Gaining Muscle – Getting the Basics Right
Getting stronger, at least at the beginning, isn’t as hard as you might think. There are a only three basic fundamental principles that should be followed to get your weightlifting regime off to a good start:
- Lift big
- Eat big
Let’s break these principles down:
Safe practice – Obviously there is a limit to how much weight your body can handle, so make sure you don’t over-do it or you could end up with an injury. I highly recommend you spend at least one session with a personal trainer or gym instructor to practice the safe way to lift heavy weights. Together you can work out your one-rep-max for all of the different lifts, and construct a programme around this.
Compound movements target multiple muscle groups in one hit, and should be central to your overall programme, especially at the beginning. Don’t waste time with bicep curls and sit ups (at least not yet), just make sure to include the following movements at least twice a week in your workout:
- Bench Press – the “king” of upper body exercises, the bench press targets your chest, triceps and shoulders.
- Pullup – a difficult move, the pullup is fantastic for adding muscle to all of your upper back, whilst hitting your biceps and adding size to your arms. If your gym has an Easy Machine, use this to gradually build up until you can lift your own body weight. Alternatively you could try the wide-grip pulldown. Essential for building the v-shaped body.
- Squat – squats add bulk to your legs and glutes, whilst also strengthening your core and toning your abs.
- Deadlift – regarded by many as the full body king of exercises, the deadlift targets your legs, glutes, core, shoulders, back and forearms. Add these to help make gains elsewhere.
- Shoulder Press – this will be essential if you want to sculpt yourself a set of wide shoulders. Primarily targeting your deltoids, the shoulder press also hits your triceps and traps, helping you fill out those t shirts!
You can either do a full body workout with all of the big compound movements in one session 3 times per week, or you can split the workout into upper and lower body workouts, whatever suits your schedule. Some products to help you out:
As this is a “basics” article, I’m not going to go into scientific detail here (that will follow in other articles). Put simply, In order to put on mass and gain muscle quickly, you need to eat big. That doesn’t mean go crazy with pizzas and hamburgers – you need to eat clean in order to minimise fat gain, get stronger and increase your lean body mass. So, what should you eat?
Protein, protein, protein!
Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard this before – protein is essential for repairing muscles damaged during exercise and getting stronger. Eat lean meats such as turkey, chicken and beef. Whey protein is also great for lean gains and supplementing your diet.
Fats – primarily from eggs, fish and nuts, will seriously help with your gains.
Carbohydrates – your body is going to need all the energy it can get in order to lift heavy weights. Be sure to eat plenty of slow-releasing carbs such as oats and whole grain bread, pasta and rice.
Water – drink plenty of it! Staying hydrated helps prevent muscle breakdown and helps your body absorb all the essential nutrients from your meals.
Last, but certainly not least – get plenty of rest. You’re going to be tired and sore; don’t defy what your body is telling you by skipping rest periods. The bulk of your muscle recovery will come during sleep – so get to your bed at a decent time, ensuring you get at least 8 hours quality kip. Don’t work the same muscles two consecutive days either – this can in fact hinder the growth of your muscles.
So, there you have it – the three basic rules for getting stronger. Stick to these principles and you’ll have no trouble making gains. Be consistent, be patient, be safe.
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