1. Compound movements
You may have heard it before, and it’s absolutely true – compound movements build strength and muscle. Exercises such as the squat, deadlift, bench press, barbell rows, standing shoulder presses, chin ups… will make you bigger and stronger. One reason for this is that you are able to load more weight on the bar while doing these exercises. The body compensates for the bigger damage done with bigger weights by building more muscle mass.
2. Increase the frequency
Training a couple of times a week is not a bad thing if you want to maintain your shape. However if your goal is to build muscle you might consider hitting the gym a little more often. Hitting the gym four to five times a week may look like it’s going to be counterproductive, but if you limit your training sessions to 40-45 min, this may be the right thing you need to build some lean muscle mass.
3. Vary your reps (and weights) once in a while
Even though the range of 8-12 reps is widely used for building muscle, take into consideration that your body has the ability to adapt to stress. This is why you should vary your reps (and weights) once in a while. For example you can try to do some strength training for 5-6 weeks, where you will do 4-6 reps per set with heavy reps. After the strength phase you can increasing your reps (with lower weight) to 15-20 and do another phase of 5-6 weeks before returning to the standard 8-12 reps.
4. Targeted isolation exercises for the lagging body parts.
We’ve just said that big compound movements build muscle, but that’s not a reason to completely ditch the isolation exercises. Isolation exercises are a good way to pre exhaust your muscles or finish them after you have completed the heavy lifting. High reps with moderate weight on the biceps curls or calf raises can really pump blood into the muscle worked, stretch the fascia and spark new muscle growth.
5. Focus on proper recovery
Yes, you go to the gym 4-5 times a week, you eat good, but yet you see no progress. The reason could be your poor recovery. Your muscles grow outside the gym, not during your workouts.
Make sure you reduce the stress from everyday life and get plenty of rest at night. Plenty of rest means getting 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. You’ll be surprised how much these two factors influence on your ability to workout and build lean muscle.
6. Add some supplements
Even though nutrition is the number one priority, and supplements are not necessary for everyone, the right supplements can help you recover faster and build more muscle mass. Supplements like creatine, multi-vitamins, protein shakes and fish oil, have been proven to help with muscle building and recovery. And even tough supplements are not steroids, they can be the edge you need to continue progressing.
7. Be consistent with your routine
Even though you need to change the number or reps, weights and your routine from time to time, changing these variables too often can result in a poor progress. You need to let your body get stronger and reap the full benefits of a routine before you switch to another one. This is why it’s recommended that you stick with a routine you selected for 10-12 weeks before starting a new routine.
8. Be sure to pick the right environment
There is a saying that says that you are a product of your environment. And this is true to a certain degree. You can never be a powerlifter or a bodybuilder in a gym full of cardio bunnies. You can’t be a good athlete if you train with people that are NOT training hard.
Try to find a place with like-minded people who train hard and your desire to work-out and progress will sky-rocket for sure. If you can find a training partner that has the same goals as you do, it’s guaranteed that you’ll have terrific workouts.
9. Positive mental attitude
You can say that attitude is everything. And not just when it comes to lifting, but life in general. A positive attitude will help you lift more, burn fat easier, get a better job, get better grades. A mediocre workout routine and a committed and positive attitude will get you much BETTER results, than a great routine done half-assed and inadequately.