Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Best Way To Gain Muscle: 10 Tips To Help You Build Muscle Fast

If you want to build muscle, the best way to do it is by lifting weights. However you need to know how to train in the most effective manner if you want to get the best results from your efforts. And although individual requirements do vary, there are some general principles you should adhere to if you want to gain muscle mass in the shortest possible time. So if you want to make some real progress in the gym here are my 10 tips to help you build muscle as fast as possible…

1. Use Compound Exercises

The big multi-joint exercises use the most total muscle when you perform them, and they also stimulate the highest levels of hormonal response. So therefore they will build muscle faster than anything else.

These include exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, barbell row, overhead press, chin-ups and parallel bar dips.

When you've gained a decent amount of muscle size using these movements you can add in some isolation exercises in order to gain additional size in certain specific areas. But compound exercises should always remain the cornerstone of your routine.

2. Use Progressive Overload

This simply means you need to be increasing the weight you are using on each exercise, for the same amount of reps, over time. Size and strength go hand in hand to a large extent, so if you always strive to get stronger you will be able to continue to get bigger too.

A beginner will usually be able to increase the weights they are using on most exercises every workout – at least for a while. As you become more advanced however your gains will slow down; but you should still be looking to increase your weights as often as possible.

3. Use The Right Rep Range

The best rep range to gain muscle for most people most of the time is 5 – 8 reps. Sometimes you could go up to 10 – 12 reps to create additional growth through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (expansion of the fluid components of the muscle cells). And sometimes you could reduce to 2 or 3 reps to build extra strength. But for the most part 5 – 8 reps will build muscle size quickest, together with a good amount of strength too.

4. Use The Right Training Volume

If you do too many sets you won’t be able to recover from them properly, so you won’t gain as well (if at all). Conversely too few sets will not give sufficient stimulus for optimum growth. So for most people a moderate training volume of about 3 – 4 sets per exercise is about right when working in the 5 – 8 rep range. But do a couple of warm-up sets first to prepare your body for the heavier work.

5. Train At The Right Frequency

The optimum training frequency is 3 or 4 times per week. Three times works very well for most people, but if you recover well enough you might get better results with four.

If you are a beginner the best way to gain muscle mass for you would be to do a full body workout three times per week. But when you get a bit more advanced you’ll probably find you’ll get better results by training each body part every 3 to 5 days.

To do this, split your body into two (e.g. upper body/lower body) and either continue to train three days per week (alternating the two workouts), or train four days per week, doing each of them twice each week.

6. Do Not Train To Failure (at least not very often)

You need to train hard to promote muscle growth, but not to the point of failing to complete a rep. This will only exhaust your central nervous system and could quickly bring your gains to a complete halt.

You do need to fatigue the muscles in order to promote maximum growth, but this is best achieved by keeping your rest periods between sets fairly short. So for instance you might be doing 3 sets of 8 (after a couple of warm-up sets) with a weight that you could get about 10 reps with if you pushed to the limit. But by keeping your rest periods relatively short (say 90 – 120 seconds) each set will become progressively more difficult as your muscles fatigue. So on your last set you’ll be pushing close to your limit to get the 8 reps out.

7. Don’t Train For Longer Than One Hour

In fact 45 minutes is better. When you start to train your body increases production of testosterone and growth hormone, but after about 45 minutes these begin to drop back to normal levels. After an hour or so testosterone levels drop below normal and cortisol production increases. Excess cortisol breaks down muscle and causes you to store more fat, so never train for more than an hour at the most.

8. Take A Week Off Every 8 – 12 Weeks

This is not so important if you are a beginner. But when you've been training for a while your body will need this time to rest and recuperate. So your long term gains will be much better if you do this. In fact some advanced people take a week off after every 3 – 4 weeks of training. And once per year it’s a good idea to take two weeks off.

9. Make Sure You Eat Right

Your training is only part of what it takes to build muscle. You also need to eat the right foods. You need a calorie surplus in order to gain weight. You also need plenty of protein (at least a gram per pound of body weight per day), some complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and lots of vegetables. You can add to this some fruit, nuts, seeds, beans and dairy if you wish. Supplements can also be very beneficial, especially whey protein and creatine, but you can’t use supplements to make up for a poor diet.

10. Get Sufficient Rest And Sleep

Your muscles grow when you are resting them – not when you are training them. So ensure you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night and don’t overdo other activities either as this could seriously impair your gains.

So those are my top 10 tips to help you gain muscle mass as quickly as possible. Follow these recommendations and you will be sure to make the progress you desire.

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