Daily Fitness

HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE: THE BASIC GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS

Want to know how to build real muscle quickly? That all depends on whether you want to get big or get strong. Both involve lifting weights and getting the right nutrition, but the ways of going about them are slightly different. Here, we’ll let you in on the right methods for you, whether you’re just looking to increase your overall size or strength.

Lifting Weights to Make Gains

People often expect that they’ll have to spend all day and night at the gym in order to get big. That’s not really true. Experts recommend training just two or three times a week to make decent sized gains, but a lot of routines out there are based on a five-day program. Shorter bursts of more intense training are better than prolonged periods of light exercise when it comes to building muscle.

Intensity is key to getting bigger muscles quickly. The quantity or sets and reps you do is of paramount importance: the more intense and rapid the workout, the faster you’ll see results. Your muscles begin to grow whenever their cells are placed under “metabolic stress”- and if you’ve ever felt your arms bulging after a workout, that’s exactly what’s happening: your muscles are producing the extra chemical by-products needed to lift the weights. So, what does all this mean? Basically, you’ll need to do a whole lot of lifting. A good example of a routine would be 3 to 5 sets of between 8 and 15, where you’ll be struggling to compete by the end but could maybe manage one or two more. You need to push yourself hard, but not to the point of failure. And getting rest between the sets if extremely important- though it shouldn’t be more than a couple of minutes- because muscle tiredness if what we’re looking for.

This brings us back to the question of: “how often should I be training?” The five-day routines mentioned above- where one day is for your chest, another for your legs, etc.- is still the preferred way of gaining muscle, but you can definitely get enough done in just three days if the workouts are intense enough.

Below I’ve included an example of a chest routine that I prefer when making gains:

Around 4×12 reps of:

Decline press

Incline press

Bench press

Remember not to break for more than two minutes between sets. This is vital to increasing muscle mass.

Lifting Weights to Build Strength

The only way of getting your body to become stronger is to show it that it has no other choice. That means, unlike lifting to build muscle, you need to test your body to breaking point. You’ll be using much heavier weights with far fewer reps, and expecting to fail a few times as you push your body to the max. Of course, you’ll need to take longer rest periods between these exhausting exercises, but your body simply won’t be able to recover properly without them.

For this type of routine, you should be using rep ranges of around 3 to 6. Your weights should really push you hard, so that you can’t lift any more after completing your set. Because the workload is so much more, you’ll need to give yourself at least four to six minutes between each set, giving your body enough time to get ready for the next challenge.

Because you’ll be lifting a lot more weight at about half the amount of reps required for building muscle, you should first use some lighter weights in order to get used to the movements involved. This practice could be used as part of a warm-up routine before you start increasing the loads. When it comes to reps in a set, you should start off with, for example, 3 reps, then move down to 2 and so on, as your body becomes more and more tired.

Resting periods are crucial if you’re looking to build strength. That’s because your muscle groups need to fully recover before you start straining them again. Typically, you’ll need one or two days for your muscles to get back to normal, but you definitely shouldn’t wait more than three days to start training again if you want to see real gains.

Strength training really requires you to use all your muscle groups in co-ordination rather than just isolating one or two at a time. For this we’d recommend doing upper/lower body groups on different days, either that or back/front groupings instead. We’d recommend doing this four times a week but you can definitely get away with just three.

Here’s a quick back workout that focuses on the whole body :

(All have a rest period of 2-3 minutes between sets)

5 deadlifts (5, 5, 3, 3, 1)

5 T-bar rows (4-6)

5 single-arm dumbbell rows (5, 5, 3, 3, 1)

5 seated cable rows (4-6)

5 Hammer Strength rows (4-6)

The Right Diet for Building Muscle

You should already be following a pretty healthy, mixed diet with all the right vitamins and nutrients- that goes without saying. But how many extra calories will you need to support such muscle growth?

The average calorific intake for an adult male is around 2,500 per day. On top of this, you shouldn’t need too much more for the type of workouts we’ve listed above- maybe between 300-500 extra each day. This diet should see you gain around an extra pound in weight per week.

Diets are obviously highly personal, so there are other factors to consider here. If you’re already overweight, there’s no point in adding to the amount of calories you’re already taking in- that could mean reducing how much you eat or increasing the amount of exercise you do. But if you’re not getting enough calories, you may not start to see any gains- it’s a case of trial and error (plus loads of calorie-counting!).

So now we’ve dealt with the numbers, let’s look at the types of nutrition you should be getting. When it comes to body building, most people think of protein straight away. Of course, you need plenty of protein but it should only form a part of a varied intake of other food types, especially carbs which act as fuel for muscle growth. My diet generally consists of 50% carbs, 20-35 fats and most of the rest in protein- and I’d recommend this ratio to anyone else looking to build muscle or strength.

Many people also question when they should eat as well. Is it better to eat before you work out? After? Well, research has shown that unless you’re a top pro athlete, none of that really matters- just do what your body tells you. If you’re hungry; eat. You’ll definitely want some food inside you before working out, and you’ll probably feel hungry afterwards, but don’t set too much store by any ‘expert’ advice on the subject.

Should I Start Taking Supplements?

A lot of supplements on the market aren’t all that helpful in building (and maintaining) real muscle mass- a lot of them simply help your body retain water, causing bloating and false gains. But there are some decent supplements out there which will help speed up the processes of gaining mass and strength. You may only see limited results by following our advice on routine and diet, so if you want to see gains a lot faster you should use a natural supplement that works.

Black Label NO is one of our favourites. It contains zero steroids and only uses natural ingredients, like L-citrulline and L-arginine, to boost nitric oxide production- crucial to improving your blood flow and helping you gain mass much faster than normal.

Recent studies show that Black Label NO actually boosts testosterone production and muscle growth, as well as increasing your overall stamina and strength- making it one of the most powerful, legal ways of bulking up fast.

Other proven benefits include improved metabolism – which helps you lose weight – as well as increased energy levels when compared to the competition. And the energy levels don’t just stop at the gym door- Black Label NO can seriously enhance your libido and stamina in the bedroom too.

The Right Diet for Building Muscle

You should already be following a pretty healthy, mixed diet with all the right vitamins and nutrients- that goes without saying. But how many extra calories will you need to support such muscle growth?

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