Building muscles quickly and achieving maximum muscle mass based on your genetic potential is not an art, it’s a science. And some of the most important key steps are simple to implement. Here are the 5 most-important steps for muscle-building success…
1) Get Enough Sleep
It may seem strange to see getting enough sleep at the start of the list, but it’s one of the biggest differences between natural bodybuilders with bulging muscles and the bodybuilders that train week after week with little or no gains. When you lift weights, you create minor tears in your muscles that need to be repaired and your body responds by building the muscles bigger and stronger in anticipation of further heavy lifts. But most of this repair is only done when the body is at rest.
As a result, if you don’t get enough sleep, 7-8 hours a night, you’re not fully repairing the muscles after each workout. And if you don’t recover fully you’re obviously either preventing or at least delaying your mission to build maximum muscle mass.
2) Eat Enough Healthy Food
Most serious bodybuilders eat fairly clean – just not enough. Most of today’s obesity epidemic comes from people over-eating poor food choices, especially excessive simple carbs. If you started your bodybuilding to burn bodyfat, you gave up all or most of that and watched your bodyfat levels drop and drop. But now that you’re trying to build muscles and have your maximum muscle mass, you need to get back to that caloric intake using only healthy nutritional choices.
But that’s not just true for those who became bodybuilders to lose weight – it applies to every bodybuilder. You need more protein than those who don’t lift weights, but most bodybuilders also need a lot of carbs as well. Not enough to start adding fat again, but enough to fuel your body throughout your day and night. If your body doesn’t have enough carbs and/or bodyfat it will cannibalize your proteins, including your current muscle mass, for the energy it needs.
If you’re eating healthy choices with the right balance of protein, carbs and healthy fat, how do you know if you’re eating enough? Forget the charts and calorie recommendations they publish for bodybuilders – those are averages and YOU aren’t average, right? So slowly increase your intake until you notice a bit of added bodyfat, then tone it down a touch. Your body will only store bodyfat once it’s used all it needs, so that’s the ONLY way to know how much is right for you, with your genetics, your activity level and your current bodyweight. And every time you’ve gained another 10 pounds of muscle, test your intake again so you know how much more to eat each day.
3) Exercise Effectively
Every bodybuilder looking to build maximum muscle mass exercises regularly – but only a small percentage of them exercise effectively. There are many ways to improve your muscle-building workouts – starting with the fact that strength training and muscle building are two different strategies with different workouts required. If your goal is building maximum muscle mass, always keep your reps in the 10 and up range, using as much weight as you can while still maintaining perfect form and going fairly slow on each rep.
Two principles rule when the goal is building maximum muscle mass – Time Under Tension and Slow Negatives. The former refers to how long each set lasts because the longer you keep the muscle under constant tension the greater the damage you’re doing, creating those micro-tears that lead to muscle building. The latter is simply science – those micro-tears occur on the negative stroke of each exercise. So for maximum effect from your workouts use a 1-2 cadence for each rep – lift in 1 second and lower in 2, or lift in 2 seconds and lower in 4 seconds.
4) Improve Your Workouts
How many bodybuilders have you seen at the gym doing the same workout week in and week out, never making much progress, never building much lean muscle mass? Bodybuilding relies on progressive resistance… Both your overall workout and the weights you’re lifting need to progress regularly. Change up the exercises and order of them every 4-6 weeks. Start each new cycle with 3 exercises per bodypart, then each week add 1 more per bodypart. Start back at 3 exercises when you go into the next cycle. And anytime you get all your reps in for your last set of an exercise while maintaining proper form, raise the weight a bit at your next workout – just don’t sacrifice safety and good form to cheat up a weight you’re not ready for yet.
5) Supplement Intelligently
You aren’t building maximum muscle mass if you’re not using supplements, but you don’t need to rush out and break the bank taking every new supplement that comes along. You’ll see an awful lot of talk about whey protein, and it IS important – but only after your workouts. The rest of the time, especially before bed, use casein protein instead. Whey protein is absorbed very quickly and clears your system in about 90 minutes, so it’s perfect for right after your workouts. Casein protein absorbs more slowly and stays in the system for about 4 hours, so it continues to deliver needed protein much longer during the crucial overnight rebuilding period.
Also look into creatine, l-glutamine and a nitrous oxide booster – each can help you build bigger muscles and/or give you more energy for better workouts. And, of course, take a multivitamin daily along with additional B, C + D-3 vitamins. These not only aid in the muscle-building process but help with your overall health as well.
Before going on to any more advanced concepts or experimental programs, make sure you have these 5 basic keys in place – they unlock almost all the secrets to building maximum muscle mass and getting the most out of your workouts and genetics!