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.