Top 20 Muscle Building Tips to Accelerate Your Gains

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

Accelerate your gains with these muscle building tips
Accelerate your gains with these muscle building tips | Source

Muscle Building Tips

If you want to make the best possible progress from your efforts in the gym you need to be following an effective training program. But on top of that you also need to eat the right diet and ensure you recover properly as well.

So here are my top 20 muscle building tips to help you do just that:

Training Tips

1. Beginners/early intermediates should do full body workouts.

Full body workouts allow you to train each muscle group more often, and for a beginner that will result in better gains. Train three days per week and put your primary focus on the main compound exercises.

2. Late intermediate/advanced trainees should do a sensible body part split.

If you want to get big and strong, an upper/lower split is the way to go. Or if you prefer more of a bodybuilding type approach you could do either the push/pull/legs or the opposing muscle groups split. Compound exercises should still be the main focus of your training.

3. You should only train three or four days per week.

Three if you are doing full body workouts, three or four if you are doing an upper/lower routine and about four (or use the rotating five day cycle – 2 on, 1 off, 1 on, 1 off) if you are doing the push/pull/legs or opposing muscle groups split.

4. If you train four days per week you should never train more than two days in a row.

So you could do Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; or Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; or even Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – or whatever suits you best, as long as you always have a day off after training two days in a row.

5. Always aim to add weight to the bar over time.

If you get stronger you will get bigger – as long as you eat a good diet that provides you with a calorie surplus and plenty of protein.

6. Do sets of 5 – 8 reps most of the time.

This is the ideal rep range for most people to build size together with a good deal of strength. 2 – 4 work sets of each exercise will usually be enough.

7. Sometimes do lower reps to build more strength.

If you work in the 2 – 4 rep range occasionally you will be able to build more strength, and this will mean you’ll be able to use more weight when you return to doing higher reps. And this in turn will allow you to build more muscle.

8. And occasionally do higher reps to build extra size.

By working in the 10 – 15 rep range at times you will be able to build extra size via sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. And although sarcoplasmic growth is generally regarded as non-functional, if you just want to get big it doesn’t really matter.

Note: the smaller assistance/isolation exercises should always be done with a slightly higher rep range. They just work better that way.

9. To gain more strength use heavier weights and take longer rest periods between sets. Or to gain more size use somewhat lighter weights and take shorter rest periods.

For the best of both worlds take medium rest periods (about two minutes).

10. Don’t train to failure very often.

One of the biggest mistakes most people make is training to failure all the time. Train hard, but rarely to the point of failing to complete a rep. And don’t do those really slow grinding reps either. This is especially important when training with low reps.

11. Always warm up properly first.

Do a general warm-up, consising of something to get your heart pumping, followed by some dynamic mobility work. Then do at least 2 – 3 warm-up sets for each of your big lifts, and 1 – 2 for your smaller lifts.

12. Don’t train for more than an hour at a time.

45 – 60 minutes is about the ideal workout length. If you train for much longer than this your testosterone and growth hormone levels will drop off, and your cortisol levels will increase. Excess cortisol causes muscle breakdown and fat storage, which is the opposite of what you want.

Some great tips from Matty Fusaro

Diet and Recovery Tips

13. Make sure you eat enough calories (from mostly clean sources).

A good muscle building diet will consist of protein (about 0.8 – 1.0g per pound of bodyweight per day) from meat, fish and eggs, complex carbohydrates from whole grains, potatoes and sweet potatoes, healthy fats and plenty of fruit and vegetables. If you are not gaining weight, eat more!

14. Get your pre and post workout nutrition right.

Eat/drink a good amount of protein and carbohydrates about 1.5 – 2 hours before training and again within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

15. Use proven muscle building supplements.

Start with the basics – whey protein, fish oil and a good multivitamin or greens supplement. Add in creatine when you are starting to see some good progress. Optional extras include beta alanine and essential amino acids.

16. Always get at least 8 – 9 hours sleep per night.

Muscles grow when you are resting and sleeping – not when you are training them.

17. Don’t overdo the cardio.

Jogging is muscle wasting, so keep it to a minimum if you do it at all. To keep yourself fit and lean just do a short high intensity cardio session two or three times per week, either after your workouts or on your off days.

18. Drink plenty of fluids – especially water.

Muscle is 75% water, and staying well hydrated is essential for maximum gains. Half an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight per day is ideal if you are training hard.

19. Take a week off occasionally.

Beginners won’t need to worry about this, but once you’ve been training for a year or so you should take a week off every 12 – 16 weeks. And once per year it’s a good idea to take a full two weeks off.

20. And have a deload week occasionally too.

Reduce your weights and/or volume for a week after every 6 – 8 weeks of hard training. The more advanced you are the more often you will need to do this.

So those are my top 20 muscle building tips to help you make more progress in less time. Just stick with your program, keeping track of your results and making adjustments as and when required, and you’ll be certain to get the results you are looking for. Best of luck.

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