How To Build Muscles



To refresh your memory, the muscle growth formula is a simple one: weight training + proper nutrition + rest and recovery.

Within each category, there are a few more details to take note of. I call these the principles of muscle building. Use these principles to guide your workouts for maximum effectiveness.

In this article, I share a total of 13 principles. You don’t have to know all. Rather, understand how each principle works, and how all these principles function together in the muscle growth formula.

Understanding is key here.

How To Build Muscles #1 – Be Specific

How to build muscles

Your ectomorph workout training stress has to be specific. In other words, focus is key here.

If you want to be good at running long distances, you run more. Similarly, to increase muscle mass, you have to lift heavier or do a higher volume of work.

Focus intensively on bodybuilding, don’t try to do everything else that may or not be related to bodybuilding or which may jeopardise your efforts.

How To Build Muscles #2 – Above Threshold

How to build muscles

By lifting above your threshold or doing a higher volume of work, your body will react through hypertrophy (the cells that make your muscles increase in number, and thus size).

This is the basic principle of gaining muscle mass. You have to recruit all your muscle fibres and expose them to weights that they are unaccustomed to. Only then will they adapt and grow.

How To Build Muscles #3 – Progressive

How to build muscles

The stress must be progressive, and to achieve that, you should lift heavier each time, or do more (but without decreasing the weight or working out longer). This way you recruit more muscle fibres and work them more.

Progressive overload (combination of principles #2 and #3) will lead to higher intensity and stress and results in longer recovery time. If you have not recovered fully, don’t go to the gym.

So don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t able to stick to your ectomorph workout schedule. Adjust accordingly.

Also remember that there’s not much point in lifting lighter weights. If you aren’t in the right condition, don’t waste your time, effort and calories in going to the gym.

How To Build Muscles #4 – Form & Technique

How to build muscles

Form and technique are your foundations. They will help you achieve the maximum benefits from your workout.

The correct form and technique will also reduce your chances of injury dramatically.

How To Build Muscles #5 – Moderate Reps, Heavy Weights

The stress has to generated with moderate reps and heavy weights. My rep range:

  • low: 1-4
  • moderate: 5-10
  • high: 11 and above

If you lift heavy weights with low reps, you would not grow as big as lifting with moderate reps and heavy weights, as what you are actually training in this case is strength.

That’s why olympic lifters can lift very heavy weights but they don’t have the same muscle mass as a bodybuilder.

I advocate having a balance. Do 2 sets of 5-8 reps and for your final set, do 10-12 reps to hit different muscle fibers and achieve both sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy.

How To Build Muscles #6 – Intense

How to build muscles

Your ectomorph workout has to be intense.

An intense workout for mass will make you exhausted, overload your central nervous system, and this in turn spurs the release of more testosterone and growth hormones which will do wonders to your muscle gains.

Note: This doesn’t mean training to failure on every single set!

How To Build Muscles #7 – Load Muscles For A Sufficient Time

This principle is also known as time under tension.

1. Muscle mass accumulation phase (at least 40 seconds)

For instance, if 1 bench press rep takes you 4 seconds, then do 10 reps for 1 set. Most amateur gym goers don’t make sufficient muscle gains because they rush through sets, or because of their poor form.

2. Muscle mass intensification phase (at least 20 seconds)

In this phase, a shorter time period is due to heavier weights but fewer reps. This is to target the higher threshold motor units.

*Note: This is similar to principle #5 but another way of looking at it.

How To Build Muscles #8 – Have A Balanced Approach

Have you realized that most exercises done in the gym only require you to move forward or backward?

Like all things in life, success comes about with balance. Train all parts of your body, and train from all angles. This will reduce your chances of injury and you will be able to build muscles faster.

How To Build Muscles #9 – Don’t Neglect Dumbbells

How to build muscles

Dumbbell work requires stabilization of the joint and exercises the muscles for greater ranges. Definitely incorporate dumbbell work into your ectomorph workout if you haven’t done so.

How To Build Muscles #10 – Variety

You have to vary the exercises in your ectomorph workout (I explain more in this link) to break through weight lifting plateaus and to increase your muscle mass.

To recruit more muscle fibers and maximize muscle gains, do something differently! It can be anything, rep speed, exercise, numbers of sets, order of exercises, etc.

As quoted by Charles Poliquin: “A program is only as good as the time it takes to adapt to it”.

How To Build Muscles #11 – Don’t Stay More Than An Hour In The Gym

How to build muscles

A long workout will only waste your precious calories, and your muscles will be in an extended catabolic state.

Studies have found that anabolic (muscle building) hormones peak at around the 27th minute mark and then start dropping till the 45th minute mark. At this time, catabolic hormones (muscle destroying) hormones are released.

How To Build Muscles #12 – Recovery

How to build muscles

You must recover before doing the next workout routine. Your muscles grow during this period, and not when you are in the gym! And only when you recover can you progressively overload in your next gym workout routine.

How To Build Muscles #13 – Keep A Training Journal

How to build muscles

Most UNDERRATED principle of how to build muscles. A journal will help you keep track of your progress, and this will help you to adjust your training schedule and weight loads accordingly.

Most Underrated But Crucial Principles

For more crucial principles to build muscles, you may want to take a look at this report I have made. It contains the most underrated but crucial principles you must know.

Simply go to this link (my facebook wall) to click like and you will be able to download it! :)

Other Articles in this Series

Body type
Ectomorph workout mindsets
Strength training
Be lean and ripped
Bodybuilding terms


  • http://ectomorphworkout.org Trey

    Good concise read of the principles :-)

  • Pingback: Ectomorph Workout Mindsets | Ectomorph Workout

  • Andrey

    Good suggestions indeed. I made 2 sets of 30 benchpress for like 6 months now, I was surprised it did not give much results. guess it is because I do it very quickly. It must be 4 seconds per rep.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/O4Z7THKGO5WUEFW7X6KBHC7DAU Marc

    Best way for Eccentrics is using those machine I tried in Gatineau Quebec i think they are produce by safe air fitness ..simply put took me 4 day’s to stop hurting ( good Pain) those machines are far more advance than any other equipment out there ..never anything new ?? thing again.. i will ask my gym to get some of those machines..I normaly can shoulder press 120 bumbells but with those equipments for the eccentric part I went up to 200 now that is impressive then all buy my lonesome I dropped the weight to 90 for the concentric phase (took 1 sec) then once up again went up to 200 again until I was at a 90 degree angle tring to stop the weight going down then dropped the weight to 70 push it back up again and tried to go up to 200 again but got to 150 max ( my muscles where dead at this point ) but then I did 5 reps a only 50 pounds and could not do anymore…since I was on vacation in Quebec I decided to do an overhall with all the Air equipment they had ..I felt sorry I did the next few day’s ..NEVER felt anything comparable..It was like the best sex ever…lol..By the way If you are sceptics about AIR it is because you tried the old air machines..Those look like a mix of Hammer Strenght and some parts of a terminator moovie !!!