By and large the most common thing every non-athletic lifter desires is building muscle naturally. Let’s face it, no matter what area of life we work in we all want to look good. Guys want to pack on slabs of meat to pick up the hottest women they can possibly find. No complains from me. I am all for it and when I’m not in serious strength cycles I do it myself. The problem is not in the motives but in the execution. Building muscle mass still takes work and it will always be a work in progress. With these 5 tips hopefully I can point you in the right direction.
Building Muscle By Getting Stronger
If there is one thing that most lifters, and even most athletes, don’t spend a lot of time doing it’s getting stronger. Strength is the foundation of getting bigger. If you can’t lift heavy weight, then you will be greatly limited in your potential for building muscle.
Our bodies respond to stress, in this case exercise, by creating an adaptation such as strength. Now I know what your thinking, you want training for building muscle mass, not strength. Well, that may be what you want, but that’s not the way your body responds. Your body builds muscle mass through high volume/moderate intensity workouts. This means medium/heavy weight for high reps. When we talk about medium to heavy weight you have to understand that this is a relative term.
Take two lifters who are both building muscle. Lifter 1 has a 255 lb. squat and 205 lb. bench press. Lifter 2 has a 455 lb. squat and a 295 lb. bench press. Both of these lifters are following a medium to heavy high volume training program for a period of 6 weeks. Which one of these lifters is going to build the most muscle at the end of those 6 weeks? Obviously lifter 2 will. Lifter 2 is stronger, he has much bigger totals in the main lifts. When we apply his relative strength to the same training program as lifter 1, he will elicit a much bigger training adaptation. Please do yourself a favor and get stronger, it will save you so much frustration in other areas of life.
Nutrition has always been a problem for most people. Nutrition is the main ingredient for building a beautiful sculpted physique that people want to build statues of and worship. For most people nutrition is a major roadblock between themselves and the person they want to become. It is easy to maintain discipline for 1-2 hours in a training facility when other people are watching. The true test comes when the lights go out. When nobody is watching.
This is what makes nutrition such a difficult arena for even the most skilled of athletes. The human mind only has a certain amount of willpower. When it runs out it runs out. For most lifters, willpower is often reserved for their 1-2 hour training sessions (especially on max effort days). So by the time it comes to eating QUALITY meals and nutrition, they simply write it off with their youth. Unfortunately, time is going to bounce that check they write, because their bodies will get exhausted and they will not be able to perform at their best.
Building muscle requires you to consume lots of calories. Your bodies need to be in a caloric surplus in order to pack on slabs of meat. Trying to diet while building muscle is like trying to drive across country on half a tank of gas. It is not going to work at all. You need to eat more!
Conditioning is a vital part of every athlete’s training program. If you are not properly conditioned, you are going to tire out quickly and you are not going to able to physically and mentally endure when the going gets tough. You will also not recover as quickly and you will place yourself at more risk for injury.
Now when I say conditioning, I don’t mean running for hours endlessly. We need to think of conditioning that will help and not hinder our progress for building muscle. Things like circuit training, interval training and met-cons fit the bill perfectly.
We want to make sure that we preserve as much of our strength as possible. We also need to keep the overall volume of conditioning to a minimum. When we hear about people trying to build muscle but make no progress due to their conditioning, the reason is because they are doing too many damn burpees. Put conditioning on the back burner for a change and just watch how much mass you’ll add.
Increase Your Reps
If your serious about building muscle you are going to have to increase the reps. Building muscle is all about the volume. Lifting within 90% of your max is great and all, but you won’t be able to do too many reps. The ideal range is 70-85% of your 1RM. This is where most of the results come from.
In order to elicit a growth response from the muscles, your must give the muscles more time under tension with shorter rest breaks. This cause more tissue breakdown and as a result forces the muscles to rebuild themselves to be much bigger so they can handle the increased volume.
A great workout that everybody should try at least once if they are building muscle is the 20 rep program. I got this routine from Josh Bryant’s book Size and Strength Blueprint. The rules are simple. After you are done with your warmup sets, just do one working set for 20 reps. You could do this with any exercise you want, however, I find that it works best with bigger core lifts such as the bench press.
Last but not least you need to push yourself. I cannot stress this enough. This doesn’t just apply to building muscle, but also to any type of goal or training that you have in front of you. You are only as good as you allow yourself to be. If you want to be better, then be better! Don’t expect the program, or the weights, to do all the work for you. You are the one who has to do the work. The truth is any mass building program out there works. The writers of those programs left out one piece of information though. The secret to getting great results with those workouts is effort. The amount of effort you put into any given workout program will determine your results. Are you putting in the effort to get the results you want, or are you just half-heartedly going through the motions?