Build muscle at home or in the gym with this 5-step muscle mass building guide

Gain muscle mass at home or in the gym with this 5-step muscle building guide

Build muscle muscle building guide muscle building tips
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The muscle building process is not too complicated but it's also not as simple as 'lift weights = gain muscle mass'. We did some research, tried and tested a bunch of different approaches and came up with this 5-step muscle building guide that will get (almost) everyone shredded. Want to know how to get big arms fast or what is the best full body workout? How to gain weight AND build muscle? How to get stronger? This 5-step muscle building guide might help.

5 fitness trends that will shape 2021

The issue with muscle building is that the more you read about it, seemingly the more complex it gets. Some says you need to work out a couple of times a week, others will recommend a more frequent workout routine. Same goes for the importance of rest, protein intake/diet, weights, type of workouts etc.

• Henry Cavill Witcher workout – pretty intense

Natural muscle building require hard work and persistence and the truth is, it is a personal experience for everyone. The best you can do is to listen to your body and adapt a workout approach that suits your body's requirement the most. Muscle building is a learning process and one that takes a bit of time to master.

Build muscle effectively: an easy 5-step guide

Increasing muscle mass naturally will admittedly take some time and it will take longer for some people than for others. How fast you will pack on muscle mass depends on your age, sex, testosterone levels and more.

That said, it's a common misconception that muscle building after a certain age is a waste of time: "research demonstrates that resistance exercise training has profound effects on the musculoskeletal system, contributes to the maintenance of functional abilities, and prevents osteoporosis, sarcopenia, lower-back pain, and other disabilities", a 2001 study concludes.

Build muscle muscle building guide muscle building tips

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Step #1: Eat your protein

A hotly debated topic is how much protein should you take to build muscle effectively. The general consensus at the moment says that if you are following a rigorous training plan, for someone actively working out, the appropriate amount of protein is around 1.6-2 grams of protein per body kilogram per day. For a 70 kg (155 lbs) person, this means supplying your body with at least 112-140 grams of protein per day.

This protein should be supplied from a variety of sources such as lean meat, eggs, nuts, leafy veg (e.g. kale, spinach), fish, tofu, legumes etc. 100 grams of chicken breast contains around 30 grams of protein, but even kale has over 4 grams in it per 100 grams.

Whether or not you need the best protein powder to build muscle, the short answer is no. You don't need protein shakes but covering your protein needs by drinking a quick protein shake or having the best protein bar / best jerky after the workouts is more convenient than stomaching a can of black beans.

Build muscle muscle building guide muscle building tips

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Step #2: Supplement your muscle building efforts

Most nutritionists agree that the only supplement you need to aid muscle building is creatine. Creatine is one of the most scrutinised supplement and it can help improve performance in the gym. One research concluded that "one week of creatine supplementation (25 g/day) enhances muscular performance during repeated sets of bench press and jump squat exercise."

And creatine does this without any side effects, even on the long term. Better still, you only need a little amount each day to enjoy the benefits of creatine. After a 'loading period' – during which you saturate your body with creatine – you will only need to take roughly 3-5 grams a day and considering you can mix it with anything as it has no after taste, you can just drink it with water or even your protein shake without any problem.

If you are one of those people who struggle to put on weight, consider taking the best mass gainer supplements: these powders are high in protein and carbohydrates and can help you cram in some extra calories into your diet.

Build muscle muscle building guide muscle building tips

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Step #3: Follow a progressive overload workout pattern

Progressive overload is key to muscle growth. 'Progressive overload' means you need to gradually increase the volume over time so your muscles will continue to grow. You can do this by using heavier weights, doing more sets/reps and by increasing workout frequency.

This doesn't mean you'll need to adjust all of the above for each workout. By trying to over-optimise workouts you'll most likely end up not pushing yourself hard enough and under-stimulating the muscles. Going from 8 reps in each set to 9 might increase the overall volume for the day but it also takes your body's performance on the day out of the equation.

How to calculate volume for workouts

Reassessment of the workout should be done periodically and not continuously with ample amount of variety applied to your daily workouts in between. No need to change weights every single time you do a workout but once the resistance feels less demanding, increase the weights and change the exercises.

To increase frequency, consider following a push-pull workout routine: following it will rest your 'push' muscles on 'pull' days and vica versa, perfect for upping the number of workouts you do each week.

Build muscle muscle building guide muscle building tips

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Step #4: Mix up your workout routine

Admittedly, progressive overload can't be sustained forever. Everyone will reach a point eventually where adding more weight to their workouts will be pretty much impossible. Even worse, if people follow the same workout pattern for longer periods, the body will get used to the type of training/resistance and it can even become 'immune' to workouts.

To get out of the muscle building rut, athletes must introduce new type of stimulus every now and then. This could be anything from performing exercises differently to trying new types of workouts, such as powerlifting or even CrossFit. Depending on the person's fitness level, switching to a new workout routine is recommended every 1-4 months.

For those keen beans who really can't bothered to do anything else but lifting heavy weights in the gym, we recommend trying out new techniques. Lifting weights slower or faster might be enough of a change to carry on building muscle. In the Arnold Schwarzenegger's Blueprint to Mass plan, some of the special plans Arnie used to build muscle with are explained, such as the '1-10 method' or the 'shocking principle'.

Build muscle muscle building guide muscle building tips

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Step #5: Choose the right exercises for muscle growth

Sure, you will want to get bigger arms but forget about doing bicep curls only when you are in the gym. The type of exercises you'll need to include more of in your workout regime are compound exercises. Doing compound exercises, such as deadlifts or kettlebell swings, will not only make you stronger but they will also increase muscle coordination too.

You can even create workouts based around compound exercises. Heck, you can literally just do only deadlifts as a workout and build muscle. Mixing it up a bit might help you keep a bit of a variety and it can also help you stay sane after months of working out.

The aforementioned deadlifts and kettlebell swings are excellent compound exercises but so are the following: squats (both air squats and weighted squats), pull ups/chin ups, push ups, bench press, overhead press, bodyweight dip, etc.

SIXPAD Electric Muscle Stimulation Training Gear | Prices from £175 at Amazon UK

SIXPAD Electric Muscle Stimulation Training Gear | Prices from £175 at Amazon UK
SIXPAD training gear won't replace hard work but it can make it more effective. Using the SIXPAD EMS Belt won't do the work for you but it will provide some degree of muscle stimulation in between workouts.

Step #5: Find the right balance between rest and injury

Above is the video of the man himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, an icon and bodybuilding aficionado in his prime. In the video, Arnold talks about getting ready for competitions and how much training they did months before competition. He says pro muscle builders would spend four hours a day in the gym in order to pack on extra muscle mass.

Elite CrossFit athletes are also famous for training a lot: Rich Froning used to work out 18 times a week. This goes against everything you might have read about muscle building but you must admit that top CrossFit people look pretty shredded, right?

One thing is for sure: resting is paramount for muscle growth. You muscles don't grow in the gym, they grow when you rest in between workouts. During resistance training, microscopic tears appear on your muscles and your body patch these up using protein (simplifying the process here).

Another thing to keep in mind is that rest doesn't always equal to not working out. You want to rest the muscles so they have time to recover but you also want to work them hard enough so they'll grow. Exercise often and rigorously, especially if you have fast metabolism, and listen to your body.

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Resistance training how tos

  • How to squat right: the barbell back squat is the best exercise for a toned butt and strong legs
  • How to deadlift correctly: a full body workout in one move for stronger arms, back and legs
  • Overhead press: how to perform this classic exercise for big arms and quick shoulder gains
  • How to do barbell rows the right way: why bent over rows are great to build big back and strong arms
  • How to bench press effectively and safely: this classic exercise will build a massive chest and big arms and shoulders too
  • How to do thrusters: this squat variant is a leg day staple AND a one-move full body exercise
  • How to use an ab roller: get a six pack FAST with this cheap home gym staple

Calisthenics training guides

Kettlebell workout guides

Bodyweight training how tos

Matt is a fitness fanatic (a.k.a. fitness and nutrition writer) who's been rambling on about all things health and fitness for over two years now here at T3. His achievements include a short-lived fitness podcast called Fit Mentality Podcast and being a judge on the Fit&Well Awards 2021. In his free time, he works out at home, runs, cycles and loves a good ol' walk around the city. He writes about general fitness stuff, fitness tech, workouts, workout gear/equipment, nutrition and much, much more.