How to Build Muscle
- Strength Train 4-6 times per week
- Make sure you’re hitting all the movement patterns: Push, Pull, Hinge, Squat, Carry
- Do between 8-20 reps, making sure that you’re intense enough to make the last few reps difficult
Easy in theory, difficult in practice – primarily because of the consistency needed to make measurable changes in your body. Pursuing this goal is a life long endeavor, and will not give you results in 14 days. Sorry. That’s not how good things in life work.
In this article you’ll see:
- The importance of the mind-muscle connection
- Why progressive overload matters
- A 4-day example program
The Importance of the Mind-Muscle Connection When Building Muscle
This is one that I learned 8 years into lifting. Before I figured this out, I was all about the weight. HEAVY WEIGHTS. If it wasn’t heavy, I was convinced I wasn’t going to gain any muscle.
But after I hurt myself going to heavy on squats (for the 3rd time) I figured there had to be a better way that would keep me pain free and working hard. I trained with a few really smart bodybuilders who had much better physiques than I did, and watched them as they used 20lb dumbbells for biceps curls, and made it look HARD.
But were they just weak?
As I discovered, true strength comes when you can make light weights feel VERY heavy, and this leads to being able to move heavy weights easily.
For example: when training biceps, there’s no first prize for heaviest weight. But when you can train the biceps through slow controlled movements and full ranges of motion, making sure to SQUEEZE the muscle hard at the peak of the contraction – you get twice the benefit.
- The bicep receives more stimulation, resulting in a bigger muscle
- The tendons and ligaments get stronger as well, laying a foundation for strength in the future.
- You can increase the weight in small jumps an continue to grow – which is possible when going from 20lbs to 25lbs. Much more difficult to make the jump from 45lbs to 50lbs.
Progressive Overload to Build Muscle
The goal of training is always to push your body to adapt to new and different stimuli. If you only ever did exercises/sets/reps that are comfortable to you, you’ll never force your body to make any changes or improvements.
Alex Viada, a badass coach out of North Carolina, and founder of Complete Human Performance has this to say.
But by pressing outside of your comfort zone you can continue to grow and improve without stagnating.
There are a few different ways to make progress other than just adding weight to the bar.
- Volume – increasing the volume of a workout over time so that you’re doing more total work as the workout goes on.
- Range of Motion (ROM) – By increasing your range of motion in exercises, you’ll increase the total work being done, which counts as progression. So if you have an exercise that you aren’t doing a full ROM, instead of adding weight, increase the distance you move the weight.
- Time Under Tension (TUT) – By increasing the time that you’re doing the exercise for, you’ll make progress, and learn to control the weight better. If you bang out a set of bench press in a total of 20 seconds, try to extend the set to 30 seconds over the same amount of reps/weight.
These are 3 of 10 or so different ways to progress an exercise, but the principle remains the same. If you want to change and improve, you have to give your body a reason to do so.
4-Day Example Program
Try this program out to build muscle over the next month. Make sure that you’re doing just a little bit better than your previous workout every time.
If you don’t know what an exercise is, head over to the N8 Training Systems YouTube channel and look it up.
|A1||CABLE ROW SINGLES||5||8|
|A2||CABLE STRENGTH ROW DOUBLES FINISHER||1||25|
|B2||HANG FROM PULLUP BAR||5||25 SEC EA|
|C1||SINGLE ARM DUMBBELL CONTRAST ROWS||5||4+12|
|4 REPS HEAVY, 12 REPS LIGHTER THEN SWITCH|
|F1||SINGLE ARM BARBELL HOLD||5||30 SEC EA|
|A1||INCLINE DUMBBELL SQUEEZE PRESS||201||4||8|
|B1||BARBELL BENCH PRESS||5||5|
|B2||STRETCH CHEST||5||25 SEC EA|
|C1||CABLE DUMBBELL FLY||4||10|
|D1||ALTERNATING DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS||4||12|
|E1||REAR DELT DUMBBELL FLY||5||18,15,12,10,10|
|E2||SIDE DUMBBELL RAISE (NO REST BETWEEN)||5||18,15,12,10,10|
|F1||BENCH GRIPPER PUSHUPS||2||MAX|
|F2||BAND PULL APARTS||2||50|
|A1||GLUTE HAM RAISE||301||4||10|
|B1||BARBELL FRONT SQUAT||201||4||5|
|B2||HALF PIGEON GLUTE STRETCH||3||25 SEC|
|C1||SINGLE DUMBBELL SKATER SQUAT||3||10 EA|
|E1||KETTLEBELL SWING (30 SEC REST)||5||25|
|A1||INCLINE DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS||5||20,15,12,10,10|
|B1||CLOSE GRIP SLIGHT INCLINE BENCH PRESS||4||12|
|C2||INVERTED ROW||201||40 TOTAL|
|LAST SET MAX REPS||1||MAX|
|E1||CLOSE GRIP CHIN UP||4||8|
|E2||STRETCH LATS||4||25 SEC EA|
|F1||DUMBBELL HAMMER CURL||5||15|
|F2||TRICEPS OVERHEAD ROPE EXTENSION||5||15|
Questions? Comments? Let me know what you think!