Be LIGHT-YEARS ahead of 99% of the guys at the gym by reading this article.
It may just be the single most important thing you ever read in your quest to build muscle.
This is the truth with a capital T. Producing maximum muscle growth is a science. And I’m detailing the science here for you here in the clearest, easiest, and most enjoyable way possible.
I’m asking you to keep your eyes glued to this post for just 10 minutes. What you’ll discover will accelerate your muscle gains…forever! I’ll even give you a FREE training program so you can start adding new slabs of muscle today!
Our first point is to clear up what muscle growth actually is. Muscle tissue is made up of individual muscle fibers. Training in the correct way damages these fibers. Resting and eating for growth then repairs and grows the tissue. Like I said above, there’s a science to doing this correctly, so read on.
Since building muscle really is about training on the one hand, and diet on the other, this article is split into 2 sections. First, let’s look at proper grow-promoting training.
How To Build Muscle In 12 Steps
(1) Force Growth With Progressive Overload. Your muscles will have no reason to grow if you don’t place them under ever-increasing demand. Put simply, your goal is to get a little stronger week in, week out. Without this foundation, you just won’t succeed.
What this means is that the weight you can lift on any given exercise should increase slightly over time. No increase = no growth. This is the concept of Progressive Overload.
(2) Train In These Rep Ranges. Hypertrophy means an increase in muscle size. You want to specifically target this, as opposed to strength-training which has its focus primarily on strength gains with building muscle as a smaller side-effect.
Almost a decade of research and training has led me to identify the following rep ranges as optimal for building muscle size:
8-12 reps per set
7-10 reps per set
6-8 reps per set
The idea is to train for about 10 weeks in 1 rep range before switching to the next rep range. Always start at 8-12 reps for your first training cycle before moving on.
(3) Train To Muscular Failure. This is always a controversial issue, but it shouldn’t be. Just picking up a weight and doing 8-12 reps over and over again isn’t going to get you anywhere. Intensity matters, and here’s how to make sure you do it right…
Let’s say you can do 10 reps of barbell curls; you simply can’t get 11 reps and 5 reps feels easy. 5 reps would then represent 50% Intensity of Effort (10 being 100%). If in every set you stopped at 50% intensity of effort, do you think you’d ever grow? You and I both know that you wouldn’t. It’s too easy. There’s simply no threatening stimulus being placed on the body forcing it to adapt and grow.
The necessary recruitment and stimulating of the maximum number of muscle fibers comes in those last few, almost-impossible reps of a set. Stopping short of this point ensures that you don’t switch on the growth mechanism for growth. Always remember that building muscle is a defense mechanism by the body. If there is not a good enough reason provided (i.e. sufficient intensity), the body simply has NO reason whatsoever to trigger the adaptive response of making your muscles larger.
It’s like getting a tan. Intense sunlight is needed to warrant the body to build up a tan, which is its way of protecting your skin against further sunlight stress. If the light isn’t intense enough, you can sit out 16hrs a day for 30 days and you won’t be even remotely tanner. The defense mechanism of building more muscle mass is only triggered by high intensity training. You can be in the gym 3hrs, twice a day, 365 days a year, and you won’t build so much as a pound of muscle if the intensity isn’t there.
(4) Take enough rest between workouts. Did you know that muscle growth occurs during the rest periods between workouts, not during the workout itself? The workout produces microtears in the muscle tissue which stimulates the process of repair and growth to begin when the workout is over.
However, if you don’t rest enough between workouts, and work the same muscle again too soon, you’ll actually stop this process from completing. In your over-enthusiasm you’ll actually prevent muscle growth from happening. You must rest! Think of it in the same way as a scab. If you pick it, it won’t heal. So tear up the muscle in the gym, then rest and let nature take its course if you want optimal growth.
This diagram illustrates the growth process perfectly…
(5) Use a Full-Body Routine or A Split Routine – Both Work! Studies show that both full body routines and 5-day splits work to build muscle.
With a full body routine you’ll train your whole body 3-times per week. If using a split routine, you’ll train each body part once a week but do more sets per workout.
Here are examples of how to do this in THT Training:
Now Here’s a 5-Day Training Split…
If you want to download these workouts, you can do so at the bottom of this page.
(6) Train in 10-week Cycles. In THT we use both of the above approaches. Do 10 weeks of the 3-Day Routine, take a week off and rest, then do 10 weeks of the 5-Day Routine. Do both these cycles in the 8-12 rep range. After doing both these cycles, repeat the process in the 7-10 rep range. Then lastly the 6-8 rep range. This will complete over a year of non-stop gains and your body will be utterly transformed!
(7) Take a week off every 10 weeks. That week off is important. In order to maximize muscle gains you need to take a well-deserved break every now and then. Although local muscle recovery doesn’t require this length of time, full SYSTEMIC recovery requires a full week off after about 10 weeks of continuous training.
Furthermore, after your week off your body will be primed to respond to a new stimulus all over again. You’re back and the body is forced into adaptation mode all over again!
(8) Use Both Compound And Isolation Exercises. Compound exercises are crucial, they involve many muscle groups simultaneously and allow you to lift pretty heavy loads. They can be defined as exercises that involve rotary motion around more than one joint. Key compound examples are squats, deadlifts, and overhead press.
Isolation movements have got a bum rap in recent years. These are exercises that involve rotary movement around one joint e.g. bicep preacher curls.
While the ‘compound-only’ enthusiasts talk of “working” multiple body parts in one exercise, it must be understood that this is NOT to say that each individual muscle group is worked with sufficient intensity to stimulate growth. You may be “involving” the triceps during a bench press, for example, but you will not recruitment enough muscle fibers in the triceps, nor bring them to a point of failure with this movement. Pushdowns are a fantastic tricep isolation exercise.
This is why isolation exercises are a key component of any good muscle-building program. Isolation movements allow a muscle to be worked along its Line of Pull, thereby recruiting 100% of its fibers. You simply CAN’T stimulate fibers to grow that weren’t even recruited in the exercise, so isolation exercises are a requirement to maximize growth stimulation. There’s a good reason why all top bodybuilders use both compound and isolation exercises.
Therefore, the training program I devised (called THT training) is made up of both compound and isolation exercises to stimulate max growth in the WHOLE body.
DIET – How To Eat To Build Muscle
(9) Eat – Get enough calories. No matter what bodybuilding diet you are on, you need to eat enough to supply your body with what it needs to grow. Eat roughly 200-300 calories above maintenance level. The usual advice of 500 above maintenance is too much. That’s 3500 surplus calories every week. You will get fat. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to get fat to build muscle.
Go here to see exactly how many calories you need to build muscle. Get on a great bodybuilding diet to ensure that you are supplying the correct amount of calories and protein. A 40/30/30 ratio of protein, carbs, and fat is a tried and proven way to pack on mass. My GLAD diet meets all the above requirements and is perfect for bulking up.
(10) Get Enough Protein – No you don’t need astronomical amounts of protein to build muscle, but you do need more than the average guy. In this article I show the 2 best ways to find out how much protein you need to build muscle at an optimal rate. Use either of the the following 2 calculations:
Easy Way: Consume 1g of Protein Per Pound of Body Weight
Hard Way: Your Lean Mass Weight (Kg) x 2.75 = Daily Protein Requirement
Here’s a quick list of high protein foods along with their protein content in grams:
- Steak. 6 oz = 42g protein
- Chicken breast. 3.5 oz = 30g protein
- Chicken meat (cooked). 4 oz – 35g protein
- Pork chop = ~22 grams protein
- Ham. 3 oz serving = 19g protein
- Bacon. 1 slice – 3g protein
- Fish fillets or steaks. 3½ oz / 100g of cooked fish = 22g protein
- Tuna. 6 oz can = 40g protein
- Egg = 6g protein
- Milk. 1 cup = 8g protein
- Cottage cheese. 1 cup = 30g protein
- Hard cheese = ~10g protein per oz
- Natural yogurt. 1 cup = ~10g protein
- Tofu. ½ cup = 20g protein
- Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc). 1/2 cup cooked = ~7-10g protein
- Soy beans. ½ cup cooked = 14g protein
- Peanut butter. 2 Tablespoons = 8g protein
- Peanuts. ¼ cup = 9g protein
- Almonds. ¼ cup = 8g protein
- Pumpkin seeds. ¼ cup = 8g protein
- Flax seeds. ¼ cup = 8g protein
- Sunflower seeds. ¼ cup = 6g protein
(11) Drink Enough Water. To build muscle at the maximum rate you need to drink enough water. Use this formula:
Body weight (lbs) X 0.6 = Water Intake in ounces.
Remember strength can decrease by up to 15% with a drop in hydration levels of only 3%!
(12) Sleep! Not strictly a diet tip, but important! Your muscle tissue repairs itself and grows during rest periods, but sleep is more important than waking rest. Here’s why:
- The release of growth hormone reaches its peak during deep sleep
- Your metabolic rate slows which is perfect for muscle tissue repair and growth
- Increased blood flow to the muscles
In addition, studies show that those who sleep 4 or less hours per night have 60% less total testosterone and 55% less bio-available testosterone than those who sleep 8 hrs or more.
You must rest, guys. And rest well. So make a good night’s sleep a priority in your life.
All of these 12 factors are fully taken into account in THT training. Downloading THT now is the BEST move you can make in your quest to build muscle. Let today be the beginning of a new way of training which will finally bring you the results you desire. Just input your name and email below or at the top-right of this page.
Get started today and feel free to connect with me on one of the social networks (see sidebar).
If you’re new to MuscleHack, other articles that will interest you are:
- How To Lose Fat
- How Long Does It Take To Get A Six-Pack
- How Much Protein To Build Muscle
- How Many Reps To Build Muscle
- T.H.T. Weight Training Program
Train With Intensity!