Best Way to Build Muscle: The Complete Guide to Bulking Up
Millions of people of all shapes and sizes lift weights weekly to build their muscles in both size and strength.
Many succeed with their efforts because they have either invested in a knowledgeable personal trainer or because they are familiar with the subject matter themselves.
Unfortunately, others waste a lot of time on failing efforts, and it’s likely because they don’t understand the best way to build muscle.
Fortunately, there are some universal rules and techniques recommended from the team at Visual Impact Fitness that you can apply when building your muscle.
Fundamentals of Muscle Gain
Regardless of the hundreds of tips and tricks that you can find online and through various weightlifting programs, three basic fundamentals are absolutely undeniable. When speaking with an informed personal trainer or even a sporting coach, there’s no way to argue them.
Lifting heavy weights causes damage to your muscle fibers, which needs to happen in order to gain muscle. Your body’s response to this damage is the growth of muscle. Ultimately, you need to teach your body that it’s going to endure heavy lifting on a consistent basis, so it needs to be prepared to respond with more muscle so it can handle the weight.
Calorie deficiencies aren’t an option when it comes to building muscle. To grow new tissue, you need to provide the fuel, which means that you need to eat more than you burn. Mostly, you need to consume enough calories to maintain your current weight, as well as enough to fuel the training and muscle stimulation you are putting your body through.
Getting the proper amount of rest is pivotal to building muscle. All weightlifting does is create the damage in your muscles, but it’s the rest that promotes the healing and building of the tissue. Bulking up outside of the gym is just as relevant as what you do inside.
What You Need to Consider Before Starting a Routine
Muscle building routines take a massive toll on your body and your nervous system because you’re purposely damaging muscle fiber to encourage muscle growth. Additionally, you’re going to use heavy weights, which put different pressure on your joints and muscles.
Before you start any muscle building routines, it’s critical that you familiarize yourself with the fundamentals; there is no room for learning as you go because it can result in pain and failure. It’s also vital that you get a physical exam before beginning, as any previous injuries can make you vulnerable to more.
Muscle Building Concepts
There are three exercise concepts that you can’t ignore when you’re looking for the best way to build muscle. The following three sections of this guide break down what each concept means and what each one does.
Progressive Overload Concept
The human body needs a reason to gain muscle because it isn’t going to do it on its own. Humans are built to survive, so the effort that you put into building your muscle needs to convince your body that it’s an advantage to have bigger and stronger muscles.
You satisfy your body by way of progressive overload—using heavier and heavier weights over time. As an example, if your training program calls for 10 repetitions of 130 pounds on the bench press, then the next time you train on the press, you raise the weight by the smallest increment. The end result is that your body doesn’t have the chance to sit still; it’s always improving, adapting, and growing muscle.
There is one downfall to progressive overload, though; it’s not an indefinite concept. This downfall is where variance comes in.
The human body adapts fairly quickly to regular training, so it’s crucial that you maintain consistent variety in your training. The great thing about the variance concept is it can be anything from changing your rest time, manipulating your reps and weights, switching up your lifting selection, and more.
Keeping the element of surprise in your workout is going to keep your body guessing, so it’s always working to build the best muscle to keep up. Variance also works when you reach that dreaded plateau. At some point, you are going to see that you can’t bench or lift heavier weights. Knowing how to identify this point and knowing it’s time to move to a new technique is crucial in the muscle-building process.
If you are using the right techniques, you’re likely to see some impressive muscle growth at the beginning. These are known as beginner gains and won’t last forever. As your body gets used to training, and your natural and genetic muscle mass limit is reached, your progress slows down.
The best way to keep building your muscle is not to give up and apply a consistent approach. Consistency is imperative if you want to see results that go beyond the beginning stages. Eat an excellent and nutritious meal, follow it up with a workout and proper rest, and then repeat.
Muscle Building Mistakes
Just like there are fundamentals and concepts that you need to apply to get the best muscle growth, there are also mistakes that you need to avoid to keep from derailing your progress. Above all else, the more informed you are about muscle building, the better your results.
The following sections focus on the mistakes that can keep you from reaching your goals.
Not Tracking Workouts
As a beginner, you might not realize how important it is to track your workouts. Keeping a simple log is going to give you a better understanding of the progress that you’re making. It’s not just as easy as going to the gym each week and working hard, because you need to know if you are reaching a plateau, or if you are overtraining.
One of the most significant mistakes that you can make when trying to build muscle is overtraining. Overtraining results in fatigue and is actually a syndrome that has its own symptoms, which include low mood, injuries, aches, poor performance, raised heartbeat, and more. It can feel like you have the flu, and it’s the result of pushing your body to its breaking point where it can’t recover.
Overtraining is commonly seen in professional sports. It’s not a great feeling, and if you don’t give your body the rest that it needs, you can do severe and potentially permanent damage. If you want to avoid overtraining, you need to learn how to listen to your body, and give yourself rest when you need it; even if your regimen says otherwise.
Factoring in active recovery is also a great way to avoid overtraining. Active recovery means that you don’t train as hard as you typically do, and to get proper results, it needs to be applied once a week every other month.
Training Out of An Unhealthy Lifestyle
When it comes to fitness and muscle building, Visual Impact Fitness wants you to remember that you can’t just train your way out of an unhealthy lifestyle; you need to change your lifestyle. You need to provide your body with proper nutrition, proper rest, and stop overeating, drinking, and smoking.
Unless you eliminate those factors from your life, you are going to see very poor results and put yourself at risk of injury and overtraining.
Best Way to Build Muscle
Different workouts are going to lend themselves to various exercises, but for the most part, it’s best to use compound exercises because they work multiple muscles and body parts at the same time. There are isolation exercises that work out only one body part, but it’s suggested that you use them sparingly.
Here are some of the best exercises for specific body parts:
- Compound Exercises: Bulgarian split lunge, barbell squat, barbell lunge, and barbell deadlift
- Isolation Exercises: Calf raises, hip thrusters, hamstring curls, and leg extensions
- Compound Exercises: Barbell shrug, pull-ups, upright row, and bent-over-barbell row
- Isolation Exercises: Standing pull down, and lateral pull down
- Compound Exercises: Arnold press, seated dumbbell press, behind-the-neck press, and military press
- Isolation Exercises: Rear deltoid fly, medial raise, and anterior raise
- Compound Exercises: Bench press (decline, flat, and incline)
- Isolation Exercises: Dumbbell chest fly, and cable crossover
- Close-grip bench press, seated bicep curl, dips, barbell bicep curl, and chins
- Russian twist, weighted rope pull down, weighted abdominal crunch, and hanging leg raises
Nutritional Basics of Muscle Building
When it comes to building muscle, getting the proper amount of nutrition is already half the battle. Ideally, you want to eat enough good calories to maintain your current weight as well as provide your body with enough fuel to enable your muscles to grow during rest, as well as give you the energy needed to work out.
To provide your body with the tools it needs to gain muscle, you absolutely need to have a high protein intake. As you may already know, protein is the building block that muscles are made of.
Most people see great results with having one gram of protein for every one pound of body weight; however, some people feel like it can be less. The sources of protein that you take in have to be high quality in order for you to see satisfactory results. Quality meats, protein powders, mushrooms, beans, and more are all examples of good protein that you need to introduce to your diet.
Many people make the mistake of avoiding fats altogether when they are working out or looking to gain muscle because they don’t want to put on fat. However, there are good fats that are essential to building muscle and critical to your diet if you're going to see results, be healthy, and maintain high levels of testosterone (in men).
If you are unsure of what healthy fats are, there are plenty of nutritional resources available to you. Some healthy fats include fish, seeds, nuts, and avocado.
There are times where your workouts are going to be absolutely grueling, so you need to fuel yourself properly. At times like this, consuming low glycemic index carbohydrates as a part of your main meals is recommended. Although, there are also times that call for higher level glycemic index carbohydrates, and that’s typically before and after your workout.
Working out the number of carbs that you need in your diet is relatively simple. Simply multiply your protein by four, multiply your good fat by nine, add the results together, subtract from your total caloric need, and then divide the result by four.
Other Ways to Build Muscle
There are a lot of ways to build muscle, but following along with the best ways is what’s going to get you the most results. The information provided above is enough to get you started on your journey, but in case you need more, below are some other options.
Start at Home
As a beginner, heading to a gym that is full of muscle men and women can be intimidating. No one wants to feel like they are getting judged for their size, and regardless of your confidence level, that can happen. Try starting off with bodyweight exercises, such as squats, planks, push-ups, and lunges, at home. These home workouts can be especially beneficial for those who have a hefty bodyweight.
Have a Plan
Each time that you go to the gym needs to be different. Make sure that you have a program in mind every time you go, and stick to it. Don’t drift around, contemplating which machine or weights to use; it only wastes your time and the time of other gym members.
Building muscle is no simple task, and if you’re looking for overnight results, you’re going to be let down. In order to get the best muscles for your size, you need to turn to the best muscle-building methods that are available to you. These methods don’t only mean specific programs and workouts, but it also means keeping yourself informed, knowledgeable, and patient.
Everyone has their days where motivation is hard to find, and it’s difficult to climb out of bed. Until you reach a point where muscle training has been a part of your life for some time, it’s going to be challenging. Just like losing weight, muscle growth requires an entire lifestyle change that is only going to show the rewards when you make the changes and keep up with the lifting.
Along with other resources that you can find online, with personal trainers, and with coaches, you can turn to Visual Impact Fitness to get more of an understanding on advanced techniques that include some of the best ways for you to bulk up.