, especially those who have done most of their training with weight machines. But years of power lifting and working with free weights had given me massive biceps and shoulders and back muscles and thighs. I simply looked bigger and stronger than the rest”.
If one of the best bodybuilders in the world focused on getting stronger, it’s a smart move for people like you. If you don’t want to be the next Mr. Olympia that’s perfectly fine. This tip isn’t just for those looking to be bodybuilders. Its for anyone who wants to build quality muscle and build an athletic physique. When you focus on building strength not only will you look stronger, but you will actually be stronger. And the best part is you can accomplish this by spending less than 5 hours a week in the gym.
Before we move on to the next tip let’s clear one thing up. There are some of you who believe you can get stronger without gaining any muscle. This however is urban legend, meaning its simply not true. If a guy is able to bench 300 pounds, he has some serious muscle on his body. If you had to remember just one thing from this article, let it be the fact that more strength is more muscle. Increase the weight with every workout and you will be blown away by the amount of muscle you start to pack on.
Step 2: Focus on Compound Exercises
If you are like most guys, you have probably spent hours upon hours in the gym doing four or five variations of the same exercise. STOP! When you focus on one exercise you are focusing on one muscle. Refer back to mistake #1 to understand why you need to avoid doing this. When you are doing a heavy compound movement you are working several different muscles at the same time. This is what causes the muscle to grow.
One of the best exercises to build muscle is the bench press. When you do the bench press you aren’t just working your chest. You are also working your triceps, shoulders, and to a lesser degree, your biceps. Now have you ever met a guy who can bench press 300 pounds but was skinny? No you haven’t, because guys who lift heavy get big. If you want to pack on some head turning muscle, isolation exercises must become a thing of the past starting today. And no more 4 sets of 12 reps. It’s all about heavy weights and low reps. Try the 5×5 routine where you will do 5 sets of 5 reps.
Here are the top 5 compound exercises you should focus on
1..To build your biceps – do barbell rows
2..To build your shoulders – do the overhead press
3..To build your legs – do squats
4..To build your back – do the deadlift
5..To build your chest – do the bench press
When you focus on these 5 compound exercises not only will you build more muscle, but you will do it in a balanced way. You won’t be one of those guys walking around with freakishly big biceps and small chicken legs. Another benefit of compound exercises is their ability to burn more calories. If you follow this workout routine you will be building muscle and while you rest, burning fat.
Step 3: Say Bye To Machines
Don’t get me wrong, machines are great. Just it’s not the best option for those who want to build muscle and get big. Most people don’t realize it, but there is a huge difference in using machine weights versus free weights. Don’t believe me? Try doing squats for two sets on a smith machine. On the third set switch over to the squat rack. I guarantee you won’t be able to do the same amount of reps.
When you use free weights, all the weight is literally on your shoulders. There are no wires or safety measures built in to protect you. You are on your own. Just you and the weights. Free weights make the movement harder, AND hence they are better for building muscle. And according to research, when you use free weights to squat, overall muscle activation is 43% greater than it is when you are doing squats on the smith machine. The reason why most guys use machines is because they think they are safer. The truth, however, is they are not. When you use machines it forces your body to use an unnatural motion. It’s a fixed movement and can lead to serious injury. With free weights, however, the movement is more free flowing and natural.
Since the movement is more in line with the way you naturally move, you will greatly reduce your chances of injuring your knees, shoulders or back. If you are afraid the bar will fall on your face, do all of your lifting inside the power rack. You must set up the safety pins before you get started. This way, if you are unable to hold the weight, you can drop the bar and the safety pins will catch it. When you follow this procedure, there will be no need for a spotter. The key is to start light and work your way up. If you start too heavy you will more than likely run into problems. Instead, if you take your time and gradually work your way up you won’t be as intimidated by the free weights.
Step 4: Use Barbells More Often
Do you think guys like Ronnie Coleman and Simeon Panda got big by using dumbbells all the time? Let me answer that for you. No, they didn’t. Now don’t get me wrong, both guys without a doubt use dumbbells at some point during their weight training. However, they only use them as accessory exercises. Their main workout will almost always consist of squats, deadlifts and the bench press. The one big problem with dumbbells is they make progressive overload virtually impossible. When you use a barbell you can continue adding additional weight in 5 to 10 pound increments. With a dumbbell you don’t have this luxury.
Remember, to get big you need to build strength. And in order to build strength you must be able to lift heavy. Barbells help you do just that. With dumbbells you won’t be able to lift as heavy. Once you are able to bench press anything over 200 pounds, then and only then should you start using dumbbells.
Step 5: Eat Like a Beast
You want to get big? Well, my friend you are going to have to eat big. There is no way around it. When you are trying to build muscle you will put your body through some seriously tough workouts. In order to handle the grueling workouts your muscles need fuel. Food is that source of fuel. Plus, it is also important for the recovery process.
6 Muscle Building Foundation Steps You Should Focus On
Step 1: Eat Whole Foods
All junk food and processed foods can no longer be a part of your daily eating habits. Instead, you should focus on whole foods that are in their natural state.
Step 2: Get Plenty of Protein (At least 0.5 – 1 Grams per Pound Of Your Weight)
To reach this goal you will need to eat a quality source of protein with every meal. Following this practice will make it easier for you to reach the goal of 0.5 to 1 g per pound per day. In terms of protein intake be sure to not consume more than 40g in a 2 hour window, as it could lead to kidney problems later on down the road.
Step 3: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
When you lift heavy, you sweat a lot. That means you will be losing a lot of water in a short period of time. In order for your muscles to continue growing, they need to be properly hydrated. You should drink a gallon of water everyday just to keep your muscles hydrated. And please don’t concern yourself with water intoxication. As long as you don’t drink the entire gallon in one setting you should be just fine.
As promised here is a list of 9 foods that will help you gain insane amounts of muscle:
Eggs are a staple food in the bodybuilding world. They are, without a doubt, one of the best sources of protein on the planet. They contain vitamin D, choline, nine essential amino acids and most importantly, the right kind of fat. While many so called nutrition experts believe eggs are bad for your health, numerous studies proved quite the opposite. As a matter of fact, eggs are considered one of the healthiest foods in the world. There’s nothing like starting your day with a couple of eggs.
Boneless Skinless Chicken
The boneless skinless chicken breast is another high quality protein source. It should be treated as a staple in your diet. The great thing about chicken is you can prepare it in a number of different ways. You can broil it, bake it or steam it. This gives you a lot of options, preventing boredom in the kitchen. If possible, purchase hormone-free chicken.
There is nothing better than a big bowl of oatmeal first thing in the morning. It has a low glycemic index value and is minimally processed, which makes it a great source of carbohydrates. A low GI diet has quite a few benefits. Some of them are as follows:
1. It keeps you satiates longer;
2. Your will crave less junk food;
3. It provides you with a better overall macronutrient profile;
4. It helps you lose fat.
It basically helps you lose weight and preserve muscle. Two things every hard gainer loves to hear.
Whole grains provide you with more energy and help improve your overall health. In fact, whole grains provide more nutrients and are easier to digest than refined grains. These grains also tend to boost growth hormone levels which ultimately leads to strength gains and muscle growth.
Fruits & Vegetables
There are so many benefits to eating fruits and vegetables. Not only are they a great source of antioxidants, but they are also loaded with beneficial nutrients such as beta carotene and vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables are also full of fiber, which helps your body get rid of any substances it does not need.
Fats do not make you fat. The right kind of fats are actually good for you and are an essential part of any muscle building plan. As a matter of fact, fats are what help your body produce human growth hormones and testosterone. Without these two hormones strength gains and muscle growth would be extremely difficult. When you eat fats you actually raise your metabolic rate. As a result you will be able to burn even more fat which is exactly what you want when you are trying to build muscle. You can find healthy fats in foods such as salmon, nuts, olive and coconut oils, as well as leafy green vegetables.
Very few people are aware of this, but cottage cheese is a pure form of casein protein. When it comes to muscle maintenance, casein protein is your best option. It is slow digesting and continues to work for hours after you have taken it.
If you find it difficult to eat every few hours, cottage cheese is a great way to go. Besides being great for muscle maintenance, cottage cheese also provides you with other important nutrients including calcium and vitamin B12.
If you haven’t eaten a can of tuna you aren’t serious about gaining muscle. There’s a reason why bodybuilders carry a can of tuna with them everywhere they go. Not only is tuna one of the best protein sources you can find, but is has all the omega 3 fatty acids you need. Beyond the numerous health benefits tuna provides, it can also improve fat loss and ensure your metabolism is functioning properly.
Just like skinless chicken, lean beef should be a staple in your diet. Why you ask? Because it has so many different properties, all designed to help you build muscle. It’s also low in calories but loaded with nutritional goodness. A three ounce serving of beef is just over 150 calories. Yet it has ten of the most important nutrients you need to build muscle. Two of which are high quality protein and amino acids. One thing you will learn along your bodybuilding journey is that not all proteins are created equal. You want to focus on quality sources such as eggs, chicken and lean beef.
Whey Protein Supplements
If you have a hard time getting enough protein through diet alone, you may want to consider taking a whey protein supplement. The right whey protein supplement will help you reach your protein goals for the day. Most bodybuilders will have a protein shake when they wake up, right after they workout, and in between meals. If you aren’t a bodybuilder and are simply trying to make effective muscle gains, taking a scoop right after your workout should be plenty. The reason whey protein comes last in the list is because it’s not something you want to rely heavily on. It is a supplement and should be used as such. You want to try to get as much of your protein as possible from whole food sources. Use whey protein supplements as a way to get the extra boost you need during your workouts.
Be sure to do your due diligence to ensure you are using a quality whey protein supplement. Many supplements on the market are loaded with artificial flavors and colors which have been proven to be bad for your health. Some of them are also less effective. Look for all natural supplements or even better, organic supplements. This is the best practice to pack in on the highest possible dosage of protein and no additives and preservatives.
Most guys who want to build muscle focus solely on weight lifting— and not on nutrition. This is a big mistake. The secret to building muscle is proper nutrition. It doesn’t matter how hard you workout, if your nutrition sucks, you won’t build any muscle. If anything, you will end up packing on a few extra layers of fat. It is your responsibility to learn how nutrition works and how you can use it to reach your goals, because once you have your nutrition in order, making gains will be a lot easier.
Step 4: Train Your Muscles Several Times a Week
When I say train your muscles several times a week please know I am not saying you should obliterate your muscles 7 days a week. That’s insane! What I am saying is you need to be benching and squatting at least 3 times a week. Training frequency helps you grow. Most guys don’t train as much or as hard as they should because they fear overtraining. It’s very frustrating because you never hear so much nonsense about overtraining as you do when it comes to bodybuilding. If you look at the top athletes in the world, they are working out hard at least 5 days a week. Some even workout 7 days a week.
Never do you hear anything about them overtraining. Truth be told, most guys aren’t training enough. They spend so much time trying to avoid over training that they end up under-training. If you train the right way, meaning you stay away from useless body-part-specific training, you won’t have to worry about overtraining. Yes, you want to get the best workout possible, but not at the expense of strength and growth. If you train to failure every single day, you will only be able to work each muscle once a week. This route will not help you grow. Instead of training to failure focus on doing more compound movements. Again, more strength is more muscle. It’s not about working your muscles until they are sore. It’s mostly about being able to get stronger and stronger with each workout.
This is why squatting and benching should be incorporated into your routine at least 3 times a week.
Step 5: Take Time For Recovery
As any trainer will tell you, your muscles don’t grow in the gym. Your muscle grow when you rest. Recovery is one of the most important aspects of building muscle. And one of the best ways to give your body enough time to recover is to take a day off. It’s very difficult to build muscle if you train everyday of the week and never take a break. The guys who are able to lift every single day and still build muscle are either taking drugs or they have been lifting for years and know how far they can push their body.
If you are a natural lifter, you will get the best results by hitting the gym no more than 5 times a week. And at gym, focus on doing full body workouts that consist of at least 3 of the key compound movements. Those compound movements are squats, barbell rows, deadlifts, bench press and overhead press. One important tip in this regard is to avoid going from one extreme to another. By this I mean, if you have been out of the gym for several years, don’t all of a sudden start going to the gym 7 days a week. That is a recipe for disaster. This approach is what ultimately leads to most guys throwing in the towel after only a few weeks. When you have other obligations such as a family and a job, going to the gym everyday will eventually prove to be too much.
Its better to start off with a routine you know you will be able to stick with no matter what. Consistency, which we will discuss next, is a huge part of the muscle building equation. Just remember more isn’t always better. If you are currently training 5 days a week, try cutting it back to 4 days a week. You would be surprised what an extra day of rest can do for your gains.
Step 6: Be Consistent
The last tip I want to give you is to be consistent. It took Arnold Schwarzenegger a total of 8 years from the time he started lifting to win Mr Olympia. He literally started lifting weights when he was just 15 years old. And though he lost his first Mr Olympia to Sergio Olivia, he didn’t let it stop him. He got back in the gym and the next year he won. Trust me when I say its all about consistency. If your diet and training are inconsistent, you will get nothing but inconsistent results.
The sad part about building muscle is most guys think they can pack on 30 pounds of muscle in 8 weeks. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s not going to happen my friend. It’s going to take you more than 8 weeks to build a physique like Arnold or Jay. The only guys who can pack on that much muscle in a short period of time are the guys who have been training for several years. For example, Kris Gethin, a seasoned bodybuilder, was able to gain more than 20 pounds of lean mass in just 12 weeks. The reality, however, is most guys won’t be able to do that. The average guy will only gain around 2 pounds of muscle per month, which by the way isn’t bad. Especially if you are a new lifter with average genetics.
In your first year of training you can expect to pack on around 25 pounds of raw muscle. After the first year your gains will gradually start to taper off. My goal here is not to discourage you by saying you can only expect to gain 2 pounds of muscle per month. My goal is to actually shift the way you think about building muscle. Unless you are already in great shape, you aren’t going to get ripped in 6 weeks.
So instead of looking for shortcuts to gains, start looking for a proven method. If you go into this practice expecting to gain 20 pounds in your first month, I can almost guarantee you will quit within the first 30 days. Building muscle the natural, drug-free way takes time. So be patient by friend. Its all about being consistent day in and day out. If you train hard, eat right and get plenty of rest, you will make steady gains.
There is no time for excuses. If you want it bad enough you will have to do what it takes to make it happen.
As the saying goes, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There have been thousands of guys who have come before you who know what it takes to build muscle. Just follow their lead. Find out what they have done and model them. One of the worst things you can do is spend weeks trying to put together the perfect plan. NEWSFLASH! There is no such thing as a perfect plan. You have to get in the gym and see what will work for your body. We are all different and will get different results with different programs. You can plan all day and all night, but until you actually get in the gym you will never know what works. Without trying you will not learn the how to build muscle mass.
Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, why not find a program that has been proven to work? The good news is the internet is full of amazing programs that have helped hundred of thousands of men build lean muscle. Sites such as Bodybuilding.com, MuscleandStrength.com and Mensfitness.com are all great places to start. Find a program you like and start on it immediately. Measure your progress and make changes as you go along. If something is not working, change it. This is how you will build muscle and carve out a ripped physique you’ve always desired.
What are the best exercises for building muscle mass?
Compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows are excellent for building muscle mass as they work for multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
What is the recommended frequency of strength training for building muscle mass?
For optimal muscle growth, it is recommended to strength train at least 2-3 times per week with a focus on progressive overload.
How important is nutrition for building muscle mass?
Nutrition is crucial for building muscle mass and providing the necessary nutrients for muscle growth and repair. Adequate protein intake, in particular, is essential for building muscle mass.
What are some good sources of protein for building muscle mass?
Protein sources for building muscle mass include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, and tofu.
What is the role of rest and recovery in building muscle mass?
Rest and recovery are essential for building muscle mass, allowing your muscles time to repair and grow. Getting adequate sleep and taking rest days between workouts is recommended.
Is it possible to build muscle mass without weights?
Yes, it is possible to build muscle mass without weights through bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, squats, lunges, resistance bands, and other forms of resistance training.