Tag Archives: build muscle

The Answer to THE Question

How do you build muscle exactly?

A burning question that many want the answer to.

While I wish I could give you the holy grail of answers, it’s just not possible.

In fact there’s a good chance what you’ll find below you already knew/know.

This can be disappointing for many.

I know that while I spent years searching for the more nuance details that were felt missing, in the end there weren’t any because what has worked continues to work and will for the foreseeable.

Such a frustration, yet one to be accepted.

The short version of a long topic:

You need to disrupt your bodies homeostasis with a substantial (appropriate) stimulus that creates the following:

MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis)
Negative Nitrogen Balance (that gets replenished/added to)

Wen this occurs, provided you then allow the body to rest/recover you will find the super-compensation affect can occur – provided you’ve done everything right that is.

To hit the above you’ll need to know these:

There are three triggers of hypertrophy:

1 – Mechanical Tension/Load (Max Effort)
2 – Muscle Damage (Max Effort/Dynamic Effort)
3 – Metabolic Stress/Metabolite Production (Rep Effort)

*Ideally a good mind muscle connection is required as well

Each triggers MSP to occur (muscle protein synthesis).

Finally you need this:

Recovery time, whereby you can allow the stress to dissipate slightly so that the next session further builds in what is called eustress (positive adaptive stress), rather than distress the negative one that tears into you and merely has you surviving.

When you combine this with a Positive Nitrogen Balance which you can create via consuming adequate calories from nutrient dense food sources (ideally).

You can find endless protocols, programs and methods throughout the internet that all work provided you put in the required effort.

True there must also be this factor – progressive overload.

Meaning what you repeatedly expose yourself to stimulus wise you will eventually adapt to, which means no more progress can be made, therefore a new and novel stimulus that once again creates that homeostatic disruption is required.

While knowing the above is all well and good, it doesn’t answer the real question people have:

“What am I supposed to do?”

The best answer I can give you is this – start lifting.

Facetious as that answer is, there is no better one, not really.

If you wish to train for the purpose of gaining muscle then one of the most optimal ways is to lift weights while adhering the the guidance of achieving progressive overload.

Many will claim the do just that, yet if there is no new muscle then they are mistaken because it means they’re missing one of the crucial elements mentioned above.

Often the nutrition & recovery side of things.

Since many will want a program to follow I can point you in the direction of literally hundreds however since the gyms have only just reopened I feel this one will be suitable for most.

This is from the book Super Squats –

Press behind neck – 3 x 12
Squat – 1 x 20 supersetted with Pullover – 1 x 20
Bench press – 3 x 12
Rowing – 3 x 15
Stiff legged deadlift – 1 x 15
Pullover – 1 x 20

Now the program itself may have some tweaks that can be made, as such here is the best way to view it.

Pressing movement vertical- 3 x 12
Squat – 1 x 20 supersetted with *Pulling – 1 x 20
Pressing movement horizontal- 3 x 12
Rowing movement horizontal – 3 x 15
hinging pattern – 1 x 15
*Pulling movement vertical – 1 x 20

*can be a pull over, pull down, pull up etc.

Performing this 2-3 days per week will do wonders for a lot of people, personally I’d say aim for 2 days as a good starting point.

Each working set (that’s what is written above, working sets) you want to fell the target muscles working, so if you can do that with the original program, great, if not, then make tweaks where necessary.

I wish I could give you more of an answer that you’d want to hear, however this is the best I can offer.

Please leave any questions below.


Oh, one more thing.

It takes a solid 3-5 years of effective training to gain anywhere from *20-40lbs of muscle (not just lean body mass), so remember that it’s a long process and not merely a 90day quick fix.

*depending on your genetics.

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Short on time? Better back off.

The introduction and more frequent use of ‘back off sets’ has become quite popular of late.

You’ll find you can use them to determine suitable loading for your next session, increase total TUT and even help you maintain your progress if you find your gym training time has been chopped down due to life getting in the way.

In the past this has happened several times and as such a way and to be found to get in some quality work, here is an option for you, it will take anywhere from 20-30min tops, try not to spend longer than 30min (especially if your time is limited), just focus on hard work.

This protocol will:

– Provide suitable mechanical tension for strength
– Generate metabolic stress for adaptation
– Create muscle damage for new growth

All you need to do is follow the guidelines and put in all your effort, eat the calories required for your goal (I’ve written about this previously), sleep and stay focused.

Let’s get down o the details.

– Use compound movements (Squat, DL, Press, Chin, Row, etc)

– 1 or 2 per workout (A1/A2 pairing)

– Ramp up your weights each set, start off with 5’s and work to one heavy set, then add a little more weight for a 3, then finally a little more for 1 single. The triple/single aren’t all out efforts, only the 5, they’re just for extra neural stimulation.

– Take 70% of the top 5 and perform 1 back off set of 10-20 reps unbroken

– Rest is minimal between sets, go as soon as you feel ready

– 3 sessions per week is a good minimum to cover the full body

You will be in and out in no time at all.

This short style of workout will allow heavy enough loads to trigger a host of positive things and the back of set will further potentiate this.

If you find you’re doing all of this in 20min then use the extra 10 for some accessory movements (arms, calves etc).

The protocol above is nothing fancy, it’s devised to get maximum results out of minimum time and as such leaves no room for dilly-dallying.


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5 Reasons You Can’t Build Muscle

1 – You’re not eating enough.
2 – You’re not stimulating the muscle correctly.
3 – You’re not eating enough.
4 – You’re not resting/recovering properly
5 – You’re not eating enough.
Bonus – You’re still not eating enough.
Bulking, as it’s more commonly known is actually no easy task, adding lean muscle takes time and a willingness to sacrifice those abs of steel for a period of time to allow the correct caloric surplus for your individual needs. Remember being in a surplus is key to building muscle, however you may indeed add some excess ‘fluff’ as well. A tough pill to swallow, but it’s true.
What kind of calorie surplus will you need?
About 500 calories as a guide, some need more, some less. It will take some learning the correct application to get right for you as an individual, but as a general guide +500 each day is a good place to start.
That’s +500 on top of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), by the way.
If you have been trying to gain weight for years and been unsuccessful then it’s suggested that you hire a coach to help you. Often the hard thing, from what people say, is the following “I don’t know what to eat”… Food. Food is what you should eat, sadly there is no magic meal plan or supplement that will grant you instant muscle, it doesn’t work that way. You need to get your daily calories right and then the optimal macronutrients as well, here is a nifty link (http://www.iifym.com) to help get you started, although hiring someone would be the best possible option to help with planning, adherence and motivation.
Now go and start building the muscle you deserve.

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Forget Front Delts.

If you are to stop in almost any gym and take a look around you will find lots of people with impressively large Front Delts.

These play one part in creating boulder shoulders but you will find men spend a lot of time focusing on the needlessly, often because of a video they saw on Pumping Iron of Arnold doing a full overhead dumbbell front raise. So with their logic they assume they should do it too, when in reality they have no need.

Why the advice to not train a body part?

Your front delts get enough stimulus from doing bench press, overhead press, incline press, basically any pressing movement you’re doing will get in a sizeable amount of front delt, so will fly’s for that matter.

It’s recommended that the average person will have weak read delts and practically no shape laterally, they neglect the 2 heads of the delt that will give the shoulders the impressive loo they desire.

If you’re one of these guilty people fear not, this simple yet effective 3 day protocol will help you add that much sought after shape & size to your shoulders.

Day 1 –

A1 – Lateral Raise 5×15
A2 – Reverse Fly (pronated grip) 5×15
B1 – Iron Cross Hold 5x fail (note time)

Day 2 –

A1 – Y-Press x8
A2 – Face Pull x16
A3 – Lateral Raise x24
*You may swap the face pull and lateral raise around if you wish.
Do 3-5 sets of this tri-set with no rest until your last lateral raise.

Day 3 –

A1 – Reverse Fly (pronated grip) 4×12
A2 – Face Pull 4×12
B1 – Reverse Fly (supinated grip) 4×12
B2 – Cable Upright Row 4×12
C1 – Snatch Grip Behind Neck Press 4xfail

These can be added to your workouts and shouldn’t take you longer than 20min tops to get done.


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