We cover fitness extensively here at 10 Tips, but much of what we have discussed in the past has focused on keeping yourself fit on a day to day basis. Healthy eating and regular exercise are universal strategies that can aid the wellbeing of just about anyone, but we are well aware that some individuals want to take things up a notch.
In this feature, we focus on our best tips to build muscle. We touch not only on exercise and technique, but also diet, schedules and everything else to concisely cover the best mindset for anyone that wants to get bigger.
1. You Can’t Out-Train Genetics
Deep down, we can all admit that when we come up with a body goal, it is inspired by someone else that we have seen and thought ‘I want to look like that’. Just as any athletic competition indicates, some people are born with a better disposition to specific body changes than others. In effect, there will be times when some results are unattainable. At others, you may have to work twice as hard for the same results. This does work both ways, and you might find you’re a natural, and all you needed to do was commit to making an effort. Work hard and stay focused, even if the results do not follow along with what you might have read elsewhere.
2. Muscle Building Relies on High Volume and Medium Intensity
There is plenty of value in planning, and the first part of any plan is potentially not to follow your instincts. Logically, heavy weights and as many reps as you can manage should lead to the best results, but the body rarely performs logically. You or your personal trainer will soon work out what works best on a personal level but, as a general guideline, lowering the weight and increasing the frequency will yield the best overall results.
3. There is Always Merit to Pushing Limits
Over time, you’ll become more aware of your capabilities. Once you have a routine drawn up, try your best to stick to it. If it is too easy, increase volume and intensity accordingly until you reach a point where you cannot quite finish – you literally cannot do another rep. This helps to understand how far you can go when the time comes to revise the plan, while also fostering a sense of achievement when you ultimately break through that barrier.
4. Base Your Routine around the Big 3
Weight training is always more productive when you enjoy what you do and, as time passes, you’ll get a feel for different exercises and which areas you like to focus on. In the early stages, it is best to incorporate the ‘Big 3’ weight exercises. They include squats, deadlifts and bench presses. All three come together to promote strength, conditioning and bulk, and they form a part of routines for amateurs and professionals alike. As your routine involves and you start to focus on different body parts, these 3 should never be far from your schedule.
5. Push or Limit your Training to 3 Times Each Week
Muscle building is hard work, and burnout is inevitable if you push too hard. Conversely, if you don’t work hard enough, it will take so long to see results that you’ll start to wonder whether your efforts are even worth it. 3 sessions each week serve as an excellent baseline. Results will come fast enough to prevent people from giving up, but the body still has time to recover between sessions. This is not a hard and fast number either – beginners can ease in with just two sessions a week, while experienced muscle builders will have a better idea of their needs and goals, and can increase the number of weekly sessions accordingly.
6. Intense Cardio and Weights Do Not Mix
If you want superior results and to avoid fatigue, it is always best to focus on a specific part of your training. If your goal is speed and endurance, then weights may play a part, but will not be the focus. Similarly, if you want to build muscle, you don’t want to spend half a session on the treadmill. It is possible to do both at the same time, but you’re handicapping yourself and will not see the results you’d achieve with more focus.
7. Incorporate Muscle Growth into your Diet
There is a reason why entire companies have sprung up around protein powders and supplements. It is difficult, but not impossible, to cut weight and build muscle, and your goal should be a diet where you take in more good calories than normal to support your increased mass. Find the ideal daily protein intake for your weight and eat accordingly with your choice of protein sources – it could be protein bars and shakes or could be a more natural inclusion in your diet like chicken and egg whites.
8. Adapt your Diet to your Training Schedule
Successful muscle growth is not just about what you eat, but when you eat. Scale back on days when you do not train, and increase your calorie intake on days that you do – especially for the hour either side of your training session. At the same time, keep track of your calories and do not see an increased workload as an excuse to overeat.
9. Don’t Get Hung Up on Bodyweight
Your muscle-building goal probably includes trimming fat. For this, focus on your body fat percentage rather than your weight. As the fat burns and muscle increases, the impact on your weight can often balance out.
10. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Rest
If you’re on a high and ready to put in the work, it is easy to undervalue the importance of doing nothing at all. Actual muscle growth stems from muscle repair, which takes place when the muscles are relaxed and unoccupied. Assign rest days and take your time to ensure adequate recovery.