25 top tips for how to build muscle mass
Muscle mass, what exactly is it? There are three different types of muscles in the human body: Cardiac muscles, smooth muscles and skeletal muscles. Cardiac muscles are found only in the heart where they line the walls and work to pump blood throughout our bodies. They are completely involuntary in that we do not consciously control how and when they move.
Next we have smooth muscles, also involuntary, that line some of our most vital organs including the stomach, oesophagus and the bronchi of the lungs – as well as the walls of blood vessels. Their primary purpose is to rhythmically contract in order to control organ function such as moving food through the oesophagus or expanding the lungs when breathing.
Finally, we have skeletal muscles. This is what we are talking about when we refer to muscle mass. These attach directly to our skeletons and contract to facilitate movement. Sometimes known as voluntary muscles, we have direct control over them and they shape and grow as we develop muscle mass and tone.
Before we get into the top twenty-five ways you can build muscle mass, we feel that it’s equally as important to explain the benefits of adding muscle to your body as well.
Weight Management: Bigger muscles require more energy and in turn burn more calories. Muscles are essentially the engine room of the fat and calorie burning machine so the bigger and stronger they are, the more efficiently can they do their job. The harder you work your muscles, the more energy they need to recover and the more calories that are burned.
We mean just that. The more muscle a body has, the longer the life.
Decreased Injury Risk: The larger the muscles around our joints and bones, the less likely we are to injure them. This layer not only protects against breaks and dislocations but as our tendons and cartilage grow stronger with our muscles, we also become less susceptible to sprains and tears.
Improved Mood: Muscle mass is good for an individual’s mental health. Exercises cause changes in skeletal muscle and in turn that muscle removes from the blood a substance that accumulates during stress.
Gaining muscle mass doesn’t mean you must become a bodybuilder, but by simply being more conscious of your diet and making sure you exercise, you are opening up not just great physical benefits and protections, but emotional well-being as well.
If your muscle mass is the same now as it was a few months ago, this is a sign that it’s time to change things up— in the gym, out of the gym, or both. More of what didn’t work for you over the last few months isn’t going to work over the next few months. Training the same will not make the body change.
Build more muscle mass on your body by understanding and following our tips for muscle mass:
Bodybuilding’s tips for muscle mass
1. If you are currently lifting the same weights across your mainstay exercises as you were a year ago, don’t expect to have much more muscle mass. While the biggest muscles aren’t the strongest, and the strongest muscles aren’t the biggest, there’s a substantial link between strength and muscle mass for most bodybuilders. Always challenge the muscles with increased weight to push.
2. Don’t give mere lip service to the cliche “Use good form.” Permit absolutely no bouncing, heaving, exploding, or excessive range of motion; and never
get so greedy for poundage increases that you sacrifice correct exercise technique. Breaking form while training hard is a common and sometimes devastating error. Disciplined bodybuilding training is about effort and
correct form. Executing proper form throughout any training routine can make the difference in how much you build or how far behind you may fall with regards to your overall goal.
3. If you weigh the same now as you did a year ago, you can’t expect to have more muscle mass unless you’ve substantially reduced your body fat. Many bodybuilders don’t eat enough in order to grow. Don’t be afraid of the scale. Remember, muscle weighs more than fat. The scale will go up when your body adds extra muscle mass. But, you also need to consume more clean food and calories to feed the muscles and force them to expand and grow.
4. Build mass by concentrating primarily on a select number of major, compound exercises. An excessive number of exercises puts an excessive drain on your recovery ability, reduces your effort levels, and slows or even prevents muscle growth.
5. Avoid high-risk exercises such as unsupported rows, Smith machine squats, bench presses to your neck, and behind-the-neck presses and pulldowns. Always train harder, not smarter. Think about what you are training and be smart and conscious of the muscles engaged.
6. Avoid overtraining — overuse causes injury even if you use good exercises and correct form. Listen to your body and rest when you feel fatigued or sore. Training excessively will not make the muscles grow. Actually, muscles grow while the body rests/sleeps.
7. Do your utmost to barbell squat well and intensively. The benefits are not limited to just the thighs, glutes and lower back. Properly done, the squat has a knock-on growth effect throughout the body. While some people can’t squat intensively in a safe way, most can if they are sufficiently motivated, and properly taught. Revere the squat, improve your squatting form, pay your dues, and you’ll help your overall bodybuilding gains. Squatting provides the body with balance, posture and overall muscle growth and strength.
8. If you can’t barbell squat properly, try the safety bar to squat. Alternatively, try the parallel grip deadlift. Properly done, the safety bar squat and the parallel grip deadlift are wonderful exercises.
9. Do your utmost to deadlift well and intensively — the conventional, bent-legged deadlift. The benefits are not limited to just the back, thighs, glutes and grip. Properly done, the conventional deadlift has a knock-on growth effect throughout the body. While some people can’t deadlift intensively in a safe way, most can. Revere the deadlift, improve your deadlift form, pay your dues, and you’ll help your overall bodybuilding gains.
10. If you can’t perform the conventional deadlift well and intensively, perform the partial deadlift instead — in a power rack from a little below knee height. Properly done, the partial deadlift is a good alternative to the conventional deadlift, although not an equivalent exercise.
11. Individualize your exercise selection. If an exercise hurts, and you’ve been performing it using correct technique, and have tried sensible modifications, drop that exercise and substitute a comparable one. The first rule of exercise is “Do no harm.” Discard the foolish “No pain, no gain” maxim. Don’t follow what others do. Find a routine that works for you and assess how your body reacts to certain movements and exercises. Tweak your form to make the most of the exercise and allow your muscles to burn and grow.
12. Don’t chop and change your training program. Stick with a given set of exercises long enough to make substantial progress in weight on the bar– for plenty of reps in correct exercise technique, of course. While we say that change is good, allow a training program at least 4-6 weeks to provide improvements and growth to your body. Only you can tell when it’s time to change things up, add more weight or increase your training time.
13. Most bodybuilders overtrain. If your bodybuilding has stagnated, chances are you’re spending too much time in the gym and/or you’re visiting the gym too often. Cut back, and give yourself a chance to grow.
14. Weight training does not have to be done seven days a week. Allow the muscle group to recover and avoid training the same muscle group back to back. There is no magic number when it comes to how many days a week to train. This will vary from person to person depending on the level of fitness, goal and overall health of the person. Set your own schedule according to your body and goals.
15. Don’t train if you’ve not recovered from your previous workout. If you still feel tired and are due to train today, for example, rest another day. Then modify your training program and lifestyle so that you recover adequately between workouts without having to take unscheduled rest days.
16. Train hard, but smart. Do enough to stimulate growth, and then get out of the gym and give your body a chance to recover and grow.
17. Find a training partner who has a similar recovery ability as yours, so that you can use a similar training program. Then push each other to deliver perfect workouts every time — intensive, progressive, and always with the correct form. an inappropriate training partner can be your downfall. If he can recover quicker than you, and tolerate more sets and exercises, and if he pushes you to abuse forced reps or any other intensity enhancer you may need to slow things down or do some training on your own.
18. Get some small weights and/or dumbbells, or use some alternatives, so that you can add just one pound (or half a kilo) to the bar at a time when you’re using your best current poundages. Adding a minimum of five pounds (or two-and-a-half kilos) to an exercise at a single shot when you’re at your current best weights, as most bodybuilders try to, often leads to a breakdown in form, and injury. Nudge up your weights. Strength is built slowly. Results will not happen overnight. Slow, steady progress with your training is much more beneficial and rewarding then going too hard, too fast. This often leads to injury which will set you back for what could be a considerable amount of time.
19. You’ve probably heard of the importance of keeping a training log, but do you actually keep one. Accurately record all your work sets’ reps and poundages. As the weeks go by, you should see small but gradual improvements in weight lifted (but in consistently correct exercise technique). By keeping a log, you will have a better understanding of what you may be doing right or wrong and what you need to change to see and feel better muscle growth.
20. Instead of getting to the gym and running straight to the free weight area, warm-up your muscles by stretching before each workout. Stretching won’t make you bigger, but it will help keep you resistant to injury provided you do it properly. The body needs to get the blood flowing and pumping throughout as well as in the muscles so that they are ready to be fully engaged with each exercise performed.
21. Follow excellent nutritional habits every day. No matter how well you train, rest and sleep, if you cut corners with your nutrition you’ll impair if not kill your muscle growth. Eating clean small meals every 3-4 hours consisting of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates will keep your metabolism going, burn fat and allow your body it’s full growth potential.
22. Get at least eight hours of quality sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, try taking some sleep aids. Short changing yourself in the sleep department can kill bodybuilding gains even if your training and nutrition are in good order. If you rely on an alarm clock most mornings, you’re not getting enough sleep. Get to sleep earlier, and give your bodybuilding recovery increased priority. Remember that muscles grow while your body is sleeping.
23. Never battle through warning signs of overtraining. Symptoms of overtraining include loss of training zeal, stagnant exercise poundages, reduced appetite, and nagging aches and pains. Whenever you feel any of these symptoms, take action to nip overtraining in the bud. Overtraining won’t make your muscles grow. With overtraining may come injury. Know the difference between sore muscles from training and an injury from not using proper form or trying to push too much weight.
24. Bodybuilding is about getting each rep right, each set right, each workout right, each meal right, and each night’s sleep right — week after week, and month after month. Make any compromise on this, and you’ll reduce your rate of progress. Compromise heavily, and you’ll kill your gains.
25. Gear your training and entire package of recovery-related factors so that progress in muscular mass is a reality. If progress isn’t happening, make changes until it is.
The buck stops with you. You select the exercises, volume and training frequency you use. You determine whether or not you use correct exercise technique. You decide when to quit on a set. You determine your sleeping hours. You are responsible for your nutrition.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the keyword here is YOU.
Take charge, and make the most of the tremendous power you have to change your physique!