Often times, unsatisfied gym goers search desperately for that magic workout, that magic supplement which they believe will give them immense amount of muscles within a short period.
Muscle building doesn’t work that way, unless you take steroids.
What you may not realize is that sometimes, you already know the principles of muscle building, just that you do not see the importance of it, and as such have neglected them.
What this article will do is to shed light on 7 principles which are essential for your muscle growth and which you have most probably neglected.
Muscle Building Principle #1: Your Calorie Intake Must Exceed Calorie Expenditure
Yes, I’m sure you know this already.
But do you know what’s your daily calorie needs?
Do you know how many more calories you need to consume for muscle growth?
Do you know that without a calorie excess, whatever you do will NOT lead to muscle growth?
Finally, there are tons of skinny guys out there who THINK that they eat enough, and leave it as that.
They are either in self-denial, or unwilling to take action because eating a lot is tough.
Note though, that supplements like weight gainers are NOT the solution, unless you want a bigger tummy.
Calculate your calorie needs, eat 5- 6 meals, and eat clean.
Muscle Building Principle #2: Consume Good Calories
Not all calories are created equal.
There are empty calories, unhealthy calories, and basically crap that you should avoid.
The 3 main groups of macronutrients you should consume are:
a. High quality protein
Protein is the macronutrient your body use to repair muscle tissues and build new ones. It is the most important macronutrient for building lean muscle mass.
Sources: lean meat, fish, poultry, skim milk, cottage cheese, peanuts, whey
b. Natural, high fiber carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates help your body absorb protein, are the main energy sources for your body, and they help to regulate the hormonal balance in your body.
Sources: unrefined, high fiber sources such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain, potatoes, yam, fresh fruits.
c. Healthy, unsaturated fats:
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) increase your testosterone levels (anabolic hormone, meaning it helps build muscles) and they keep you healthy.
For a more comprehensive list of good macronutrient sources and the top bodybuilding foods, do join my inner circle where I share these resources with my members. Don’t worry it’s free.
Muscle Building Principle #3: Drink Enough Water
Definitely the most underrated principle of all.
80% of your body is made up of water. 85% of our brain is made up of water. 70% of our lean muscle mass is made up of water.
How does water affect our muscle building progress?
1. A 3-4% drop in your body’s water levels can lead to a 10-20% decrease in muscle contractions.
2. Water helps to prevent injuries.
e.g Water lubricates joints and form a protective “cushion” around them, especially important because high intensity training brings about a lot of stress on your joint.
3. Water helps to transport nutrients around the body more efficiently.
4. Water helps your liver flush out toxins and unwanted chemicals.
Drink (your body weight in pounds) x (0.6) ounces of water daily.
Muscle Building Principle #4: Tracking Your Progress
Another principle that can make a world of difference yet not utilized by many.
Tracking is the only tangible way to measure your progress accurately!
If your progress is unsatisfactory, then you will know when and what to change.
If you are progressing well, you can then take note of what it is that you are doing right and to stay on the right track!
a. The Importance of A Training Journal
Muscles can only grow through progressive overload.
And that’s why you have to track your workout progress to go from strength to strength!
It will also tell you whenever you hit a weight lifting plateau.
b. The Importance of A Meal Planner
Tracking your calories intake is essential as well.
If you find that you aren’t gaining muscle weight proportionate to your gym training, then eat more.
Finally, tracking forces you to take action, to stay disciplined, and not to procrastinate – the #1 killer of all muscle gains.
Do it now.
Muscle Building Principle #5: Intensity and Duration
These 2 principles are inversely related.
They are also one of the most important muscle building principles you must know.
The shorter and more intense a workout, the more effective it is.
Apply this principle to your workout today and I am pretty sure the effectiveness of your workout will increase by at least 50%!
Most ectomorphs ignore this, why?
- They feel they have to work out for at least an hour before they can target their muscles effectively.
- They don’t know how the duration of workouts affects their body’s hormonal balance.
- Ego lifting – they take long rest periods so as to be able continue lifting at the same weight and not be seen as wimpy.
- They go to the gym with friends or they go to the gym to make friends.
- They don’t understand the meaning of intensity and its effects.
The Correct Duration
Keep your workouts between 30 minutes to an hour, with 45 minutes being the optimal timing.
Because the release of anabolic (muscle building) hormones peaks at about 27 minutes and falls at around 45 minutes.
At this time, catabolic (muscle destroying and fat storing) hormones are then released.
Your mental focus will fade as well.
Finally, a short workout will save you your precious calories.
The Correct Intensity
Intensity is such a subjective idea that it’s not easy to explain.
Someone who feels sore but who takes extremely long rest periods within sets is not doing an intensive workout.
Intensity doesn’t mean you have to train to failure too.
Always training to failure leads to central nervous system burnout and increased chances of injury.
So what is the correct level of intensity?
Tough, with a consistent rest period in between sets and reps.
When your workout is intense, you will feel knocked out at the end of your workout.
You can use this list of advanced bodybuilding techniques to increase the intensity of your workout as well.
One more thing, do your sets with proper form, and focus on the eccentric phase – do check out eccentric training.
Muscle Building Principle #6: Rest to Avoid Overtraining
Overtraining is one of the more common mistakes my clients commit in the past.
Most of them just can’t wait to gain muscle mass fast and in the process sabotage their muscle gains.
It was the same case for me in the past, as I injured my shoulders and lower back.
Overtraining is like charging straight at the wall.
You are simply going to crash.
How To Avoid Overtraining:
1. Keep your workout below an hour
2. Don’t do more than 3 sets per exercise, and limit yourself to 10-15 sets per workout.
3. Limit your training frequency for each muscle group.
4. Don’t go to the gym for more than 3 or 4 days, with 3 being optimal.
5. Don’t go to the gym if you haven’t fully recover!
6. Understand your body well – how it works, how it reacts, and then help it by giving it the best stimulus to recover and don’t overwork it.
It’s not always possible to adhere to your workout schedule.
Because to gain muscles, you have to overload progressively.
As you do a higher volume of work, your muscles will require more time to recover.
So control your temptation and don’t go to the gym when you know you have not fully recovered.
First, you will be wasting your time as you will be doing lighter weights (regressing).
Second, you are setting yourself up for injuries
Thirdly, muscles only grow when you rest, so this is counterproductive.
Muscle Building Principle #7: Consistency and Application
You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t apply them on a consistent basis, you won’t be able to achieve the results you want!