Gaining muscle is the most challenging fitness goal there is, but a lot of people assume that it’s actually quite simple. If you lift weights, you just build muscle right? Obviously that has a lot to do with it, but there is much more to it than you’d think. Whether your goal is strictly weight loss, building muscle, or both, you should give this a read.
I like to relate building muscle to building a brick house; very time consuming, and the only way to build it is brick by brick. Whether your goal is to look like a house, or just to get some nice “toned” muscles, it’s still the same process, just on different levels.
You may want to look like someone in the fitness industry who has a great physique, and envy why you can’t have the physique they have, but the truth is, you can never have the same body as them. We are all born with different muscle insertions, origins, shapes, and different genetics in general. You’re body may not be built to look like a huge bodybuilder, and if that is your goal, unfortunately you may have a hard time getting to that point. Same goes for someone who wants to look like a runner, but does not have the genetics to run long distances efficiently.
The first step to building muscle, whether the goal is to get ripped out of your mind, or just look in shape, is to accept the fact that this is your body, you were given a certain make-up of genetics that determine how you’re body will shape. You also need to accept the amount of years it takes to achieve a high level of muscle mass, fast metabolism, and strength that most the people you look up to currently have. Without acceptance, you will not be able to commit to lifting weights, due to the frustration of never being where you want to be.
The second step is to realize how many years it actually takes to build a great physique. If you’re not in the small top 5% of the world that has been blessed with genetics to maintain a sculpted physique year around, you will have to accept that face that its going to be a journey, and you should enjoy this journey. You will gain more knowledge about the human body than you can ever be taught in school, while going through the process of building muscle.
Now that we have your mental state in a better place, let’s get into some actual facts about what it takes to build muscle. Again, I’m not targeting just people who want to gain a lot of muscle and be a gym rat, I’m also targeting average people who just want to have a nice physique and stay in shape.
1. You need to be in a caloric surplus: When it comes to building muscle, you need to be eating more calories than it takes to maintain your weight. The amount over your maintenance number of calories can vary depending on age, years of training, and metabolic health issues. This can vary anywhere from as little as 250cal surplus, up to 1,000 calorie surplus. If you need help setting your calories up, feel free to contact us at the form below. This is the biggest contributor to muscle gain, you cannot lose weight and gain muscle at the same time (with the exception of a brand new gym-goer- 0-1 years experience)
2. Progressive Overload: A very under-used and under-valued term. Progressive Overload means to add weight, intensity, time under-tension, reps, sets, or frequency over time, throughout your years of training. In shorter terms, you need to add more and more volume as you get more advanced and experienced with your workouts. Example: If I am still doing barbell squats with 185lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps for 2 years, I have not shown progressive overload in my workouts. This does not only mean to add weight, you can add intensity in other ways such as changing the amount of reps your doing from high to low, doing slow reps, pause reps, more exercises, better lifting mechanics/technique, and many other ways that contribute to more total volume during your workouts. Another example would be that every back workout you do for 3 years straight is a total of 100 reps per week. 100 reps may have been enough for the first year, but not in your second or third year to continue progress. You need more and more time in the gym the more advanced you get.
3. Correct amount of macronutrients: This ties into the calorie subject, you need the correct amount of protein, fats, and most importantly, carbohydrates. Yeah, you heard me, CARBS. I won’t go into full detail, but you need carbohydrates to give your muscles sufficient energy to keep going muscle and strength during your workouts. Without enough carbs, you will never have the ability to gain significant amounts of muscle to help you get the physique you want, the amount of carbs needed varies depending on the client. Again, if you need help, contact us.
4. Learning Barbell Movements: I’m not saying you have to become some strong powerlifter. Barbell movements are the best strength building exercises you can do in the gym, and the best bang for your buck. The majority of your workouts should actually revolve around 4 barbell movements, 1) Barbell Squat 2) Deadlift 3) Bench Press 4) Overhead Barbell Press. Followed by some accessory work of course. The reason being is that all these movements demonstrate the basic movements we as humans are suppose to be able to naturally, literally we are born with the ability to do these movements. Lift something up, go to the bathroom, and push something over our heads. If you do not have the functionality to do these four exercises, please get someone to correct you, and work your way up to being able to do them.
5. Patience: Besides being in a caloric surplus, this is the most important part to building your new body. Understand that the people you look up to in the fitness industry, most likely have 10-20 years of weight training under their belt, to look the way they do. And if they don’t… they’re not telling you about their help coming from some non-over the counter drugs… if ya know what I’m saying. I mean it when I say brick by brick, Achieving a great body requires years of dedication to eating right, lifting correctly, and intelligently, as well as learning from your mistakes in the gym. You’re not going to get into great shape in a few months. Change your lifestyle, make it your daily routine, and you will see yourself evolve into a body that you never imagined possible.
Stay patient, hungry, and innovative.