People lift weights for a variety of reasons including improved sports performance, better general health, and fat loss. However, the most common goal by far is building muscle. Most gym goers train to increase muscle size and follow programs specifically designed for this purpose.
Despite this, and to their never-ending frustration, a lot of people get very few results from their training and are often frustrated, and put off by their lack of progress. If you are stuck in a rut and want to start seeing results from your training, make sure you follow these training rules for building muscle.
1. BUILD YOUR WORKOUTS AROUND COMPOUND EXERCISES
When it comes to building muscle, integrating compound exercises to your workouts should be a priority, such as:
- Bench presses
- Hip Thrusts
- Shoulder Presses
The above exercises are some of the best muscle building exercises you can do. They allow you to lift significant amounts of weight and stress your body in such a way that it is much more likely to encourage muscle growth.
There is nothing inherently wrong with isolation exercises like leg extensions and lateral raises, but they are not the best choice for muscle gain. Use them near the end of your workout to “finish off” the muscle group you are working on.
2. TRAIN YOUR MAJOR MUSCLES TWICE A WEEK
Your muscles need time to recover after a tough workout, but they don’t need a full seven days. Instead, they recover anywhere between 72-96 hours. Because of this, you should train them twice a week to make the fastest possible progress. The average “bro split”, where muscles are only trained once a week, it’s not necessarily the best way to build mass as fast and effectively as possible.
3. TRAIN YOUR LEGS, OFTEN
A lot of exercisers neglect their lower bodies. This is a big mistake.
Your legs make up about 50% of your body mass, and if you skip leg day, your overall development will suffer. In addition, intense leg workouts produce a cascade of anabolic hormones that positively influence muscle growth throughout your body.
You will find that some of the powerhouses of the fitness world will train legs every second day. There is a reason behind this! A strong lower body is key for muscle all over. Make sure your workouts are planned, you are consistent with your training methods, and you are progressing each week.
4. USE THE RIGHT REPETITION RANGE
It is believed that hypertrophy is the best repetition range for building muscle, around 6-12 reps. Training outside this range may lead to muscle growth, but at a different rate and speed. Use a few different rep counts in your workouts to make sure you fully exhaust as many muscle fibers as possible, i.e.:
- Squats – 4 sets of 6 reps
- Leg press – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Lunges – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Leg extensions – 2 sets of 12 reps
The occasional stray outside this rep range is fine, but for best results, most of your workouts should use the 6-12 rep range rule.
5. STRIVE FOR STRENGTH
Progression each week is key for stronger and bigger muscles. Each week you should be increasing your weights (even if it’s only by a kilo or two), or working with different tempo’s. Learning tempo training methods will allow you to make the exercise more difficult without having to adjust the rep range or the weight.
One of the key factors in being consistent with training is ensuring that you progress at a steady rate. If you try and progress too quickly without nailing the form, chances are high you could get an injury. Be patient with your body! All good things take time. A year’s worth of small increases and change of pace will really add up in both strength and increased muscle mass.
6. PICK THE RIGHT FORMS OF CARDIO FOR YOUR GOAL
There is no denying that cardio is important for health and fat burning. However, if your goal is building muscle, too much cardio could be detrimental to your progress. Excess cardio will use energy your body could put to better use recovering from your workouts. It could also increase your cortisol levels – the stress hormone that is the enemy of muscle growth. Choose a step count that fits your goals and limit excessive amounts of HIIT sessions.
7. FOLLOW A PROGRAM
A lot of people are guilty of winging it when they go to the gym. They base their workouts on what they feel like doing, rather than any kind of logical plan. This is a big mistake! Following a workout program means your training sessions have more direction, structure, and purpose. Like a map, your program will help you stay on track and reach your training goal more quickly. If you go into your workouts without a plan they are much less likely to produce muscle building results.
Assess your: needs, abilities, weakness, strengths, and goals. From there produce a workout program that’s right for you. That way, every workout you complete will take you one small step closer to your ultimate training goal.
8. CHANGE YOUR PROGRAM FROM TIME TO TIME
Just because you have a good program doesn’t mean you should stick with it forever. Your body is the master adapter and, in time, it will get used to your current workout regimen. When that happens, your workouts will stop being productive.
Avoid this problem by changing your workout program every 6-8 weeks, or whenever you notice that your current plan has stalled. Change your weekly split, your exercise selection, and your rep/set scheme to keep your progress on track. Don’t dismiss your current workout entirely though; if you enjoyed it and it produced decent results, you can come back to it in a few months’ time.
9. TIME YOUR REST PERIODS
How long do you rest between sets? As long as it takes you to update your social media status? As long as it takes to share a joke with your mates?! If this is how you control your rest periods, you run the risk of undermining your progress.
Like your repetition range, your rest periods should be specific to your goal of building muscle. You should rest long enough that you can do justice to your next set, but not so long that you are fully recovered. In most cases, this is somewhere from 30 seconds to two minutes.
How do you know how long you should rest? As a rule, the fewer reps you do per set, the longer you need to rest. Use the following as a guide but feel free to adjust these numbers based on your results.
- 6-8 reps – 90-120 seconds
- 9-10 reps – 60-90 seconds
- 10-12 reps 30-60 seconds
10. BE CONSISTENT
As important as the preceding nine training rules are, they won’t do a thing if you don’t follow them consistently. Muscle building can be a slow and laborious process, but it will be even slower if you skip more workouts than you complete.
If you are serious about making progress, you need to be serious about your training. Make sure you show up and train both regularly and consistently. Ultimately, even if you do more things wrong than you do right, you’ll still make progress if your efforts are consistent.
Building muscle can be very rewarding, both mentally and physically. However, slow and even non-existent progress can take all the fun out of it. Make sure you get the best possible results by following these rules and making sure your pre + post workout fueling are on point! Protein and building muscle go hand in hand if you don’t have a decent protein powder for post workout, then try EHPlabs OxyWhey.