Build Muscle With These 16 Research-Backed Tips
When it comes to building muscle, there are so many different routes to take. Strength training has been proven to build muscle and improve bone density.
Both promote health, longevity, and mobility as you get older.
If you have been wanting to build muscle, here are 16 research-backed approaches to build more muscle.
Related - Your First Muscle Building Workout
The best thing about this list is you can focus on adding one tip per week for 16 weeks and you will have a completely different physique. People will ask you what you are doing, and you are going to feel great.
The downside is learning all of this and not putting it to use. So what's it going to be?
16 Muscle Building Tips
#1 - You'll Need to Lift Weights
Lifting weights is the tried-and-true method to building muscle, burning fat, and getting stronger.
Lifting weights improves bone density, improves mobility, and improves your body composition.
If you want to build muscle, some sort of resistance training will be needed — bodyweight exercises, machines, or free weights.
#2 - Try Compound Exercises
Compound exercises burn more calories, promote more muscle growth, and deliver a powerful hormonal response.
But what are compound exercises? A dumbbell curl is an isolation exercise and your elbow is the only joint involved. A squat, on the other hand, involves multiple joints moving.
Squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead pressing, and other compound exercises return more muscle for effort versus isolation exercises.
#3 - Use Heavier Weight
Starting at a weight you can perform the exercise properly, you will eventually start feeling the exercise is becoming too easy.
This is from our bodies adaptation to the exercise. In order to keep building strength and muscle, we need to use a heavier weight.
Progressive overload is simply trying to add more weight or more reps every workout. You want to progressively use more weight or reps to push your intensity levels.
#4 - Try Pumping up the Volume
Upping your training volume means you will increase the amount of reps and sets you do. This encourages hypertrophy — the technical term for muscle growth.
Manipulating the volume and the weight you use for an exercise can achieve different things. Generally, the heavier the weight relative to your one rep max, the lower the reps you will perform.
This is why you will see a recommendation of three to four sets of 12 reps for a bodybuilding workout versus five sets of five reps for strength training.
Adding more reps and sets to your workload will increase your intensity levels.
#5 - Eat More Protein
If you've even thought about building muscle, chances are you've heard you need to eat more protein.
The age-old recommendation of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is being challenged by a study in the American College of Sports Medicine.
They recommend 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight when your goal is to build muscle.
#6 - Try Pre-Workout or Post-Workout Fuel
Studies suggest consuming some protein and carbs immediately before and within 60 minutes post-workout aids in protein synthesis and recovery.
Along with eating enough protein throughout the day, having this extra boost of fuel can help you train harder and longer.
#7 - Train Your Biggest Muscles
We all want huge biceps and chiseled abs, but getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to lifting is important.
Your chest, legs, and back contain some of the largest muscles in the body. Training them hard produces a hormonal response that will improve how much muscle your entire body builds.
Friends don't let friends skip leg day.
#8 - Sleep More
Getting enough sleep allows our body to repair itself and prime your nervous system for another session.
It is recommended that adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. A bonus of getting enough sleep is the cognitive improvements — you'll remember more things, perform better, and it will be easier to make decisions.
Oh, you won't have those sugary cravings, either.
Please don't be that person who always boasts about how they didn't get any sleep — you shouldn't be proud of ruining your gains and health.
#9 - Try Focusing on Eccentric Training
The European Journal of Physiology suggests that training the eccentric, or negative portion of your training can improve muscle growth and strength.
This is lowering into a squat or lowering the bar to your chest.
#10 - Shorten Rest Periods
Shorter rest periods of 60 to 90 seconds hit a sweet spot of wearing your muscles down while leaving enough in the tank to keep going.
This is great for building muscle.
Slowly reduce your rest periods and enjoy the benefits from a higher-intensity workout.
#11 - Start Your Day With Pushups
You don't need fancy equipment building muscle. Jumping out of bed and doing a few sets of pushups while your shower water heats up can improve your mood, build muscle, and starts your day off right.
#12 - Eat More Nutritious Calories
If you are underweight and you are trying to build muscle, you're going to have to eat more. You simply can't starve yourself to muscle growth — you need an adequate amount of protein and fuel to build muscle.
#13 - Try Supersets
Supersets are another way to improve the intensity of your workouts. Train two different muscle groups with minimal rest in between — this allows a muscle to get rest between sets without having to stop lifting.
A fun superset I enjoy are EZ Curl barbell curls and supersetting with skull crushers.
#14 - Plan Workouts In Advance
Once you start getting into a routine of hitting the gym consistently, having your workouts planned in advance will help.
Put your gym session in your calendar, set an alarm to wake up early, and find a routine and stick with it.
Plan out the exercises, sets, reps, and weight used before you step foot into the gym. Take the guesswork out of building muscle.
#15 - Try a Bedtime Protein Snack
Research suggests consuming 30 grams of protein before bed supports your metabolism and muscle recovery.
A solid choice would be some cottage cheese — one of the most underrated snacks ever... and it's cheap.
#16 - Focus on Recovery
When you lift, we are tearing our muscles down so we can rebuild them. Rebuilding your muscles means they will need time off between sessions.
Aim to take at least one day off between training the same muscle groups so you can heal and grow.
Failing to allow proper recovery eventually leads to burnout, an increased risk of injury, and subpar gains.