Everybody wants to gain more lean muscle. In fact, gaining more lean muscle mass is often packaged and marketed with a host of terms: tone, sculpt, shape, etc. These all essentially mean the exact same thing: build muscle and lose fat to gain a desired result. But what about all the details? The short answer is that it can be as complex or simple as you want it to be. A lot of it boils down to the basics. Here are 4 bare bones and tested training tips to help put more meat on your bones.
1. Start With Compound Exercises With Heavy Weight
In order to adequately build muscle, you need the proper stimulus. This is why doing endless curls and bicep curls won’t give you the body you want. You need something big in order to recruit as many muscle fibers as you can and uncover the receptors that signal growth. Start with big compound movements like the bench press, deadlift, squat, and row. This activates the entire area you’re looking to grow. Your rep ranges can vary, but when it comes to these large movements, sets of 5 to 8 reps with proper form and relatively heavy weight is enough.
2. Time Under Tension = Hypertrophy
After you’ve woken up the entire area you’re focusing on for that day, you can then move on to isolation exercises. Your key to isolation exercises is being wary of time under tension. The longer a muscle or muscle group is contracted, the more microtears it will accumulate, forcing your body to overcompensate with hypertrophy, or growth.. Your rep ranges for isolation movements are generally between 8 to 12 with a slow, controlled pace. Really focus on the muscle you’re working and establish that connection between your conscious effort and the area in which you’re working.
3. Training Frequency
The amount of times you work that muscle group within a given time frame determines how much focus it gets. If you train a muscle group to failure every day, you’re going to miss out on the recovery time needed to build up said group. If you train it sparingly, you’re not going to have an adequate stimulus to promote that growth. This detail on how to build lean muscle mass is often ignored in the gym. It’s a rookie mistake. The sweet spot is around twice a week on non-consecutive days. If you work your posterior chain (erectors, glutes, hamstrings, calves) on Monday, you can be fairly confident that by Thursday you can revisit those same muscles.
4. Eat What You Need. Cut The Junk.
For bulking, eat equal parts complex carbs and lean protein. Make sure your calories are a bit over your Basal Metabolic Rate. Keep fat, relatively low, but do not eliminate it. Skip the bread and anything refined or overly processed. On a plate this looks like: 6 oz of lean meat, a baked potato with seasoning but no butter, a teaspoon of sour cream, and some green veggies. Since your body can only absorb 30g of protein at a time, space out your protein intake. You don’t necessarily need 1g per body weight, but 0.5g and up should be your goal.
Building muscle isn’t rocket science, but it does take a lot of time and dedication. It’s going to take much longer than you think to reach your goals. And once you get there your priorities might change. So be patient, enjoy the process, and stick to it.