Muscle building is science but is not science fiction; you just need to follow some rules in order to achieve your fitness goals of building muscle and gaining more strength. But with the lots of false information available online from unreliable sources, a lot of myths arose to help put an end to your misery, I have highlighted the main rules that you need to follow in order to achieve your goal of muscle building
Building muscle requires discipline, commitment, consistency and hard work of course. If you follow the simple rules below, you’ll acquire a strong muscular body.
Ready, Set, START
Since you have decided that you want bigger stronger muscles then you have to start somewhere. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or you have done it before, you have to:
- Take measurements: measure your body composition not only your body weight to be able to determine your progress along the way. How much lean muscle you’ve gained and how much body fat you’ve lost.
- Set realistic timely goals: How much muscle gain do you want to achieve over a certain period of time.
- Track your progress:
- Numerically: Workout logs: there are a lot of apps for only that purpose
- Visually: check your body shape in the mirror
- Body composition: weigh yourself weekly to see if you’re heading towards your goal or not.
Train hard and CONSISTENT
I highly recommend Progressive overload, which means increasing the amount of work your muscles need to do in order to increase your strength and muscle gain. If you are always performing the same exercises, at the same number of reps, with the same amount of weight, your muscles will adapt and hit plateau. You must constantly force your muscles to get progressively bigger and stronger.
- 6-12 reps for muscle building
Train using 60-80 % of your 1RM. Heavier weight and fewer reps aims for building muscle strength. If you have reached a point where you can do 12 reps easily, then you should increase the amount of weight you are lifting. Which also means you are getting stronger.
- 12-20 reps for muscle endurance
Train using 30-50% of your 1RM. lighter weight and more reps build muscle endurance
- 1-5 reps
85% – 95% of your 1 RM. Go heavy
At least once a month, you should measure your 1 RM in order to track your progress and readjust your program accordingly.
Do more sets in the 6-12 rep range, but also include some sets where you train with lighter weights and more reps to help your endurance goals as well. Go heavy every once in a while.
Variation is key
As I mentioned earlier, your body adapts quickly to routine, so you always have to include variation in your workout:
- Time of day when you train
- Include negatives
- Include Supersets
- Play around with the number of Reps
- Train different muscles groups together
- Shuffle your routine around (swap the sequence of exercise)
- Change the workload
There’s always time for work and play. As much as you want to train hard you also must give your body a break and rest. If you think the more you train, the faster results you’ll get, you might be wrong. Over training has a lot of consequences but that a different big topic that should go in another article.
Recovery is critical in order to achieve your goals. Imagine that your body is an engine. If it works continuously 24/7, it will break down. It need its fuel (food) and it needs its break (recovery and sleep).
Your body needs the following in order to recover fully and function properly during the rest of the week.
- 8 hours of Sleep:
- most of the recovery happens when you sleep. It is recommended that you get into the habit of sleeping early at 10am and wake up early at 6am every day.
- Mobility: Right after your warm up and after your cool down
- Dynamic Stretching during sets
- 20-30 min stretching and mobility sessions after the training session. You muscles need them to relax and elongate the muscles and increase the range of motion
- You should rest about 48 hours between training each muscle group. So if your leg day is on Friday, schedule it so you don’t go again before Sunday or Monday. You should also rest about 90 secs between sets
- Active recovery:
- You could go once a week a different activity. You could try yoga or hiking with friends. You could also go for an easy paced run, swim or cycle. Remember variety, do something different every week.
Protein & Fat
According to Dr. Robert Wildman, PHD, Nutritional Science, you need 20-25gm of protein per day ideally for muscle building. Food filled with protein contains amino acids, which help reduce muscle protein breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis. “Small gains in muscle protein overtime lead to big gains in muscle protein and muscle mass size and strength” ~ Dr. Wildman.
You can acquire protein from Dairy products, meat, poultry, fish and eggs. If you can’t get your daily protein intake from food then you’ll have to take protein powder to compensate.
Consuming fat that is rich with EPA & DHA increases muscle synthesis, reduces inflammation and aids in recovery. Fish, fish oil (Omega-3), olive oil are filled with EPA & DHA.
Once you start your training program, make sure you follow these rules and along the way you’ll be able to figure out the best intensity, training periods, resting periods, diet plan etc that works best for you. Just make sure you track your progress and stay consistent.