How to Gain Muscle Mass in Three Simple Steps

Updated on August 16, 2018
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David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.

Gain muscle mass
Gain muscle mass | Source

How to Gain Muscle Mass

If you want to know how to gain muscle mass as quickly as possible this article will answer that question for you. Obviously the first thing you need to do is is to make sure you are training the right way. But there are other factors that are equally important. And if you don't get these right you won't gain as well as you could. Or you may not gain at all. So, if you want to maximize your results, the best way to gain muscle is to follow these three simple steps:

1. Lift Heavy Weights

You will build the most muscle mass in the shortest time by concentrating on the big compound exercises. Lifts such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, bent-over row, standing press, chin-ups and parallel bar dips stimulate more total muscle when you perform them, and so they will build muscle faster than anything else.

You also need to use the most productive rep range for muscle gain. For most people, most of the time, this will be about 5 - 8 reps. This rep range will build solid, dense muscle, together with a good deal of strength.

You can create additional growth through sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (expansion of the non-contractile components of the muscle cells) by using lighter weights for higher reps from time to time. And using heavier weights for lower reps will build more strength, which can be translated into more muscle growth when you return to doing higher reps with more weight than you were previously using.

Progressive overload is a key factor in building muscle. This means you should be aiming to increase the weight you are using on each exercise as often as possible. The stronger you get the bigger you will be able to get.

However, it is important to avoid overtraining. So make sure you get your workouts finished within about an hour, and train no more than 3 or 4 days per week. For beginners and skinny hardgainers the best way to gain muscle is to do a full body workout three times per week. But if you are more advanced you may find a two-way split system (e.g. the upper/lower body split) produces better results. And although you need to train hard to get the best results, you should usually stop short of failure. Training to failure too often puts an enormous strain on the central nervous system, and could stop your gains dead.

2. Eat Lots of Food

To gain muscle mass you need to eat at a calorie surplus. But just how much you need to eat will depend on your current body composition, and is a very individual matter. If you are very overweight, you should concentrate on losing most of your excess body fat first. But if you are skinny and lean you will need to eat a lot of food.

This should be good quality food however. You won't build an impressive physique by eating pizzas, cakes and ice-cream. So make sure the majority of your diet consists of natural, whole foods, and eat very little processed, refined or sugary foods.

Protein intake is extremely important and is best obtained from meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and whey protein. You should be aiming to get around 0.8 - 1.0g of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Carbohydrates are also necessary, and should come from whole grain products (especially rice and oats), potatoes and sweet potatoes. On top of this you should eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and make sure you get a good supply of healthy fats from oily fish, avocado's, olive oil etc.

The actual number of meals you eat per day is not that important. Some authorities say you must have 6 or 7 meals per day, whereas others say you can gain just as well on two. My suggestion is that you have three good meals per day, plus a post-workout shake on training days. And if you feel you need additional snacks, have them.

If you eat enough of the right kinds of food, you will make the gains you are looking for.

3. Ensure Adequate Recovery

Muscles grow when you are resting them; not when you are training them. So to ensure you can gain muscle at the fastest possible rate you need to make sure you get enough rest and sleep.

During sleep your body produces more anabolic hormones, which stimulate muscle growth. So make sure you get at least 8 hours sleep each night if you want to get the best results. And taking a nap in the afternoon could help you improve your results still further.

You can't build muscle effectively if you are constantly on the go either. So you need to limit your activities in other areas. Playing sports too often or going for long cycle rides will only inhibit the muscle building process. And although a small amount of cardio can be beneficial, you should not overdo this.

Try to avoid stress as much as possible too, as when you are stressed you secrete more cortisol which tends to break down muscle tissue, so this will not help you achieve your goals.

So now you know what you need to do in order to gain muscle mass in the most effective way. Follow these three simple steps and you'll be sure to achieve the gains you are looking for.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 David

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    • dwelburn profile imageAUTHOR

      David 

      6 months ago from Birmingham, UK

      Start with what feels right for you. But better to go a bit lighter than starting too heavy.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      6 months ago

      I have lifted heavy weight so i dont know how many kilos i can start with.

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