Many people trying to build muscle simply follow the guides they find in health magazines. The problem with those plans is that the people endorsing them do not regularly follow them, are genetically gifted, or never started training the way they are suggesting you do. The plans found in magazines will not make you gain muscle, and will only lead to disappointment and possibly injury.
Before building massive muscles, most people need to build up a foundation first. You have to get yourself accustomed to working out regularly, and get on a plan that prevents physical overtraining. Here are 10 tips to put you on the right track to building big muscle fast.
1. Increase Your Strength
Increased strength leads to bigger muscles. That part of it is simple. Beginning a good solid foundation of strength training is a perfect way to start. Beginning weight training with light weights helps your body get used to the regular load, then you can add weights as necessary. Starting light first also allows you to learn proper form to prevent injury later.
When you find yourself beginning to feel accustomed to any particular weight, increase it. You will have to force your muscles to do more than they are used to if you want them to grow.
2. Use Free Weights
Using free weights offers several advantages over machines. Free weights allow you to lift more weight, and in just about any combination of increments. Using free weights forces all of your smaller control and stabilizer muscles to develop as well, increasing your overall fitness and developing useful strength.
Some machines also force your body to make unnatural movements. This can lead to injuries later on, and can be avoided by using free weights. The machine also balances the weight, taking a significant portion of the load from you. Heavier load will equal larger gains.
3. Focus on Compound Exercises
Compound exercises are exercises that utilize multiple muscle groups and more than one pivot point. They are sometimes referred to as “core exercises,” and should be the foundation of any beginner’s workout plan.
Most magazine plans promote programs focused on a series of isolation exercises. These are the common exercises you see countless people doing in your local gym every day. Things such as bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, and leg extensions are fine for a well toned, strong foundation, but should have no place in your program – at least as a primary focus – for at least a year.
Instead, you should focus on major core exercises, like barbell rows, squats, dead lifts, and bench press. These exercises work several muscle groups each, and will create a great foundation for you to build on later.
4. Train Your Legs
The biggest muscles in your body are in your legs. If you are trying to gain size and strength, it makes the most sense to work your legs out as much as possible.
Squats are a great exercise for working your entire body, and are widely accepted at being the most important exercise for someone in strength training. You should focus on free weight squats, with no machine assist, and ensure that your hips are dropping lower than your knees. This will develop you faster and in a more complete way than machine assisted squats.
Dead lifts are another great exercise you should focus on. They work your entire body as one unit, and tense up all of your muscles at once. It does not make sense that dead lifts would result in larger arm muscles, but especially for beginners, they will. Do not waste time on bicep curls if it means cutting out your dead lifts.
5. Work Out Your Entire Body
Focusing on all of the compound lifts works out your entire body. This is important because not only will it develop smaller muscles that are used less often, but it will also train your body to work as one complete package.
Once you have reached at state of higher fitness, adding in some isolation work is fine. This kind of work, however, is not for beginners and really ends up being a waste of time and a disappointment.
Sleep and recovery time is nearly as important as workout time. Your muscles do not grow when they are working, but they grow while resting. If you are not seeing the results from your workout that you would like, ensure that you are getting enough sleep.
Professional athletes workout five or six days per week. However, you have to realize that you are not a professional athlete, and that they did not start at that level. You will need more recovery time as a beginner.
Also, be sure to get plenty of water. Proper hydration plays a large role in muscle development. Drinking two gallons of water or more per day is not a bad idea, but might take some getting used to. At the beginning, try for two cups of water per meal, once cup before workout, and one after.
7. Keep Your Diet in Check
Looking leaner and stronger largely depends on your body fat percentage, which in turn depends on your diet. Eating natural, whole foods is a great way to reduce your body fat and also improve muscle development with vitamins and minerals.
High-protein foods such as meats, eggs, and dairy will greatly assist in muscle development and should make up a large portion of your diet. Additionally, you will want plenty of carps for your workout days in order to keep your energy levels up. Finally, as always with any diet, you should make sure and get plenty of fruits and vegetables every day as well.
Most people that classify themselves as “hard gainers” are really just under eaters. The human body needs food for fuel and recovery, on top of general sustenance. If you are trying to build muscle, you will need to eat more than you are burning off.
Eating breakfast is important for someone that is working out. Carb-heavy, whole foods such as oatmeal, bran cereals, bananas, and apples are great for breakfast. Eating breakfast also gives a good start to your metabolism, which will burn off fat quicker.
9. Gain Weight
Getting heavier is not always a bad thing, and is a big part of looking more muscular. To gain weight, you will have to take in more calories than you burn off each day. For most people, this is about 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day, but if you have a high metabolism or do high-intensity workouts, you may need 5,000 calories per day or more.
10. Eat Protein
Proteins are the building blocks of muscles. In order to maintain and build muscle, your body will need one gram of protein for every pound of body weight.
Some good sources for protein are red meats, chicken, tuna fish, eggs, and dairy products. If you are working out heavily, you should also consider supplementing your protein intake. Whey protein shakes are very popular among bodybuilders and strength trainers, and have been proven to work effectively.
Keep at it! Motivation and drive are a major part of building muscle. If you stick to the basic tips in this guide and follow a regular workout routine, you will gain muscle and strength in no time.