For a lot of guys, it seems that no matter how hard they workout, the process of gaining muscle mass is an extremely slow and laborious process. I see so many guys busting their backsides down the gym, sometimes for five, six or even seven days a week and what do they have to show for it? Well, not a lot usually.
Unfortunately, in order to build muscle mass quickly, you need to focus on more than just how often you go to the gym. It’s a process that requires a smart plan-of-attack in which you must supply your body with everything it could possibly need to build high quality muscle mass quickly and effectively.
Below is an 11-step guide that will show you exactly what this plan-of-attack consists of.
#1 – Lift Weights (BUT the right ones!)
There’s no doubt about it, you need to lift weights in order to have any hope of gaining muscle (although I’m sure you already knew this) but it’s not that simple; you also need to make sure you’re lifting the right weights.
But what do I mean by the ‘right’ weights? Essentially, you need to lift a weight that isn’t too heavy but also isn’t too light. If a weight is too light, it’s not going to provide your muscles with enough resistance and you’re not going to gain muscle mass. At the same time, if a weight is too heavy, you’re going to struggle to achieve the correct form and therefore, won’t stimulate the specific muscles you want to target.
#2 – Always Train For Hypertrophy
Essentially, training for hypertrophy is a way of training that focuses on muscle growth rather than building strength. In order to train for hypertrophy, you need to train with relatively heavy weights (although not too heavy) and work within a rep range of between eight and ten reps per set.
If you train at a lower rep range, you will mainly be focussing on building strength which will bring only small gains in the visible appearance of your muscles. If you train at a high rep range, you will build muscle mass but it will be low quality muscle mass (you can read more about rep ranges in regards to muscle building here).
#3 – Push Yourself
If you lifted the same weight for months on end, you’d soon hit a brick wall and realise that you were no longer building muscle. To ensure that this doesn’t happen, you need to constantly push yourself and regularly increase the weight.
The technical name for this is ‘Progressive Overload’ and essentially, it keeps your muscles on their toes (not that they have toes of course). By constantly challenging yourself, you force your body to build more muscle mass in order to cope with the increased weight, resulting in visible muscle gains and also, an increase in your level of attraction to the opposite sex (probably).
#4 – Train Until Muscular Failure
Essentially, training until muscular failure is the act of training until you really cannot possibly do one more rep, not even in a life or death situation (hence the name muscular failure). The last rep of your last set should be almost to impossible; you should be sweating, pulling faces and making noises that only your wife should have to hear. If you aren’t doing all this, you need to stop being such a pansy and increase the weight.
It’s important to remember that building muscle is not a natural process for the human body; in fact, it’s a defence mechanism. Muscle growth is the bodies way of coping with extreme muscular stress so basically, if you don’t give your body a good enough reason to deploy this defence mechanism, it’s not going to ‘turn on the muscle growth switch’ and you’re not going to grow; plain and simple.
#5 – Eat Food
Judging by the fact you’re reading this post and aren’t in fact dead, you must be eating at least some food but the thing is, it might not be enough (or at least not the right kind of food). In order to build muscle, you’re going to need to consume more calories than you’re burning off which means you need to start eating a lot.
When I say you should eat a lot though, I mean you should eat a lot of good, healthy and nutritious food; not junk food. Make sure you’re getting enough carbohydrates, protein and fat (yes, fat is important too) as if you’re not, your body might start breaking down muscle tissue in order to fuel itself.
#6 – Eat Protein (and lots of it!)
Following on from the last point, I should stress the fact that you need to eat a lot of protein if you’re to have any hope of building muscle mass quickly. When I say a lot of protein however, I don’t mean crazy amounts of protein, so don’t think you need to go drinking five protein shakes a day because you really don’t.
If you can, you should also try and get most of your daily protein intake from healthy, whole foods such as chicken, nuts, fish etc. If you do require more then you should opt for a high quality protein shake, but don’t have more than 2 -3 of these a day (take a look at our list of 10 best protein shakes).
#7 – Keep Your Workouts Short (But Intense)
Some guys spend hours in the gym, often working out, chatting to their mates for a while and then working out some more. If your goal is to gain muscle, this really isn’t the way to do things.
You need to keep your workout relatively short (around 30 – 45 minutes) but at the same time, pretty damn intense. Once you get around 45 minutes into your workout, your body will start to release catabolic hormones that force it to enter a ‘muscle breakdown mode’. At this point, you may as well not bother working out any more as all your efforts will be in vein.
By keeping your workout short and sweet, you can ensure that all your training really pays off. Just make sure to replenish your body with protein and carbs afterwards.
#8 – Combine Compound And Isolation Exercises
When working out, there are type main types of exercises you can do; compound and isolation exercises, but what exactly are they?
Compound exercises are classed as any exercise that requires more than one joint to perform (e.g. deadlifts or squats) whereas isolation exercises only require one joint in order to perform (e.g. bicep curls). In layman’s terms, compound exercises usually target multiple muscle groups but isolation exercises generally only target one.
It’s important to incorporate a mixture of the two into your work as they both have their merits. Compound exercises not only work multiple muscle groups simultaneously but also stimulate the release of the growth hormone within the body. Isolation exercises are great for really focussing on building one particular muscle group (e.g. if you want to build massive guns!).
#9 – Don’t Overtrain
If there’s one thing you really don’t want to do when you’re trying to build muscle, it’s overtrain. Overtraining is the act of training so much that your body simply cannot cope any longer. It will often leave you feeling fatigued for days and your motivation levels will be at an all-time-low.
Even if the effects of overtraining aren’t that severe, it can still be counterproductive. Try and keep your workouts to a maximum of 45 minutes per session and make sure to have a few rest days every week.
#10 – Forget Cardio
While you may want to lose weight at the same time as building muscle, it’s something that really isn’t easy to achieve. In a way, cardiovascular training is the opposite of anabolic training so essentially, the two don’t go together.
Cardio will burn calories and make building muscle even harder. Therefore, if you really do insist of doing cardio (perhaps to improve your fitness levels), you should keep it down to a minimum (i.e. no more than a couple of times a week and for a maximum of 45 minutes).
#11 – Drink More Water
Did you know that a 3% decrease in hydration levels could cause a strength decrease of up to 15%? Shocking isn’t it!? But it re-enforces the fact that if you’re looking to build muscle, you really must keep yourself hydrated and drink more water.
Of, and when I say drink more water, I mean more water too. Not coffee, not soda and not even orange juice. Just water.
And You’re Ready To Go….
Sure, it might seem like a lot to remember but before you know it, you’ll be building muscle mass quicker than you can say “massive biceps”.
Enjoy This Post?
Please share this post with your friends using the social sharing buttons to the left of the page (or at the top on a mobile device).
Latest posts by Joshua Hardwick (see all)
- Elliptical vs. Treadmill: Which Is Better? - May 21, 2013
- 5 Reasons Why Joining A Gym Is A Terrible Idea - April 24, 2013
- How To Measure Your Body Fat Percentage (The Ultimate Guide) - March 29, 2013