Today I want to talk about muscle building. I have not gotten a chance to talk much about this topic yet on my blog but trust me, there will be plenty of muscle building blog posts in the future. Coming from someone who in the past grew from 120 lbs to 225 lbs in 5 years, trust me when I say I have a lot of interest in this topic. I think the easiest way to start would be to give 5 simple tips to pack on muscle for beginners.
This is going to be a 3-part blog post. The first two parts will give you 5 tips each on how to build muscle, while part three will give you an example muscle building routine that you can try out on your own. These tips can be followed and implemented right away in your workout routine to start packing on some muscle as fast as possible!
1. Use Compound Exercises
As a beginner, you want to be using the big, compound movements such as the squat, deadlift, press variation (horizontal press and vertical press), chin ups, and rows for “heavy” weight. These movements are the best overall mass and strength building exercises. They incorporate a large degree of muscle mass over the entire body. Beginners do not need to be focusing on isolation movements (specific body part – ex. chest flyes, leg curls, etc.) until they get a good strength base using the compound movements. These movements will pack muscle onto your whole body.
2. Beginners Should use Full Body or Upper/Lower workouts
Bodybuilders in the years before steroids became popular mostly used full body and/or upper/lower splits to put on muscle. Body part splits (ex. Chest day, back day, arm day, shoulder day, leg day, etc.) became the norm when enhanced bodybuilders used drugs to increase their protein synthesis, keep the anabolic signal going for longer, and increase recovery. Natural weight lifters who want to put on some muscle should workout each muscle group 2-3 times per week. This is where the full body and/or upper lower split shines. These workouts allow you to hit each body part 2-3 times a week without affecting your recovery. Stay tuned for later in the week when I give examples of a full body routine for beginners to try out!
3. Utilize Progressive Overload
In my opinion, for natural lifters (no performance enhancement drugs), your most important strategy should be progressive overload. This means that you need to get consistently stronger and/or do more repetitions to gain muscle mass. Going to the gym and lifting the same weights and doing the same amount of repetitions over and over will never get you anywhere. Your body does not want to put on muscle. Your body wants to stay as it is. You need to force adaptation by challenging your muscles. It does not matter whether you add 1 repetition or 1 pound to the exercise, as long as you are improving over time you will be growing.
4. Keep a Log Book
As a follow up to the last tip, keeping a log book is a must when trying to put on muscle. You cannot guess what your sets, repetitions, and weights were the last time you worked out. You need to know exactly where you were previously so that you can do your best to improve on those numbers. You need to keep improving and force your muscles to grow.
5. Eat Enough of the Right Foods
When focusing on muscle building, many people are given the advice to just eat anything in sight to put on mass. While it is true that you need to be eating in a caloric surplus to pack on muscle, you do not want to put on pounds of fat as well. Your best bet would be to focus on a diet with the correct organic whole foods such as grass fed beef, organic chicken and eggs, organic fruits and vegetables, rice, oats, potatoes, and healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil. A guideline that I follow when trying to put on some muscle mass is about 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, 2-3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight, and the rest of my caloric expenditure in fats. I will speak about these numbers more in future blog posts, but when eating to put on mass the most simple rule is to pay attention to the scale and the mirror weekly. If you believe you are putting on too much fat along with the muscle, then cut back on the calories a little.
This concludes Part-1 of my 3 part muscle building series for this week. Stay tuned for Part 2 later in the week and please subscribe if you want to stay up to date on future blog posts!!!