For more than 7 years we have been involved in transforming athletes into super athletes.
In the beginning, like everyone else, we made mistakes, but with the increase in the experience of each of us, we were able to decipher with certainty 10 fundamental rules to follow to increase muscle mass.
Thanks to these measures, many of our best athletes have managed to increase their weight by an average of 18% in a relatively short time. This means that 80kg men have come to increase their LEAN MASS by about 14kg.
If you can follow these tips, work hard, and correctly, you will also be able to achieve great results. Guaranteed!
Before starting, however, we would like to make a premise. Has your gym instructor ever told you that you are not genetically predisposed to gain muscle mass? Bullshit! There are people who gain mass faster than others, and it is undeniable, but with perseverance, dedication, and sacrifice, EVERYONE manages to achieve the desired results.
That said … are you ready ?! Here are the 10 rules you will ALWAYS need to keep in mind!
Also Read: Weight bench exercises for beginners
Rule # 1: To gain muscle mass you must first get strong
You can’t think of increasing muscle mass by always doing the usual exercises and with the usual weights.
You have to force your body to adapt to muscle stress it has never experienced before.
What’s the best way to do this? By increasing the loads in your exercises, but without ever neglecting technique and correct execution!
Dedicating yourself to a period of work with heavy loads on fundamentals is certainly an excellent basis. In this sense, 5 sets of 5 repetitions can be a good start.
Once you have followed 4-5 weeks with this routine, the consequent step is to go for 1 repetition each week, but going to increase the sets and obviously the load.
- Week 1: 5 sets X 5 reps
- Week 2: 6 sets X 4 reps
- Week 3: 8 sets X 3 reps
- Week 4: 10 sets X 2 reps
- Week 5: Maximum number of sets (no more than 15) X 1 repetition
Training with heavy loads has always brought better results in terms of increasing muscle mass, compared to one with light loads.
Do not forget, however, that in order to safely move loads tending to your maximum, it is of fundamental importance to always maintain a flawless technique, so as to avoid the risk of injury.
A good way to keep track of your performance is to constantly note the loads used in each exercise so that you can try to gain weight each week afterward whenever possible.
Ultimately, keep this sentence in mind: to get big, you must first get strong!
Also Read: How to Get Biceps at Home in 1 week
Rule # 2: Use multi-joint exercises
The exercises that allow you to use the heaviest weights are also those that increase muscle mass the fastest.
A workout with machinery and muscle isolation exercises will not make your muscles grow as easily!
Multi-joint exercises are the only ones capable of stimulating the production of testosterone (a hormone that is essential for increasing muscle mass)!
These are the multi-joint exercises you should never do without :
- Flat bench
- Military press or Push press or Slow forward / backward
Many sportsmen, not bodybuilders, but still with imposing masses, also use exercises in which there is to push/pull very heavy loads for a certain number of meters.
Get strong in these 5 fundamentals and try to increase the load whenever possible. You will be amazed at how fast you will see your body grow!
Also Read: How To Increase Bicep Size Without Weights
Rule # 3: Combine bodyweight exercises with multi-joint exercises
Multi-joint exercises must ALWAYS be present in your workouts and have primary importance, but for balanced training and for the prevention of injuries, supporting free body exercises is just as important.
These are the main ones to always keep in mind:
- Stretches on parallels
- Push-ups on the arms
- Reverse rowing
- Lumbar hyperextension
The combination of multi-joint exercises and bodyweight exercises (combined with refining muscle isolation exercises for smaller muscles), is of fundamental importance for increasing muscle mass.
Rule # 4: To gain muscle mass without getting injured, you must always use the perfect technique
Each exercise has its own technique to use, but there are some tips that apply to all or most of the executions:
- When performing a standing exercise, always keep a very strong grip on the barbell or dumbbells and make sure your glutes and abs are always contracted throughout the entire movement.
- Do not focus only on the concentric phase (the one in which you lift the weight), but always maintain total control also of the eccentric phase (the one in which you return to the starting position), possibly making it last about 2 seconds
- Don’t do half repetitions. Always bring the muscle to maximum stretch, clearly without forcing the joint
- During the exercise, try to feel the affected muscle constantly in tension
- Before starting each workout, always perform an adequate warm-up (first general and then specific)
Also Read: Running is good for your health
Rule # 5: Use the adequate volume of work to gain muscle mass
The ideal range of repetitions aiming at increasing muscle mass is between 5 and 8. Most of the exercises should be done in this range.
After training in that range for a few years, you can move on to 8-12 reps, but don’t rush into doing it.
Likewise, the number of series for each muscle district is also very important.
Some recent research has shown that each muscle district should work a total of 40 to 70 repetitions under heavy load, depending on the level of training.
After carrying out exercises with few repetitions and heavy loads, it is useful to finish the work of each specific muscle district with exercises with a lighter load, but with a higher number of repetitions.
In general, it is not necessary to fail in exercises with few repetitions and heavy loads, it is instead useful to do so when you do exercises with many repetitions and medium-low loads.
If you want to understand what are the bases for structuring a training program that leads to concrete results
Also Read: Is walking as good as running?
Rule # 6: Use proper training breakdown to gain muscle mass
Remember that for athletes who do not use doping, the number of weekly training sessions must always be between 3 and 4.
This will allow you to:
- Give your muscles time to recover
- Have the maximum increase in strength possible
- Don’t strain your joints too much (when you’re no longer young, you’ll thank us for it!)
A typical beginner workout could be divided into workout A and workout B 3 days per week.
Ex. Monday A – Wednesday B – Friday A (to then start the following week with training B)
A typical intermediate workout could be broken down into workout A, workout B, and workout C, three days per week.
Eg Monday A – Wednesday B – Friday C
A typical advanced training could be divided into training A, training B, training C, and training D (the latter is generally used to train the physical condition [cardio] or a particular muscle district considered deficient compared to the others), with a frequency of 4 days a week.
Eg Monday A – Wednesday B – Friday C – Saturday or Sunday D
Rule # 7: Strongly stimulating a muscle does not mean exhausting it
“Stimulate, not destroy” is a famous phrase from Lee Haney, 8 times Mr. Olympia.
What does it mean? It means training hard, but smart. Each set should be heavy, but not lead to complete muscle exhaustion (e.g. when a partner’s help is needed to finish the reps).
The further you push the limit, the longer it will take your muscles to recover. This means that you will have to decrease the frequency of your workouts or that you will not get the muscle growth you want, in the time you set.
So take each set to your maximum, but don’t look for exhaustion , unless you are doing sets with high reps and consequently low loads.
Rule # 8: Always keep your athletic condition high
Despite being one of the most difficult myths to die for, cardio is not the enemy of muscle mass nor of strength.
Avoiding it will make you lazy, out of shape, and with more fat mass than you are looking for.
A good physical condition also helps you to sustain more intense workouts with weights than you have always done, significantly reducing the recovery you need between one set and another.
Even in periods of mass, we always recommend at least 1 workout per week aimed at cardio. In definition periods, the ideal would be 2 or 3.
The HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) method is undoubtedly the best existing method to burn fat, improve athletic condition and keep muscle mass intact.
You can perform great HIIT by running, swimming, or biking. There are also many other types, but these three are certainly the best, of which running is always the first choice.
Each workout can last from a minimum of 15 minutes, for beginners, to a maximum of 30 minutes, for the more advanced.
Taking running as an example, a HIIT done in the correct way involves a sprint phase (at 90/95% of your maximum) followed by an active recovery phase (this means not stopping but with a light jog), before restarting with a new shot.
Beginner HIIT timing
Total duration: 15 minutes
Intervals: 30 seconds of shooting + 60 seconds of walking (x10 times)
Intermediate HIIT timing
Total duration: 22.5 minutes
Intervals: 45 seconds of sprinting + 90 seconds of brisk walking (x10 times)
Advanced HIIT timing
Total duration: 30 minutes
Intervals: 60 seconds of shooting + 120 seconds of light running (x10 times)
On all other days, including those of training in the gym, the ideal would be at least 30 consecutive minutes of walking at a medium-high pace (or depending on your athletic condition even 15 minutes of running / elliptical/brisk biking).
Also Read: How To Increase Bicep Size Without Weights
Rule # 9: Recovery is as important as, or more than training
Training is the stimulus your muscles need to grow, but growth doesn’t happen during training.
You can work out even 101%, but if you don’t give your muscles time to recover optimally, they won’t grow.
Want to ensure your muscles get the recovery they need? Then follow these tips:
- Don’t go to exhaustion in every series
- Don’t get exhausted at the end of your workout
- Do not exceed 90 minutes of training
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night
- Undergo relaxing massages, as often as your wallet allows
- If your gym has a SPA, tubs of hot and cold water are optimal
Rule # 10: Eat healthy, first of all for your health and then to gain muscle mass
Even if you are extremely thin or have a very fast metabolism, avoid junk food (such as fast food). The theory that what matters is only the calorie intake has been disproved for some time now. The quality of the calories you ingest is equally if not even more important.
Eating unhealthy food enables your body to grow much slower if not at all (apart from fat!)
You are what you eat. Never forget it!
A large part of your diet should consist of:
- Grass-fed meat
- Non farmed fish
- Organic eggs
- Rice / potatoes / quinoa
- Dried fruit
Start by basing your diet on a caloric intake of 35 times your body weight, so if you weigh 80kg you ingest 80 x 35 = 2,800 calories. Maintain this regimen for 2 weeks and evaluate the results. If your fat mass has increased a little, go down to 33 times your weight, if you have not managed to gain weight, go up to 37 times.
2 grams of protein per day for every kg of body weight is more than enough to ensure your muscle growth. Sometimes they can even be reduced.
Likewise, you should provide your body with at least 4 grams of carbohydrates and about 0.8 grams of fat per kg of body weight per day.
Remember that fats are not to be completely eliminated. They are essential for hormone release, brain function, and joint health. However, the percentage of fat should never represent more than 30% of the total daily calorie intake.
A fundamental tip: the first step to gaining muscle mass is to bring your body fat percentage to at least 12%. Following a bulking diet with a higher percentage of fat will only help put on more fat.
Also Read: How to Get Biceps at Home in 1 week
Building a lean, muscular physique is not something for everyone. Not for the bullshit, they tell you in the gym like “you are not genetically predisposed to gain mass”, “you have a metabolism too fast or too slow” and the like, but because to get results you need CONSTANCE and DEDICATION.
The people who get extraordinary results are those who train 3-4 times a week in the right way, who never skip a meal paying attention to the quality of the calories they ingest, who sleep the necessary hours, who base their lifestyle on the achievement of the goal they set for themselves.
And this for 52 weeks a year. Year after year. This is how results are achieved.
So now it’s up to you to decide what to do: stay what you have always been or roll up your sleeves and reach your goals!
Hi, I am Matt Storace and I am a former personal trainer and founder of Beast Biceps. We had to find ways to train at home. When I started looking for the equipment I needed, I quickly realized that there were no good resources online. So I created Beast Biceps. It is a treasure trove of information developed from my experience and research. Read More Here