Have you been training a while and have hit a plateau, or perhaps you are a complete newbie to the gym?
Either way you want to make sure the time spent working out will result in the biggest gains possible. So what can you do?
The following tips will certainly help maximise any muscle and strength gains, so make sure you take notice of the advice given.
#1: Focus on Compound Exercises
If you lead a busy life then you are certainly not alone, so training a different body part every day, or performing upper and lower body splits are out of the question. You just wont have the time to complete all of these workouts.
Instead you should try and focus your attention on compound exercises.
The reason for this is that these movements work multiple muscles so will give you the most gains for your time.
Focus on the following compound exercises (bench press, deadlift, squat and overhead press) and you will see some massive changes to your physique.
Isolation exercises can be used to help any muscle groups that are lagging.
#2: Increase the Weight
Believe it or not but if you are still performing the same exercises, with the same amount of reps and the same weight week after week that you are not going to grow.
To build muscle and strength you need to be pushing your body, which will mean that you need to increase the amount you lift.
You don’t need to go to extremes however, just an extra pound every week can make a massive difference.
Increasing the weight too quickly could cause you to lose form and increase the risk of injury.
I would recommend keeping a note of what you are lifting. It can be quite motivating to see how your lifts have progressed over time.
#3: Be Realistic With Your Goals
If you are thinking that within a month of training you are going to be able to step onto the Mr Olympia stage to compete then you are in for a shock.
It will take a long time to gain any significant amount of muscle. According to experts, a newbie should be able to gain only 2 pounds of muscle a month, with more advanced lifters (lifting for 4+ years) only able to gain 2-3 pounds of muscle a year .
Of course, using steroids can increase your ability to gain muscle but they do come with significant risks. Check out this article on steroid abuse to see some of the potential side effects.
Training intensely and getting adequate nutrition will certainly help make big changes to your body.
I would certainly suggest keeping track of your progress, with photos, to see how your body changes over time.
#4: Eat Lots of Protein
Protein is essential for growth as it helps repair the damaged muscle fibres torn during those intense workouts.
Yet, many of us do not consume enough protein daily.
If you are not tracking your protein intake then you are making a big mistake.
I would recommend aiming to consume between 1-2 grams of protein for every pound you weigh daily.
This may seem a lot but if you add a couple of protein shakes between meals to your diet then your intake will drastically increase.
#5: Eat More Often
To grow you need to eat, and you need to eat often.
It is no good skipping meals when trying to build muscle, it will make it too difficult to get enough nutrients into your body from the remaining meals.
Again, take note of what you are eating and the nutrients it contains. For more information on bulking I would recommend reading the following bulking article.
#6: Get Plenty of Sleep
Your sleep is incredibly important as this is when your body is repaired, which is bad news for anyone getting less than 8 hours per night.
Stress is a major issue when it comes to sleep, so take steps to try and reduce your own stress levels.
Also, make sure to knock off your phone or any other devices before bed. These will keep you awake at night.
#7: Try to Increase Testosterone
Testosterone is a male hormone and you need it to be able to build strength and muscle. It is also important for good general health and to keep your energy levels high.
Unfortunately as we age our testosterone levels will fall. Luckily there are things we can do to boost low testosterone.
People who train regularly, get plenty of sleep and eat a clean diet tend to have higher testosterone levels.
#8: Be Consistent
You cannot expect to see major changes to your body overnight, bodybuilding will take time and it takes consistency too.
With consistent effort for a few months you will be able to look back and see considerable progress, but that is not the time to stop.
If you maintain your efforts then you can dramatically alter your appearance and health.
#9: Look at Supplements
We have already looked briefly at the importance of protein shakes, but there are also plenty of other supplements available that can aid your efforts too.
A multivitamin and cod liver oil supplement are a good idea, for general health and to ensure your joints remain healthy.
There are also numerous supplements available made from ingredients that can speed up your muscle building ability.
Hopefully the above tips will give you something to think about. Is there anything from the above list that you weren’t doing? If so then you need to make the necessary changes to see those gains.
It wont be a short journey, and certainly wont be an easy one either. But it is certainly a journey that you will be glad to have taken.