Whether your goal is to compete on the bodybuilding stage, look your best at the beach, or impress your significant other on date night, building muscle is an absolute must. That's why we've put together the ultimate guide for how to build muscle so you can keep these trainer-approved tips close.
Muscle mass is a major factor in physical appearance. It's not just about big, bulky muscles, either. Even lean, toned people who have a shredded look or appear generally fit will have more muscle mass than the average person. This applies to young lifters or older individuals who are strength training to build up their muscle mass.
Furthermore, building muscle means you will have a fit, athletic body ready to look great wherever you may go. The following sections reveal the ultimate guide for how to build muscle, including exercise and diet tips you can implement into your fitness routine to maximize your muscle gains. Keep reading to learn more, and next, check out the 7 Most Important Exercises for Men To Build Muscle.
Lift heavy weights.
Lifting heavy weights is a must if you want to build serious muscle. Of course, heavy is a relative term, and it's not necessarily best to lift the maximum amount of weight possible for one repetition. Instead, find a weight that feels challenging or causes failure somewhere between eight to 12 repetitions. If you can't finish eight reps, decrease the weight. If you are comfortably performing 14 to 15 reps, increase the weight. This heavy weight is a requirement to give your muscle fibers the sufficient stimulus to drive growth.
Don't skip the carbs.
While carbohydrates can certainly become a weight-gain issue if you over consume, it's actually good to eat carbohydrates to fuel your workout. Although you technically can build muscle on a carb-free diet, I rarely see clients succeed long term without including carbohydrates.
The intensity of training required to drive muscle growth depends on glucose for fuel. Providing this in the form of carbohydrates—especially around your workout—can allow greater intensity in the gym, increasing the growth stimulus to your muscles.
Perform enough weekly repetitions.
Lifting heavy is half the battle in the gym when it comes to building muscle. The bigger consideration in many ways is volume.
Volume refers to the amount of weekly work performed as a function of total sets, repetitions, and amount of weight lifted. For muscle building, the recommended minimum number of weekly repetitions per muscle group you want to grow depends on your current level of fitness.
For novice muscle-builders, 40 to 70 repetitions per muscle group per week using an eight-to-12-rep range may be sufficient. For intermediate and advanced lifters, the number of repetitions increases to 70 and beyond to see continued muscle growth. For reference, 40 to 70 repetitions for a muscle group would consist of two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions on two to three exercises, per muscle group. Note that a three-day split using four to five exercises per workout is typically sufficient for novice and intermediate lifters to see growth.
Get enough protein.
Muscle consists of proteins. The building blocks of muscle are amino acids, which must be consumed in food to provide the material to build new muscle fibers. All the heavy training in the world cannot build muscle without protein. While I cannot make specific recommendations, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests consuming 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per every pound you weigh each day, in conjunction with an overall balanced diet.
Although you need to do resistance training in order to build muscle, the fact is, muscle is not built in the gym. Your body builds muscle in response to the training while you are resting. This means taking days where you do lighter physical activity and don't do a hard workout. You also need to get enough sleep and avoid alcohol if you want to fully maximize your muscle gains.