How to Build Muscle Mass - The Crash Course

Aaron Wood, December 26, 2016
How to Build Muscle Mass - The Crash Course

Hitting the gym and working out regularly presents the proverbial keys to the kingdom for those who want a brand new and impressive physique. Whether the goal is to become a competitive bodybuilder or just for personal improvement, building up lean muscle mass is how to achieve the goal. Packing on solid amounts of muscle is never easy, but it can be done. Tried and effective methods of building up weight dates back thousands of years. During the days of ancient Greece, athletes may not have "pumped iron" but they definitely pumped stone. Yes, back in the age of antiquity, Greek athletes figured out progressive resistance training was the way to build muscle mass.

The work of the ancients has been built upon ever since. During the 20th century, "muscle magazines" emerged and the publications helped promote physical culture. The glory days of the 1970's, the "Golden Age of Bodybuilding" saw weightlifting gain a cult following that set the stage for the modern landscape of weightlifting. A lot has changed over the years, but some things are constant. Anyone who overloads a muscle leads the muscle to grow bigger.

Progressive Overload Explained

Muscles have been called lazy because they do not like to work. When the muscles are stressed due to lifting barbells and dumbbells, muscles will grow to work less the next time they are stressed.

Progressive overload is required to achieve this result. Muscles all have a maximum amount of weight they can left for one repetition. Dropping down from that weight amount to a point when an exercise can be performed for a decent number of reps and sets while still stressing the muscles is necessary. The weight has to be heavy enough to stress the muscles to grow. Weight that is too light won't overload the muscle. Sure, calories end up burned and the muscles react to a degree. Exceptional growth, however, just won't occur.

The Proper Number of Repetitions

3 or 4 sets of 8 - 12 repetitions is commonly suggested for those who want to build muscle mass. Such a "standard approach" to sets and reps allows the focus to remain on mass building and not fat loss or powerlifting. Adjust the weight so that 8 - 12 reps can be done and lead to failure on the lift.

Lifting weight that is too heavy might mean only 6 repetitions can be performed before failure. This is fine for strength training and powerlifting, but those who want to build up a muscular physique need to get more reps. And training to failure is required in order to stimulate mass growth.

Training to Failure Effectively

Training to failure simply means the exercise cannot be performed to completion. The muscles simply cannot finish the full range of motion for the exercise. Growth is sure to occur to a varying degree when training the muscle to failure. Training to failure on each and every set is usually not a good idea. Often, the last set of the workout is the one in which exercise is trained to failure. Doing so would boost the risk of injury and overtraining.

Compound Exercises and Mass

Weight training exercises are broken into two spheres: isolation and compound exercises. Isolation exercises work only one muscle group. Compound exercises bring together several muscle groups to complete an exercise. Preacher curls are an example of isolation exercises that exclusively work the biceps. The classic bench press mainly stresses the chest, but also pulls in the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and back into the process.

As far as mass building goes, compound exercises are the most important. Since they bring in several muscles into the mix, these exercises allow to lifting heavier amounts of weight. Lifting heavy weight builds mass. Isolation exercises do have their place, but compound exercises are a must for those who want to build up mass.

Avoiding Overtraining

Being enthused about hitting the gym definitely assists in building up lean muscle mass. Muscles are not going to continue to grow if someone is inconsistent with workout sessions. Too much time in the gym won't help the cause either. In fact, overtraining undermines all muscle growth.

Muscle grows during the rest stage and not in the gym. Muscle is broken down during the gym sessions because the fibers have been torn and overloaded. The repair process commences when the body is at rest. Overtraining refers to the decision to deny the body enough time to rest, recover, and repair. Not only does muscle tissue refuse to grow, the tissue could end up becoming smaller as a result. The metabolism might even feed on the muscle instead of burning stored fat or carbs for energy.

Generally, it is advised to work a muscle group once per week. Giving a body part a minimum of three days to recover is commonly suggested. Four days a week in the gym with three rest days might be optimal for most people. Setting up a consistent schedule of working legs and triceps every Monday and only on Monday would be a way to avoid overtraining these particular muscles. Making sure every Wednesday and Sunday are dedicated to total result would further help the cause.

The Role of Diet

Diet plays a major role in how well the body can build up muscle mass. Someone who is on a calorie deficit diet is going to be in a tough position as far as mass gaining is concerned. Muscles need calories in order to grow. Upping calorie intake is important to feed and grow muscle tissue. Do not, however, fall into the dangerous trap of overeating.

A number of fitness celebrities promote eating more than 5,000 calories per day in order to bulk up. Unless someone is a professional bodybuilder who is working out hours and hours a day, a massive spike in calories to that degree is going to turn to fat. You can use our calorie calculator on the right to calculate your needed calorie intake.

If you are 160 lbs and want to grow bigger, moderately increase calories by 100 or so clean and healthy calories per day is advisable. Slowly increase clean calories to adjust to muscle growth. Someone who is up to 5,000 calories per day is probably already packing 250 lbs of lean muscle. The only persons who should drastically increase calorie intake are "hard gainers" with metabolisms so fast they just cannot add weight.

The Need for Protein

Food comes in three forms: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. As far as the ability to build muscle mass is concerned, a decent amount of protein intake is critically important. Without an intake of protein, muscle simply cannot grow.

Protein can be eaten in its natural form through a diet of chicken, lean beef, eggs, and more. Those who are not able to cook meals can supplement their diet with highly-popular protein shakes.

Give the Body Enough Time

Huge gains in muscle mass are not going to arrive overnight. Only through consistent effort in the gym can results be gained. The right approach to working out should become part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Eating right and working out week after week will lead to huge muscular gains and a fantastic new physique.

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