Building muscle is just like anything else worth having in life…it takes time, discipline and consistency.
If you’re beginner, you don’t have to train like a professional bodybuilder.
Bodybuilders have that prized spot on the top of the muscle-bound hill. HOWEVER, their techniques may be too advanced to start with.
See, muscle building is simply a response to stress. You stress your muscles with weights and they come back bigger and stronger.
Now, the more you do this the bigger and stronger your muscles are and the harder it is to make further changes. This means bodybuilders must spend hours a day in the gym going to failure and doing crazy things that YOU don’t need to do. At least not yet.
So what do you need to do?
Eating is essential because what do you think muscle is made of?
There are no jacked elves that sneak into your room at night and make your muscles grow- it’s the FOOD you eat. If you do not eat enough your body won’t build muscle- period.
To start, focus on just eating MORE. Try eating 250 calories extra, above your resting metabolic rate, for two weeks and see how that goes. A simple trick to finding out your RMR is just multiple your weight (in pounds) by 15. So, if you’re 160 right now try eating around 2550 calories a day.
Note: This is just an estimate, the key here is to avoid eating too few calories. As a week or two passes you can adjust and see if you need more or less calories.
How many yachts can you water ski behind?
Just one baby.
If you’re looking to build mass then don’t plan to run a marathon or flaunt a 6-pack in the next few months. You body adapts to demands you impose upon it. If your goals stretch out in different directions you’ll end up drained, defeated, and where you are at right now.
Be a man, make a decision and make mass-building your priority in the gym (we can always make those abs pop later).
Time Under Tension
Right to the juicy stuff now…
To actually build your muscles you need to put your muscles under tension (in other words, USE them) and do so for a period of time.
Makes sense, right?
The tricky part is that there are so many ways to increase time under tension!
Do we do 5 sets of 5?
3 sets of 10?
40 seconds of exercise?
Don’t worry about that because I’ve got your answer down below. Just know that to build muscle you’ll be putting in more time under the bar.
You’ll also be putting in more time in bed.
Sure, your growing muscles will attract a lot of female attention- but that’s not what I’m talking about.
Specifically, we’re talking about getting you more sleep.
What it comes down to is that muscles need stress to grow. Stress is the signal BUT it doesn’t build your muscles up. Your body does that naturally.
If you over-train and push yourself you’ll interfere with your natural muscle-building pathways and shoot yourself in the foot.
When you really over do it you may even end up sick or injured. Trust me, that’s no fun.
Plus, getting a decent 7 ½ to 9 hours of sleep a night will give you the hormonal edge because during sleep growth hormone and testosterone levels are seen to spike.
Keep it Extremely Simple
Training for mass isn’t about blasting individual body parts (unless you’ve been training for a few years).
You’ll get a surge of muscle growth sticking with simple compound lifts for strength. Here’s a list to get you started:
The clean and press, dips, back squat, bench, deadlift, rows, pull ups, bicep curls, farmers walks, and the overhead press are all classics.
These movements have been used since the dawn of ancient Greece to sculpt massive powerful muscles.
Not to mention, you don’t need to spend 2+ hours in the gym now going over 50 different exercises to build mass!
Volume is king, 5-10 reps per set 15-25 total
At the end of the day time under tension is king as you recall we talked about up above. It’s what separates the average beta-dudes from the strong confident alpha-males of the world.
Let’s skip the theory of time under tension and go right into the results:
What works is doing 5-10 reps per set until you reach 15-25 reps total.
This could mean…
2 set of 10 reps for a back squat
5 sets of 5 reps for pull ups
Or anything in between.
This allows you to put in significant volume while lifting significant weight. Otherwise…
If you lift light weights with higher volume you may not grow any muscle because the weight is too light. (Like carrying a 1-pound book all day hoping to get monstrous biceps.)
If you lift super heavy with lower volume you may get stronger through nervous-system adaptation but not significantly boost your muscle mass.
Leave One or Two Reps in The Tank
Even though volume is higher, you don’t want to go to failure.
That’s a bodybuilder move used out of desperation to trash a muscle and force further muscle growth.
You don’t need to work that hard! Instead, you should feel a good pump- energized, happy, and warm.
In general, lifting super heavy or going to failure is going to be bad news. Lifting pretty heavy, around 70%-80% of your 1-rep maximum, will keep you in control to practice good form, minimize risk of injury, and allow you to maximize time under tension.
Treat yo self
I’m not talking about shopping or getting your nails done.
Getting a massage isn’t off the table though.
This is the second stage of building mass. As a refresher, first you have to stress the muscles then you have to allow the muscles to come back stronger and better than before.
That means rest!
In practice this means you’ll get the beauty sleep we talking about above.
It also means sitting more, taking shorter routes throughout your days, and even wearing a sweatshirt if you’re cold.
This makes sure your body’s resources are laser-focused on recovery.
And, at the end of the day, this is just for now because you’re going to build maximum muscle in a short amount of time.
Lift Heavy Enough
I hinted at this before, but it’s essential.
To build muscle you MUST lift heavy.
At the end of the day, lifting heavy is what will build your muscles.
Otherwise, you’d see office drones building powerful back muscles by pulling opening doors.
Ridiculous right? but you get what I mean.
If you’re not lifting heavy enough your body has no reason to change and become bigger or stronger.
However, if you lift too heavy you risk putting yourself at injury or not getting in enough volume. Sticking to 70%-80% of your one-rep max, where you feel ‘worked out’ in that 5-10 rep range is ideal.
Avoid Voodoo- Be a Scientist
As my private coaching clients know, my two favorite words are:
Today more than ever there is a problem with ADHD. Guys try a few workouts and it doesn’t ‘stick’ so they look for the latest secret.
Trust me, it’s a matter of sticking with the basics to see results. You can milk the secrets above for years until you see results start to plateau.
The key is to track what you do, see the results, and adjust as needed.
At the end of the day, if it ain’t simple it ain’t happening.
Now, it’s your turn to take action.
Use these tips wisely and head into the gym to build the biggest baddest version of yourself.