You Want That Greek-like Physique Huh?
OK, so what I am about to reveal is not an actual secret, however many do not understand the muscle building process. Hence, to them it is still a secret. Building muscle is a relatively simple process. However, it is not a quick and easy one. There are a few important factors to keep in mind when ones focus is to pack on some serious muscle mass. In my experience many trainees fail at something that is fairly simple because they get lost in all of the details. Of course this is not rocket science, but individuals tend to treat the muscle building process as if it were so. I will break the process down into a few key concepts, that if one were to follow only these ideals and never learn anything else about muscle building, they could create a very respectable physique. Keep these tips in mind, maintain a decent level of sanity and your muscle building quest will be shortened greatly.
Proper Training is Crucial
Most fail in the training department. In fact, many are still lost after years of being in the gym. The typical trainee has been working hard for years without any appreciable size or strength gains, however they continue to do the same stuff over and over with less than stellar results. Focus on the following:
- Frequency Matters – Most trainees will make the best gains from hitting each body part 2-3 times per week. The typical 1 body part per week splits are not optimal for the majority of the population.
- Build Strength – Focusing on progressive overload in the 5-8 rep range is generally a good idea. This is a great way to track progress and as strength goes up you will be building muscle. Remember to keep a log book.
- Compound Movements – Compound exercises are not the be-all, end-all solution. However, these movements are efficient and great when focusing on progressive overload. Deadlifts, squats, leg presses, over head presses, rows (many variations), and the various chest presses are all great exercises when you are building mass. They also keep you from wasting time on unnecessary isolation movements.
- Hypertrophy Rep Totals – A total of about 80-100 reps per large body parts and about 40-50 per smaller body parts per week will be enough stimulus to spur muscle growth. One should divide the total reps by 2 to 3 depending on the weekly workout frequency.
Eat A Lot
Many people fail here as well. You have to eat if you want to grow. Muscle will not magically appear out of thin air; I don’t care what that asinine muscle building Ebook tells you! Building muscle requires energy. We ingest energy in the form of calories. You must consume an excess of energy to fuel growth. A few main points:
- Create a Surplus – This can be accomplished by eating 400-500 calories over your daily maintenance calorie range. Gaining 1 pound a week is a decent rate to shoot for. If you start gaining much more than that, you are probably adding unnecessary amounts of fat.
- Protein – Eat at least 1x bodyweight in grams of protein. This will be enough to produce muscle gains. Excess protein is not needed when in a caloric surplus, so save your money and enjoy the other more interesting food groups.
- Carbs + Fats – Fill in the rest of your caloric amount with these macros. Consume a minimum of 20% fat in your diet and fill in the rest with carbohydrates. As far as I am concerned, you can manipulate these macros to your own liking. I personally like my diet to be carb based, but it’s really up to the individual. If you are insulin resistant, it may be smart to strategically place starchy carbs around training only (at least 100+ grams).
- Meal Frequency – This is not an important issue as I described in my Meal Frequency Article. Just make sure to get the proper pre and post workout nutrition for recovery purposes. Frankly, I am not too concerned with however you choose to spread your food out during the day as long as you create a surplus of calories.
Recovery Is Key
Do not underestimate the importance of your rest days and bed time. You only grow when you are not training, sitting on your can and sleeping. I always emphasize a solid 3 to 4 rest days per week.
- Sleep – During your sleep cycle, your body is restoring itself from the previous day’s wear and tear. When you sleep, you grow. Yes, it’s that simple. The muscles are knitting themselves back together using the excess nutrients you stuffed yourself with a few hours earlier. Hormones and other important muscle building mechanisms are recovering during this time as well.
- Rest Days – For all of those that have an exercise addiction, its time to cut the crap. If you want to build some serious muscle, rest days are not for unnecessary activity. Sure, maybe a pick up game now and then or some walking in the park with the significant other but no deliberate strenuous activity. These days are for recovery between workout sessions. Your nervous system can only take so much abuse within any given time frame. Use rest days to your advantage so you can make the most of your training efforts.
Do Not Over Analyze Everything
If there is an issue that chaps my rear more than anything else, it has to be paralysis by analysis. Too many people change their workouts every other week because of some BS they read in a magazine about “shocking their muscles“. Too many get caught up in whether flat bench or a machine bench is better than dumbbell presses. They obsess over whether to use a pronated or supinated grip when doing rows. Worrying about minutiae will destroy your efforts and turn you into an OCD birdbrain. Worry about the small stuff when you have made some decent progress. Then and only then do you need to think about messing with the details.
Take Your Time
Building a respectable physique is going to take some serious effort and a lot of time. Embrace it, enjoy it and learn to love the journey. Remember these 2 points :
- Arnold Didn’t Wake Up Huge – Shaping his physique took years of hard work. Do not fall for false promises of building a jacked physique overnight with little to no effort.
- Jamie Eason Didn’t Become Lean and Sexy from A Magic Pill – She works her tail off day in and day out to maintain her shape. Don’t lie to yourself.
All things aside, if one can maintain the discipline to follow these 5 guidelines I have presented, there is no reason why you won’t build the physique you are longing for.