When your primary focus is on building muscle, not losing weight, not getting leaner — just getting more muscular there are three primary principles you need to focus on.
1) Training – using proper rep range for muscle growth
2) Diet – supplying the necessary nutrients to build new muscle tissue
3) Recovery – getting enough rest to allow your body to grow
It’s always better to compartmentalize your fitness goals for the sake of efficiency. There are different diets and routines needed for weight loss, endurance, and muscle growth.
Specific behaviors will cause specific results and we’re focused on building muscle. We’re not trying to get super lean right now, we’re not training for a marathon.
We just want to get bigger, right? Muscle growth is all about reaching hypertrophy. We need to cause enough muscle damage to influence our body to add NEW muscle tissue to prevent further damage.
Weight & Rep Range
You’ll want to stay in the 10-12 rep range on your lifts. This might mean dropping the weight to a more manageable level which allows quality reps. It may look super awesome to bench press 250 lbs for one or two reps, and you’re definitely strong.
But that’s not how you build new muscle.
Getting in two super heavy reps isn’t enough to cause the muscle damage needed to influence new growth. You’ll have to put your ego in check, lower the weight, and get into the right rep range.
These are your core staples of new growth. They should always be included with their respective muscle groups. If you only have time for three or four exercises per muscle group, do not eliminate these.
Include 4-6 sets of these in your workouts
Chest – Bench Press
Legs – Squats
Back – Deadlifts
Shoulders – Barbell Shoulder Press
Biceps – Barbell Curls
Related: Best exercises for men over 40
Diet – Food Needed to grow
If you’re serious about adding 10-20 pounds of new muscle meat you should adopt a calorie surplus of 120-130% of your current diet. You can add new muscle simply by changing meal composition, but your muscle gains will come faster with a calorie surplus.
Protein (60-70% of calories)
You can’t add new muscle tissue without supplying your body with the protein it needs to construct new tissue. A common hurdle when trying to get bigger is simply not eating enough. You can’t grow without enough protein.
Protein shakes are a staple of the bodybuilding community. It’s not because they taste super awesome, and it’s the preferred food source. The bigger you get, the more protein you need. Eventually some guys will reach a point where they need more protein than they have time to eat.
Protein shakes are just a convenience that makes supplying needed protein more doable.
How much protein do you need? Try this protein calculator
Fat (10-15% of calories)
Fat is an energy source and neither increases nor inhibits muscle growth. You don’t have to strip out all the fat and limit your meals to food that tastes like cardboard while adding muscle.
Carbs (20-30% of calories)
The focus on restricting carbs is fairly common for weight loss goals. It’s hard to get leaner, and shed body fat while consuming large amounts of carbs. But you shouldn’t adopt a zero carb diet while bulking, or trying to add new muscle.
Your body needs carbs for energy, and it plays a role in the muscle building process. If you don’t have enough carbs, and readily available energy your body will break down muscle tissue for energy.
See Also: How to get rid of man boobs
Recovery – Getting Enough Rest
Your muscles are damaged with microscopic tears during vigorous exercise like weight training, but this isn’t when they grow. Your muscles grow during the repair phase. You damage your muscles in the gym, but they grow when you sleep.
You may be able to function on 5-6 hours of sleep, and you may be quite productive in your professional life. But you’ll find it incredibly difficult to fully repair and grow new muscle tissue under these conditions.
If you train regularly, eat properly and are having trouble growing, it may be as simple as changing your sleeping habits.
I wish it were as simple as “train your biceps everyday” and they’ll grow. If you have noticeable soreness it means the tiny tears, the muscle damage, from the previous workout hasn’t been fully repaired.
Creating new muscle damage at this point is counterproductive. If you’re in a constant state of soreness and muscle damage, you’re essentially robbing yourself of the opportunity to grow.
It’s better to give a sore muscle group an extra day off, rather than continuing to overtrain.
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