Across the nation, there are gyms packed with people with one goal in mind: build muscle. The fact is, however, there are very few people who truly understand the ins and outs of building a solid, muscular physique. Diet and exercise fads come and go, but the truth is that bodybuilding comes down to two very simple steps: 1 - Stimulate the muscles adequately and 2 - Give them the nutritional support they need to grow. If you think of building muscle as a puzzle, with several pieces that fit together nicely, then you can progress at a much faster rate than if you were to jump in blindly and hope for the best. If your goal is to build as much lean muscle in as little time as possible, then you’re about to discover the ‘secret’ to the muscle building kingdom.
In order to keep things as simple as possible, let’s break it all down to a few simple, easy-to-follow steps…
Step 1 – Check Your Ego And Keep Good Records
Too many people with fantastic genetic potential are wasting their time and energy trying to out-lift the guy on the bench next to them. Bodybuilding is not about lifting the most weight, it is about lifting as much as you can while maintain perfect or near-perfect form. Challenge the muscle, but never at the expense of form. Improper form will only slow your progress and increase your risk of injury inside the gym, which will slow your growth over the long haul.
The key to bodybuilding success is continually challenging your muscles with new levels of resistance. There is no single better way to ensure each workout is more challenging than the last than with a record of each set, rep, and weight. Use these records to ensure you are moving forward in your quest for new muscle growth.
Step 2 – Stimulate The Muscles
The initial and most obvious step in bodybuilding is to stimulate the muscle, but there is a lot of confusion about what you should be doing inside the gym in order to achieve this goal. As with many other things in life, simplicity is the key to success in bodybuilding. Dumbbells and barbells are still the best tools for building muscle, and should be the cornerstone of any solid bodybuilding plan. Slow and steady repetitions moving through the entire range of motion ensure the most muscle fiber stimulation, which translates into the greatest amount of growth. Repetition range is also a highly controversial topic, and since everybody’s genetics are different, experimenting with different rep ranges and paying close attention to muscular growth is the key to your own success.
Typically, repetition ranges below four to six yield more gains in strength than size, while repetition ranges greater than twelve focus more on endurance than muscle growth. Larger muscles can handle a greater number of overall sets and repetitions, while smaller muscles such as the biceps and triceps benefit from fewer overall sets and repetitions. The last piece of the lifting puzzle is your intensity, which must be at its peak in order to achieve the greatest results.
The toughest exercises yield the greatest return for your time and energy. Stick to those exercises that most others are shying away from, which includes:
Barbell and Dumbbell Squats: The squat is one of the toughest exercises to perfect and perform, but it hits every single muscle in the lower body with maximum gusto. It also calls into play the supporting muscles of the lower back and abdomen, further stimulating muscle growth and fat-burning. On top of these great benefits, the stress put upon the body by a well-executed squat causes the pituitary gland to release a higher-than-normal amount of Growth Hormone, leading to even more muscular gains over the long run.
Pushing and Pulling: Avoid the confusing new machines flooding the gym floors across the country, instead sticking to basic back and biceps exercises that have your muscles moving in their most natural pulling motion, and sticking to basic chest, shoulder, and triceps exercise that have you performing a basic pushing motion.
Stick to the following list of exercises in order to maximize your efforts in the gym:
- Back: Lat Pulldowns, T-Bar rows, Basic Rows, Dumbbell and/or Barbell Rows, and Deadlifts.
- Chest: Dumbbell and Barbell bench presses, performed through a variety of angles.
- Shoulders: Military Press, Lateral Raises, and Shrugs.
- Biceps: Dumbbell and Barbell Curls.
- Triceps: Overhead Extensions, Dips, and Pushdowns.
Step 3 – Rest And Nutritional Support
Stimulating the muscles for growth inside the gym is the easy part for most people, it is the rest and nutritional component that slows most people’s progress towards a muscular physique. Muscle growth is akin to a healing cut, it takes time and energy to heal and if you keep scratching the cut it will never re-gain it’s tensile strength.
Muscle growth should be thought of in the exact same way – it is an injury to your tissue and requires times to heal if you hope for a stronger, bigger muscle.
The two important components to building muscle after it has been worked are rest and food. Resting in between workouts allows the muscles to heal properly, it allows cell regeneration and growth, and allows them to come back stronger for the next workout. Without at least two to three full days rest in between working a muscle, your chances of building rock-solid physique decrease significantly. Proper rest also requires adequate sleep, which puts your body into a state of hyper-recovery and allows for the release of plenty of anabolic hormones, including growth hormone. Aim for at least six to eight hours per night, which also helps refresh your mind so you can apply maximum intensity to your next workout.
The last piece of the bodybuilding puzzle is your nutrition.
Protein is the foundation of your muscular growth as it contains the amino acid building blocks. Each of your meals should be focused around lean sources of protein such as fish, fowl, eggs, and lean cuts of red meat.
As a bodybuilding rule-of-thumb, you should aim for a minimum of one gram of protein per desired pound of lean bodyweight. If your goal is to build a solid two-hundred pound physique, you should be consuming a minimum of two-hundred grams of protein per day.
Carbohydrates are our main source of fuel, thus are required to provide the energy we need to push through a tough workout. They are also important as they ‘spare protein’, meaning they allow our body to use the protein we consume for muscle-building purposes instead of as a source of energy.
In order to maximize your energy levels without adding any body fat, follow these rules for carbohydrate consumption:
1. Eat mainly complex carbohydrates: Whole grains, vegetables, and legumes are classic examples.
2. Eat simple carbohydrates immediately after a workout: This helps kick-start the recovery process by restoring muscle glycogen and blunting the effects of the catabolic hormone cortisol.
3. Keep meals small: Keep your meals small and frequent, as this ensures maximum absorption and utilization of the carbohydrates you eat. Your biggest meals of the day should be breakfast and your post-workout meal.
Fats are also an important component of your bodybuilding diet since they are required to synthesize the hormones responsible for anabolism. Stick to healthy sources of fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts, and fatty sources of fish. Don’t overdo your fats, they are a dense source of energy and can quickly pack on excess weight that covers up your hear-earned muscle.
Making nutrition a priority takes time and energy, but is an essential requirement in building a noteworthy physique.
So you see it is quite simple – stimulate the muscle and then allow it to recover adequately. Perform these steps consistently; you will see dramatic gains in muscle that will leave you with a physique you will be proud to own.
Written By Pete from MuscleIgnition.com exclusively for MuscleMecca.com