While everyone is out there searching for the magic answer to building muscle quickly, you've been fortunate enough to land on this article. There aren't any true "hidden secrets" that add slabs of muscle to your frame.
The tips listed here are simple, effective, and are often overlooked. If you start implementing these tips into your daily life, you'll notice an increase in performance and progress towards your fitness goals.
Please note that these tips only work if you put the work in... So let's check them out.
Muscle Building Tips
Tip #1 - Nutrition
They say you break your muscles down in the gym and build them in the kitchen. They are absolutely correct.
Your results come from what you eat; going to the gym and throwing weights around isn't enough.
Learning how your body responds to certain foods and eating patterns is important for long-term performance. There will be a lot of trial and error, but you will learn exactly what works best for you.
Eating like crap all of the time will make you feel like crap. Learn how to cook and start making some real progress.
Tip #2 - Quit Staring at the Scale
If you've ever jumped on the scale daily to mark your progress, stop. You're putting yourself through unneeded stress and creating bad tendencies.
If you are trying to lose weight and implement a great weight training routine, you need to account for body recomposition.
Beginner gains come fast and furious. You start losing body fat and all of a sudden the scale says that you've quit losing weight. You can lose body fat while maintaining relatively the same bodyweight.
Quit staring at the scale and start noticing how clothes fit and how you look in the mirror along with jumping on the scale once a week.
Tip #3 - DOMS Isn't Always Good
Delayed onset muscle soreness, or the "I can't walk for 3 days after I've lifted" pain is not always a great indication of how effective your workouts are.
Your connective tissue starts to get inflammation which is generally what is sore; not your muscles. Generally, the lower rep ranges don't make you as sore as the burnout and high rep sets.
Just because you aren't sore doesn't mean you haven't promoted growth.
Tip #4 - Sell Out to Your Program
Sticking to a program and progressively overloading is what gets you closer to your goals. Using complicated rep schemes and advanced workouts as a beginner or intermediate isn't effective.
Worrying about minutiae things when you are a beginner creates stress and makes lifting complicated. Being able to focus on what is important at your stage of training is key to having a great workout.
Why would you worry about using chains and other variable resistance training when you can't even deadlift your bodyweight yet?
Tip #5 - Less Is More
Banging out 50 or 60 sets per gym session per muscle is unneeded, takes way too long, and you're just burning yourself out for no reason.
Try putting effort into 15 to 20 sets of quality work instead of hitting every machine for that muscle group.
Tip #6 - Rest Periods Can Vary
I get asked often what's the best rest period. Unfortunately, there isn't a magic answer here.
A general rule of thumb is 30 to 60 seconds of rest between smaller accessory exercises and three to five minutes for heavy compound lifts.
Everyone's nervous system is different, so recovery is dependent on the person, not the exercise. This doesn't mean you should go play on your phone or stand around talking to your bros all day either.
Tip #7 - Training Longer Isn't Always Best
Disappearing in the gym for the better part of your day and crawling out beat down is fun. I used to do that myself... But there is a point of diminishing returns where spending hours in the gym isn't yielding the same results.
The key to an effective workout is going in there with a plan, sticking to that plan, and training hard.
Tip #8 - Check Your Ego at the Door
Ego lifting is one of the main reasons people get injured. Nothing screams wimp when you are benching 135 while the bro next to you is incline benching three wheels.
Trust me, I was there, and with bench, I still feel like I am there. Keeping your ego checked at the door will allow you to quit cheating yourself of a good workout and will keep you injury-free.
Don't do half reps because you can "do more weight" and I better not see you quarter repping the leg press machine with all of the plates in the gym on it.
Tip #9 - Mindset is Everything
If you've ever had the opportunity to listen to some of the things Kai Greene says and believes in, you'll understand that mindset is everything.
Think positive about everything you do, imagine yourself reaching your goals, and put in the work you know you have to do. If you are staring down your personal record on the bar, knowing that you can do it versus hoping or doubting yourself makes a huge difference in your ability to lift big.
I imagined deadlifting 605 for a couple of years before it came to fruition. It played out almost exactly like I thought it would and I came into the gym off of a few hours of sleep and a bad day.
Quit telling yourself you don't think you can do it and just know that you can.
Tip #10 - Make the Most Out of Each Gym Session
If you go to the gym and do anything but train, you're not getting the most out of your session. Sure, being social and talking with people is great, but put your work in.
Train with a purpose, know exactly what you are doing and why, and go beast mode.
Tip #11 - Set Goals and Put Adequate Effort Into Achieving Them
Make a goal and stick to it. If you want to lose body fat, do the right things to get there. Trying to rationalize eating an extra Subway foot-long because you walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes is senseless and is not conducive to your goals.
Break down your overall goal and set smaller goals as you are progressing towards your overall goal. For instance, if you need to lose 100 pounds of body fat, strive to lose 10 pounds per month and put forth the effort required to reach that goal.
Wrapping it Up
Weight loss, getting stronger, or being a competitive powerlifter takes time, hard work, and dedication. Being able to change the way you eat and train to hit whatever goal you may have is something that many people cannot do. But you can.
Put in the work needed to achieve your goals, know why you are doing every exercise that you are, and stop making excuses why you can't.