Contents

Eight tips to help you build muscle mass

Building muscle requires a positive energy balance, which means that you must take in more calories than you burn. You need roughly 2,800 calories to build a pound of muscle, largely to support protein turnover, which can be elevated with training. By following these eight tips, you’ll be able to build muscle mass more efficiently and quickly.

Your body can build at most around about 227g of muscle each week, so if you eat too many extra calories trying to build more muscle, you will gain excess fat, too. We would suggest consuming an extra 250 to 500 calories per day. If you gain fat easily, stay on the lower end of the range, and if you find it difficult to gain weight in general, aim for the higher end of the range. It will take a bit of trial and error to find the right amount of additional calories to build muscle and stay lean.

In addition, research suggests that consuming lean protein 15 to 20 minutes before, during and within one hour of working out may help improve muscle gain. Since you are probably not going to be eating a steak or chicken breast at the gym, a protein drink or supplement may be beneficial immediately before, during or after workouts, but is not necessary.

However, it’s not all about protein. It’s about eating many meals that meet your calorific expenditure and provide you with the nutrition that will help you to build muscle, lose fat & get stronger. Here are eight simple tips to help you get on track…

1. Eat breakfast

This gives you an immediate burst of energy and helps you to stay full until your next meal or snack. It also sets the trend: you’ll tend to eat healthier if your day starts with a strong and healthy breakfast. Your best bets are omelettes, smoothies and cottage cheese.

2. Eat every three hours

The easiest way is to eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner as usual, interspersed with meals post workout, pre-bed and with two snacks in between. By keeping your food intake up, it will mean you won’t be as hungry, because eating smaller meals more often versus a few big meals will decrease your stomach size. You’ll feel full more quickly and your waist will trim, while you’ll also have fewer cravings. Not eating for long periods can cause you to over-eat at the next meal or topping yourself up with unhealthy snacks from the vending machine. So to stop any cravings, eat at fixed times every day and your body will get hungry at those fixed times.

3. Eat protein with each meal

You need protein to build and maintain muscle. To achieve this, you should be looking to eat at least 1g per 454g of body-weight. That’s 200g/day if you weigh 91kg. The easiest way to get this amount is to eat a whole protein source with each meal. These include:
• Red meat. Beef, pork, lamb, etc
• Poultry. Chicken, turkey, duck, etc
• Fish. Tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc
• Eggs. Don’t believe the cholesterol myths. Eat the yolk
• Dairy. Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, quark, yogurt, etc
• Whey. Not necessary but great for easy post workout shakes
• Try vegan options too, such as lentils, tofu, seeds and nuts

4. Eat fruit and vegetables with each meal

Most of them (not all) are low calorie: you can eat your stomach full without gaining fat or weight. Fruit and vegetables are also full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre which helps digestion, but just be careful to check the sugar content of some fruits.

5. Eat carbs only after your workout

While you need carbs for energy, most people eat more than they need. Limit your carbohydrate intake to after your workout only.
• Eat fruit and vegetables with all meals. These contain few carbohydrates compared to whole grains with the exception of corn, carrots and raisins.
• Another Carbs Post Workout Only. This is rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, quinoa, oats, etc. Avoid white carbs and eat whole grain.

6. Eat healthy fats

Healthy fats improve fat loss and health as they digest slowly. Make sure you balance your fat intake, eat healthy fats with every meal and avoid artificial trans-fats and margarine.

7. Drink water

Strength training causes water loss through sweating which can impair muscle recovery. Drinking water prevents dehydration but also hunger since an empty stomach can make you think you’re hungry.

8. Eat Whole Foods 90% of The Time

To really get the results you want, 90% of your food intake should consist of whole foods.

• Whole foods. These are unprocessed and unrefined (or little refined) foods that come as close as possible to their natural state. Examples: fresh meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, pulses, fruits, rice, oats, quinoa etc.
• Processed foods Usually contain added sugars, trans-fats, nitrates, corn syrup, sodium and more chemicals. Examples: bagels, fruit bars, cereals, pizza, cookies, sausages, frozen meals, supplements

9 Scientifically Proven Ways to Grow Muscle Fast

Patience is overrated—especially in the weight room and especially when it comes to those focused on a specific outcome: To grow muscle.

Sure, change takes time, but if you’re vying to grow and build muscle and aren’t seeing obvious size increases from month to month, it’s a sign that your approach is off. And a workout is a terrible thing to waste. Plus, even if you are seeing progress, there’s no reason you can’t see more.

How do you rev up your results? Here are nine ways.

1. Increase Your Training Volume

Training volume—your number of reps multiplied by your number of sets—is a primary determiner of hypertrophy (aka how to grow muscle). And to increase volume, you may actually need to go lower in weight than you might guess.

“Compared to training for strength, intensity is going to drop during the hypertrophy phase of a program, with intensity sitting between 50 and 75 percent of the person’s 1RM, the maximum weight he or she can lift for one rep,” says Ava Fitzgerald, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., a sports performance coach with the Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York.

To get the volume your muscles need, she recommends performing each of your lifts for three to six sets of 10 to 20 reps.

2. Focus on the Eccentric Phase

When lifting any weight, you’ve got a concentric (hard) and eccentric (easy) phase. For instance, as you lower into a squat, you’re performing an eccentric action. When you return to standing, that’s concentric. And, according to research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, eccentric work is far better at triggering hypertrophy.

To increase the amount of eccentric effort in your workout, you can do two things: either slow down the eccentric phase of each exercise you perform or integrate eccentric-only variations into your routine.

Take the squat, for example: To make it eccentric-only, you would lower to the floor, and end the exercise there. Note: If you’re trying eccentric-only exercises, you’ll need to substantially increase the weight that you use. Physiologically, muscles are far stronger moving eccentrically than they are concentrically.

3. Decrease Between-Set Rest Intervals

If you touch your phone between exercise sets, it better be to set its timer to 30 to 90 seconds. When lifting for hypertrophy, rest periods of 30 to 90 seconds encourage a quick release in muscle-building hormones (including testosterone and human growth hormone) while also making sure that you really, truly fatigue your muscles, according to Fitzgerald.

Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology last year suggests that, irrespective of rep and set scheme, fatiguing your muscles is a prerequisite for hypertrophy. Don’t be afraid to feel the burn.

4. To Grow Muscle, Eat More Protein

Exercise training breaks down your muscles. Protein builds them back up. And the harder your lifting workouts, the more important of the muscle-building foods to consider is protein intake to solidify recovery, Fitzgerald explains.

According to research from the University of Stirling, for optimal protein growth, weight lifters need to eat 0.25 to 0.30 grams of protein per kilogram body weight per meal. For a 175-pound person, that works out to 20 to 24 grams of protein at every meal. You’ll get that in three to four eggs, a cup of Greek yogurt, or one scoop of protein powder.

5. Focus on Calorie Surpluses, Not Deficits

This can be a hard one to get used to, especially for those who are used to counting calories in the hopes of losing weight. But to most effectively build muscle mass quickly (that means weight gained, not lost), you need to consume more calories than you burn each day.

That’s because, when your body senses that it’s in a calorie deficit—meaning you’re consuming fewer calories than you’re burning each day—it downshifts your body’s tendency to build new muscle. After all, if your body thinks food is in short supply, getting swole isn’t going to be its main priority.

Aim to eat roughly 250 to 500 extra calories per day. To make sure that any weight gained is from muscle, Fitzgerald recommends that the bulk of those calories come from protein. In a 2014 Pennington Biomedical Research Center study, people who ate a high-calorie diet rich in protein stored about 45 percent of those calories as muscle, while those following a low-protein diet with the same number of calories stored 95 percent of those calories as fat.

6. Snack on Casein Before Bed

Long popular among bodybuilders, casein protein absorbs slowly into the bloodstream, meaning it keeps your muscles fed with amino acids for longer compared to other types of protein such as whey and plant proteins. In one Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise study, consuming casein protein immediately before bed boosted young men’s levels of circulating amino acids for 7.5 hours; they built muscle all night long while they slept.

To get some pre-bed casein, try cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and milk. For smoothie lovers, casein-based protein powder works like a charm.

7. Get More Sleep

Muscle recovery requires more than the right nutrition. It takes time—roughly eight hours per night—dedicated to recovery, Fitzgerald says. After all, when you sleep, your body releases human growth hormone, which helps grow muscle and keeps levels of the stress hormone cortisol in check.

Plus, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, sleeping for five hours, as opposed to eight hours, per night for just one week cuts muscle-building testosterone levels by a whopping 10 to 15 percent.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults ages 18 to 64 sleep seven to nine hours per night. No excuses.

8. Try Supplementing with Creatine…

Creatine doesn’t directly grow muscle. But by boosting your performances at high-intensity lifting workouts, the natural compound effectively promotes muscle growth, according to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

In fact, in one Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research review, researchers concluded that, at a given weight, supplementing with creatine can help you lift 14 percent more reps than you can sans supplements.

For the best results, opt for creatine monohydrate, the most thoroughly researched form of the supplement.

9. …and HMB

A natural compound produced in the human body, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate prevents muscle-protein breakdown, encourages muscle growth, and speeds exercise recovery.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to significantly increase levels through food alone. That’s where supplementation comes in. For instance, in one 12-week study of resistance-trained individuals, taking HMB in tandem with a high-intensity lifting routine significantly improved muscle strength and size compared to lifting alone. Plus, in the off-chance that you push yourself too hard, HMB helps prevent the effects of overtraining—including muscle loss.

To boost your efforts to grow muscle, you can take HMB supplements solo or opt for protein and creatine powders that come with HMB baked right in.

Minimal gear and time. Maximum effect. Download the Get Fit Fast training program

Muscle Gain 101: What to Know to Make Muscles Grow

Do you find yourself wondering how to build muscle the right way?

Muscle Gain 101 is here to teach you useful workout and nutrition tips on how to build muscle, as well as answer the most common questions about gaining muscle.

How muscle growth works

Maybe you tried different types of workouts and felt an increase in strength but never saw an improvement in muscle mass…

So you lost your motivation after a few weeks and quit.

If you only knew that…

  • When you start working out (especially as a beginner) your initial strength gains are attributed to better coordination and nervous system adaptation.
  • After the first 6-8 weeks you can do more reps, but you probably don’t look stronger yet. However if you stay consistent your muscles start to adapt.
  • The muscles are made of fibers that can get thicker and stronger. After each workout, the body aims to repair the micro-injuries in the muscle tissue.

If you keep pushing yourself long enough, your body adapts to new training stimuli, and muscles start to grow.

The muscle building process is fueled by two things: structured, progressive strength training and a balanced, protein-rich diet. Here is what you should know about both…

Workout tips for muscle building

Muscle growth is influenced by genetics. Some people build muscle easier than others. But, no matter what your genetics are like, you can have a more muscular body if you structure your workouts with these tips:

  • 2-3 strength workouts per week are recommended for beginners. If you are more advanced, you can do even more.
  • For beginners: 24 hours of rest is enough after a shorter (<30 min), total body workout. However, if you do a workout focused on just one muscle group, such as legs, wait 48 hours before you do a leg-focused workout again. You can do a shorter, low-intensity total body workout in the meantime. For advanced trainers: Rest 1-2 days a week, ideally after the longest and/or most intense workouts.
  • 2 to 3 sets per exercise is enough for beginners, whereas those who are more advanced can do 3-5 or more sets. The biggest mistake you can make is to try building muscle without a workout plan! Muscle growth requires a constant, gradual increase in workout load. A good training plan can calculate the sets and reps for you so you can see results – even at home!

  • The recommended number of reps depends on the exercise and how hard it is for you. Start by doing as many reps as you can do with good form. For example, if you can only do one Push-up, do one in each set and then finish the set with knee Push-ups.
  • Increasing the load progressively is a must for all fitness levels, from beginner to advanced, if you want to stimulate muscle growth. As you get stronger, choose a harder exercise variation or do more reps. A good rule of thumb is: if you can easily do more than 12 reps it might be time to consider a harder exercises or variation!
  • Focusing on a slow, controlled descent is good for really feeling your muscles burn. The eccentric part of the movement (e.g. when you are lowering yourself down in a Push-up or in a Squat) puts more load on your muscles. Try to count 3 seconds as you go down slowly; it can be a good way to make an otherwise easy exercise much harder!

Can you build muscle without weights?

Yes, load your muscles enough and they will adapt and get bigger and stronger. A good bodyweight training plan is the way to go. Why? It ensures that you keep challenging your muscles, even without the weights.

Want to work out at home and need some motivation? Download the adidas Training app and join a challenge!

Does cardio make you lose muscle?

If done properly, cardio can influence, but won’t destroy, your muscle gains. Nutrition and rest are key to combining strength training and cardio.

One thing that can really make you lose muscle… is not eating right!

Diet tips for muscle building

Loading your muscles without refueling them is just going to put stress on your body without visible results. Consider the following basics of a muscle building diet:

  • Protein is the building block for your muscles. How much protein you eat in total throughout the day matters more than what you eat directly after the workout. Keep in mind: the body can only absorb about 20 g of protein per meal, so no need to stuff yourself at every meal!
  • To gain weight (muscle or fat) you need to eat slightly more calories than you burn. Check out how to gain weight healthily, without overeating or getting fat.
  • But what if you already have a solid amount of muscle mass and it’s just not visible? Many people just want to appear more muscular, not necessarily add more weight. Maybe you want to have a six-pack but your abs are not showing? Then you should focus on losing fat to reveal your muscles, not increase your calories.

Takeaway

If you don’t train or eat enough, your muscles won’t grow. On the other hand, if you train a lot, but eat even more, you might also gain fat.

That’s why it’s important to get an integrated training and nutrition plan. This will even sync the calories you burned in your workout with your daily calorie allowance!

Ready to build muscle?

  • Do at least 2-3 strength workouts per week.
  • Make sure to have a training plan that progressively loads your muscles.
  • Feed your muscles with a balanced diet that has enough protein.
  • Be patient and keep doing this for more than 8 weeks…

…and you will see results! Hello, bigger shoulders, chest, quads…and six-pack 😉

***

There’s a lot of false information out there on “building muscle fast.”

There’s also A LOT of companies making money selling useless supplements, many of them promising “toned” muscle within weeks.

These two things are not a coincidence.

Today, we’ll provide the truth you so rightly deserve:

  • How fast can I build muscle naturally?
  • How fast can a beginner gain muscle? (Initial gains)
  • How do you make your muscles grow faster? (Strength Training 101)
  • Should I worry about getting bulky?

This will help you separate fact from fiction on building muscle when training naturally.

Make no mistake about it, this stuff isn’t easy.

Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading about it on the internet!

If you’re somebody that’s worried about wasting time, or you want to have an expert hand craft a workout and nutrition program that’s based on your current situation, consider checking out our really popular 1-on-1 Online Training Program! I’ve been training with an online coach since 2015 and it has been the biggest boost for me in the world.

Want a custom muscle building plan? Learn more here:

Alright, onto “how much muscle can I build naturally?”

How Fast Can I Build Muscle Naturally?

You’re here for an answer, so I’m going to get the ugly truth (that will probably make you sad) out of the way:

Under OPTIMAL conditions, you can expect to gain around 1-2 pounds of muscle per month.

We’ve found that for most Rebels here in the Nerd Fitness Rebellion (our community), closer to one pound per month is the reality.

“Optimal conditions” mean that you are eating the right amount and the right kinds of food, potentially using 1-2 supplements (protein and creatine), AND you are training perfectly for muscle growth (which we explain in this section here).

Proper sleep is also absolutely necessary.

This also means you are trying to thread the needle of eating JUST enough to build muscle, but not too much that you put on a lot of fat, too.

Yeah, you could go full hulk mode (“dirty bulk”) and just eat anything and everything, maxing out your muscle building… but it’ll be buried under fat, which you’ll have to trim again and restart the cycle.

While it is certainly one effective way to gain muscle and strength, we more often recommend fiddling with your diet and training so you can find that sweet spot where you’re building muscle and not gaining too much fat.

All of this to say: Yes, can build muscle quickly, but it will NOT be the crazy amount you read about in the magazines, unless you’re taking Dr. Stark’s super serum (ROIDS!).

If you had grand visions of looking like the dudes in the ads you see in muscle and fitness, don’t expect to do so in 90 days with a few days of training and protein shakes.

Remember: Expect 1-2 pounds of month of muscle gain…under optimal conditions.

The one possible exception to gaining strength and muscle fast? Noob gains.

How Fast Can a Beginner Gain Muscle? (Initial Gains)

Yes, we’ve all heard the stories of guys that have gained 40 pounds of muscle in two months.

We’ve also seen all the ridiculous ads about “the workout supplement doctors don’t want you to see” with a guy that looks like Bane.

99% of that stuff is absolute bullshit, so let’s just get that out in the open!

HOWEVER, If you’re really skinny, young, training hard, and eating all day every day, as a newbie you can produce results very quickly.

It is possible, in the first year of true strength training with intense focus and dedication, to gain 15-20 pounds of muscle. Combine that with 15-20 pounds of fat gain and you can drastically change your appearance if you started out very skinny.

When I started to take strength training serioulsy, I felt like I was invincible. I even gained 18 pounds in a month, and I foolishly assumed most of it was muscle.

But due to taking the supplement creatine (which allows your muscles to hold more water weight), almost all of it was water weight, along with some fat… and then probably 2 pounds of muscle!

I’ve since come to learn “TEH MUSCLE GAINZ” aren’t that easy. Fortunately, that’s only part of what I learned in that month.

If you are new to strength training and you are eating right, you’ll not only pack on muscle, but you’ll see some incredibly impressive gains in your strength training:

  • Going from 1 pull up to 3 sets of 15?
  • Adding 100 pounds to your squat?
  • Adding 150 pounds to your deadlift?

I can’t predict what sort of results you’ll see in that first year, but it can be pretty epic if you attack it right!

Muscle growth might happen slower than you want, but I expect something different will happen along the way – you’ll fall in love with this idea of building STRENGTH! In fact, getting hooked on progress, and strength training is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

So, if you are young, growing, and brand spankin’ new to strength training, you’ll be able to pack on muscle at a decent clip. Our goal will be for you to do it in a way that’s sustainable!

Hopefully I didn’t put a big damper on your Captain-America fueled dreams! I just want to set proper expectations so you don’t get discouraged with slow progress, and instead get SUPER encouraged with any progress. Getting strong should be freakin’ fun!

Weirdly enough, once I stopped trying to get there quickly is when I started to actually make permanent progress.

Good? Good! Now let’s build you some muscle!

How Do You Make Your Muscles Grow Faster? (Strength Training 101)

We’ve covered this at length in the “How to Bulk Up Fast” Guide but I’ll give you the abridged version:

How to build muscle quickly and bulk up:

  1. Lift heavy things.
  2. Then, lift heavier things than last time (progressive overload).
  3. Specifically include squats and deadlifts and compound movements – they target the muscle building triggers in your entire body.
  4. Target sets and reps in the 4-5 sets of 6-10 reps per set.
  5. Sleep as much as you can.
  6. Eat more calories, especially on training days (with plenty of protein and carbs, and vegetables). Head here to calculate your caloric needs.
  7. Use a protein supplement if you cannot consume enough protein via regular sources.
  8. Consider supplementing with creatine.
  9. Repeat month after month after month.
  10. When in doubt, eat more than you think.
  11. If you put on too much fat, slightly cut back on calories on non-training days.

The goal here is to thread the needle where we pack on size and muscle but not fat. If we don’t eat enough (generally a problem for us skinny people), we will struggle to put on either.

However, if we overeat we’ll build muscle and add some fat. We can then trim the fat, if after a few weeks we notice our body fat percentage creeping up.

“But Steve, I don’t have access to a gym – can I pack on muscle with just bodyweight exercises?”

Yes, you can pack on size while only doing bodyweight exercises. Look at any Olympic gymnast!

I personally managed to pack on some weight while traveling the world.

However, this can feel like playing Halo on Legendary difficulty. It can be done, but damn it can be challenging – especially for lower body movements.

If your sole goal is to get bigger as fast as possible, access to a barbell for squats and deadlift is almost a requirement.

Note about all of the above:

If you’re confused about how to start with strength training, or you want to start with bodyweight training before trying a gym, or you just want to make sure you’re squatting and doing pull-ups right, we cover ALL of that in our free downloadable guide, Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know.

Get your free guide when you sign up in the box below, and we’ll show you exactly what to do:

Download our comprehensive guide STRENGTH TRAINING 101!

  • Everything you need to know about getting strong.
  • Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
  • How to find the right gym and train properly in one.

Should I Worry About Getting Too Bulky?

“I want to put on muscle, but not too much I don’t want to get too bulky, Steve!”

We get this comment via email a LOT, from both guys and gals.

In fact, I heard this fear so frequently that I included it in our top 7 myths of strength training for women. Mostly, this comment comes from folks who are new to strength training and fitness, which makes sense.

The unknown is scary, and we’re scared to start something if we’re not quite sure how our bodies are going to adapt.

Combine this with mainstream magazines saying things like “lift light weights to tone arms!” and we conjure up visions of lifting heavy weights producing a Hulk-like response.

Here’s a before and after from Staci, our Lead Female trainer in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, who picked up VERY heavy weights and actively tried to get bulky.

Let’s see the results:

Here’s the truth: YOU DO NOT GET BULKY WITHOUT DEVOTING YOUR LIFE TO IT! Unless you are training with hypertrophy (increased muscle size) as a focus, have superior genetics, take steroids, eat like a horse, and focus on nothing but muscle size for months/years, you are NOT going to get too bulky.

I run a fitness site. I have dedicated my life to health and fitness for the past twelve years, and I have actively been trying to put on weight and muscle throughout that entire time.

I am nowhere close to looking bulky, despite all of my efforts to do so, and dedicating my last 13 months to building muscle and size.

Yes, genetically some people MIGHT put on muscle more easily than others, but even then it’s fractions of a degree, not DRASTIC sweeping differences. We tend to get this question from men or women who are so thin and have such fast metabolisms, they probably need to put on 40-50+ pounds of both fat and muscle, before they would ever even think to use the word “too bulky.”

So, remove this from your vocabulary!

Build Muscle and Get Strong Now.

I want to talk about one final thing: all of the above info about muscle building is true, if you are 100% focused on muscle building.

Your results will vary if you are trying to build muscle while also:

  • Running regularly
  • Doing martial arts
  • Participating in sports that require endurance

Why? Well, because instead of using the calories from your food to grow big and strong, the calories are going to fuel an extra long run.

We dive deep into the subject here in “The Ultimate Guide to Building Any Physique.”

Now, all of this information comes with a caveat: do what makes you happy! If you love to run, or play ultimate frisbee 4 days a week, go for it. Just be sure to temper your goals if you’re ALSO trying to accomplish a billion other things too. Just temper your expectations as to what will be possible.

If you are looking for more specific guidance on how to build muscle naturally, or you’ve been at it for months/years without getting results and think you’re a lost cause, you’re not alone!

I honestly thought I was a lost cause because I spent 6 years training to bulk up and saw no results. Despite the story I told myself, it wasn’t because of my genetics. It was because I was following bad advice, had a bad training program, and didn’t have the right nutritional strategy!

If you are tired of not getting results, want to avoid trial-and-error, or you just want to be told exactly what to do to reach your goals, check out our popular 1-on-1 Coaching Program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who will get to know you better than you know yourself and program your workouts and nutrition strategy for you.

Now, if you are somebody that is more of the “do-it-yourself” type, check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy. The Academy has 20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles so you know when you to level up your routine, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.

What else can I answer for you about healthy strength and muscle building?

We can become superheroes, and we have dozens of stories to prove it 🙂 – just remember it’s going to take time. Attack the problem with the right game plan, and your ascension to superhero status can come a bit quicker.

What do you want to know about building muscle and strength? Leave questions in the comments!

-Steve

PS: Not ready to commit to one of our programs? That’s cool too! Make sure you sign up for our email list so we can send you BOTH the “Skinny nerd’s guide to bulking up” and also our entire “Strength Training 101: What you need to know” ebook! You can get both free when you sign up in the box below:

Download our free skinny guy’s guide to putting on muscle! Enter your email below to download now

  • The Nerd Fitness “Get Bigger” Shopping List
  • Bulk like the Hulk with our rules for getting bigger

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How to Build Muscle Fast

Building muscle is easy. You need to lift heavy weights and do hard exercises. However, we get a bit of “caveat emptor” here. Heavy means a weight that you can do with PERFECT FORM that causes you to have to stop between 8 and 10 reps. Most guys either lift too light or, cheat to lift to heavy. Neither works. Too light, no effect, too heavy, you risk getting hurt.

What are hard exercises? First hint, you usually can’t do them with a machine. Think “calisthenics”. Pushups, split squat, chin-ups and pull-ups. If you can do pushups easily, add a weight vest or a plate on your back. Good at pull-ups? Add weight on a dip belt.

P.S.- It’s hard to just build upper body muscle. The body seems to like symmetry. Want to build muscle, you need to work your lower body and upper body. The problem with most guys is they want to look like an underwear model. Just a big chest and abs. Good luck.

Michael Boyle is a Boston based strength and conditioning coach, facility owner and author. For the best in Boston area sports and personal training go to www.bodybyboyle.com. MBSC was recently named one of America’s Top Gyms By Men’s Health Magazine and was voted Boston’s best personal trainers for 2011.

How To Build Muscle Fast!

As a former ACE-certified personal trainer who’s worked with hundreds of clients one-on-one, and as a fitness enthusiast who’s pushed my own physical prowess to the utmost limits, I have a good idea of what it takes to build muscle. I know what works and what doesn’t. With that said, my credentials pale in comparison to those who’ve already lent their best muscle building advice. So it’s hard for me to top anything that’s already been said.

Instead, I’ll leave you with my single best piece of muscle-building advice, and that is . . . commit to success.

Whether it’s packing on size or burning fat or toning up, any fitness goal cannot be had without the utmost dedication. The people who succeed in whatever gym undertaking they embark on are the ones who stay committed to it. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” as some really wise and enlightened old man once said.

It takes time and perseverance to get to where you want to be in life. Yes, you can build muscle fast—relatively speaking that is—but you can’t build it without putting in the consistent work, both in and outside the gym. From making sure your diet is exactly where you need it to be, to getting the right amount of sleep each night, to going to the gym and religiously sticking to your schedule. Everything has to be done, and done right.

Building muscle fast can certainly be done, as 53 other experts outlined, but it takes a certain level of commitment that you really have to be willing to give. If you half-ass this concept it just won’t work.

Ask yourself today if you really want to pack on solid muscle and change your physique. If the answer is “yes,” then really commit to making this goal a reality. If you can do this, you can do anything!

Justin Stenstrom is a nationally-acclaimed life coach, author, entrepreneur, and speaker. He is the Editor-in-Chief of EliteManMagazine.com, the founder of Elite Life Nutrition, and the host of the Elite Man Podcast where he interviews some of the best self-help experts in the world, including guests like Robert Greene, Grant Cardone, Dr. John Gray, Bas Rutten, Dr. Dale Bredesen, Kevin Harrington and many others. Once anxious, insecure, depressed, and unhappy, Justin’s overcome many of life’s greatest obstacles and loves nothing more than helping others do the same!

There you have it! 54 experts sharing their best advice on how to build muscle fast! I hope you enjoyed reading these awesome tips from these great fitness minds as much as I did. Please favorite or bookmark this page and refer back to it whenever you want to reference one of the tidbits from one of these fitness masters.

If you’re goal is to pack on muscle, you need look no further than the advice listened on this page. Pick a few tips or many and really put into practice what these professionals have to say. If you do, I promise you’ll see results. The advice in this post is solid and very practical. The weight is now in your hands. Do what you will with it!

Please comment below and share your thoughts. Tell us your favorite muscle-building strategies, experiences, thoughts on the post, or questions that you may have. I’m sure many of our experts would love to keep the conversation going and comment back on your feedback!

Also, if you love this post, sign up for our Elite Man Newsletter today and get all of our posts, podcasts, tips, and advice completely free! We send out 1-2 emails per week with our best Elite Man content with some of the best self-development experts in the world!

150 Muscle Building Tips

Here are 150 of the best muscle building tips I could piece together in one evening. They are short, sweet and to the point. But don’t let that fool you. Follow them and you’ll be successful.

150 Muscle Building Tips

1) Compound exercises are your best tools for growth. Use them.

2) Eat your biggest meal of the day about 30 to 60 minutes after you lift weights.

3) Get strong! There are no weak bodybuilders. You don’t have to become a powerlifter, but you do need to dramatically improve your strength over what it is now.

4) Squats are king of the muscle builders, and they are not bad for your knees unless your form is horrible and/or you are half-squatting.

5) Deadlift. If squats are king, deadlifts are second in command. They are not bad for your back unless your form is horrible.

6) Learn proper form. Read every article, and watch every video you can on proper exercise form. There is no excuse for having sub-par squat and deadlift form.

7) Balance your upper body work. This means equal effort for chest, back and shoulders. Stop doing 7 exercises for chest and only lat pull downs for back. Balance will keep you healthy, strong and help to stave off shoulder issues.

8) Beginners…stop training like advanced lifters, using advanced splits and training techniques. They are not needed. What you need is to get strong on the basic compound lifts more than anything.

9) Beginners…stop adding training volume. Having 3 bicep days per week isn’t going to help. You need to get strong right now, not fatigue yourself with endless sets.

10) Stop believing that muscle building is rocket surgery. It isn’t. Get stronger, eat enough food and stay persistence.

11) Stop missing workouts.

12) Stop complaining about muscle soreness. It’s part of the game. Don’t miss workouts because of it. No excuses – get to the gym.

13) Stop complaining about every ache, pain or strain. Lifting weights is hard, and a man’s game. You’re going to feel off occasionally. No excuses – get to the gym.

14) Proper muscle building nutrition is much more than broccoli, rice and chicken breasts. Eat a variety of whole foods each week.

15) Eat more red meat.

16) Eat more eggs, including the yolks. Egg yolks are nutritionally dense.

17) Drink plenty of water. Then drink more.

18) Sleep at least 8 hours a night and take naps when possible.

19) Learn to cook. Muscle building nutrition doesn’t have to be bland.

20) Having trouble reaching your calorie goals? Add butter or olive oil to your veggies.

21) Having trouble reaching your calorie goals? Switch to whole milk, and drink at least 3 large glasses per day.

22) Having trouble reaching your calorie goals? Add sour cream and cheese to every possible meal.

23) Having trouble reaching your calorie goals? Snack on almonds and nuts in between meals.

24) Beginners…stop obsessing about muscle confusion. You won’t plateau for years and years. Confuse your muscles with more weight.

25) Stop changing workouts every 2 weeks. This is a huge waste of time. You’re spending more time adapting to the specific conditioning requirements of the workout than you are building muscle.

26) Obsess about keeping your abs and undereat to stay lean, and that’s all you’ll ever be: skinny with abs.

27) Learn to evolve your training based on needs rather than making random workout changes.

28) Industry standard bodybuilding workouts contain a high percentage of nonsense. Ever notice how 95% of these workouts never tell you how to add weight? Guess what – adding weight is the cornerstone of progress and results.

29) Not all supplements are bad, but some supplement claims can be. Learn the difference.

30) Very few muscle building topics are black or white. Balance what you read with what advanced, successful lifters are using.

31) Science can help, but training is still an art. Everybody is different. Try new things based on science, but tweak them to fit your personal needs.

32) Anyone that insists a topic or training concept is 100% black or white should be approached with caution. Different things work for different lifters.

33) Progression of weight is the magic muscle building key.

34) Why does every workout seem to work? Because a lifter who is dedicated, eats right and gets stronger can thrive on even the most unorganized muscle building workout.

35) Fat is not bad. Do not avoid healthy fats. Your body needs fat to function properly.

36) Eat 90% healthy, whole foods. Allow some of your calories to be fun calories, so you can stay sane and a member of the human race.

37) Just because someone has a six pack doesn’t mean they know how to build muscle. Learn the difference between a diet expert and good muscle building advice.

38) Squats above parallel are dangerous (bad for the knees).

39) 20 rep squats are insane and amazing. Try them.

40) Have more sex. It’s good for you.

41) Perform cardio 3 times a week for overall health. better health is never a bad thing.

42) Cardio will not limit your gains. Only poor effort in the gym and a weak diet will limit your gains.

43) A great back training combination includes the deadlift, a row, and a lat exercise like pullups, rack chins or lat pulldowns.

44) Dips are underused but potent. They were once considered the upper body squat. Don’t underestimate their ability to pack on chest and tricep mass.

45) Find abs exercises that allow you to increase resistance, like weighted situps or cable crunches.

46) Stubborn calves? Try heavy, low rep, high volume work for several months as a change of pace to high rep sets.

47) Most bulks that result in excessive fat gain and little muscle gain happen because 90% of the emphasis is placed upon the diet. A bulk is only going to work if you train insane. Go crazy with compound exercises and building strength so you can maximize muscle growth without wasting those extra calories.

48) Eat as many fruits and veggies as you want. Red, green and yellow colors equal plenty of nutrition.

49) The body needs sodium. Don’t under-consume salt.

50) Having a proper sodium/potassium balance is very important for overall health. Instead of worrying about salt, make sure you are taking in enough potassium.

51) Your body needs cholesterol to function properly. If you are eating healthy, don’t obsess about your cholesterol intake.

52) Pound for pound the best bicep builders are heavy rows and pullups/chinups. Barbell curls are a good addition to these exercises.

53) Use a heavy compound lift and an extension when targeting triceps; for example…close grip bench presses and two arm seated dumbbell tricep extensions.

54) Dips and close grip bench presses are potent tricep builders.

55) Want big arms? Remember that the triceps makes up 2/3rds of your arm size.

56) Lagging traps? Try the combination of heavy deadlifts, power cleans, power shrugs, heavy behind the neck presses and heavy rows.

57) Don’t discount fullbody workouts. Prior to the steroid era they built some amazing physiques. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was weaned on fullbody routines

58) Heavy rows are the best rear delt builders.

59) Isolation exercises stalling and becoming hard to add weight without compromising form? Switch to a machine isolation exercise instead; one that allows a higher range of progression.

60) Perform your compound exercises first while you are fresh.

61) Training for failure is not necessary, and generally involves more risk than reward. Stop a set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep.

62) Don’t train with poor form. If your exercise form starts to deteriorates during a set, stop the set.

63) Performing the bench press with your arms flared out at 90 degrees is one of the worst things you can do for your shoulders. Being your elbows in to about a 30-60 degree angle, give or take.

64) Don’t bounce bench press reps off your chest. This is dangerous in many ways.

65) Don’t curl in the squat rack. The squat rack is sacred, and for squatting.

66) When bench pressing make sure your elbows are directly over your wrists. With your arms at a 30-60 degree angle from your side, this will help you find a natural grip width.

67) Close grip bench presses are NOT performed with your hands 6 inches apart. This is a good way to injure your wrists. Tuck your elbows at your side, and make sure your wrists are over your elbows. This will help you find the proper width.

68) Eating 180 to 240 grams of protein per day isn’t going to harm your kidneys. Eat your protein.

69) Eat a variety of protein foods…meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk. Each protein source has a difference amino acid profile, so variety is a good thing.

70) Lifting weights will not stunt your growth.

71) Creatine is a quality choice and has been extensively researched. Try it for yourself.

72) Work big muscle groups before small muscle groups.

73) If you are using a split, separate your shoulder and chest days as much as possible. Both are “pressing” days and utilize the same muscle groups to different degrees.

74) Beginners…rest as much as you lift. For every lifting day you want a day off. Your body is responding to the intense demands of lifting and you need plenty of rest and food.

75) Stop calling yourself a hardgainer. Focus on getting your bench press to 300, squat to 400 and deadlift to 500. Once there, look in the mirror and see if you’re still a “hardgainer.”

76) Muscle building takes years, not weeks or months. Don’t forget that.

77) If you really want to learn something interesting, ignore how a bodybuilder trains now, and find out how he trained the first 2 years when packing on mass.

78) Train most compound exercises between the 5-12 rep range. Heavy weight works best with moderate reps.

79) Train most isolation exercises between the 8 to 15 rep range. Lighter weight isolation lifts work best with a few extra reps.

80) Muscle soreness is not a be all, end all indicator of workout effectiveness.

81) Beginners…stop focusing on “the pump.” A pump won’t help if you’re using wimpy weights.

82) Eat some protein 60-90 minutes prior to lifting, but don’t train on a full stomach. Use whey protein if you have to.

83) Enjoy the journey.

84) It’s ok to insert your favorite exercises as long as 80% of your workouts consist of potent movements.

85) Taking advice from a lifter without personal experience is a risky journey. Do your homework.

86) Be careful about trusting Internet advice from someone who doesn’t have up at least a picture, video or some form of valid credentials.

87) You never master form on the big lifts. Remember that. The heavier the weight, the more challenging keeping proper form becomes.

88) Overhead presses are not inherently bad for the shoulders, but doing 5 bench press variations while ignoring overhead presses is.

89) It is generally better to perform compound movements before machine exercises.

90) Don’t look for ways to make your workout easier; look for ways to make it harder. Embrace the most challenging exercises!

91) Never perform cardio before your weight training. Save your energy for muscle building, and when done do cardio.

92) Performing cardio after lifting? Consider giving your body some protein in the form of a small whey shake before hitting the treadmill.

93) Ignore the nonsense that all supplement companies are to be ignored. Some fringe products are certainly hyped, but that doesn’t mean all supplements are without value.

94) Add volume after you’ve already built a fair amount of strength.

95) Add advanced training techniques like drop sets and slow negatives after you’ve added a fair amount of strength.

96) Don’t trust everything you read on the Internet. Even this article. Research and try things for yourself.

97) Don’t discount upper lower splits.

98) When looking at bodypart volume, consider weekly sets. You could do something like 9-15 sets one day a week, 5-8 sets twice a week, or 3-5 sets 3x a week.

99) There are no magic number of sets and reps.

100) How many sets should you do? Use the “one hour guideline.” As long as you are training hard and keeping your workouts around an hour, you will be performing a sensible number of sets.

101) The stronger you get, the more using higher rep sets for compound lifts becomes a solid way of training for muscle building.

102) Don’t be afraid to take a complete week away from the gym every 8-12 weeks. You won’t shrivel up and lose all your muscle. In fact, you’ll heal some nagging aches and pains and probably train better when you come back.

103) Intermediate lifters can use a lighter week every 3-4 weeks. Call it a deload. This will allow you to go hard and heavy for several weeks, and then take a lighter week to recover.

104) How wide should your squat stance be? Get in a position like you were guarding someone in basketball and check your foot width. This should be about your squat stance width.

105) Do not squat with your knees forward. Knee angle should match toe angle, and toe angle for most is about 30 degrees. During squats your toes and knees should never be pointed straight ahead.

106) Believe in your workout plan. If you won’t trust it will yield results, why are you using it?

107) Eat when you’re hungry. This is simply good old fashioned common sense.

108) Snacks in between meals don’t have to be complicated. Fruit, protein shakes, whole milk, almonds and nuts, string cheese, protein bars and beef jerky are all simple but solid choices.

109) Start with the basic supplements…a quality multivitamin, fish oil and whey protein. Once you are consistent with your training and making gains, then you can explore things like pre-workout formulas, BCAA drinks and creatine.

110) There’s a good chance if you’re an ectomorph that you might benefit from more frequent lifting. So try out a fullbody workout.

111) If you’re very overweight focus on training hard and getting stronger while dropping the fat. This should be your main priority.

112) Overweight lifters who are trying to lose fat should not train with lighter weight and higher reps. Switching to lighter weights signals they body that you no longer need as much muscle tissue.

113) True plateaus take years and years to reach. Gains always slow over time. If you’re adding a couple or reps to a lift each month, you’re not stalling.

114) Leg presses are a good exercise, but they are not better than squats. If you want a great leg blasting tag team, use both.

115) Log your workouts. You must use some system of training your progress.

116) Avoid unmotivated training partners who are always late or rarely show up. Surround yourself with motivated people, or no one at all.

117) If you can’t do bench presses because you have no spotter, use dumbbell bench presses instead.

118) If you’re going to train to failure, do so only on your last set of an exercise.

119) Never waste a set. If you aren’t pushing for as many reps as possible, there’s no point in performing the set.

120) Always try to improve. If you performed 7 reps for an exercise last week, try for 8 or 9 this week.

121) When losing fat, rapid weight loss usually leads to rapid muscle loss. Try to lose no more than 1.5 to 2 pounds of fat per week.

122) Be careful about trusting advice focused around extremes. Most lifters are in the middle, and not utilizing extreme training or dieting practices.

123) Understand that natural muscle builders will never get as big as steroid users. It’s a fairy tale to believe so.

124) If you are unsure about squat form, use goblet squats for several weeks to get the feel for the exercise.

125) Ignore extreme claims such as: “Gain 2 inches on your arms in 2 months with this bicep blaster”, or “pack on 10 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks.” This is simply nonsense created to get your attention.

126) Use straps if you have to on rows and pullups. Never let a sub-par grip hinder your back training.

127) Want a stronger grip? Try 30 to 60 second barbell static holds in a squat rack.

128) Never perform a compound exercise without first performing a few non-taxing warmup sets.

129) Train your abs last. They are a small muscle group. Blast bigger muscle groups first.

130) You don’t need to train abs every day. 1-3 times per week is plenty.

131) So what if you’re tired. Workout! Odds are you’ll feel better when you’re done, and the quality of your performance will most likely surprise you.

132) Don’t be afraid to train opposing bodyparts together – chest with biceps, back and triceps. Variety can be a good thing.

133) For fun, finish a bodypart with a pump set. Blast it with a 20-40 rep killer set before moving on.

134) Lagging body part? Try a 7-14 day blitz. Hit it with 10 sets per day, every day, using moderate weight. Then rest that bodypart completely for a week.

135) Limited with time? Try rest-pause training.

136) Hammer your shoulders! It’s ok to use more than one pressing movement per shoulder workout. Stop babying your shoulders.

137) Eat first thing in the morning. You’re body has been without fuel. Kick start your day with some quality fuel.

138) Eat frequent protein. This has been the staple in bodybuilding for decades, and has never let a lifter down to my knowledge. Eat at least 4 protein meals per day, with 5-7 meals being optimal.

139) Use the “shake and bake” rule post workout. Have a whey shake immediately after training, and 30-90 minutes later eat a whole foods meal (something that is baked/cooked, etc.).

140) Eat your protein before bed. If you’re not up for whole foods, drink a casein protein shake.

141) Don’t miss meals. Don’t miss workouts, don’t miss meals…seeing the big picture?

142) Frequently tired? Use a pre-workout formula to give you an extra workout boost.

143) Workout during the time of day when you have the most energy, or when you are least likely to miss workouts.

144) Hate veggies? Dice 2 handfuls of spinach and then sautee in a frying pan until wilted. Spinach reduces down to virtually nothing, is tasteless, and can now be added into nearly any dish. Quick and easy veggies!

145) Ignore haters and detractors. Stay away from people trying to keep you from reaching your goals.

146) In a rut? Try something completely different like a 10×10 workout.

147) There is no need to frequently test your max. Get out of this habit and focus on muscle building.

148) Stop believing that days off are wasted time. Get a life outside of the gym.

149) Attend a local bodybuilding competition. This is a great motivator, and it’s cheap!

150) Train like you are expecting to be lifting at age 70. Beating yourself up occasionally is fine. Hard training is hard. But don’t overdo it. Get in, work hard and get out!

Got any other muscle building tips? Post them in the comments below:

A Girls Guide To Gaining Muscle: Weight Training

One of the biggest misconceptions about weight lifting is this myth that it will cause women to “get big.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. On the other hand, many women who “lift” weights constantly pick up the same 5-pound dumbbells week after week and wonder why they don’t see any aesthetic changes in their physique. This could be for a number of reasons, but for the sake of this article, we will be discussing the impact of weight training.

Before we get into the “how” of weight training, let’s look at some proven principles and clear up some misconceptions.

1. Lift heavy.

To stimulate muscle growth, or hypertrophy, a stimulus must be placed on the muscle. As mentioned previously, women tend to typically stick with weights that they are comfortable using for a full three sets. However, a greater stimulus must be placed on the muscles to see any real changes. You need to get out of your comfort zone and put greater physiological demands on your muscles. Once you can make this paradigm shift in your mind, you will be able to make substantial progress in both your strength and muscle gains.

2. How to choose the right weight.

Women often underestimate their strength and, by default, grab the lighter weights. This is a mistake. Instead, choose a weight that can be lifted 10 times, with the last two reps posing a significant challenge. It is important to maintain good form when performing your exercises. As soon as you notice your form starting to fail, drop the amount of weight being lifted or take a rest. The goal here is to lift heavy and well, not lift heavy and get hurt. Be sure to have a spotter when performing exercises such as a back squat, bench presses and overhead presses, especially when going up in weight.

3. Sets and reps.

The typical recommendation for building muscle is to complete three to four sets of eight to 12 reps of an exercise. If you choose a heavier weight and do fewer repetitions (e.g., 3 to 6), you’re more likely to gain muscle strength, while lighter weights and higher repetitions lead to gains in muscle endurance. If you’re aiming for greater strength, take a little extra rest time between sets. If you want to increase muscles size, reduce the amount of rest you take between sets.

4. Frequency.

One of the most important elements to achieving muscle gains is consistency, so aim to weight train four to five days a week, if possible. Recording your exercises and weights in a journal is a great way to track gains. You can have good intentions to lift heavy, but the only way you will know if you are getting stronger is by writing down the sets, reps and weights used during each workout. Another thing to consider is the breakdown of your weight-training sessions. Will you perform total-body workouts or focus exclusively on upper- or lower-body exercises? Or maybe two body parts per workout? Whatever you end up deciding, the key is consistency and overload.

5. Choosing your exercises.

There are countless ways to create a workout to gain muscle mass. Ideally, perform exercises requiring larger muscle groups first, such as squat/squat variations, bench press, deadlifts, lat pull-downs and overhead press. Doing so enables you to expend greater energy on these movements, while still being able to perform well on smaller movements toward the end of your workout. Choose six to eight exercises to perform on any given day. You can split them up into circuits or do them separately, keeping your rest in between sets around 60 seconds.

Sample Muscle-building Exercises

As mentioned above, stimulating muscle growth happens when muscles are pushed beyond their comfort zones. Be sure to include some of these movements into your workout to maximize your muscle hypertrophy.

Squat

Whether you choose heavy dumbbells, a barbell or the squat rack, this exercise is great for shaping and building muscle in your quads and glutes. Maintaining proper form is key, so gradually add weight as you train while maintaining good form. Ideally, when you look into the mirror, you should pretend you are sitting in a chair at the bottom of your squat, with your heels on the ground and hips back.

Shoulder Press

There are a number of shoulder-press variations, including the dumbbell press, Arnold press and behind-the-neck press. These exercises are great for the shoulders, traps and upper body. Don’t be afraid to add some weight, and be sure to have a spotter if you are really pushing yourself.

Deadlift

Whether you choose the single-leg or traditional deadlift, use dumbbells or barbells, this versatile exercise engages the hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles. Form is critical on this exercise, so be sure to keep a flat back and slight bend in your knees. If you feel your back rounding, drop the weight and refocus on your form.

Chest Press

There are a myriad ways to perform a chest press, including on an incline, decline, flat bench or the floor, which will target the chest from multiple angles. Dumbbells or a barbell can be used, and if you are really pushing your upper limit, be sure to have a spotter.

Biceps curls

Although a smaller muscle group, the biceps can lift some weight when pushed. Incorporate a few curl variations in to your program, such as barbell curls, dumbbell seated curls, hammer curls or rope curls. Be sure not to rock for momentum and if you feel your back starting to arch, it’s probably time to lower the weight.

Triceps Kickback

Show off that “horse shoe” by sculpting those triceps. For this exercise, you will need a pulley and an attachment such as a straight bar, rope or v-bar. Start with your arms at 90 degrees and press down until your arms are perpendicular to the floor. On the way up, stop at 90 degrees. Remember to keep momentum out of the equation to truly isolate the triceps and shape those arms.

8 TIPS TO BUILD MUSCLE AND LOSE FAT

These 8 tips will help you achieve a lean body in a way that still supports your health and wellbeing!

B

uilding muscle and losing body fat go hand in hand. Also known as ‘getting lean,’ this change in body composition is not necessarily a priority for everyone, but if it is for you – read on!

We have 8 tips to build muscle and lose fat in a way that supports your overall health and wellbeing.

You may think you just want to lower your body fat without gaining muscle… but did you know that even a small increase in muscle mass will boost your metabolism? This means you’ll burn more calories at rest, which enables easier fat loss!

Use heavy enough weights

Whether you’re doing sets of 6 reps or sets of 12 reps, the weights must be heavy enough that you couldn’t possibly do more than one extra rep in each set.

For women, a common reason they are not gaining muscle and losing fat is that the weights they’re using are too light for the body to need to change.

Men, on the other hand, will sometimes attempt lifting weights that are too heavy, and end up injured before they can get any results. These examples are generalisations though, and either could happen to anyone.

To build muscle and strength, we must challenge ourselves by progressively increasing the weight we lift.

For each exercise, find a weight where you can do 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps in perfect form. If you’re easily hitting the last few reps of the last set, then it’s time to increase the weight!

Focus on total-body lifts

To build muscle and burn a larger number of calories, focus on the large, total-body movements first.

These are also known as compound exercises, as they target several joints at once. Compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull-ups and pushups, and not only are they the most efficient way to build muscle and lose body fat, but they are great for building core strength too.

Starting your workout on the isolated weights machines that line the gym floor will hinder your results, as they only work one muscle group at a time.

Instead, start with total-body lifts and finish off your workout with the smaller, isolated exercises to target any weaker areas such as your biceps, triceps and abs.

Try interval training

Interval training will not only help you get fitter and faster, but it will also spike your metabolism. Sprints can be brutal, but they’re so quick and effective that once or twice a week is enough to get great results.

They can be done running or cycling outdoors, or on a cross-trainer, treadmill or stationary bike inside. Once you’ve warmed up, sprint all out for 30 seconds, rest and recover at a very slow pace for 60 seconds, then repeat for 7-20 minutes.

If we don’t change things up every 3-6 weeks, our progress will plateau, and we’ll probably lose motivation too

Change your training program every 3-6 weeks

After a few weeks doing the same exercises with the same reps and sets, our bodies will have adapted to the challenge.

If we don’t change things up every 3-6 weeks, our progress will plateau, and we’ll probably lose motivation too!

We need to continually surprise our bodies (and our minds) with new challenges to keep gaining lean muscle and losing body fat. A new program every month keeps things fresh and exciting as well, so we’re more likely to feel motivated to continue training for the long term.

Use BCAA’s during your workouts

Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) helps us build lean muscle by supporting muscle growth, recovery and repair. BCAA’s are particularly useful if you’re in a calorie deficit and need a sustained energy source to fuel your training, as these supplements are also a healthy and natural way to boost energy production and reduce fatigue and muscle soreness.

Staying hydrated by drinking water regularly throughout the day will help you feel and perform at your best, but if you want to maintain the muscle you have, build more lean muscle, or just have an easier time shedding body fat, a natural, plant-based BCAA supplement will get you there. As with any supplement – always check the ingredients for chemical nasties, animal-derived ingredients, fillers and artificial sweeteners.

Have you tried our delicious new Tone BCAA+ in Raspberry Flavour?

Avoid caloric restriction

Starving is out, and thriving is in! It may seem counterintuitive, as it goes against what the media has been telling us for far too long… but if you give your body enough energy, with a balance of carbs, fats and protein – you’ll end up leaner, healthier and stronger in the long term.

This is because adequate nutrition balances our hormones and lowers our stress, convincing our bodies that we are not in danger, and there’s no need to hold on to extra fat stores.

To gain muscle and lose fat, we must eat enough. As an example, most women require an average of 300 extra calories per day (on top of their maintenance calories) to provide their bodies with the building blocks to create more muscle mass.

Once you’ve worked out how many calories you need to ‘stay the same weight,’ start by adding a small surplus of 100 calories. Continue training and see how you feel – it all comes down to trial and error.

If you’re always tired, feeling drained, and you’re no longer hitting PBs in the gym – you need to increase your calories (remember healthy calories though! Not junk calories).

Getting stronger and leaner is all about increasing your Basal Metabolic Rate, so the goal is to continue increasing calories over time.

This is especially important if you’re coming from a background of strict dieting and low-calorie intake.

Aim to get 20-30% of your calories from protein, then spilt the rest between carbs and fat, depending on your preference and the kind of foods you thrive on. We’re all different, so listen to your body.

Prioritise stress management strategies that work for you

Did you know that stress can slow down our metabolism, prevent fat loss and inhibit muscle gains? The hormones involved with chronically high levels of stress can also cause us to put on extra fat, hold more fluid, and even lose some of the muscle mass we have.

Whether you find your bliss through meditation, yoga, cognitive behavioural therapy, dance, journaling, art, or something else entirely… make it a bigger part of your life.

It’s also essential to take scheduled rest days, as well as extra rest days whenever you need them. On rest days – relax… and if you really want to recover well and get back to training feeling strong, keep your food intake the same as any other day.

The point of taking rest days is to repair and strengthen your muscles – so don’t starve them!

If you want to take your fitness progress to the next level, never compromise on your sleep

Sleep well – it’s more important than you might think.

If you want to take your fitness progress to the next level, never compromise on your sleep. Not only does sleep deprivation have a negative impact on your exercise performance, but it also makes it more difficult for your body to efficiently repair and recover after a workout.

Sleeping well is crucial to our immune-health, mental cognition, exercise recovery, and even our insulin sensitivity. If building muscle and losing body fat is a priority for you – then sleep needs to be a priority too.

Sustainable results take time and progress is never linear – so enjoy the journey! For a lean, strong physique that’s easy to maintain in the long term, it’s important to focus on making lifestyle changes, rather than looking for a quick fix.

While drastic changes to our body composition can take some time, the strength and performance gains will come much faster. Remember that fat loss does not necessarily mean weight loss, so don’t measure your progress with the scales.

Instead, track your improvements in performance, changes in the way your clothes fit, and most importantly – how you feel.

7/12/18///Posted by Tropeaka

We Have Some Tips on How to Build Muscle and Bulk Up

As every gym-goer knows, gaining weight can be a good thing as long as the added pounds are in the form of bigger muscles and not a bigger belly. Whether you’re skinny and trying to pack on muscle or not-so-skinny and working to convert your body mass into muscle, bulking up isn’t as easy as it sounds. The trick is to feed your muscles and body by adding clean calories and nutrients so it can add muscle, not fat. Here’s what you should do to bulk up.

1. Count your calories

You need calories to bulk up. | iStock.com

For muscles to grow, they’ll need to be fed. According to experts at Columbia University, this means eating an additional 2,270 to 3,630 calories a week to build as much as 1 pound of muscle during that period of time. When broken down into daily needs this equals about 500 additional calories a day. Then you’ll need to calculate your daily activity. If you’re hitting the gym regularly for an intense weight lifting session, you could be burning up to 500 calories an hour, shifting your caloric intake goal to be around 1,000 additional calories a day.

2. Power up with protein

Protein powder will become your best friend. | Source: iStock

Protein will become your best friend as you begin on this quest to build muscle. You’ll want to eat enough, but not too much as too many extra calories (even from protein) will only add fat. An average desk-bound male needs 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight, but if you’re hitting the gym regularly to build muscle you’ll want to shoot for 0.7 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. You can get your fill of protein from protein supplements, shakes, bars, and most importantly, natural high-protein foods like meat, eggs, peanut butter, and nuts.

3. Don’t nix carbohydrates

Yes, carbohydrates are important to build muscle. | iStock.com

Most people focus on the importance of protein when trying to build mass, but carbs play an important role in building lean muscle. When you exercise your body converts stored carbohydrates into ATP molecules that are used for energy. If you skimp on the carbs you will have lower energy leading your workouts to suffer. Livestrong.com recommends eating a simple carbohydrate one to two hours after your workout. The carbs will drive nutrients into your bloodstream to feed your muscles while stimulating the release of insulin. This helps your muscles start the post-workout repair process.

4. Weigh the benefits of cardio

Cardio is needed, but not as important as lifting to build muscle. | iStock.com

If you’re a skinny guy looking to build muscle and mass, you’ll want to leave cardio out of your weekly routine. Adding cardio to weight training can decrease your strength gains and muscle growth while burning more of your body’s precious calories. If you’re a bigger guy who is looking to slim down and build muscle, incorporating cardio into your strength training workouts may result in greater fat loss. When it comes to the relationship between cardio and weight lifting, not all cardio activities are equal. According to Bodybuilding.com, you should opt for cycling over running, as hopping on the bike is less detrimental to the impact of your resistance training.

5. Tailor your workouts for muscle mass

Building muscle takes real work. | iStock.com

To see results, you’ll want to lower the number of reps and increase weight. Men’s Fitness recommends doing between six and 12 reps with a lower number of total sets. Use heavier weights and slow, controlled movements to complete each rep. Each set should last between 40 and 70 seconds to ensure you’re tensing your muscles long enough to stimulate growth. For the fastest, best results, set up your training schedule to either train the entire body in a single workout or concentrate on the upper body one day and the lower body the next. Don’t try to isolate one muscle group in a single session.

9 Killer Ways To Gain Muscle Naturally!

Some people complain that building muscle naturally is ineffective, but usually what’s not working is their bulking protocol.

IFBB pro athletes Amanda Aguzzi and Tim Santiago are proud natural bodybuilders who come by their gains the hard way. Steal their playbook for building high-quality mass naturally.

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Getting jacked naturally takes years of hard work and sacrifice. So if the Incredible Hulk isn’t staring back at you in the mirror after a month or two of bulking, don’t grow discouraged and quit.

“Packing on natural muscle takes patience and persistence,” Aguzzi says. “A good amount of muscle gain can be achieved by gaining 10-15 pounds over 6-12 months. It took me about a year to add noticeable muscle and three years to increase muscle mass.”

While it can take years to transform your body, you’ll begin to see subtle progress sooner than that.

“Most beginners can expect to see noticeable muscle growth within eight weeks of starting a new program,” Santiago says. “More experienced lifters will see noticeable change in 3-4 weeks.”

2. Track Your Fuel Intake

Eating “a lot” isn’t good enough. What feels like a lot can be much less than the calorie surplus it takes to put on weight.

“Often people who want to gain lean muscle are not consuming enough calories and are not eating frequently enough,” Aguzzi explains. “Our muscles need food to grow. Without enough calories, our body can enter a catabolic state, destroying the muscles we work so hard to gain.”

Santiago stresses the importance of knowing your calorie intake and adjusting it up gradually. “It is important to control the surplus by slowly adding in calories each week to avoid too much fat gain,” he says. “Before you begin, you should track your intake for a week to figure out what your baseline calorie amount is.”

Both athletes agree that 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is the bare minimum for increasing muscle mass, and that eating frequent meals is the way to go. But you may need to tailor your plan based on how your body responds.

“Different individuals may require different macronutrient ratios,” Aguzzi says. “For me, keeping protein around at least 1-2 grams per pound of body weight really assists muscle growth.”

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3. Eat Enough Carbs

Many lifters eat low carb in the hopes of staying lean, but this approach can make gaining muscle an uphill battle. Carbs are important for two reasons: avoiding catabolism (muscle loss) and creating glycogen to fuel your workouts.

According to Santiago, restricting carbs is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to build muscle. “Carbs are necessary because your body will prioritize burning carb calories first, protecting protein stores,” he explains.

And without adequate glycogen, you won’t be able to produce the kind of effort in the gym that turns on the “get bigger” switch.

“I always aim to eat carbohydrates before workouts so they will be broken down and used as fuel, and again after workouts to replenish those depleted glycogen stores,” Aguzzi says.

4. Prioritize Sleep

We all lead busy lives, and often it seems like the only way to make time for one thing is to sacrifice another. But skipping sleep to train at zero dark thirty shoots your gains in the foot.

“Sleep and rest are very important for muscle recovery and growth,” Santiago explains. “If you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have enough time to recover, grow muscle, and burn fat.”

Being sleep deprived also makes you more likely to phone in your next workout. If you have to choose one, choose sleep. Always aim for 7-8 hours per night.

5. Gear Your Workouts Toward Building Muscle

In general, the tried-and-true workout formula for hypertrophy, or muscle growth, includes moderate rep ranges, body-part splits, and plenty of rest.

“You want to train the muscle with 3-4 sets at a weight where you can achieve muscle failure at 8-12 reps,” Santiago says. “People also do not need to do 6-7 exercises per muscle group. Doing too much can cause overtraining, which is counterproductive when building muscle,”

He recommends doing 4-5 exercises per muscle.

Whatever approach you choose, he recommends changing it every 6-8 weeks so your body doesn’t get complacent.

Schedule your body-part splits with plenty of time to rest each muscle group before you work it again.

“For our muscles to grow, they must fully recover,” Aguzzi explains. “Hitting isolated body parts 1-2 times a week with at least two days of rest in between gives muscles more time to repair and rebuild.”

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6. Slow Down Your Rep Speed

The tempo at which you lift and lower the weights can affect the outcome of your workout. When you lift for hypertrophy, move slowly.

“Muscles grow when they are under tension for longer periods of time,” Santiago says. “Slow and controlled reps mean longer time under tension for that muscle.” He adds, “Using slower reps also allows you to concentrate on using proper form and really feel the muscle working.”

7. Supplement Smartly

The most important supplements for gaining mass naturally fall into three categories: protein, aminos, and creatine. Here are Amanda and Tim’s bulking stacks.

Amanda Aguzzi

  • NutraBio Grass Fed Whey Isolate

“I love this protein because it is clean, easy to digest, and contains an abundance of naturally occurring BCAAs.”

  • NutraBio PRE

“Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and therefore essential for muscle growth. As a natural and meat-free athlete, aminos are an essential part of my day.”

  • NutraBio Intra Blast

“This product (as well as NutraBio PRE) comes sweetened with stevia in the natural line, making it easy to cut out artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.”

  • HMB

“HMB helps promote lean muscle mass, making it a great supplement to gain weight.”

Tim Santiago

  • NutraBio 100% Whey Protein Isolate

“It is lower in fats and carbs than whey concentrate, and lower in lactose which makes it easier to digest.”

  • NutraBio Creatine Monohydrate

“Creatine helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting by increasing your stores of phosphocreatine, which helps your body produce ATP. Creatine can also act as a lactic acid buffer, which helps improve exercise recovery time.”

  • NutraBio Extreme Mass

“Sometimes people find it hard to gain muscle, and have a hard time getting the calories in. Extreme mass incorporates a combination of a fast absorbing whey protein concentrate with a slower absorbing micellar casein.”

  • NutraBio BCAA

“The essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine help promote lean muscle growth, increase muscle strength, help decrease post-exercise soreness, and help maintain an anabolic (muscle growing) environment.”

8. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

You’ll know your training is working when it stops being fun.

“Your body has the ability to adapt to everything you do,” says Santiago. “If you consistently lift weights that are comfortable to you, the body develops a tolerance and you will not see the progress you are looking for.”

Or, as he puts it more bluntly: “Don’t just lift the weights, body-build! Get in the gym and lift heavy and push yourself beyond your comfort zone, because that is what will change your body.”

9. Be Consistent

Gaining muscle is a 24/7 project. Even on your rest days, you can’t take a break from eating like a beast and sleeping like it’s your job, or it won’t work. When it comes to building mass, dedication is the closest thing there is to a magic pill.

As a personal trainer, Santiago knows this well. “My biggest piece of advice for anyone trying to get big is consistency, consistency, consistency!” he says. “Set a goal, stick to the plan, stay motivated, be patient, and make sure your nutrition is on point.”

Aguzzi agrees that the formula is simple, as long as you stick with it. “If you train hard, eat clean, and rest well, your muscles will want to grow,” she emphasizes.

It will take forever. You will become discouraged. But these things do work—just slowly, and only if you stay committed. See you in the gym.

Tips to Help You Gain Muscle In and Out of the Gym

Wasit up image of a fit, young African American woman working out with hand weights in a fitness gym. Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

Not everyone is looking to lose weight. (Case in point: These 11 women who have gained weight and are healthier than ever). In fact, gaining weight in the form of muscle can be seriously beneficial. For one, it can help you feel stronger, stat. But strengthening certain power muscle groups (think: your glutes) can also improve your performance in the gym and make everyday tasks during day-to-day life easier (try these five moves for bigger, stronger glutes).

Functionally, muscles protect your bones, organs, and tissues—and even help you heal quickly. Muscles can also be an important factor in maintaining your weight, says Kathryn Sansone, a certified fitness trainer and the founder of GreekGirl Beauty Protein. “Muscle requires more energy and therefore burns more calories than fat. The more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism is.” More muscle means burning more at rest, plus being able to work harder during your workouts. Double-win.

Of course, just as with weight loss, gaining muscle isn’t *all* about what you do in the gym. It also comes down to caloric intake, sleep, hydration, and recovery. Ready to build more? Follow this two-part plan for how to gain muscle both inside and out of the gym. (Related: How to Create Your Own Muscle-Building Workout Plan)

And just remember: Not everybody is the same when it comes to weight loss or gaining muscle (see: why some people have an easier time toning their muscles), so be patient and give yourself time to see changes. (The best things are worth waiting for, right?!)

Inside the Gym

1. Do compound strength exercises. Strength training is a huge factor when it comes to how to gain muscle mass. But not every move is created equal. Jaclyn Sklaver, a functional sports nutritionist and trainer based in New York favors compound movements (think: total-body exercises). They burn more calories. “Full-body workouts are ideal for maximum muscle growth,” she says. “The more a body part is used, the more hypertrophy that occurs.”

Focus on working the largest muscle groups in your body: your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Exercises include squats, lunges, deadlifts, cleans, burpees, walking lunges, and plyometric moves like jump squats and box jumps with or without weights. (Related: How to Build the Perfect Circuit Training Workout)

And PS: Don’t be afraid to lift heavy. (Read: How Often You Should Do Heavy Weight Lifting Workouts) You can start small and build up. If you’re doing eight to 10 reps of any move comfortably, for example, increase your weight. For bodyweight moves? Simply do more reps (if you can—some bodyweight exercises are challenging enough!).

2. Up your rep speed. Completing your reps faster (without sacrificing form) puts more stress on the body. Aim for one rep every two seconds.

3. Stick to low-impact, light cardio. Cardio gets your blood flowing so that your muscles are receiving more oxygen, which promotes muscle growth. But you don’t need much of it. A good plan? Stick to is strength training three times a week and one day of light, low-impact cardio. Think about a long-distance runner’s body (very lean) compared to a sprinter’s body (more muscular). Also, don’t do cardio before your strength training session if you do choose to do them on the same day. This will likely fatigue your muscles and you could sacrifice form and increase risk of injury. (Related: Does It Matter What Order You Perform Exercises In a Workout?)

Outside of the Gym

1. Keep tabs on what (and when) you eat. “Muscle requires the right amount of nutrients to grow. That includes protein, carbs, and fat,” says Lisa Avellino, director of fitness at NY Health & Wellness. And keeping a food diary can minimize guesswork and measure your results.

You want to focus on protein, too. “Complete proteins are any lean animal source, dairy, eggs, fish, and some protein powders,” says Sklaver. For vegetarians, opt for quinoa, buckwheat, or soybeans, or combine nuts with whole grains to make a complete protein. (Related: What Eating the *Right* Amount of Protein Every Day Actually Looks Like)

Water matters, too! Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily so that your muscles stay full and saturated.

Eating more carbohydrates at breakfast and immediately after your workout can help maximize muscle recovery (carbs are super important for your workouts), as well. Your body has a short window post-workout to restore, so try for a liquid carbohydrate and protein drink to help replenish glycogen stores. This can help with muscle recovery, increase lean muscle gains, and increase human growth hormone levels.

2. Sleep! Your bed is where the magic *really* happens (in fact, it could be the absolute best thing you can do for a better body). After a workout, your muscles use the nutrients and water you’ve ingested during the day and will work during your sleep to build and grow your muscles.

According to Avellino, our human growth hormone levels are highest when we are asleep. “Many studies suggest an association between a lack of sleep and high cortisol levels,” she explains. “Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that is linked with stress and can break down muscle tissue.” So don’t skimp on shuteye.

3. If you’re not gaining muscle, see your doc. Sometimes an inability to put on muscle could have to do with health conditions you may not be aware of. Sklaver says it’s important to find out if you have any conditions that may affect your metabolism, endocrine system, or thyroid.

  • By Jay Cardiello and Giselle Castro

How to gain mass

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