Muscle building will be a marathon so make sure to embrace the gym lifestyle. It will be the very small steps you take every week that will eventually land you at a good level of size and strength.
Below are some rules that you should adhere to if you are looking to add some serious size.
Rule #1 - Progressive Overload is EverythingGetting progressively stronger with the basic compound movements is what will create the majority of your muscle increase. As a natural, progression is everything. Simply walking into the gym and looking for pump and muscle connection will get you nowhere.
Make sure to have a plan, and stick to it during the majority of your sessions. Find a good progression approach and stick to it for a long period of time. The only way your body will listen to your demands for growth is to force it to adapt to an ever increasing weight.
You must constantly move forward. If you don't progress you will not grow, easy as that. This means that you will not grow if you continue to use the same weights, even if you go to the gym every day. So make certain to constantly get stronger!
Treat the kitchen as a second gym. Be as serious about food as you are about progressing on exercises.
Rule #2 - Choose Your Exercises WiselyAs stated above, the real mass will come from big exercises which targets a lot of muscles. Every training schedule should include bench press, squats, deadlifts, some sort of overhead press and some sort of weighted chins.
Progressing and getting strong in these will be the key to size. Lift big to get big. Complementary, typical bodybuilding-style exercises will also be important because they add additional stimuli to the muscles and help to ensure that your body is healthy.
To take an example, benching a lot without training your rear deltoids is a disaster waiting to happen. Make sure to add an exercise to stabilize your shoulders (I prefer face pulls). These complementary exercises are important but should be viewed as just that; complementary.
The amount of sets and repetitions is not as important as frequency and progression. I usually write my schedules somewhere around 5x5 (for the big lifts) as I find that to be a good amount of volume for one session. And personally I prefer to go with a low repetition amount (around 3-5), even when looking for size. On the complementary exercises I tend to go higher though (10-12).
Rule #3 - Disregard Bro-Splits, Acquire Frequency
Let us first explain what a bro-split is. A bro-split is your typical 5-day split which targets one muscle group per week. For example, Monday: Chest, Tuesday: Legs, Wednesday: Arms etc. These workouts to be popular up until recently.
Hitting each muscle just once a week is sub-optimal in contrast to hitting it twice a week (due to the length of the protein synthesis as a natural). With this in mind, make sure to hit every muscle at least twice a week.
A rule I have when I create training schedules is that every muscle must be trained twice a week. If my client only has the possibility to train twice a week, it will be two full body workouts.
Another approach is the popular push-pull-legs, which is based upon training six days a week. The push day includes (as the name suggests) all pushing movements for the upper body: bench press, military press, etc. The pull day includes the pulling movements of the upper body: rows and weighted chins. Leg day consists of quad, hamstring and calf exercises.
When I followed this schedule I placed deadlifts together with my squats on the leg day. I mainly do squats for my legs and complement with some Romanian deadlifts for my hamstrings. Deadlifts also target a lot of muscles in the legs.
Which exercise you place on what day is not of any greater importance, however.
Rule #4 - Eat Big to Get BigThis isn't specific to naturals but is worth mentioning, either way. A lot of guys stall in their lifts because they don't eat enough. Ensuring steady progression often requires a good caloric surplus. For many that are undereating (in popular terms hard-gainers), this can be very hard.
The key here is to view the kitchen as your second gym. Be as serious about getting in your calories as you are about progressing on the exercises in the gym. Pushing movements especially respond to a caloric calorie increase, especially when you are stalling.
When you are on a caloric surplus over a long period of time you will also store fat. Just accept this as part of life. Some people can maintain a low body-fat year round and still increase the weights. I (for one) cannot. I need to increase my calories (and thus also store fat) in order to ensure a good progression.
My point with this is to give you a heads-up that fat storage is an additional factor your will have to take into account. This should not deter you as fat can always be dieted away later on.
If you are a beginner, however, perform a steady bulk for as long as possible (wait as long as possible with your first cut). This is in order to maximize your beginner gains.
Rule #5 - Consistency is the KeyThis one isn't natural-specific either, but is worth mentioning nonetheless. You have to be consistent. It will be the sessions and small steps of progressions you make every day that will count in the long run.
The same mantra applies to food. If you want to get big you need to eat big. I know this sounds cliché but it is so very true. Don't just eat big once in a while, eat big every day. Make it a habit to eat much, just as you must make an habit of being able to progress in the gym.
To be able to keep consistent with your training, try to have as few breaks from your routine as possible. I have seen so many guys who are dedicated for a few months (up until summer), then they stop using their good routine and fall back into decline. When autumn comes they are back at square one.
I realize that everyone can't make it to the gym 6-7 days a week. However, try to fit in at least 2-3 sessions (full body) and you can still make good muscle gains. Over a long period of time this is preferable to simply not going at all because you can't stick to a certain schedule.
I hope I make sense here. My point is that you hitting every muscle at least twice a week over a very long period of time whilst progressing is the key to get massive.
Summary of the Bodybuilding ProcessGetting progressively stronger in the big exercises is what will get you bigger. If you have a habit of undereating, view the kitchen as your second gym and utilize food to ensure a steady progression in the gym. You must lift big to get big and also eat big to get big.
Make sure to be consistent and take small steps over a long period of time. A single workout effort by itself will never create outstanding results and development. Instead, muscle building requires a lot of good sessions over the course of months and years.
Editor's note: Don't just workout, go to war! The Alpha and Omega pre-workout stack by Mike Rashid and Rob Did It features the ultimate combination of I'mSoAlpha Pre-Alpha and Omega Supreme War Juice. Buy it now.