When it comes to the topic of muscle building strategies there is no shortage of information available, so much in fact that it can be easy for you to overwhelmed with which method is best and where you should start.
I remember the sense of information overload that I experienced when I was first getting started and how confused I was when I sat down trying to put my workout plan to paper because everything I had read, all the different plans and systems started running into each other.
When you are just getting started with your muscle building plan you just want to know the fundamentals, a starting point so you can get started off on the right track and you are not wasting hours in the gym without seeing any results that you can use to build momentum towards your goals.
Muscle Building Strategies
1) Train with free-weights and focus on compound exercises.
If you are looking to make noticeable gains in muscle size and strength then working out with free-weights and focusing the majority of your efforts on basic compound exercises is crucial to your success.
Gym machines are great and can really help you target specific muscle groups but working with free weights allows you to work multiple muscle groups at the same time, can help improve you balance and allows you to work varying angles that you cannot get on a machine.
Compound exercises are simply, any exercise that works more than one muscle group at the same time such as lunges, dips, overhead press, barbell rows, chin ups, push ups, squats, dead-lifts, and bench presses to name a few.
Exercises like bicep curls and tricep extensions are great for working one specific muscle but when you are just getting started and looking to see the most muscle gains, working multiple muscle groups and stimulating the greatest amount of muscle fibers will get you more noticeable results much quicker.
2) Be Prepared To Train Hard.
One of the biggest factors which separates those who see serious muscle building gains from those who only see modest gains is their level of intensity when they are training.
In order to see the best results you must stimulate your muscle fibers to their highest level and in order to do this you must be willing to take every set to the level of muscle failure.
Muscle failure is simply the point in your set where you can no longer perform additional repetitions while maintaining proper form or without requiring assistance from your training partner.
The muscle building community has been divided on this topic for years with some very strong voices on either side of the train to muscle failure debate and there is sufficient research to support both sides of the argument.
I personally believe that training to muscle failure is the best way to stimulate your muscles to the highest level possible and that it is the best way to see significant muscle gains but I am not a doctor and am merely providing my opinion on the subject.
If you would like to find out more about training to muscle failure, here is a great article I found on training to muscle failure from BodyBuilding.com
Whether you decide to train to muscle failure or not, the point is that your level of intensity when training plays a big part in the success or failure of your muscle building plan the bottom line is that if you go in giving ordinary or average intensity, you should not expect anything except ordinary or average results.
Who wants to be average?
3) Keep a workout journal and track your progress from week to week
A great way to keep track of your progress is to keep a workout journal which will include which workouts you performed each day as well as how many sets, how much weight and how many reps at each weight.
Most of us know exactly what our max is for just about every workout we perform in the gym but by having a log of all of your workouts, you will be able to quickly track how long it has been since your max increased and if it has not increased you will have everything you need in front of you to analyze why you are not advancing.
It is a well known fact that when you are in the gym lifting weights, you are breaking down your muscle fibers which will react by rebuilding larger and stronger, when given proper time to heal, than they were before to help protect from being broken down again, sort of like adapting to the environment.
So in order for you to continue seeing muscle gains in size and strength, you must always be focusing on progressing in the gym from week to week, which could mean performing more reps per exercise than you were before or increasing the amount of weight you lift.
4) Avoid Over-training.
There are conflicting views on over-training, some say it is your number one enemy as it pertains to building muscle size and strength but then their are others like CT Fletcher who say over-training is a myth and he continues to work arms every-time he steps into the gym.
When most people begin a workout program, they are stuck with the misguided notion that more is better and while in some instances that is true, when it comes to muscle building, your muscles do need time to rest and repair themselves so that they can rebuild themselves bigger and stronger than they were before.
Remember, your muscles do not grow in the gym; they grow outside of the gym when you are resting and following a proper nutrition plan.
Recovery is absolutely vital to the muscle growth process. If you don’t provide your body with the proper recovery time in between workouts, your muscles will never have the opportunity to grow.
I personally am not 100% convinced of either side of the argument on over-training, I do try to give my muscles time to rest and recover from the previous days workout but that is not to say that I will not work the same muscle group two days in a row from time to time if I feel that I did not train to my maximum levels the day before.
Muscle Building Strategies
5) Eat More Frequently.
The main area where most people fail miserably on their muscle building mission is on the all-too important task of proper nutrition.
Training with weights is only half of the equation, in fact I have heard some of the top muscle building pros state that proper nutrition is up to 80% of their muscle building plan while weight training, rest and recovery makes up the other 20%.
You break down your muscle fibers in the gym, but if you don’t provide your body with the proper nutrients at the proper times, the muscle growth process will be a lot harder than it needs to be.
You need to be eating anywhere from 5-7 meals per day, spaced every 2-3 hours so that you can stay in an anabolic, muscle building state at all times.
Each meal should consist good quality protein and complex carbohydrates.
I will be cover much more about muscle building diet plans in the coming days.
6) Increase Your Protein Intake.
Of the 3 major nutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) protein is by far the biggest key to gaining muscle size and strength.
Protein plays a vital role in helping your body build and repair muscle tissues which are broken down when you are stimulating them during exercise and weight training, this repair and rebuilding of body tissues is called synthesis.
Protein helps by fueling your body with the nutrients it needs to speed up the synthesis process which allows your muscle tissues to rebuild quicker than they are broken down.
Without sufficient levels of protein intake, your body will not be able to go through the protein synthesis process and heal itself.
Protein also plays a crucial role in weight loss, we all know that the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume but you want your body to burn off fat not muscle, consuming sufficient levels of protein actually protects your muscles and allows your body to burn off fat stores instead.
If you were to think of your body as a house, then protein would surely be the bricks.
As a general guideline a male who is sedentary should be consuming about 0.8 grams of protein per kilograms of body mass per day while an active male pursuing muscle building should consume 1.7-1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day. **
7) Increase Your Water Intake.
If you need a simple, easy and highly effective way to maximize your muscle gains, drinking more water is it.
Water plays so many vital roles by the body processes and its importance cannot be overstated.
In fact, your muscles alone include of 70% water!
Not only can drinking more water cause your muscles to appear fuller and more vascular, but it’ll likewise increase your strength as well.
Studies have shown that merely a 3-4% drop in your body’s water levels can impact muscle contractions by 10-20%! Aim to consume 0.6 ounces for every pound of body-weight each day for optimal gains.
8) Consistency is everything!
Those who make the greatest gains in muscular size and strength are those who have the ability to implement the proper techniques on a highly consistent basis.
Building muscle is a consequence of the cumulative effect of small steps. Sure, performing 1 extra rep on your bench press will not make a huge difference to your overall results, and neither will consuming a single meal.
However, over the long haul, all of the extra reps you perform and all of the small meals you consume will decide your overall success. If you work hard and complete all of these muscle building strategies in a consistent fashion, all of these individual steps will equate to massive gains in overall size and strength.
- How Much Protein: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/maki1.htm Nov 5, 2015
- Role of Protein In Muscle Building Growth: http://www.sfh.com/blog/the-role-of-protein-in-muscle-growth May 12, 2015