Bodybuilding’s Dirty Dozen – 12 Main Rules For Building Muscle Mass

There are literally millions of bodybuilding articles on the Internet about top ten or top five or top whatever lists for hundreds of fitness-related areas. And it can get get tiresome to read them after a while, since they seem like a re-hash of stuff you had already read. But it wouldn’t hurt to remind ourselves of the most essential basics.


It seems, no matter how much these truths are repeated, they still do not have the desired effect one would expect. Because, if that was the case, we would see a bigger number of muscular men walking the streets than we currently do. The majority tend to brush off these basics, thinking they already abide by them or just thinking they already know them.

And we all know that knowing and doing are very different things. No matter your training experience, it is always good to remind ourselves of them every now and then. So, let’s dive into what I call “Bodybuilding’s Dirty Dozen”.


1. Train intensely to stimulate muscle growth

Hardly anyone would admit that they aren’t training hard enough, since no one even has the starting point or concept what hard training really is.Like the idea that you shouldn’t take sets to failure and always “leave something in the tank”. Now, that might work for a beginner trainee, but for a pro going to failure might be the only way to stimulate muscle growth in the advanced stages of training. Muscle growth is, in its essence, the body’s response or adaptation to mechanical stress.

Logically, if you do not induce greater mechanical stress than your last workout, no adaptation will take place. Some even say that less than 100 percent effort is needed to induce the aforementioned stress. What is the percentage then? 80%, 90% ? In order to make sure we are training intensely enough to cause muscle growth response, we need to incorporate taking sets to failure in our training.

Meaning, pushing or pulling until you cannot complete another repetition despite giving maximum effort. There is a way you can “bypass” this failure by using forced reps, drop sets or rest-pause sets. You should have already realized by now that giving anything less than full effort and dedication on your part will yield the results you desire.

Bodybulding is hard work, most of the time it’s not pretty or fun, which is why the lazy ones or those with low pain tolerance shouldn’t be bothered to try it.

2. Lift heavy, but use good form at the same time

The rep ranges, most conducive to stimulating muscle growth for the upper body fall within the range of 6-8 and 8-12 for the lower body, even sometimes going as high as 20. Don’t buy those lies you read in the magazines about some pro using 15-20 repetitions for his upper body and even going further for legs and thinking that the same can be applied and will work for you.

That’s one way he might train at the moment, but he surely didn’t get where he is now by training that light. You can only get that big by lifting heavy weights. There’s no two ways about it. While we are at it, heaving and jerking heavy weights will not give the results you are after either. You need to execute the exercise with proper form in order to target the muscle you are training and keep it enough time under tension to induce the damage at a cellular level, that is actually the starting point in the muscle growth process.


So, one should train as heavy as possible, but only when proper form is kept throughout the set and the target muscle itself is doing the actual work. A nice example would be strictly curling 100 lbs, as opposed to cheat-cutling 200 lbs and using every muscle of your body, except the biceps to lift the weight. Which one do you think works better?

3. Don’t buy into the “more is better” lie

This is where most people go wrong. The usual line of thinking is, if 5 sets are good, then 10 must be better. If I train for an hour and I get results, wouldn’t training for 90 minutes or two hours be even better. Training days are also increased from three to four up to all seven days of the week. What happens next is a serious case of overtraining, a condition most victims aren’t even aware they are suffering from. The late Arthur Jones said it perfectly: “You can train hard or long, but not both.”


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