This article provides a summary of how to build muscle mass and the type of workout required, the best type of exercises to get the quickest results and the importance of diet.
Strength, Size and Endurance Training
There are three main types of workouts. Workouts designed to produce muscle strength, workouts designed to produce muscle size or mass and endurance training workouts.
If you’re training for strength it’s advised to do fewer reps per set (about 1-5), whereas for muscle endurance doing more reps per set is preferable (13-20). Focusing on building muscle mass, involves a type of muscle growth called Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy and is somewhere between this range.
It is muscle size and mass that I will concern myself with in this article and it’s the most common type of workout, designed to create a lean and bulky muscular look.
Workouts Designed to Produce Muscle Mass
To maximize muscle mass, you have to do more than just push your body to the limit through resistance training. You have to choose the right exercises, the right number of reps and the right amount of rest after each workout. All this done correctly maximizes muscle fibre engagement.
I recommend targeting different muscle groups at different times of the week giving yourself one or two days rest in between exercising that muscle group.
One effective technique is the 3 day split and involves exercising three different muscle groups on three different days of the week. This could involve exercising the legs and Abs on a Monday, taking one day rest and exercising the Chest, Shoulders & Triceps on a Wednesday, taking another days rest and exercising the Back and Biceps on a Friday. Then taking two days rest and repeating the next week.
So for example:
Monday – Work on your Legs and Abs with 3 different exercises. 4 sets for each and 12-15 reps per set
Wednesday – Work on your Chest, Shoulders & Triceps with 3 different exercises. 4 sets for each and 12-15 reps per set
Friday – Work on your Back & Biceps with 3 different exercises. 4 sets for each and 12-15 reps per set
You should pick two or three exercises for each muscle group and then perform 4 sets of between 12-15 reps for each exercise. This would work out at around 8-12 sets per day with 12-15 reps per set.
If three different exercises for each muscle group is too much you should stick to two while starting out, or you could try 2 sets instead of 4 sets for the last exercise.
Working out more than 3 days a week can mean your muscles don’t have time to recover, resulting in wasted effort.
Isolated versus Compound Exercises
You need to choose the correct exercises to maximize muscle growth. This means targeting as many muscles as possible. Compound exercises target more muscle fibres with each lift and therefore provide the most results in the shortest period of time and with the least exercises.
For example a tricep kickback will target just one group of arm muscles — the triceps on the back of the upper arm. However the bench press will target your triceps, pec muscles, and your deltoids, with your biceps acting as a dynamic stabilizer. If you’re targeting two or more muscles than it’s a compound exercise and not an isolated exercise.
By targeting a larger portion of muscle fibres, this will be more taxing on your system and result in a greater release of anabolic hormones resulting in greater muscle growth.
With compound exercises, you don’t need as many exercises per workout and you can spend less time in the gym.
Typical compound exercises include:
• Split Squats
• Reverse Lunges
• Barbell rows
• Incline bench press
• Decline bench press
• Flat bench press
• Standing Military Press
The Role of Protein, Creatine and Glutamine
Of course nutrition and supplements play a huge role in building muscle with protein being at the top of the list for supplements needed for gaining lean muscles. Creatine and Glutamine are also very important.
Protein should be taken half an hour before a workout to provide your muscles with adequate nutrition thereby reducing the breakdown of muscle or catabolism during workouts. Also, right after a workout, when your muscles are depleted of nutrition. This will aid in muscle recovery and growth. Another important time to take protein is right before bed and upon waking when the body again is again depleted of nutrition.
Glutamine on the other hand should be taken right before bed as this boosts growth hormone levels significantly. Another good time to take glutamine is first thing after waking as this helps in the recovery process from difficult workouts.
You should take creatine about half an hour before a workout and again right after a workout as this creates an anabolic state for your muscles and helps prevent muscle breakdown.
Don’t’ get into the bad habit of working out too long, or train too many days. When it comes to body building, often less is more. Overtraining comes with little to no gains in size or strength. You need to give your muscles time to recover, which means plenty of rest between workouts.
So combining a good workout with the right exercises and reps and the right nutrition, sufficient rest, and a solid supplementation program, you will build a great physique with the least amount of work.