How To Build Up Muscle Mass

April 20th, 2008 by Paul Johnson

I’ve compiled a list for newbies of all the basic of what every bodybuilder needs to do to build up muscle mass. Even if your not new to bodybuilding, you should look over the list because there may be things you didn’t know.

Eat more than one gram of protein per pound of lean mass

How much protein you eat, will depend on your total calorie intake and whether you are in a bulking or cutting phase. Your p should always be between 30-40% of your total calorie intake. During bulking, the calorie amount you require is what you need to build up muscle mass, without excessive fat. During a cutting phase, it's what you need to lose fat, without excessive loss of muscle mass.

Lift heavy

Lifting heavy for muscle growth, doesn't necessarily mean you have to lift at very heavy weights. The optimum rep range for muscle building, depends on your individual muscle fiber makeup for each muscle. This is because each muscle has various percentage of type 1 vs type 2 fibers, which makes some muscles respond differently to various rep ranges. Significant muscle growth can be stimulated around the 5-15 rep range.

Training to failure is not necessary for muscle building

Some workout routines advocate training each set to failure. There is no evidence in research or ancedotally from bodybuilders, that training to failure is superior. Training to failure may have a negative impact long term because it increases risk of injury and cortisol levels during workout. What's more important is a principle called progressive overload. Progressive overload is small increases long term in the weight you use, which stimulates the muscles to grow. This is why strength gains usually lead to long term muscle growth because it allows you to lift more weights, which in turn stimulates growth.

Avoid pain killers and alcohol

Alcohol and over the counter pain killers, like Asprin and Tylenol, have been shown in research to completely stop protein synthesis. Serious bodybuilders should not user either, unless you want to seriously hinder your muscle building efforts.

Get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep

Slightly noisy surroundings during sleep, have shown in studies to increase cortisol levels during sleep. Higher cortisol levels will hurt your muscle gains. Waking up in the middle of the night or constantly changing your sleep schedule, will make it hard for your body to recover and grow.

Avoid overtraining

Most bodybuilders only require a 3 day split to grow adequately. How much volume you require for optimum muscle building, depends on your genetics, whether your bulking or cutting, and the intensity (weights) you are using. Unlike endurance training, more is not always better for muscle growth. If you always feel tired and have trouble sleeping at night, you may be overtraining and will need to lower your set volume.

Change your workout (periodization)

Research has indicated changing your workout routine, called periodization, helps in better long term muscle gains. Powerlifters have been doing it for decades. Periodization is where you change your workout signficantly every few weeks, called phases. It helps avoid muscle building plateaus. For example, you can not continually lift heavy weights at the 6-8 rep range 1 minute rests and not expect a plateau after a few weeks. The body gets used to the same routine and will eventually resist change. Using lighter weights at 12 reps and shorter rest times to 30 seconds, may be one way to switch from this routine. YOu can change your workout in rep speed, rep range, volume, rest time, split, excercises. Just make sure you change at least a couple parameters at the same time.

Take a break from lifting:

Taking a break from lifting once in a while, is important for long term gains. Studies show taking a break helps boost anabolic hormone levels in the body back to normal or higher. No matter what supplements or workouts you try, you can not expect to workout 3 times a week for months and continue to grow muscle week after week. Over time, you will deplete your energy and hormones and will need a break, to re-energize your body and hormone levels.

  1. Joey on January 2nd, 2011

    These are all great tips, and not many people take breaks from their exercise regime. To many people just do not understand that taking a break is something that must be done, especially when it is their goal is to gain muscle mass.