Most Important Factors to Build Muscle

August 7th, 2010 by Paul Johnson

The most important thing I’ve learned after all these years of trying to build muscle is how much time I spent worrying about the stuff that has very little effect on building muscle and the wishing I had spent more time on stuff that does build muscle. As a newbie its easy to get confused in priorities. You see supplement ads everywhere promising all these amazing muscle building properties with no effort. Then you have bodybuilding gurus promising their workout program is the "magic routine" that will build muscle better than any other program.

After awhile you realize the vast majority of supplements are a bit overrated and even the ones that seem to work don't make a significant impact on building muscle in the long run. Generally beyond protein powder and vitamin orientated supplements, most are just a drain on your wallet. You also learn that those magic routines aren't so magic after all. Its just a genetic freak that will respond to any workout routine given to him. When you try the same routine your results aren't much different than from your old routine. If their routines are high volume and your used to lower volume your results will probably be even worse because your genetics can't handle the high amount of volume like a genetic freak who has fast recovery.

Top Important Factors to Build Muscle

Here is the most important factors in order

1) Calories - Gaining muscle, especially in significant amounts, is virtually impossible without a calorie surplus. If you are not gaining weight don't expect to gain muscle. PERIOD! On the flipside if you gain weight you will gain muscle. There have even been studies done on people who massively increase calories for 2 weeks and build muscle even without weight training! This is because dramatically increasing calories to a surplus to gain weight increases testosterone, IGF-1, growth hormone, and other hormones. Thats the main reason why calories are extremely anabolic and its almost impossible to build muscle without a calorie increase. Of course you should weight train with the calorie surplus, so your muscle gains will be better and less of your gains will be fat.

2) Progressive overload - This basically means that you must make your routine harder each workout. Try to do more reps or weight or more sets or shorter rests than the previous workout. When you use progressive overload in conjunction with a calorie surplus you are putting your muscles in the optimum position to build muscle. Progressive overload isn't effective without a calorie surplus. Your body will plateau if you do it that way.

3) Start your bulk at a LEAN bodyfat percent - There is studies that suggest when someone bulks leaner they tend to put on more of their weight as muscle instead of fat. In other words if you bulk at a high bodyfat percent a lot of your new gains will just be fat. I've also experienced it myself. When I bulk at a high bodyfat percent my new gains tend to be a lot more fat. The magic number that many bodybuilding experts who have looked over this and based on my own experience find under 15% bodyfat is considered the sweet spot to start bulking. If your over 15 percent bodyfat you should cut first.

4) Concentrate on compound free weight excercises Stick to the basic excercises like bench press, bent over rows, pullups, squats and deadlifts, and shoulder press. That should be where the majority of your sets are from. Thats where most of your growth will also come from. You should do isolations for arms and traps, but compounds should be your main focus. Compound excercises release the most testosterone and GH and involve the most muscles and weight overload, so they are going to stimulate the most muscle growth in your body. Isolations don't even release any hormones. Avoid machines too.

5) Don't do too much Most naturals only need a 3 day split to grow optimally. Take one rest day between each workout to allow the body to rejuvenate. All these guys working out 4 or 5 or 6 days a week are following splits designed by steroid users. Steroid users can resist volume and over training a lot better than naturals because they block the action of cortisol and they don't have to worry about the lowering of testosterone after a workout since they get an artificial source to keep it high. You want to do the opposite of them. Keep your workouts under an hour and 3 days a week.

6) Take Breaks. Even with a calorie surplus your body becomes stale after awhile. Our body gets tired of adapting to change, it prefers to be in homeostasis. Our anabolic hormones decline, our cells become more resistant to adaption to training and building muscle after many weeks of weight training. After 2 or 3 months you should take one to 2 full weeks of complete rest from excercise. It gives your body a chance to reset hormonally and mentally. It desensitizes your body so it will be primed for another growth phase. In bodybuilding taking 1 step back in order to do 2 steps forward is important approach you will learn over time.

There you go. Follow those simple principles and that's all you need to build muscle. Don't waste time trying to find some special workout technique that you think is going to turn you into a pro-bodybuilder overnight. Forget it its not going to happen. Genetics plays a big role in bodybuilding and workouts are only a small portion, supplements play an even less importance. Diet is actually is responsible for the majority of your results. As the ole bodybuilding saying "Muscles are made in the kitchen not in the gym".