Wherever you are in your fitness journey, you’ve found this article, and you want to know how to build muscle. The science of building muscle (muscle hypertrophy) can be complicated, so I made it easy to understand.
How do you Build Muscle?
You follow a good weight lifting program, eat more than normal (caloric surplus), and be consistent.
Let me break those 3 elements down.
1. Following a good weight lifting program is absolutely vital for your success. If you just go to the gym and use random machines/equipment you won’t make much progress. Weight lifting programs are made for a reason; they actually help you build muscle faster. They also provide you with structure and specifics to work on each day. Often, programs have a specific number of reps and sets to do, and these are very important. You should follow a program as best as you can while continually adding weight to make progress. I personally recommend some sort of starting strength routine like Jason Blaha’s 5×5, Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength or Mehdi’s Stronglifts 5×5. Do some research and decide what novice program you’d like to run.
2. A caloric surplus. Your body needs energy from food to survive, and this energy, we call calories. Each person needs a certain number of calories to maintain their weight (caloric maintenance). If you eat more than that number you will gain weight, and of course if you eat less than that you will lose weight. Use my calorie calculator to find how many calories you need.
Your body builds muscle while you are in a caloric surplus. I must mention that beginners can build some muscle at a calorie deficit but it won’t be nearly as much as the person trying to put on size. As a general rule of thumb you should eat at a 300-500 calorie surplus while on your bulking phase. If you maintain your weight on 2000 calories, you would be eating 2300-2500 if you are trying to gain muscle. The higher your calories, the more fat you will put on, so don’t go overboard and binge eat everything in sight. If you do go overboard you’ll end up gaining a lot more fat than muscle, they call those “dreamerbulks”.
3. Consistency. I hope this word speaks for itself. This means you shouldn’t be taking many days off of the program, and you should be following it accurately. Word hard in the gym, and overtime you will see results because nobody gets ripped in a month (be patient). Consistency is also very important with your diet/meal plan. Stay at a caloric surplus everyday, this means you will have to count your calories. It really only takes less than a few minutes each day and you can use an app like MyFitnessPal to make it easier. If you aren’t consistent with your diet and training don’t be surprised if you don’t get results.
What about Protein and Supplements?
Some people think you have to drink protein shakes in order to get big, and that is really just a myth. Protein is important and you should be eating enough (0.8 grams per pound of bodyweight). But the protein doesn’t have to come from a powder or shake. You will do just fine if you eat eggs, chicken, steak, etc. Don’t go racing into a supplement store looking for a mass builder because those are a waste of money.
As far as buying supplements go, I personally recommend waiting. Wait because you don’t really need them in the first place, and you probably don’t know how, or if they work. Don’t trust some ad in a magazine, those are designed to make their products draw people in. If you’re dying to try a supplement at least wait 6 months, so you have your diet and nutrition on point. Keep in mind it takes some people years to learn how to lift weights properly.
It may not seem like a lot of information but those are the basics. Any bodybuilder will tell you to stay consistent with your diet and training. They say this because it truly is the key to creating a great body. You should research novice lifting programs and decide which one to chose. Then figure out your calorie needs and stick to that number. Be patient and you’ll see results in no time.