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Gaining muscle mass requires a symbiotic relationship between your workout and your diet.
Without a proper diet that is high in protein, carbohydrates, essential fats and water, any intense exercise is going to result in the loss of muscle mass.
Similarly, if you do not perform regular exercise, any calories that aren't used as energy will end up resting on the body in the form of fat cells.
There needs to be a healthy balance between the two in order to gain muscle mass.
In the following article, we will look at what you must do to gain muscle mass effectively.
Look At Your Goals
When choosing goals you need to make short-term goals that are achievable.
Of course, you should have a long-term goal but these short-term ones should enable you to slowly reach your final goal.
If these short-term goals are unobtainable you will quickly become disheartened and likely to quit. While those that are obtainable are likely to build confidence, enabling you to reach the next goal.
When choosing goals it is also important that you understand what you have to do to achieve them.
For instance, if you want to build muscle you need to ensure you are eating enough protein.
Whereas if your aim is to lose fat or to cut then you need to ensure you cut your calorie intake enough to lose the fat without losing the hard-earned muscle mass.
Rather than focus on muscle or weight gain, maybe you would see better results if your aim was to gain strength instead.
When you achieve these strength gains, a by-product should be an increase in muscle mass too.
What Is Your Body Type?
There are 3 main body types:
- Mesomorph – who have a larger bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic build.
- Ectomorph – a light build with small joints with lean muscle.
- Endomorph – short with thicker arms and legs.
Once you find out what body type you are you will be able to customise your own muscle building program.
Gain Muscle Mass Through Diet
If you wish to gain muscle then you need to eat, and probably significantly more than you are currently.
Your calorie intake will depend on a number of factors:
- Current weight
- How active you are
To work out how many calories you should be eating there are various calculators that you can use online.
However to make like easier you could multiply your current weight by 20.
For example: 130 pounds x 20 = 2600 calories daily
How does your current diet compare to what you should be eating? If it is lower than the recommended amount and you are wondering why you are not gaining muscle then this is a big reason why.
In order to have the energy required to do intense workouts and for long periods of time, your diet needs to be high in complex carbohydrates.
These include foods such as wholegrain bread and pasta, brown rice, nuts, beans, as well as green leafy vegetables.
As the body digests the carbohydrates they get turned into glycogen or energy.
This energy fuels the body. Providing the stamina and endurance required for performing the types of exercises necessary to build muscle mass.
During a workout aimed at building muscle mass, the muscles cells get torn and damaged.
These cells are made up of approximately 70% water and 20% protein. So to repair and replace these damaged cells, your body needs a diet rich in protein and water.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which are essentially the building blocks of your entire body. Without protein in your diet, the body has no materials for building the muscles you want.
Complete proteins, which are proteins that contain all 9 on the essential amino acids, can be found in foods such as lean meat, eggs, dairy products and soy products.
I would recommend aiming to consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound in body weight daily .
Unsaturated fats are also an important part of your diet as they provide the fuel to keep going as well as keep building!
If you are working out hard, then fats should make up about 25-35% of your daily calorie intake.
Unsaturated fats are found in foods such as salmon, almonds, avocados and olive oil.
If you are aiming at eating a specific number of calories per day, to assist you in maximising your muscle gaining potential, then work towards eating 40% protein 40% carbs and 20% fats as a means of gaining these calories.
Eating foods at the right time is just as important as eating the right foods. So when is the right time? The answer is often!
If you are doing regular exercise throughout the day then you need to ensure that you are eating regularly.
A good way to set this out is to ensure you have 4 main meals in the day. Plus at least one ‘snack’ meal.
Try to make sure you get the majority of your carbohydrates in your breakfast and post-workout meal. These are the times your body needs the most energy.
Keep your evening meal lighter and focus more on protein instead.
How can you keep track of what you are eating if you are not writing it down?
Your nutrition is important and essential for progress.
Of course, your training is important, but if you are not eating enough calories or your macros then it will not translate into muscle and strength gains.
By keeping a food journal you will be able to look over it and make adjustments if you need to.
Gain Muscle Mass Through Exercise
Having a balanced exercise plan is the best way to achieve your muscle mass building goal!
This means you need to warm up, work harder in a shorter period of time (we are working for body mass here, not endurance!), work your whole body, reduce the amount of cardio you do (because this will use up you your glycogen and amino acids, that are vital to muscle cell growth), allow for rest days so your body has the time and energy to repair and build your muscles, and get sufficient sleep!
Before choosing your exercises you need to decide what kind of workouts you are going to do.
These usually break-down into 3 categories:
This type of workout does not focus on one particular area. Its aim to work as much of your body as possible.
This particular workout is best for those who do not have time to visit the gym almost every day, but 2-3 visits weekly.
The upper split will focus on the muscles of your chest, shoulders, arms and back. While the lower split will focus more on legs, lower back, bum and abs.
This type of workout will take between 3-4 sessions in the gym weekly.
Body Part Splits
This type of workout will focus on one major muscle group and the minor muscles surrounding it.
Those that perform this type of workout are able to thoroughly work out an area and are then able to rest it while working on another muscle group.
With this workout, you could in theory workout 6 times a week, with 1 rest day.
As for exercises the most popular and effective are as follows:
- Bench press
- Overhead press
Of course, there are plenty of alternatives and variations to each exercise.
Choosing a program should be less about how perfect it is, and more about how likely it is that you are actually going to follow it.
Obviously making sure that exercises such as deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull-ups etc will make the program more effective, but if you know for a fact that a training session made up exclusively of these exercises would turn you off then avoid it.
Try to create programs that combine exercises that you hate but know are good for you with exercises that are enjoyable, or quick to complete.
If you hate deadlifts then don't ignore them completely. However, certainly, don't plan on performing them three times per week. It's not going to happen, you'll make excuses not to perform them, or worse, excuses not to perform the whole session.
To avoid injuring yourself you should ensure you are lifting with the proper technique before you start adding too much weight to the bar.
Bad technique is the bane of all gyms, and the percentage of people who train with bad form is much higher than it should be.
You can get away with this when you’re starting out, the weights are too light to cause injury, and the increased intensity (from no prior exercise) will lead to gains.
But if you want to continue growing for years after, your technique needs to be perfect. Up to a point at least.
If you’re training at the maximum intensity you can allow 10% bad form, but any more and you need to lower that weight.
Of course, you need to be pushing yourself, but lifting more than you can manage will only lead to a loss of technique. This can cause serious injury.
This is particularly important with exercises such as the deadlift or squat, as you could cause long-term damage to your spine.
Start with a low-intensity routine, to warm up the body and prevent injury. Focus your warm-up on the muscles you intend to use.
Then when you work into your full workout, keep the reps low, about 3-8 per muscle group, and 6-8 per set of your normal routine.
Keep the weight high so that the last reps are hard to complete. Avoid overtraining by mixing up your focus in each session. For example, focus on your chest and biceps and abs one day, your legs and triceps another and your shoulders and back another.
Doing excessive amounts of cardio may actually hinder your muscle building plan, as it uses up huge amounts of the energy we have stored to aid us in building muscle.
But don’t dismiss it all together!
Many studies have shown that short doses of high energy cardio, such as sprinting, not only helps reduce fat and preserve muscle but can also increase muscle tone .
Try keeping your cardio down to 20 minutes, and aim for 3-4 times per week.
Roster your training days so that you have two days on, one day off. This will enable your body to work hard at training, and then work hard at building and repairing the muscle.
Exercises that are great for building muscle mass in targeted areas include:
- Chest – Bench press, incline bench press and push-ups
- Biceps – Pull-ups (single and double hand), arm curls (single and double hand)
- Triceps – Dips and overhead dumbbell presses
- Abdominals – Crunches (standard and oblique), plank, sit-ups (weighted and inclined)
- Hamstrings and quads – Squats (normal and weighted), lunges
Remember that both diet and exercise working together will result in the gains you want to achieve.
If one or the other is not up to scratch you will not see the results you would expect.
Tips for Achieving Muscle Growth
If you want to gain muscle mass then you should look at the following tips:
#1: Warming Up Is Important
Before you start lifting any weights, some warm-up exercises are in order. This reduces the risk of injury.
So our advice, never short-change your warm-up. Take your sweet time and rev up first.
Common sense dictates the stronger you get, the more time you need for warming up. Warming up also lets you push serious weight later on.
Trainers recommend a good 5 to 10 minutes on the bicycle, pedalling. It’s a great way to kick-start your lightweight sets. This can get the blood pumping and make your muscles warm and ready.
#2: Reps Are Good For Body Building
It’s a common question amongst beginners: how much weight should you start with? The answer to this question is not simple. It’s more about what your end goal is.
For strength building, it's great to do heavy sets with fewer than 6 reps.
For muscle building, it is ideal to choose a weight which makes you reach muscle failure somewhere between 8 to 12 reps.
You can also build muscle endurance when you do 15 reps or more.
#3: Increase the Volume
There are people who are content spending many hours on just one single body part when they are working out. And then there are others who do just one set per exercise, but which is best?
The thing is there’s no finite number. However, for beginners, it is recommended to do at least 2 to 3 sets of any exercise that is tailored for them.
For advanced athletes, this number of sets can be as high as 3 to 4. If there’s one thing that’s evident here, it’s the volume of exercise. The number of reps and sets you complete for a specific muscle group.
For muscle growth, high volume exercises are the norm though you must never over-train as a consequence.
To start off we recommend sticking to 12 sets total at the beginning (3 sets of 4 exercises).
I would recommend doing exercises that work the larger muscle groups, such as legs, back, and chest.
With time, you can increase the volume, while at the same time, extending the number of days required to train that body part again.
#4: Focus On Legs
There is a well-kept secret in the fitness world when it comes to packing on some serious muscle.
Are you ready for the big unveiling of this secret? It is not rocket science but for you to build muscle mass anywhere in the body you have to train your legs properly (a good diet will help too).
Let’s reiterate this valid point again. You need to train your legs to grow whole-body muscle mass.
Missing out leg days within your regime should really be regarded as criminal!
This notion is probably the most ignored or unknown training principle in the world of lifting.
The legs are the biggest and strongest muscles within the human body and they represent a huge hormonal storage point.
Therefore when your legs recruit a huge amount of muscle fibres via a full muscle contraction your body will secrete vast amounts of testosterone and growth hormone.
Testosterone and human growth hormones have the following important functions:
- Testosterone – is the king of all bodybuilding hormones; it increases protein synthesis and it is a major fat burner
- Human growth hormone – supports fat burning and boosts protein synthesis via activating IGF-1. It also safeguards any muscle loss and helps with muscle tissue maintenance
The beauty of these anabolic hormones is that they don’t react solely on the legs but they also interact with the whole body sending growth signals to all muscle tissues.
Getting the same anabolic hormonal response from bicep curls or chest flies is not remotely the same as training your legs because of the comparatively smaller muscle groups being exercised.
It may seem counterintuitive. However, pumping your legs not only facilitates lower body growth but it also provides the growth stimulus that can repair other major muscles after they have been worked.
In other words, if you perform a leg work out it will help the upper body as well.
This is because these anabolic hormones will also target the cells within the arms, chest, back and shoulders etc.
Therefore leg training cannot be avoided if you want to develop a balanced muscular physique.
It would be an ideal world if all exercises were equal and did the trick but unfortunately, this is not the case.
If you want all of the benefits of flooding your bloodstream with anabolic hormones then you need to choose compound exercises. This is because they engage all of the leg muscles and the glutes.
Compound exercises recruit a huge number of muscle fibres. Some of the best exercises include squats, deadlifts, glute bridges and lunges.
Isolated leg exercises such as calf raise, leg extensions and curls fall short in terms of hormonal activation because they recruit far fewer muscle fibres.
Research has indicated that lower body exercises such as jump squats can double the testosterone release when compared to bench pressing .
Interestingly there is evidence to suggest that compound lower body exercises such as heavy squatting can release 10 times more growth hormone . This is a major factor in whole-body muscle growth.
However, let’s not forget that human growth hormone is a powerful muscle builder and fat burner. This is all good news for building new lean muscle mass whilst reducing your % body fat.
Now that you are aware of the amazing secret, let’s explain the best method of creating a leg work out.
The first element that you need to decide is whether to devote a full session just to legs or to add it into a split work out structure.
Either approach will work as long as compound leg exercises such as squats are built into your program.
Completing 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions is a good place to begin with. If you are able to perform more than 12 reps then you need to add some more weight onto the bar.
By around the 8th repetition, you should be near mechanical failure. At this point take a deep breath and power through another 3 or 4 reps.
This training strategy will help to deliver a big surge of hormones to the muscle tissues all over the body.
Another strategy that you could try is to incorporate 1 or 2 sets of heavy squats into your upper body training regime.
This approach can be executed before your workout because it is easier to go heavier on the squatting at the beginning of a workout than at the end of a workout.
The heavier the weight combined with a compound movement such as squatting can induce a higher metabolic and hormonal reaction within the muscle.
This technique works for both leg development and it also helps the upper body to catch up with the legs.
#5: Adapt An Athletic Stance
So, you are exercising? Then its best to adopt an athletic stance as sportsmen do.
When you are getting into position for standing exercises, it’s a good idea to let your feet be a shoulder-width apart. Your toes should also be pointed slightly outward.
You should be able to bend your knees softly with a straight torso that leaves the chest out, shoulders back and a slightly arched low back. Your head should be looking forward as you make this stance.
This stance serves as a great starting point for any standing exercise so make sure you utilise it.
#6: Rest Between Sets
Nothing can be accomplished in a hurry which is why you need to give yourself time to recover between sets.
Rest times should be maximised as it is a good idea to be fully recovered when you want to gain muscle.
You want to be able to push the weight as many times as possible which is why recovery matters. For this, you need time.
#7: Overloading Leads To Growth
You want to stimulate your muscles and help it grow? Then get ready to be a little aggressive in your workouts.
By challenging your muscles continually, along with your good form (you should never allow yourself to fall into a comfort zone), you can make great gains as you overload.
#8: Change Your Grip
Believe it or not, just by merely changing your grip can make an effective addition to your workout.
If you use a wide, overhand grip, simply exchange it for an underhand grip.
This kind of change also works great with barbell curls, bench presses, lat pulldowns, tricep pushdowns and bent-over rows.
#9: Don’t Forget About Balance
Strength training is something most people do. Equally important is maintaining your balance, which most people don’t care about.
You need to train for them both separately. Do the squats one day and the dumbbell presses the other day.
Devote each day to just one particular thing: either strength or balance.
#10: Utilise Wide Grips
What can you do when you have a blocky physique and want a small waist in return?
Unless you have low body-fat levels with a natural V-taper, getting a wide and balanced body is something to strive for. You need to put emphasis on the upper back and middle delts.
To do this, you can do some sets of wide grip movement. You can also do a few sets of upright rows and lateral raises.
By increasing your width, your waist will appear smaller.
#11: Use A Dumbbell
You have, in your hands, a number of training options. However, if you are looking for a simpler way to take advantage of the most challenging exercises, its time to use dumbbells.
This is because dumbbells are unlike barbells in one crucial aspect: they make the whole body work out rather than just one side of the body.
One more reason to get dumbbells is that gyms are often busy in the evening. Meaning all the barbells are occupied.
Why not do the dumbbells substitute for that particular exercise instead?
#12: Cheat Reps
It’s not uncommon to encounter people who are using bad form in the gym. They continually put pressure on the surrounding joints and not on the target muscle.
However, this technique can also prove useful when done right. They can make the target muscle work hard. They can stimulate the muscle fibres with greater intensity.
To do this, all you need to do is 6 to 8 reps in your good form and then the bad form reps for just a few sets.
When you rep a muscle to failure and then use lighter weights to progress with that muscle group, you are doing a drop-set. This can result in a good deep muscle burn.
This is also great for bodybuilders looking to drop a few calories before a contest.
#14: Take A Second
Deadlifts are a great tactic to use when you need to shake up your exercises.
Every exercise works by generating elastic energy, the energy which helps swing the weight from up to down and then repeat.
If you do exercises from a dead stop, such as by momentarily resting the bar on the floor and then lifting it up, you will notice it’s much harder to accomplish.
This can help build your strength especially on the lower portion of your motion range.
You must have heard that opposites attract. The same is true when you use supersets of two exercises, except they speed up your workouts for opposing muscle groups.
This technique results in more than normal strength in the second exercise that you do in the grouping.
By pairing muscles between antagonistic groups, triceps vs. biceps, back vs. chest, or quads vs. hamstrings, you can come out stronger.
#16: Pre-Exhaust Your Muscles
Big exercises we normally undertake are called compound or multi-joint exercises. They are called so because they allow you to push more weight by using a conjunction of muscle groups.
Normally, when doing these exercises, muscle groups can reach failure.
There is a method that works by getting around the ‘weak link’ in the chain and result in earlier than normal muscle failure. This is brought about by pre-exhaust training.
#17: Reverse The Exercises
Want to know the easiest way to shake up your workout regime? Simply reverse the order.
Start them with a good warm-up of course. And then start with the last exercise you do, making your way to the first one. Because you are used to it, you can do more reps this way.
This can work your target muscles in a way they are not used to, which can aid in muscle growth.
#18: Finish With A Pump
If you add a lighter weight after the last back-off set, you can get some higher reps done that flush your muscles with blood and water.
This, in turn, can enhance muscles and strength.
#19: Use Speed For Gains
You are approaching the end of a set when suddenly you feel fatigue setting in. By using a slightly more explosive motion, an extra rep or two can be made.
It’s important to be constant with a strong and controlled rep speed as you start out a set. Only in the last rep or two, you can take advantage of added momentum to help you make the most of the exercise.
#20: Pyramid Training
You can try a technique that lets you ‘pyramid’ your weight on each successive set. Start out small and keep stepping up the weight bit by bit.
It may lead to a fall in reps as you increase the weight but you get better gains in strength with the low reps you do.
Keep in mind no burnout occurs on the lightweight sets and you don’t reach muscle failure until you have reached the heaviest sets.
#21: Find A Workout Buddy
Do you want to make huge gains? If you do then I would suggest that you find a workout partner who pushes you. Or find a partner who is stronger and bigger than you.
They can help you train past failure by assisting you with forced reps and partials.
They can also help motivate you on days when you don’t feel like hitting the gym.
#22: Wear A Belt
Are you serious about lifting? Then getting a weight lifting belt is a good idea. They strengthen your lower back and are recommended for wearing for particularly heavy sets.
They are not good for all exercises but some of the ones that they are needed for are bent-over rows, deadlifts, squats and standing military presses.
Don’t use it on the lighter sets because your lower back needs to work for that.
#23: Use Resistance Bands
Bands and chains might seem inconvenient but by using them properly, you can take advantage of some big gains in both muscle and strength.
They might be uncomfortable in the beginning, but that is something you will get accustomed to in no time.
Resistance bands can provide variable resistance, all in the course of one single rep. They unload some weight when you are in the down position. They appear lighter, but as you press up, they increase the tension in your target muscles.
If you have a sticking point, or in a plateau then what's the harm in trying them?
#24: Use Straps
Are you doing monster lifts? Try using wrist wraps to support the integrity of your wrists.
They are great for the grip too and will enable you to do an extra rep or two on every set.
#25: Rest Easy
Resting is important. Always pushing yourself is counter-productive as you need some recovery time for your body to heal.
Including some rest days in your training split is recommended. Missing a day or two is no big deal. In fact, it comes highly recommended.
This can reduce stress-inducing cortisol levels in your body too.
If it helps, it’s not about the duration you spend at the gym, it’s about the intensity. This is why taking a few rest days isn’t detrimental to your training regimen.
#26: When In Pain, Stop
The adage “No Pain, No Gain” has been misunderstood for many years.
Your muscles are supposed to be a little sore from your workout, but there is a big difference between sore muscles and outright pain.
If a particular technique is causing you pain, then stop.
Do not risk injury over a particular method no matter how much it is recommended.
#27: Hit The Muscles Again
You should probably train your muscles every 2 to 3 days.
Advanced lifters can do this after 15 to 30 sets for a particular muscle group after training them for 5 to 6 days at most.
#28: Big Moves First
Your energy levels are higher at the beginning of the workout. So why not take advantage of the increased energy by doing the big or multi-joint exercises first?
These compound movements work a lot of muscle groups and can give you a more intense workout in far less time?
Squats, overhead presses, bent-over rows and bench presses are some examples.
#29: Split Well And Wisely
When you are planning your training split, you need to be aware of the training you give a muscle group on consecutive days.
It’s recommended to rest your muscles on a given day as nutrition takes over and rejuvenates them.
If you follow a plan that involves shoulders on a Monday, chest on Tuesday, and triceps on Wednesdays, you are not allowing your split to have a good recovery time.
Also to be avoided is the same training for two consecutive days. You need some rest days and some leg days to split your workout properly.
#30: Tune Your Lifestyle to Your Bodybuilding Goals
Your lifestyle is important and you should factor this into on your training regimen.
If you are the party type or the gluttonous type, you might need to be careful with what you consume.
Every single thing you consume has an effect on your bodybuilding efforts.
#31: Time Your Nutrient Intake Right
A good nutritional approach is to supply the body with the right fuel ready for your work out.
Research has determined that insulin sensitivity peaks in the morning and straight after your workouts .
For many athletes eating more clean carbs in the morning and straight after the work-out has brought improved muscle gains.
In addition, research has indicated that the pre-training shake is more important than the post-training shake, in terms of protein synthesis .
However, the post-training shake is required for muscle growth, recovery and injury prevention .
Everyone is different and what time you eat can impact on your body composition. The same as what you eat and the amount that you eat.
It is a trial and error situation but once you get the right timings of your nutrients, you will achieve dramatic muscle gains.
#32: Train Your Weakness
Do you dislike performing lunges, squats and deadlifts? This could be an indication that you should be making them a higher training priority and moving them up the exercise list.
Training these potential areas for development can make huge changes to your physique, in a relatively short period of time.
Many top bodybuilders tend to train the weak points and turn them into features that stand out. It is this winning mentality that improves full-body muscle gains.
A good strategy is to start your training session by fatiguing the muscles that you feel are the weakest. You can then progress into training your stronger muscle groups.
This is training at full capacity and will increase your muscle mass gain potential.
#33: Eat Clean Carbs & Fats
Most experts agree that to build mass you need to eat your clean carbs.
If you have been aiming to bulk up with a low carb diet, then you may need to change your nutrition plan.
A great source of clean carbs are quinoa, brown rice and oatmeal. These are also low in GI, which is an important factor in controlling insulin levels.
Fruit intake in moderation is also a good form of carb intake. In addition, they are high in antioxidants, which will help with muscle growth and repair.
Eating healthy fats boosts your testosterone levels  and this is a catalyst for muscle gaining.
Try to eat about 15% of your daily calorie intake in the form of Omega 3's e.g. Tuna & fatty fish and saturated fats e.g. Coconut oils, avocados, nuts & seeds.
#34: Invest In A Mass Gainer Supplement
Weight gainer supplements are a tried and tested approach to gaining muscle mass.
They are packed with good calories in the form of carbs, proteins and essential fats.
However, before you go and buy any old mass gainer you will need to be aware of your body shape or somatotype. As this plays a key role in the selection of the products and should dovetail into your ultimate physique goals.
Investing in some muscle mass gainer will give you the best tools for bulking up, and will enable you to achieve your long term weight training goals a lot quicker.
#35: Don’t Forget The Supplements
When it comes to supplements you need to remember that they should be used to fill in any gaps you have in your nutrition.
Some of the more popular types of supplement are:
- Whey protein
- Casein protein
They all have their own benefits, but if your diet is good then you won't need to buy excessive amounts of supplements to see good results.
#36: Have A Good Night’s Sleep
Both quality and quantity of sleep are as important as each other. The main aim is to achieve a good night’s sleep that is uninterrupted.
A good night’s sleep of around 8 hours has the following key benefits:
- It will increase the body’s basal metabolic rate and increase the fat-burning potential
- Increases glucose metabolism which is an important element in building muscle mass
- Increases human growth hormone levels which is essential for muscle growth & recovery
- Decreases cortisol levels which when spiked this hormone reduces muscle growth and recovery
Sleeping more will help improve recovery and hypertrophy as this is where Muscle Protein Synthesis is most effective. It is also where hormones are maximally released .
Studies have shown that people who sleep more have higher testosterone and growth hormone levels than people who have troubled sleep .
You are probably already aware that increased testosterone and growth hormone is a good thing for getting bigger, so can see why more sleep leads to bigger muscles.
Sleep also has a positive effect on performance. Research has found that college athletes who slept more played better the next day .
#37: Train With Real Intensity
Many people go the gym without any real purpose and without giving 100% effort. Keep your focus and avoid all of the social distraction and give it your all. Being half-arsed will not get you the results that you want!
If you are distracted while working out then chances are you won't be giving 100%.
Remove these distractions, for instance, if a training partner would rather chat than workout then perhaps it is time to train with someone else.
Next time you go to the gym, when you are pumping iron feel your muscles tightening at the top of each rep and this squeezing technique. This will add some focus to your work out.
This extra focus could be the fundamental difference between poor and excellent results in muscle gains.
However, it is very important to be patient. Have fun whilst training hard and your goals will be more realistic.
#38: Incorporate Variety Into Your Routine.
If you perform the same exercises every time that you go to the gym, you will get the same results. This is because your body has adapted to the stimulus of these exercises.
The trick is to shock your muscles into growing by incorporating a large variety of exercises into your regime and this will keep your body guessing.
A good example is using a variation of the full-body squats. For example, Sumo or Goblin Squats.
These small changes or variations will add up quickly in terms of enhancing muscle mass.
#39: Monitor Your Progress
Probably the only time you will hear anyone talk about weighing scales is when they are trying to lose weight. But does it not make sense to also use it when you want to gain muscle?
If you can remember to weigh yourself once a week (preferably in the morning before you have eaten) you will be able to tell if what you are doing is causing an increase in muscle mass.
You should aim for around 1/2 a pound gain per week. Make sure to use a mirror too as you do not want to gain too much fat.
A more accurate way to check if you have gained muscle is to use a measuring tape.
You should measure your chest, biceps, quads as well as your waist and hips to make sure you are not gaining fat.
By keeping a log of your activity in the gym will enable you to keep on track of your physique changes over time.
From this, you will be able to determine any trends and body changes. You can also evaluate which part of the training program produced the best results.
Your body will react to new stimuli when training and using a training log is an excellent reflective tool.
This log will highlight any successes and/or areas that need tweaking. This assessment procedure should be an integral part of your goal setting strategies.
#40: Keep Up To Date With Research
You should never stop learning and your quest for gaining muscle should be kept up to date with the latest research in work out techniques, new nutrition practices and new muscle gaining supplements.
The most successful muscle gainers are those who strive to push the bar higher, and having your finger on the pulse of the latest sports science research is definitely the way forward!
Something we see a lot, particularly in restless new gym-goers and bodybuilders desperately trying to pack on new muscle mass, is that they are constantly changing their food, their supplements and their training every few weeks because they’re not seeing the fast pace of results they want.
So firstly, it’s important to remember that building muscle does take time. For some, it takes longer than others (sorry but it’s a genetic lottery thing).
You will get there if you’re determined enough and you stick with it. No one has ever built a superior physique quickly. It is the result of years of progressive training and learning about your body’s nutritional needs.
In order to understand your body and what makes it grow as an individual and to find your own progressive pace, you need consistency and a foundation of regularity.
If you change your workout routine, reps, intensity every few weeks, mix up your supplements and even alter your diet based on not being happy with the week prior, if you do start seeing gains you’ll have no solid understanding of where they came from and what it was that contributed to them.
Our advice is to set yourself a routine, a diet plan and get a 6-8 week supply of the same supplements. Use this foundation like a religion for those 6-8 weeks. We’re not saying you can’t change the weights each week as you feel stronger, just don’t dramatically change anything.
The benefit of this is you’re giving your body a chance to change. A long enough period where you can conclusively review your results so far.
What’s more, because you’ve had a steady routine, diet and supplementation plan during this period, you can look at what is good or bad about your results and you’ll be able to make changes to your routine accordingly.
If you have chopped and changed your routine over this same time period, you won’t be able to make informed tweaks to improve on it.
#42: Remain Motivated
Our final tip is to keep working and when you have gotten all of the above right, stick to it.
Make sure that you are motivated throughout your journey. Read the health journals, the books, watch training videos and the like, and you are sure to stay motivated.
Also, keep a journal of your own progress, we have mentioned this a couple of times already but doing so will allow you to look back on how far you have come. This can be incredibly motivating when you are feeling down and ready to quit your efforts.
If you are not seeing any muscle growth there are probably a few reasons why.
To build bigger muscles you need to be in a calorie surplus. Most people are already in a calorie surplus but because they don't exercise the excess calories get stored as fat.
Gym goers tend not to realise that when they become more active the number of calories they require increases.
This problem occurs mostly when gym-goers haven't made clear enough goals. If you want to lower body fat so that you get a visible six-pack then program for that. If you want to gain muscle then you will have to program for that. You can't manage both, so decide what you want.
To gain muscle you must accept that you are going to gain some body fat too. Once you have got over that mental hurdle you can begin to increase your calories.
Look for high-protein choices and only make small increases. Check yourself weekly, if you have gained too much body fat then stop raising calories.
If you aren't consuming enough protein then your body will be limited in its response to exercise.
Usually, when you train you to cause the fibres in your muscles to tear. Then through a process known as Muscle Protein Synthesis the protein you consume in your diet will repair and replace the damaged fibres making the muscles stronger and larger than before.
If you don't consume the extra protein required however, this process will take longer and will be less effective.
To build bigger muscles you are going to want to increase your protein (as mentioned above), one of the most effective ways to do this is to consume whey protein shakes.
Studies have shown that whey protein combined with exercise can improve fat loss compared to exercise without the protein shake.
Another supplement you should be taking is creatine, this supplement can massively improve performance and has cognitive benefits too.
To increase the size of your muscles you need to be training regularly, 3-4 times per week should be the minimum.
Your program should be filled with big compound exercises that work multiple muscles. For example, the deadlift, where you use more muscles than any other exercise will release more testosterone and growth hormone than the leg press.
You are going to have to sleep more to recover. If it sounds lame having to have bedtime before 12 pm then the compensation is massive arms!
Finally, you need to be following your program week in, week out for three or four months before you can begin to enjoy the results. Hopefully, when the results do come they will inspire you to keep going, rather than to rest on your laurels.
If you follow the advice given in this article then I have no doubt that you will soon start to see the results you want.