Some things in life are simple.
Like finding a good web designer or in our case for this article, building muscle.
Easy, just by applying some key principles and using the right exercises.
Key Muscle Building Principles That Are Easy to Apply
Key Principle 1: Try to Beat Your Last Workout.
- If you try to beat the reps you did last workout
- If you try to beat the sets you did last workout
- If you try to beat the weight you used last workout
- If you try to decrease the rest period between sets
- If you try to increase the speed at which you move the weight
You will make gains. Just pick one of these variables and change it between workouts.
Key Principle 2: Make Sure to Get Your Rest
Deload, deload, deload. Make sure every 3-6 weeks you are scheduling a series of training sessions where you focus more on your mobility, activation and decrease the training intensity (sets x reps x load) of your primary exercises. This is the key to always recovering above the (supercompensation) baseline. It gives your body a time to recover and prepare for the next mini/microcycle.
Key Principle 3: Get Your Mobility On
Flow, mobility, stretching; I don’t care what you call it. Just do it. And do it a lot. It is that important. Read this article, print it out and watch the video.
Here are some very good mobility and warm-up videos:
Key Principle 4: Full Range of Motion / Proper Form
Want to start being chased by an angry mob with pitch forks and burning torches, or start walking aimlessly around like Frankenstein? Easy, don’t perform full range of motion movements! Frankenstein is exactly how you’ll be moving around if you start loading your body with weight, day in and day out, with a shortened range of motion (and no mobility / flexibility training). Law of Repetitive Motion states that when we limit the motion and increase the repetitions we’ll be in big trouble when trying to move freely.
You must also use proper form. When you start messing around with weight and poor form, you’ll be asking for the icy hot and mommy to put you to bed with warm milk because you’ll be in big time pain. Well, mommy isn’t going to be bringing you your binky so you better start using good form.
Key Principle 5: Pick the Right Exercises
The right exercises is key to engaging as many muscle groups at once (increasing your training session efficiency and getting you in and out of the gym fast) and building muscle fast. Some of the best compound movements include squats, deadlifts, bench / military press, chin-ups/pull-ups and power clean and press.
The Big Muscle Building Exercises
Remember, with each of these essential muscle building exercises, form is the key. Key to getting the most out of the movement (maximizing muscle fiber recruitment) and staying injury free.
If you include just one of these movements in each of your workouts, you’re basically guaranteed to make gains and build muscle.
You have to squat to get massive legs, there are no substitutions (except don’t forget unilateral movements should be used to compliment any lower body training). The cool thing is that there are many different types of squats so there can be a lot of variety. Typically, you can switch up your primary squat lift by changing the bar or just changing to a different type of squat every 3-4 weeks.
Deadlifts will give you a massive back, massive legs and strong core. But they must be done correctly. Check out this how to deadlift page and this how to deadlift video. Notice I said that deadlifts don’t only build strong and meaty legs, but they also build a big back. The lockout and stabilization require engagement of the erectors, rhomboids, lats and overall core musculature.
Power Clean and Jerk (or Press)
This is a power movement which carries over to your full body strength. Developing and promoting this power and strength carries over to your strength on other lifts. Power (displaying force in the shortest amount of time) has three parts; the engagement and activation, the accelerated movement and the deceleration of this movement and absorption of the forces (if the movement is ballistic, ie. released, deceleration is negated). Coordinating the power clean and press will go a long way in your strength program.
Bench Press / Military Press
Any type of free weight press is great for building muscle (as long as there is no pre-existing shoulder injuries) on the upper body. Close grip bench press will pack on serious muscle on the triceps and keep your shoulders healthy and strong while standing military press will not only build up your shoulders but work on your core strength as well. If you do have problems hitting a barbell bench or barbell military press, switch to dumbbells. If this still causes you problems, switch to gymnastics rings and push-ups. Remember, there is a progression and regression to all strength training movements.
Ever see someone that can bang out 20 pull-ups or 20 chin-ups? Guaranteed they have a big back and big biceps. The best mass builders of the back, along with deadlifts, these two bodyweight movements are essential in every program. There are so many variations to these movement – Ultimate Pull-ups Video – and they can be overloaded in a variety of ways. They can also be done pretty much anywhere.