There's no question about it. Building your body is sort of like building a house, you need the proper tools and information to get the job done.
Without the right information, your not going to build a proper house, and the same can be said for building your body.
Using the wrong information can be very detrimental to your progress. However, finding the right information can be a very confusing subject.
Just walk into a bookstore and try finding a simple yet effective book on weight training and/or building muscle. Better yet, try doing a search on the internet.
You'll be so overwhelmed by the amount of information that chances are, you'll just call it quits. Don't feel like your alone because your not. I've been there and I know just how confusing it can be.
You see, I've tried just about every gimmick and scheme out there and you know what? There is really only one way to build muscle. I've come to the conclusion that the only way is to make sure you have a smart weight training program in place, a personalized diet program for your body type (aimed at your goals), and a quality recovery cycle in place. Once you have these elements in place, you will be able to constantly improve with each passing workout.
If you really want to build quality muscle, your going to have to train smart. By using smart weight training techniques, you can expect to double your strength and add significant size to your body.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have probably written this web site a long time ago. Building muscle is like any thing else you need to excel at, you need to learn as you go and learn from your mistakes. With that in mind, let's go throught some tips and techniques that will help you attain your goals and objectives. However, we must first find out...
Why do people fail in their programs?
Let's go over some of the reasons (Not an all inclusive list) why people fail in their weight training programs. Here are just some of the reasons why people fail in their programs:
1. No Consistency .
You have to be consistent with your program. I'm not going to lie to you, building muscle is hard work and it will take consistency to build quality muscle mass. You have to show up to the gym (or your basement) and follow your workout program on a regular basis in order to start seeing the results and reaping the benefits from weight training. Doing a couple of workouts here and there doesn't cut it.
Remember that building muscle is a slow process and takes months to see any quality results. Be consistent and your efforts will eventually pay off.
You have to feed your body the right amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat in order for it to grow. All of these nutrients must be in balance if you ever want to build muscle. Poor nutritional habits is probably one of the number
one killers of weight training/fitness and fat loss programs (besides not showing up to the gym!).
Don't let anyone tell you that you only need protein to build muscle. Protein is only 1/3 of the equation to building muscle. You need the right combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat to build quality muscle mass. Think of protein as your bodies building material. Think of carbohydrates is your bodies fuel source. Think of fats as the material that helps absorb vitamins and minerals. Each has it's place and must be kept in balance.
The real trick is finding your personal nutritional combination that will kick start your efforts. Once you find this nutritional key, I guarantee your body will explode! This is a very important tip. For more information on nutrition, see this page here.
3. Poor Technique
If you don't work the muscle, your not going to grow. If you overtrain the muscle, your not going to grow. The trick is to find a happy medium that places enough stress on the muscle that gives it a reason to grow. Proper weight training is the catalyst to muscle growth. Do it right, and you'll build slabs of grade A beef (Of course, your diet and rest must be in place), do it wrong and you'll walk a fine line between poor results and injuries. The most important thing you can do in your program is to stimulate enough muscle fibre for growth (The more muscle fibre you employ the better).
If your goal is to build muscle, you need to use exercises that stimulate the most muscle fibres as possible. These exercises are compound movements such as the squat and dead lift. Do these exercises with proper form, and improve with these exercises from workout to workout and you'll build ALOT of muscle mass. The key here is proper form.
For more information on proper weight lifting techniques, please see Building-muscle101's exercise section.
4. Not Enough Rest .
No matter how hard you train or how much you eat, if you don't get the rest you need, your workouts are going to fizzle. It is during sleep that most growth and repair occurs. Without adequate sleep the body becomes weakened.
It is crucial to your program that you get the correct amount of sleep and rest because muscle growth happens while you are resting, not while you are training. An optimal recovery cycle is just as important as your weight training program.
You need to plan your program that gives your body the best rest and recovery time. What's the use of a weight training program if you train biceps 4 times a week? Or how productive is it to build muscle if you do the bench press 5 out of 6 days? If you want results, you need to rest, and get plenty of it.
If you were to lift weights on a steady basis and not get any quality rest, your body would slowly fall apart, just like going to the gym for 6 days straight would. Weight training tears your body down and leaves it in a weakened state. By tearing your body down on a consistent basis with no rest, you will ultimately start to break apart. This will leave your body vulnerable to illness and injuries. Do yourself a favour and plan for rest and recovery. You really want to know where you build the most muscle mass? In your bed while your eyes are closed - That's where.
Weight training tears the muscle tissue down and diet provides the necessary fuel and material for repair, but it is during sleep that the repair and growth process occurs. Therefore, sleep is as vital to building muscle as is your training program and diet.
Rest and recovery guide
I cannot stress the importance of improving with each passing workout. Building muscle is all about making small improvements, day after day, week after week, month after month. Success at the weight training game depends on how well you improve for one workout to the next. If you truly want to reach your goals, you MUST make constant improvements in your workouts. No improvement equals no results.
- Use the same weight on the last set of an exercise than you did in your previous workout but performing more repetitions (unassisted) using the same rest periods;
- Performing the workout in less time using the same weight, sets, and repetitionss.
By making improvements you will ensure success with your weight training program. If you don't make improvements or stop making improvements, something is wrong with your program, rest, or nutrition. Of course, you will have to make additional changes to your program in order to kick start improvement.
For more detailed information about this important tip, please see this page here.
Can you see a certain pattern with each of the above noted elements? Follow this simple equation:
Smart/Progressive weight training + Proper diet + Proper rest and recovery = Big Time Muscle Growth!
To achieve your goals, your going to have to find the right balance between training, nutrition, and rest. Remember these tips and you'll get big and very strong.
For more information about rest and recovery times, Click here.
And for muscle soreness, see this page here:
Alright, let's go over some very important tips that you will want to include in your weight training program. Back to top
Tip # 1. Evaluating your body
Tip 1 - Evaluating your body .
How does anyone really know where they want to go unless they know where their coming from? If you want to build 18 inch arms, you need to know how big your arms are now and from there, put a plan together to achieve this goal. Or maybe you want to lose 30 pounds of body fat, you need to know how much fat you have now and from there, put a plan in place to reach your goals.
This is an important weight lifting tip because this can give you an idea of the direction you want to go. Here's what I suggest. Get yourself a chart that you can record your body statistics such as your weight, body fat levels, lean body mass, and body measurements. Once you get them down on paper, decide what it is you want. If that's to lose 30 pounds of body fat, write it down. If it's to build 20 pounds of muscle mass, write it down.
As you progress with your routine, you will need to monitor and record your numbers. You will probably want to keep track of your measurements on a weekly basis. This way, you know how you're progressing with regards to your fitness program and goals.
You can find out your body fat percentage and lean mass composition using the Accu-Measure body fat calipers. Tools such as the Accu-Measure skin fold calipers will give you a rough idea of how much lean body mass you have on your body. You can generally get the Accu-Measure calipers at your local health food store.
For a manual measurement, try the following page here:
Remember to record the measurement numbers and update them on a weekly basis. You will also want to record your body weight and remember to monitor this on a weekly basis.
If you need weight training evaluation charts, go to building muscle 101's weight training logs page here.
What's so important about setting goals? Like weight lifting tip # 1, you need to know where you want to go, once you know where your coming from (tip number 1).
Alright, you've just taken a measurement of your arms and they are a sinewy 15 inches. You want to add another two inches to your arms which is 17 inches. Now, you have a goal in mind - two inches of muscle to each of your arms. How important is this? This will make all the difference in the world between failure and success. You see, you've just given your brain an absolute figure. Your brain now knows, without a doubt, what it needs to do.
Without these figures, your brain doesn't know, or care what it needs to do. You show up to the gym and do a workout but really, without any direction, there is no reason for your brain to tell the rest of your body to grow 2 inches of muscle to your arms. I know, this might sound crazy but I know, without a doubt that this works.
The term "goal setting" shouldn't be used. It should be called "This Is What I Want More Than Anything In The World" term. Whether it be to lose 30 pounds of fat, become a body builder, or tone your body up, you need to give your brain a direction, which in turn will open up your body to muscle growth (If building muscle that is what you want).
Here's what I like to do. I will usually give myself a long term goal such as losing 30 pounds of body fat in 15 weeks. This is my number one goal. I'll break that long term goal into medium goals. What do I mean by medium goals? I want to lose 2 pounds of fat each and every week. Each week is a medium term goal and to reach this medium term goal, I need to lose 2 pounds of fat each and every week.
In order for me to reach these medium term goals, I need to come up with small mini goals. Small mini goals are to improve with each workout. For example, let's say I do 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer on level 5 on Monday. On Thursday, I want to improve on that time and do 15 minutes using the same level. This is a mini goal that has been met, which in turn will help be burn an additional 2 pounds of fat per week, which in turn, as long as I keep improving, will get me to my final goal of losing 30 pounds of fat in 15 weeks.
Take a look at the big picture and break it down into smaller goals. If you can do this, you'll reach your ambitions whether it be to build muscle and strength or lose body fat and weight.
Monitoring and updating your goals will be just as important. Once you start to see your goals being met, it will only reinforce these ideas and your brain will know it can reach those goals and therefore will work harder. This is very, very powerful. I suggest you keep a log handy and bring this log with you to every workout.
You can get log sheets, and goal sheets here.
Which brings me to my next tip...
What's so helpful about a log or diet log? This all ties into reaching your number one goal. By taking a log with you to the gym and recording everything down, you will start to see where your strengths and weaknesses are. The magic of weight training logs are the patterns you see.
For example, let's say you show up to the gym on day and open up your logs and see that over the course of 7 weeks, you've been improving each and every week in the bench press. Let's say you couldn't even do 5 repetitions with 135 pounds but as you look at your log, you've progressed to 12 repetitions with this weight. What does this say? It means you've improved and it's only going to get better. By the time you put your log book down and hit the bench press, you want to get 14 repetitions with 135 pounds or, better yet, add another 20 pounds to the bench press and do it all over again. See this page for using the best repetition ranges to build muscle.
Another great thing about keeping a weight training log is that it keeps you very honest with your routine. You may think your going to the gym every two days, but for the last two weeks, according to your logs, you've missed two workouts.
The insight that logs can give you is awesome. You will find out what your eating patterns are like and where you need to cut down or add more food. Weight training logs will give you an actual blueprint of what works. I've been weight training for over 20 some odd years and I still keep logs. I can't stress the importance of this tip - Keep a weight training and food log and write everything down.
Again, if you need to print off some training logs, click here.
Alright, now that you know what your goals are, you can set up your weight lifting program. It's a heck of a lot easier to set up a workout program, once you know what you want to do and have an idea of what your body statistics are. You must now decide whether you're a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced weight trainer. Chances are, you already know this.
Once you know what your current status is, and what your goals are, you need to build your weight lifting routine according to that information. What do you want to do? Lose 25 pounds of fat? Gain an additional 20 pounds of muscle mass? Add 50 pounds to your bench press? Get huge ripped, and shredded? Find out what you want and design your program around that goal.
Now, building muscle 101 is primarily a web site designed for building muscle. It is here to give the beginners and intermediates an idea of how to reach this goal. So, I feel that it is my duty to tell you that if you've ever wanted to build quality muscle mass, you need to structure a routine that A) Provides the correct amount of muscle stimulation; B) Provide the correct amount of nutrients; And C) Provide the optimal recovery cycle.
For the purpose of this tip, in order to build maximum amounts of quality muscle mass, you need to stimulate as much muscle fibre as you can in a relatively short period of time (Per workout). Your not going to do this doing isolation exercises such "one arm seated cable rows using a bench". You need to use compound movements and you need to hit these exercise hard, heavy, and briefly. Once you do this, rest for 4 to 6 days and hit them again. Only this time, you'll either add more weight, do more reps or do it in less time.
I strongly suggest you do one compound movement per body part and make this movement your number one priority - Every other exercise for that body part takes a back seat.
What do I mean by compound movements?
To name a few (click here for descriptions, illustrations and video instructions).
See this page here, on what compound movements can do for your muscle building program.
Remember to keep your workout short, heavy and intense. If you need more information on different types of training programs, click here .
Do you really want to build muscle mass? How badly do you want to pack on 20, or even 30 pounds? I'm sure most people reading this page now will say "I want this really, really bad".
However, only a small portion of people will actually build quality muscle mass. I don't mean to tell everyone reading this page now to simply give up and go home because it's not like that. I'll give it to you straight. If you want to build the kind of muscle that gets stares from both sexes, fills out a tight fitting sweater or a t-shirt, you absolutely must have your act together in the kitchen.
Actual weight training is only half of the muscle building equation. Remember that equation from above? Well, nutrition is the one key that separates an o.k physique to one that gets stares. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you don't have any desire to fix up your diet, your not going to build the muscle you want. I don't care what you do, that may be high intensity training, super sets, tri sets, giant sets, or what kind of supplements you take, even steroids, it won't do a thing unless your nutritional plan is in place.
I can say this with complete confidence because I know it works. If you can get your nutritional plan down and consistently follow it, you will start to see results almost overnight. Once your body is in a nutritionally optimal state, your strength will go through the roof and it will feel like someone has attached a tire pump to your muscles!
How do you do this? Here's what suggest:
Start eating 6 small meals per day (these meals don't have to be big and fancy);
Eat only whole foods - Nothing processed (That means kraft dinner!);
Each meal should be 2 to 3 hours apart - No longer than 3 hours apart!;
Eat a very nutritious breakfast consisting of complex carbs;
Make sure to have something immediately after a workout such as a protein and carb drink;
If you can simply do the above, you'll start seeing some results. Oh yeah, cut out all junk food. If you need to, designate one day out of the week for a junk food meal.
See the following pages for a more detailed look at muscle buidling nutrition:
Try eating 6 times per day and make sure each meal is balanced with the optimal amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat. I recently discovered a fantastic resource that plans all of your meals based around your age, body type, metabolism, gender, and activity levels. It is actually a 9 week system that uses prorietary software to customize a complete nutrition plan. Check out the video here.
Once you find out what your nutritional goals are, you need to build a menu that will support your goals. Try and find menus that are easy to cook and taste great. The trick is to adjust the menus and recipes to match your nutritional goals.
What you want to do is adjust the amount of ingredients in the original recipe to match that of your own.
For example, if you know that you want to gain weight and build muscle, you first must decide how much calories you need to achieve this goal. Let's say that in order to gain weight, you have to eat about 25 calories per pound of body weight. So, if you weight 130 pounds, you should be eating about 3200 calories per day (130 x 25 = 3200). With that in mind, you need to plan your meals that will get you to 3200 calories per day.
How do you do that? Actually, it doesn't have to be hard. Simply find out how much calories you need and find a resource that lays out menu plans for that particular calorie intake. Building muscle 101 has a web page that has this resource. Go to the menus section here for more information.
If your interested in gaining weight, see our guide here.
Do you need sports supplements to build muscle? No, you don't need them. What you do need is proper nutrition.
However, with that being said, supplements can enhance a weight training program once all nutrition and training issues have been dealt with.
If you've been following a consistent diet for at least 8 weeks and your seeing progress with your workout routine, you may want to introduce supplements.
Sports supplements are not going to save your weight training routine or be solely responsible for it's success.
Supplements are exactly that, to help enhance (supplements) an already successful diet and weight training program.
I can say this for certain supplements, they work (reputable ones anyways). They can help give you that slight boost, but there are some things you need to remember with supplements. Firstly, certain supplements have to be taken a the proper times and in the right amounts for it to be useful. For example, in my humble opinion, whey protein isolate is best taken immediately after weight training in order to get the best results. However, taking 5 grams of whey protein isolate for a 180 pounds weight trainer is not going to do a thing. in this case, the timing is right but the dosage is way off. 40 grams of protein would be more appropriate for building muscle.
Secondly, you need to make sure the supplement does what it is supposed to do. You need to practice a bit of due diligence before you start dishing out your hard earned cash. At one time, inosine used to be the big thing back in the late 80's.
This supplement was totally useless but it didn't stop hoardes of body builders from buying the stuff up (Including yours truly). There was absolutely no evidence that this stuff worked but supplement companies knew exactly what buttons to push. I'm ashamed to say that I've been a sucker on more than one occassion for the next big supplement. Stick to what works and you'll do just fine. What works? See this page here for supplements that help build muscle size.
Read as much literature as possible on your chosen supplement. If there is any doubt, save your money.
Thirdly, make sure the company is reputable. There is simply too many scammers out there in the supplement world. FDA is pretty lax on sports supplements so any joe with a kitchen sink can make shotty supplements, package it up and charge you for sub par ingredients. Places like GNC rely on quality supplements that work. It is not in GNC's best interest to simply sell any old supplement on the market. The brands at GNC are pretty reputable so it's safe to say they work. Don't ge me wrong, I personally think GNC's charges too much for their supplements but, they do come from reputable companies.
I just read a book by Jeff Anderson called Homemade Supplement Secrets and it is simply wonderful. You'd be surprised what supplement companies will do just to get your hard earned money. I like the way Jeff presents his book because he really goes after the supplement companies. It's really an eye opening book that I recommend you read.
Building muscle 101 also has a web page dedicated to reviews from actual users. You won't find any marketing pitches here, only reviews from real and honest users - Good and bad. Find out here.
Please click here to find out more information about how to use weight lifting supplements.
Tip 8 - Monitoring your program
I suggest you take a day out of your week and evaluate your body composition, body weight and body measurements. Decide whether or not you need to adjust your weight lifting routine and nutrition program based on your evaluation.
Blasting your body at full throttle all the time will slowly run you down. You need to take some time to rest and relax. Have fun, kick back and relax and enjoy the fruits of you labour. Let your body get into a good rhythm of work and rest.
How much rest do I suggest? I think you should try and aim for 7 to 9 hours of rest each night. Don't be afraid to take a nap in the afternoon or after work to add a little energy to your workouts.
Motivation is the juice that keeps the machine moving. Throughout your program, it is very important that you stay focused and motivated. Although this may seem a little harder than you may expect.
Try and keep yourself motivated. Stick posters of your ideal body on the fridge, in your locker, in your room or anywhere else you might need motivation. I used to stick a poster of Bertil Fox in my locker at school. Every time I opened my locker, there was Bertil doing his patented most muscular, driving me on.
You'd be surprised what I see people in the gym wearing. I don't judge people for what they wear but when I see dudes wearing super tight jean shorts and a little halter tops, trying to do squats, I can't help but wonder what ever possessed them to wear such things in the gym. To me, they gym is a sacred place where you go to achieve your fitness goals, not to use it as a platform to show your fashion sense or to shock other people.
Common sense gym apparel is very much needed if you want the necessary room to move around in. Range of motion and movement is very important in weight training and if you want to maximize your mobility (which is very important), keep your clothing loose and comfortable. No, you don't have to show up in a burley sack but at the same time, you don't want to constrict your body. What you want to do is use clothing that allows your body to move comfortably and freely without constriction.
As the saying goes, dress for success and that goes for the gym. If your all business in the gym, your clothing should match that type of training - loose and comfortable that allows maximum movement. Train in clothing that is conducive to building muscle.
We all know how important water is for losing weight but did you know it's just as important for building muscle, maybe even more so? Dehydration is a killer to your workouts. You see, muscle relies on water in order to contract properly. It does this through electrical impulses sent via electrolytes and water. Without adequate water for muscle contractions, what do you think your body does? Well, it doesn't move as much weight as it should because your muscles aren't contracting properly. If you've been feeling tired and dry in your workouts, it might be because your dehydrated.
Did you know that even if have a 2% water deficit of your body weight, you can lose as much as 15% of your strength and up to 40% for aerobic workouts? That's a lot. 15% of your strength can make a huge difference in your workout program. If you want to have better workouts and get into top shape, you better be drinking a lot of water. It only makes sense because 70% of our body is made up of water. It really does take water to move muscle so if you want to start getting stronger, load up on water.
Water and building muscle .
Weight training should be a fun and rewarding experience. Make sure to enjoy what your doing and have some fun.
Always believe in yourself. If you start doubting your abilities, your workouts are not going to be effective and your efforts are not going to be 100%.
Tip 16 - Three tips to instantly see results
# 1 - As soon as you get up, have a drink
No, I'm not talking about a beer or an early morning samosa. Immediately upon waking, have two glasses of water, preferrably at room tempature. This will give your cells some hydration.
Suffice to say, this is one area that is a golden opportunity where your muscles are very open to nurients.
I strongly suggest you drink some quick acting carbohydrates such as orange juice and a quick acting protein source such as whey isolate. Try this drink:
# 2 - Immediately have a drink right after your workout
Alright, we all know how important this is but I have to go over it again because I think it's that important. Let me say this, there won't be another time during the day that your body will be more open to receiving nutrients. At this time, your body wants, and craves, quick acting carbohdyrates and protein. Because your body is low on glycogen and protein stores, it is actively seeking food stores to load up on and start the recovery process.
# 3 - Before going to bed have a drink
Instead of having a quick acting carbohydrate and protein source, try taking in slow acting food sources. You want to do this because you want to keep feeding your body throughout the night in order to keep the recovery process going.
Here's what I do. I'll go to the local bulk food store and pick up a couple of pounds of oat flour (or grind up some oats in a blender). I'll take about 1/4 cup and add it to the blender with 2 scoops of vanilla casein protein (or with an egg/casein mix) with 1 cup of skim milk and 1/2 cup of water. I'll throw in a banana and some yogurt. Also, throw in some ice cubes for a smoothie and your set for the night. Now, you'll have to adjust the ingredients to match that of your taste. As for protein powders, simply go to your local health food store and look around for casein protein or egg/casein mix. Remember, you don't want whey protein, you want slow digesting protein sources such as casein and egg.
Now, if you don't want to go through all this trouble, just pick up something that uses these protein sources as it's main ingredients. Prolab's Lean Mass Matrix would be my number one pick. See my review of this meal replacement here.
Tip 17 - Cut the chit chat while working out in the gym
Let me give you an example. I trained legs last Wednesday at my usual time, 2:15 pm. I headed to the leg press but noticed it was being used. No problem, I'll do 5 to 10 minutes on the treadmill and maybe a few leg extensions before doing leg press'. That gives the guy about 15 to 20 minutes to complete his exercise. I'm guessing that's about enough time to finish up. Nope, this guy was talking to this older lady on the treadmill about his last vacation. So, ok I'll wait a bit more. A half hour goes by and he still hasn't done his leg press. I walk up and ask "how many more sets?" He says 4 more and asks if I want to join him. Normally, I would but this guy was using 700 pounds of plates and there is no way I'm going to start using that kind of weight for my first few sets.
As you progress in your program, make sure to challenge yourself and change your weight lifting routine around. This will add a new angle to your training and improve the environment for muscle growth. Perhaps the most important tip I can advise is to constantly improve from workout to workout. Improving from workout to workout will ensure constant muscle growth.
Below are some great resources that I've put together. These are practial and informative tips that you can use to enhance your weight training routine.
How to get a mind blowing biceps pump
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