This guide is the last thing you will EVER need to read on the Internet on how to build muscle and proper nutrition. No more conflicting information, no more endless hours spent in front of your PC trying to find a better workout program or diet, no more partial answers and outright wrong advice. Your pursuit for an ideal physique ends with us.
How To Build Muscle – The Basics
Building muscle at its simplest consists of several components, the most important being:
- Exposing the muscles to mechanical stress i.e. lifting weights, thus inducing muscle damage.
- Fueling the body with proper nutrition to ensure it has the building block it needs to repair the muscle damage
- Proper recovery where the actual repairing process takes place. Sleep, of course, is the most important form of recovery.
If you follow these three muscle building laws, and if you PROGRESSIVELY INCREASE THE LOAD (almost) every workout session, your body will respond by building new muscle tissue to handle the stress you impose on it.
In its essence, your body is trying to protect itself from mechanical stress and you trick it into building new muscle even though there is no immediate danger.
5 Best Bodybuilding Workouts To Gain Muscle Mass Fast
- 5×5 Training. An all-time classic first designed for beginners to build a basic strength foundation and for packing on size.
- German Volume Training (GVT). One of the most brutal training regimens for adding muscle mass the fastest way possible. It’s very heavy on volume since it’s based on the principle of 10 sets x 10 reps.
- FST-7 Training. FST7 is a very demanding, high volume routine that can only be handled by advanced lifters or lifters using enhancing drugs.
- Upper/Lower Split Routine. The upper/lower split is a type of weight training schedule that revolves around splitting the body up into two groups – upper body and lower body. Each group is then trained separately on its own workout day.
- Full Body Workout. A variation old-school bodybuilders used in the Golden Era providing stimulation of the entire body in one workout session.
- F&P 5×5 Training Routine – Our modified 5×5 training routine for bodybuilders.
What Are The Best Exercises For Building Each Muscle Group
6 Exercises to build the Shoulder muscles
- Standing military press. Classic old school exercise and a timeless test of strength. Nothing screams manliness like pressing 220 lbs over your head.
- Front Raise. Targets the front (anterior) head of the deltoid muscle.
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise. Targets the medium (lateral) head of the deltoid muscle.
- Rear Raise. Targets the rear (posterior) head of the deltoid muscle.
- Upright Row. A great overall builder of shoulder muscle mass and width.
- Push Press. Excellent exercise for developing explosiveness. Besides it allows you to load the bar with more weight than using a strict press.
4 Exercises to build Chest muscles
- Bench press. The primary exercise for developing your chest muscles. Favorite exercise for fitness enthusiasts around the world. Always done first thing on Monday, hence naming Monday: International Bench Press Day.
- Dumbbell Bench Press. This variation develops the stabilizing muscles in the chest and triceps.
- Dumbbell Flyes. A great exercise for hitting your inner chest.
- Parallel Bar Dips. Excellent for finishing off your chest workout. Work both your chest and triceps.
How to build the Back muscles
- Deadlift. Crowned by many as the king of exercises. Known for targeting the biggest number of muscle groups, from your feet to your neck. It hits the posterior chain, while strengthening your abdominal muscles, quads and multiple stabilizer muscles.
- Bent-over rows. A compound exercise meant to build back thickness.
- Chin-ups/Pull-ups. A staple exercise used to widen and thicken the lats. Very popular in street workout.
- One arm dumbbell row. Essentially this is the unilateral version of the barbell row which allows you to work the back from different angle and concentrate more.
4 Exercises to build the Arms
- Barbell curls. The first exercise newbies think of when first entering a gym. An all-time favorite of bodybuilder worldwide for building biceps mass.
- Preacher curls. A variation of the standing barbell curl. You can use an EZ bar when performing these since it’s easier on the wrists.
- Close grip bench press. Excellent for adding mass to all three heads of the triceps.
- Overhead extension. Perfect for training the long head of the triceps.
How to build Leg muscles
- Squat. Another all-time classic that build muscle mass all over your body. Along with the deadlift, contender for the title “King of exercises”.
- Lunges. A great unilateral exercise for building your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Hip thrusts. Excellent for improving hip extension which is vital to teaching you to fully engage the glutes and use them up to their full potential.
- Romanian Deadlift. Targets the hamstrings, adding thickness in the middle and upper thigh while working the posterior chain.
The Overhead Press
Why should I do the overhead press?
The overhead press mimics one of the most basic movement of the human body – lifting something over your head. It is a great exercise to build muscle in your entire upper body, hitting your arms, shoulders, chest and making your core and legs stabilize the weight. It goes without saying that the classic type is done standing and with a barbell.
Can it be done in a seated position?
Of course. The seated barbell overhead press is an excellent variation which a lot of bodybuilders have used for decades in sculpting enormous shoulders and upper bodies.
How to do the deadlift?
The deadlift is one the greatest exercises for overall body development. Here is a basic detailed step-by-step guide on how to deadlift properly.
What are the main advantages of deadlifting?
What kind of grip should you use when deadlifting?
The mixed grip is the most widely and commonly used and enables you to pull a lot more weight, although both overhand and underhand grip can be used too.
Should you pull conventional or sumo?
There are differences between the two, each offering its own unique benefits. The variation you choose depends largely on your anthropometry.
What are the most common mistakes when deadlifting?
The proper execution of the deadlift requires a certain technical knowledge of the biomechanics involved, so mistakes almost certainly happen, however they are easily fixed.
What are some common assistance exercises to improve my deadlift?
The Bench Press
How to do the bench press?
Here is a detailed guide on how to do the bench press properly.
What grip width should I use when training the bench press?
Grip width depends on your personal preference and limb lengths. Different grip width provides different benefits and put more emphasis on different muscle groups.
What are the most common mistakes one should look out for when bench pressing?
Bench pressing are quite common and some can be very dangerous. Make sure you always have a spotter nearby.
Should I incorporate dumbbells when doing the bench press?
Of course. Dumbbells are a great way to train your stabilizing muscles and are a much harder variation.
What are some other bench press variations I can try?
I sometimes feel pain in my wrist when bench pressing. Why is that?
There is high probability that you are doing some of these mistakes.
Any helpful tips no how to increase my bench press?
Why should I squat?
Squats are called by many the “king of exercises” along with the deadlift as there isn’t a muscle on the body that it’s not worked by these two. Of course the health benefits of squats are numerous.
What are the benefits of squatting?
Squatting has enormous benefits, ranging from making you stronger and more muscular to improving your body posture.
How to do it?
The squat is highly technical lift, so it needs to be executed in a very proper form. You can read it in this detailed article.
Can I do front squats?
Yes, front squats are an excellent way to strenghten your back muscles since you need back support to not let the barbell fall off of you.
Can I substitute squats with leg presses?
Sure, but the squat is a greater overall muscle builder than leg presses. When in doubt or pressed for time, always choose squat.
Can I do single-leg squat?
Yes, Single-leg squat are an excellent way to strengthen your legs individually and have big carryover to the classic squat.
Is it safe to go below parallel when squatting?
Of course. Deep squatting is perfectly safe and poses no threat to your knees or back when done correctly.
What is the difference between a regular and a sumo squat?
You can read a detailed explanation in this article.
What are some other squat variations that will help me improve my regular squat?
The Pull up
Why should I do pull-ups/chin-ups?
Pull-ups are one of the most basic human body movements. They are a compound exercise targeting your lats, biceps, adding thickness to your back.
How to do them?
Pull-ups are very easy to learn. This guide contains detailed step-by-step instructions on how to do them properly.
Are there any variations of it?
Yes, the close-grip pull-ups are an excellent variation.
Is there a pull-up program I could follow?
The 8-week pull up program is a great way to start.
Why should I do dips?
Dips are a classic compound upper body exercise that targets multiple muscle groups most of all chest and triceps and offers a lot of benefits.
How to do dips?
This article offers a detailed step by step explanation on how to execute this movement.
Are there any variations to it?
Yes. Bench dips are an excellent variation to emphasize triceps development.
What Are The Best Foods To Build Muscle
Protein is the most important macronutrient our body needs. It is involved in the most important processes occurring in our body, constitutes most of the tissues and it is essential to its proper functioning. Fitness enthusiasts, athletes and bodybuilders need even higher amounts of this essential nutrient if they are to enhance their performance, optimize their muscle mass gain and achieve the best results in their respective sports.
How much protein do I need?
The amount of protein you need to ingest depends on your overall physical activity. Athletes would require a lot higher amount than those who are living a sedentary lifestyle or are just recreational lifters.
What is the best time to consume protein?
It’s been proven that the best time to consume protein is post-workout, especially within the couple of hours after finishing your workout, also known as the “anabolic time window”.
How much protein do I need to build muscle?
The general recommendation is to take 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound a day for muscle building.
How much protein should I eat to lose weight?
This article explains in detail the high-protein diets designed for you to lose weight.
How much protein can the body absorb in one meal?
This article explains the subject in detail and busts the 30 grams of protein per meal myth.
How much protein is too much?
Research has shown that there’s no need to increase protein intake past a certain amount.
What if I eat too little protein?
A lack of protein can lead to many deficiencies, many of whom detrimental to your overall health.
What is the best type of protein?
Whey protein has been repeatedly shown to be the best protein choice at any time of the day, especially when used in the post-workout shake.
I’ve heard that egg is the best protein source. How much protein is there in an egg?
Should I take protein before bed?
What are the best protein supplements?
Protein supplements are numerous nowadays, this article shortens the list for your convenience.
What are the best protein food choices?
This article lists the top 10 food choices rich in protein and the percent of protein each of them contains.
What are good protein choices when on a budget?
Here is a list of cheap protein sources that will enable you to satisfy your daily protein needs and still save money.
Why should I eat carbohydrates?
How many carbs do I need?
This article will give you a fairly good estimate on how much carbs you need to consume depending on your fitness goals.
I’ve heard there are different types of carbs. What type should I eat.
What are the best carbs to build muscle?
Complex carbs are almost always the best choice since they are slow-digesting and maintain steady blood sugar levels, do not cause insulin spikes, thus keeping your energy levels steady throughout the day.
I’m a hardgainer. What are the best carbs to speed up muscle gains?
Should I eat carbs before training?
Sure. If you want to improve your performance, in just about anything, be sure to ‘carb-up’ pre-workout.
Should I eat carbs before bed?
Stop eating two or three hours before you go to sleep. It’s been proven to increase human growth hormone.
I thought I should avoid eating fats to build a lean body and lose weight. Why do I need to eat fats?
This is a falsely perpetuated myth. Fats are one of the three essential macronutrients, along with protein and carbs, that our body can’t do without. Fat deficiency can cause increased appetite, increased cancer and heart disease risk, depression and high cholesterol. What’s more, fat is very satiating and can reduce your food cravings for a longer period of time.
Are fats bad for your health?
On the contrary, fats can be quite beneficial if you consume the healthy ones, and sometimes it’s the carbs that you need to fear.
How much fat should I eat per day?
This is calculator giving you a good estimate on how much fat you should eat.
What are good healthy fat sources?
This article presents the 3 best healthy fat sources.
What fats should I avoid?
The fats you should definitely avoid are trans fats.
Minerals and Vitamins
What minerals should I consume to optimize muscle building?
Minerals offer a tremendous benefit to your weight loss and muscle building efforts and to your overall health. From the long list of minerals you should consume we can specifically point out magnesium, potassium and zinc.
What vitamins should I take?
What Are The 4 Best Muscle Building Supplements
- Whey protein is without a doubt the best muscle building supplement that exists. Whey has the highest content of protein and it is quickly digested and absorbed by the muscles. That makes it a perfect ingredient for a post-workout shake, when muscles are craving for protein and muscle protein synthesis is at its highest.
- Casein protein is another important tool in your muscle building arsenal. As opposed to whey protein it is digested and absorbed slowly. That is why it is an ideal option to take before going to bed, so that your muscles have a constant supply of protein during the 8-hour fast while you sleep.
- Creatine is a compound found in skeletal muscle. What it does is that it replenishes your muscle cells’ energy reserves. That way you can train longer and more intense.
- Glutamine is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid. It has many roles within our body including muscle metabolism and recovery, as well as supporting our immune system.
- BCAA or branched chain amino acids are three essential amino acids: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine. What is so special about BCAA’s is that they are metabolized in the muscles instead of the liver, which means they help in creation of new proteins almost immediately after they are absorbed.
What is the best way to recover from hard training?
High-quality sleep is the best way to recover. Lack of sleep can seriously derail your fitness or bodybuilding journey.
Can I use stretching as a recovery method?
Yes, and not only stretching, but also soft tissue work, breathing techniques etc.
Are there any supplements I can take before going to sleep?
Sure. This article lists the best supplements that will enable your muscles get enough nutrients while they are being repaired.
What is a deload?
A deload is a certain amount of time you take off of training in order to let your body fully recuperate from weeks of hard training. Fatigue tends to accumulate over a course of few weeks of intense training and even though you may feel rested, your central nervous system might be overtrained.
Do I need to deload?
If you start feeling a chronic fatigue and feel unmotivated to go the gym, chances are you need to be taking a week off from lifting.
Why a deload week and not a deload month?
A month is too much time to take off from lifting since past the ten-day mark you’ll start losing muscle tissue and strength. A week has been proven to be a sweet spot where you get to keep your hard earned muscles and strength and yet come back stronger and ready to lift harder and bust plateaus.
Is there any other way to deload besides taking a week off from lifting altogether?
Sure. You can also lower the intensity, lower the load, cut the volume in half, lower the frequency, increase rest intervals between sets etc.
Why should I stretch?
Stretching is an essential part of any fitness program. It helps prevent injuries, increases flexibility, aids athletic performance, and improves posture.
How does stretching help muscle growth?
Stretching the fascia, which is a tissue surrounding the muscles, helps making room for further muscle growth. In simple words we have to “stretch” the fascia and make room for our muscles to grow.
What are the benefits of stretching?
Stretching helps blood and and oxygen circulation to the joints and can make or break your progress in the long run. Regardless of your fitness goals, take the time to stretch before starting your workout routine.
How should I stretch and which muscle does every pose stretch?
There are lots of stretching exercises, each targeting a different muscle. Here is a list of 34 poses that will help you stretch each muscle.