How To Build Muscle — Your complete Guide by Caleb Lee
The worse thing you can do when you start trying to build muscle is to imitate what you see in muscle building and body building magazines. Don’t try to do the stuff the pro bodybuilders do. You’re just starting out and they are on lots of steroids (which means they can make gains on just about any program, even unhealthy ones).
If you’re an average guy or gal you need to follow a basic, no-nonsense approach to get started building muscle fast. And you also need a guide to follow to make sure you don’t overdo it in the beginning (which ultimately harms your progress).
With this in mind, keep reading to discover…
How to build muscle — ten tips to help you build muscle fast!
Here we go, the only “no-nonsense” guide you’ll ever need:
1. Focus On Strength First — More strength will always equal more muscle. Plus, it’s embarrassing to be really big and have no strength. Also, strength is the basis for every physical skill. If you’re an athlete and you want more endurance, more speed, more agility, etc all these physical qualities will improve when you improve your strength.
Body Weight Training – I recommend starting with bodyweight (BW) training first because you should master your own bodyweight before you try lifting more weights in the form of iron. Practice the basics: Pushups, Pullups, Dips, Squats, Pistols, Crunches, V-Situps, etc. Move on to harder versions of each move when those get easy. Also BW training is great for strengthening your tendons.
Weight Training — Weight training is great for building strength. And you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment. An Olympic weightlifting bar set is all you need to start. You want to always make sure to lift with proper technique though. Make sure you start with an empty bar and work your way up from there.
Kettlebell Training – Is a great strength builder as well. You build strength at odd angles and you can do olympic lifting style moves like the snatch, clean and jerk, etc with much less training than with a barbell. You can get relatively good at these exercises fast. And if something goes wrong there is less weight to drop on yourself or the floor.
2. Always Use Free Weights — Avoid weight “machines” like the plague. The exercises which will make you strongest are performed with a barbell. Compound exercises like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press will do more for your strength levels and physique than anything else.
Here’s some other reasons to only lift with free weights (barbells specifically):
It’s Safer — you’re not performing unnatural, assisted movements like with machines. Barbells and free weights build strength in the movements you need them in. You increase the strength of all your stabilizer muscles simultaneously too.
More Efficient – Because you’re using more muscles (more stabilizers) to lift, press and pull barbells and other free weights — you build more muscle with less effort.
More Functional–When you lift heavy objects off the floor… over your head and explosively you’re doing the same types of activities that you do in real life. Which means the strength you build in the gym will transfer over to every area of your life.
All-in-One — You can do every exercise you can imagine to get stronger, build muscle, burn fat and get in great shape with just a barbell and weights. You don’t need a ton of weight training equipment to take up a lot of space (ideal for a home gym).
Kettlebells are like a whole gym — in just a couple little iron balls. You need even less space for kettlebells which makes them ideal for the home gym or traveling.
3. Always Do Compound Exercises – you want to build strength and muscle throughout your whole body, so train it as one unit. The only exception to this is when you discover you have a muscle inbalance and then you need to do isolation exercises to strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the “too tight” muscles (otherwise injuries will occur). For example:
For arms: Do not do tricep kick backs and lots of curls — do pullups, pushups, presses and snatches
For legs: Do not do leg extensions and hamstring curls — do squats, kettlebell pistols and deadlifts
For your chest: Do not do flys and pec deck — do bench press, overhead presses and dips, etc
4. Work Your Legs. Hard. — Squats and Deadlifts are full body exercises. Because of this they help put muscle on your whole body. (You can actually put muscle on your chest and arms by working your legs) Also, you don’t want to have “chicken legs” with a huge upper body. Give yourself something stable to stand on–strong legs.
You’ll look good once you can squat 1.5 times your bodyweight (it won’t take long!) and you can deadlift the same (or more likely 2 times).
5. Full Body Workouts are the rule – You need to do full body workouts. You don’t need to do isolation exercises. Why not get the best bang for your buck? Why not get maximum results in the gym for the least amount of time. Here’s 7 reasons why full body workouts are better for muscle building and fat loss.
If you play any sports you’ll be more athletic and perform better if you do full body workouts. Kettlebells are great full body tools as many of the exercises you do with them like snatches, clean and presses, etc work the entire body.
6. Recover as Hard as You Work Out — The more you overtrain the slower your progress will be. Also, the bigger your muscles, the more rest you need. You can actually gain 30lbs of muscle by only working out a TOTAL of 4 hours — the key is recovery. You muscles always grow OUT of the gym, not IN it. Here’s what to focus on:
Rest. You don’t grow in the gym — get your three intense workouts in a week and get out. Rest when you’re outside the gym. Meditation and Relaxing are good because they reduce stress and cortisol levels which help you build muscle and burn fat. Think quality, not quantity when it comes to how much time you spend in the gym.
Good Sleep. Your body repairs itself when you sleep. Growth Hormone and Testosterone levels are increased during deep sleep. Get 8 hours of good sleep if possible. Deep sleep is more important than quantity though. If you can get a quick 20 minute nap in after working out that is great.
Eat Enough. Your body needs food to fuel it and for recovery. Eat clean (more on that in a moment).
Drink Water. I try for a gallon a day. Drink at least 2 cups at each meal. You need pure water to stay hydrated and it’s great for a million other reasons too.
7. Eat Clean. You want muscle weight, not fat weight right? Eat clean. Anything that is in a box is BAD. Just accept it. Schedule in one “cheat day” per week so you don’t go crazy trying to eat clean. Pig out on the foods you’re trying to quit that are bad for you on that day, that way you will be sick of them and not want to eat them the rest of the week. It’s hard to hit perfection, so aim to eat good 80% of the time. You need (in order of importance):
Protein: Lean beef, chicken, eggs, whey protein and milk …
Vegetables: broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, etc …
Fats: Fish oil, Olive Oil, real butter, Nuts, etc …
Fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges, avocados, etc …
Carbs: Whole grain and brown, no starches except post workout
8. Supplement — Some people don’t think you need supplements, I say our food supplies suck for nutrition. What should you take…
Whey Protein — helps you get protein (more on that in a moment)…
Fish oil — is the best supplement for absolutely everything health wise
Superfood/Green drink — to get the vegetable/green goodness you need
Enzyme formula — for faster recovery and boosting overall health
Creatine – for building muscle fast and a ton of other health benefits.
9. Focus on Protein. It’s said you need 1gram per pound of bodyweight to build muscle. I’ve never been able to do that consistently, and I still build muscle and burn fat, but I always focus on protein (it’s not a meal in my mind without protein). Also, protein has a higher thermic effect than other macronutrients so it’s good for fat loss too. Here’s good sources of protein:
10. Never Give Up — Don’t get frustrated if you’re not getting results right away. Stay positive, a positive mental attitude is a must. Focus on the basics, get stronger, make progress in small steps and before you know it you’ll have come a long way. Subscribe to this site and visit often for more tips to help you.
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