So you want to know how to build muscle? It’s easier than you think, but requires some determination.
Read This First!
Let’s make sure you are not wasting your time on this: if right now you are skinny as a match or resemble the Michelin guy, you won’t look like an underwear model in six months.
Building muscle takes time and self-discipline. If all those guys selling them miracle “scrawny to brawny in three months” programs had the real deal on offer, we would all be using those methods, trust me.
You do get stronger from day 1 that you start working out and will look better after month six, but most of the strength gains you get during the first half-year of weight training come from your brain learning to use the existing muscle mass better.
Only after you established this mind-muscle connection will the muscles have to gain in size to become stronger.
How To Build Muscle: 4 Ingredients
Still with me? Then let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the muscle-building business. You need four things to get those bulges of your dreams:
- A workout plan that is correct for your level of experience
- Doing the exercises in that plan with the right amount of resistance to get muscle growth
- Giving your body the nutritional building blocks necessary to then actually build the muscle
- Being consistent and sticking with 1-3
Now let’s examine these one by one.
1. The Correct Workout Plan
Some beginners start with a workout plan that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger pale: three chest exercises, six arm exercises, four back exercises and half a dozen each for the legs and abs.
Problem is that 90% of these aren’t necessary for beginners and chances are they do them wrong anyway. Because these specialized exercises require other muscles as “stabilizers” to let you work the target muscle. In a beginner, the future stabilizers are still in bodybuilding kindergarten.
What you need instead are so-called “compound exercises” that work many muscles at the same time and to do them as part of a whole body workout routine. This will build your basic strength.
An example for such a plan you can find right here, complete with information when you will have graduated to the next step.
2. The Right Resistance
“Resistance” when building muscle is the weight you have to work against. It can come from a dumbbell, your body or whatever else you have around. Key is that this resistance is big enough, but not too big.
If the weight you work with is too small and you do, say, 40 dumbbell curls or push-ups, you are not growing your muscles, you are training their endurance. That does not make them bigger, because the muscle fibers responsible for endurance do not have to become larger to get stronger.
If, on the other hand, you use a weight that is too big, you end up either injuring yourself or training entirely different muscles than the ones you think you are. All those guys at the gym swinging the dumbbells and bending backwards when doing biceps curls are not exercising their biceps – they are training their hips and use momentum.
The rule of thumb for the right resistance is a weight with which you can do the movements of an exercise at least six times and no more than twelve. All with good form and feeling like the last rep of the last set is really the last you are able to do.
3. The Right Nutrition
Would you be surprised if I told you that many guys fiddle forth and back with their workout plans when failing to make progress and don’t see the true reason why they are stuck? They never figure it’s their nutrition.
Your body builds your muscles from protein. No matter how great and intelligent your workout plans are, if you don’t get enough protein, your efforts won’t pay off. If the body lacks protein, it doesn’t have the building blocks necessary to build muscle. It would, but it can’t.
This is much easier taken care of than gym lore has you believe. To get enough protein you don’t need supplements and the daily amounts necessary are far lower than some muscle heads subject themselves to. Aim for about 1 g of protein per lb of body weight per day and simply have that from the food source most convenient to you.
To get an extra energy boost before your workouts, you want to have some carbohydrates, because they are the No. 1 fuel source your body relies on when doing heavy stuff.
If you have no idea what to eat when, I compiled a complete nutrition plan covering an entire week. It’s in PDF format and you can download it for free right over here.
4. Keeping It Up
Here we go full circle. If you made it through this article up to here, you now know how to build muscle and more importantly also have a pretty realistic idea about what you can expect. That in my opinion is the best guarantee to keep going.
Most people I see give up had unrealistic expectations, filled by infomercials and snake oil sellers. If they had given things a bit more time, they very likely would have gotten the muscle mass they wanted.