You may already be sculpting your physique and building your strength, or you might be looking to start transforming your body, and seeing some more muscle from your results. Hitting the gym and getting those reps going are the first obstacles, but anyone looking for fast lean muscle gain should regularly be checking that they’re maximizing their potential.
We have outlined 17 ways to help increase your muscle building potential, and you will soon be on the way to feeling those gains from a few easy to follow pointers.
1. Start Eating More Calorie-dense Food
This is probably the most pleasing piece of advice you’ve ever had! Eating more is pivotal in your quest to build more muscle. Feeding your body, as you workout, is the fuel your muscles need and progress will be increased if you are providing yourself with a higher amount of calories.
It’s also good practice to eat more on your days off. This might seem counter-productive and sense would say that you need to give your stomach a rest, as well as the rest of your body. However, don’t fall into this trap and your body really wants that extra piece of steak while recovering – just don’t get tempted to reach for those empty calories! You should ideally be consuming 500-750 calories above your daily caloric maintenance number (to find out your daily required calories check out the Calorie Calculator).
2. Start Strength Training
Building up your strength is a great place to start, particularly if you are just setting out on your muscle-building journey. Multi-joint strength training exercises are excellent at allowing you to lift more weight overall. Start by looking to hit those bench presses to build your chest, squats for you legs, barbell rows for your back, and overhead presses for your deltoids. You will be dragging cars in no time.
3. Ensure You’re Using The Correct Form
Ploughing through your reps without little regard for how you are performing is tempting, and you may feel that as long as you’re hitting your reps then that is enough. Unfortunately though, proper form is more important, and performing cleanly will result in bigger returns. Starting with weights that are relatively low will help you build confidence in your technique, and once perfected, you can build on to those bigger weights.
4. Create Smart, Achievable, Timed Goals
In the midst of your workouts and long-term muscle-building activities you may get lost in the process. It’s important to give yourself goals to work towards, as these create mini-hurdles for you to jump. Short term goals are advised too and that way you will feel like you’re making progress. We advise using slight weight increases to motivate yourself, and hitting that next weight up on your reps will really spur you on.
5. Heavy Resistance Training
In order to build muscle you need to damage the fibers that you already have. This means that heavy weights will help you do this quickly. When performing your sets it is also good to keep going until failure and you will see better returns for your increased effort.
6. Keep It Short(ish)
Don’t overstay your welcome at the gym and pushing weights for hours isn’t advised. To get the best benefits from your program it’s best to keep workouts to under the 1-hour mark. It’s much better to keep the level of intensity high and your rests in between shorter. It’s much more beneficial to keep yourself in the zone and focussed on the task in hand. This will also make fitting workouts into your day easier, and thus more likely to keep to your routine.
7. Change Up Your Reps
To avoid plateaus we suggest changing your rep range every 5 weeks or so. You want your body to adapt to be fully pushed by your regime in order to maximize gains. By keeping your routine fresh the new stress on your body will help new muscle form.
8. Don’t Do Too Much Cardio
We promise that we’re not trying to turn you into a couch potato, but be sure to limit your cardio. If you do more than 20 minutes of cardio your body begins to break down muscle for fuel, and this is obviously counter-productive. If you want to still be working on some cardio then opt for short and higher intensity sessions. Hit that bike like Sir Bradley Wiggins.
9. Hit Each Muscle Group
Some bodybuilding programs are designed to target an individual body part once a week. This is to avoid overtraining and body builders are dealing in high-volume regimes. In this instance though we suggest opting for lower volume and working your individual muscles more frequently. You can still rotate the muscle groups and planning is again pivotal to getting the most out of your workouts.
10. Don’t Skip Compound Exercises
Compound exercises integrate multiple muscle groups and joints. Exercises like the squat use the whole body and is a great example of maximizing your output. Also look at implementing bench presses, dips, deadlifts and other compound exercise into your workout.
11. Don’t Skip Leg Day
Another temptation in the quest for bigger muscles is to just work on your upper body. Having also discussed compound exercises, your muscle development will benefit from lower body exercises too. At the end of the day, we don’t want you looking like Dwayne Johnson walking around on a pair of matchsticks.
12. Eating The Right Foods
Eating the right foods is absolutely essential in the battle to build your muscle. Keeping a food diary is a good way to keep track of what you’re consuming and also to plan properly. Carbs can also be your friend so don’t avoid them completely. Remember, you’re building muscle and not looking to strip fat. Carbs are great for energy and can also be included as part of your pre or post workout meal.
13. Use The Correct Supplements For Your Goals
Supplements are a great tool to aid your muscle building. A protein shake before or after your workout is a great way to boost the amount of calories you’re consuming. You can also drink a shake during your workout to squeeze in some extra calories.
In addition to this, you may also find using creatine beneficial, particularly when your ATP stores are depleted. The powdered chemical will give you that extra boost and help you hit more reps during your workout.
Gaining muscle mass is also dictated by you testosterone levels – typically the higher your testosterone levels are the easier it is to gain lean mass. To give your T-levels a kick, you might want to take a look at supplementing a testosterone booster pill.
14. Keep Your Protein Levels Extremely High
Having mentioned the importance of eating right, and also eating plenty, it’s also important that we highlight the role protein will play in your bid to increase your muscle mass. As you begin to make progress on your workouts and the level of weights increase, so does the need to fuel your body with more protein. So as well as the aforementioned protein shakes, plan meals and snacks with high levels of protein. Eggs, meats, and Greek yoghurt are some of the best foods to help you on your way.
15. Stay Well Hydrated
One of the most important fluids to consume during your workout is water. Many people refrain from keeping themselves hydrated and having a bottle of water should be second nature when feeling those burns.
16. Don’t Overtrain
You might be tempted to hit the gym twice in a day or feel that a day away is a huge waste. This is not the case, and giving your body and muscles time to cover is absolutely critical. Don’t be scared to put your feet up for the day, we promise it will be better for you in the long run.
If you overwork yourself and end of tearing a muscle, you’ll be looking at a long recovery time. Ensure you’re going yourself a break at least 2-3 days per week.
17. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
Not only rest is key though, getting your 8 hours a night is a necessity for your muscle growth. When we sleep our body releases the human growth hormone, which aids your muscle growth, and gives you one more reason to enjoy your cosy bed at night.
We know that building muscle can be tough, but hopefully this article has given you a few key pointers to implement into your muscle building routine.
Always keep in mind that gaining quality lean mass takes time – expect to see changes over a period of months, not weeks; your training techniques will need to good, your diet will have to be perfect, and you’re going to need motivation by the bucketload. When we advise any newbies to not be tempted by anabolic steroids (like Masteron, Anavar, Deca etc.) as they can cause health implications if used incorrectly.