Building muscle mass, especially that highly-desired lean muscle mass, is a task you have to do a little research and planning to achieve. Simply adding in a workout here and there won’t build lean muscle mass, and eating like most people won’t build impressive muscles nor showcase the ones you do build – instead they’d be hidden under mounting bodyfat.
There’s a lot more to it than can be covered in one blog post, but let’s look at some some general muscle-building facts that apply to us all…
The Top 10 Muscle Building Facts You Need to Know…
1. Building muscle has a lot to do with genetics.
If your parents are naturally thin or have a small body frame then most likely you will have the same traits. This doesn’t mean you have no chance of building a strong muscular body. It just means you are going to have to work harder to build impressive muscles – but chances are you won’t have to work as hard to keep lower bodyfat levels.
2. Your metabolism has an effect on your size.
If you have difficulty gaining weight whether it’s fat or muscle, then you most likely have a fast metabolism. Your body is burning calories faster than you are consuming them. Make sure you’re eating enough calories to feed your new muscles, while keeping the protein levels at or near the carbohydrate levels. If you have the opposite problem, a slower metabolism, you’ll find you build both bigger muscles and bodyfat easily – you’ll need to reduce the carbs & fats in your diet while keeping the protein levels higher.
In either case, you’ll want to pay a lot of attention to what you eat, when you eat it and how much you eat. Fortunately, online there’s a free meal planner you can use that even prints out your meal plan, your recipes and even your weekly or bi-weekly shopping list!
3. There is no universal weight training program that is going to get massive results for every individual person.
At first, the best way to find a program that works for you is to find someone who had the same type of body as you before and start walking their walk. But do your own research, learn about body composition, nutrition & exercise programs and develop your own plan with the help of your doctor and, if possible, a certified personal trainer. There are certainly standard exercises that will build muscle but there is more to building lean muscle mass than just lifting weights.
4. More training doesn’t always mean more muscle mass.
This is one of the most difficult concepts for many to grasp. The purpose of weight training is to stimulate muscle growth… that’s all. Once that has been done, your muscles need to repair and new muscle needs to be built which only happens when you are resting. Always keep in mind that your gym time is the stimulus for new muscles, but the muscles only build outside the gym based on proper nutrition and recovery time (rest & sleep).
5. Isolation exercises aren’t going to get you big fast.
The best exercises to put on the most amount of overall size are the multi-muscle exercises, better known in the fitness industry as compound exercises. These are exercises that require more than one muscle or muscle group to get the job done. These lifts put the most amount of stress on your body. This is the stress that will shock your nervous system into releasing the greatest amount of muscle building hormones.
6. Free weights build muscle faster.
Free weights are preferred over machines because they make your body work harder. They require greater concentration and allow the stimulation of supporting muscles. Machines may or may not be good for beginners to help with form and basic control, but limit the effectiveness of the exercise. It’s often said that ‘machine strength’ doesn’t translate into ‘real world strength’ because you’re not building all of the supporting muscles to go with that main muscle.
7. No Pain, No Gain? Ummm, Maybe, But…
Lifting the same weights over and over isn’t going to get you those big muscles you’re dreaming about. In fact it can do the exact opposite.
To build muscle you need to lift progressively heavier weights. Stay at the weight you’re at for any given exercise until you can finish all your sets fully while maintaining perfect exercise form, then step the weight up a small amount for your next workout. Don’t get hooked on the ‘numbers’ – far too many amateur bodybuilders let their ego drive their workouts and lift as heavy as possible, throwing proper form out the window. Not only does this not build bigger muscles, it increases your chance of injury tenfold or more.
8. Long training sessions are a NO-GO For Natural Athletes
The idea is to stimulate muscle growth, not necessarily to hit it from every angle possible. This is only a concern for developed body builders looking to tone muscle – and most of those that train this way are using pharmaceutical aids to recover & repair much more quickly than natural bodybuilders. Long training sessions cause catabolic hormone levels to rise dramatically. Catabolic hormones are responsible for breaking down muscle tissue resulting in MUSCLE LOSS. Your weight training sessions should go for no longer than 60-75 minutes maximum.
9. You don’t need aerobic activity to lose fat.
The time spent running or swimming is lost time for muscle building and muscle rebuilding & recovery. Building muscle is the fastest way to lose fat. Aerobic activities will help you lose fat but not so if you are on a high-calorie diet for building muscle.
Yes, you’ve heard over and over that aerobic exercise is tops for weight loss – but it’s simply not true. Aerobics is often referred to as ‘cardio’ for good reason – it’s one of the best ways to improve your cardioresperatory system and build endurance. But moderate cardio sessions an hour long only burn about 500 calories – you’d need to spend an hour a day at it for 7 days to burn off a single pound of fat (3500 calories). Meanwhile, you’d be taxing your system and energy reserves instead of letting them both relax and grow!
10. 3 square meals a day aren’t going to maximize your new muscle growth.
Eating is probably the most important part of muscle building. You need to eat more often and eat more protein. You should be eating roughly every 2 – 4 hours or about 5 – 6 meals per day. Spreading your meals throughout the day will improve protein & glucose assimilation, and make sure that your body always has the calories it needs for muscle building and repair.
It’s important to remember that your body cannot store protein – it clears your system in about 4 hours. So to maximize your lean muscle mass gains you need to take in more protein more often than once every 4 hours or there will be times when your body has no protein to feed your hungry muscles.