The most important muscle building tip, especially if you’re just starting out with a strength training program, is to be safe. As you’ll soon learn, using the proper form will always be key to avoiding injury. Tony Horton wants you to be at your strongest and healthiest at all times, but he also wants to make sure you get the most out of your workout without getting hurt.
Here’s a look at some safe, effective ways to build muscle. A strength training workout is a fantastic form of exercise, one that can help deliver results that you may have never before imagined possible. Learning how to do it the right way can provide benefits for years to come. So, grab a protein shake and read on.
Are You Looking To Build Muscle Mass With Strength Training? Less Cardio, More Weights
Whether you call it weight training or strength training, the basic principle is to use weights to strengthen muscle tissue. Working with a weight trains your body to handle a more forceful load than it typically encounters. The body does this through muscle gain, which ultimately leads to greater strength.1
Weight training is a form of resistance training. You may have also heard of resistance band or bodyweight training as well. Cardiovascular training can help keep you healthy, and it may also help you lose weight. But if you really want to pack on lean muscle mass, there’s simply nothing better than strength training. You’ll not only build muscle, but you’ll also strengthen your joints. This may help keep you strong and healthy as the years go by.2
Just like any other form of exercise, however, you’ll need a solid plan in order to reap as many benefits as possible. Here’s a general look at how to structure your weight training program.
- You can use free weights, machines or, for some exercises, resistance bands.
- Focus on between eight and 10 exercises that work different muscle groups throughout the body.
- Do two or three sets of each exercise, performing between eight and 12 repetitions. You should find that your last repetition will be hard to finish.
- Always make sure you’re using the proper form. When lifting a weight, do it in a careful, controlled fashion.
- Try to get into a strength training routine where you’re working out two or three times each week.Gradually increase the weight you’re working with as you get stronger. You should find that your effort level is about an eight out of 10, where 10 is you maximum effort.3
How To Start A Strength Training Program Safely: Talk To Your Doctor First
It can’t be stressed enough how important safety is to any weight training program. Muscle building is great, but you need to be careful to avoid injury. Talk to your doctor first to make sure you’re healthy enough to start lifting weights. Once you get the go-ahead, there are other things you can do to be safe.
First, talk to an instructor who is experienced in helping people start a weight training regimen. They will show you the right technique for whatever exercise you’re starting in order to build a particular muscle group. That instructor can help you put together a specific goal, keeping in mind considerations such as your age, your overall health, and why you want to build muscle mass in the first place.4
Start slowly, only lifting weights you can handle. If you go too fast, you could run the risk of suffering a back injury or some other sort of serious problem. If you’re working on a specific muscle group on a certain day, always wait 24 hours before working on those muscles again.5
Try This Muscle Building Tip To Support Muscle Growth: Use Compound Exercises
In order to get the most out of your weight training regimen, you don’t want to just focus on one muscle group. If you want to build as much muscle mass as possible, you’ll want to do it across your entire body. One way to accomplish this is through compound exercises. These are exercises that build muscle in several different parts of the body simultaneously.6
Here are just a few examples of exercises many people use as part of their muscle building routine. Again, talk to an instructor to ensure you’re using the proper form before trying any of them.
- Deadlift – This ominous-sounding exercise is also known as the “hip hinge.” It promotes muscle growth in a lot of different areas, including your hamstrings, back muscles, and more. You use a weight bar, keep your feet about the same width apart as your hips. Pick up the bar, bring it to hip level, and then carefully set it back down.7
- Squat lift – Squats work the legs, ankles, and hips, as well as your core muscles. There are a lot of variations of the squat lift. Basically, you grab the weight bar off of a rack and rest it on your shoulders, keeping your feet about shoulder-width apart. You then bend at the hips and rise back into a standing position before placing the bar back on the rack.8
- Loaded carries – This exercise helps with building muscle through the use of smaller weights, such as dumbbells. Actually, you can use just about anything, as long as it’s heavy. This includes a filled water bucket or even some sandbags. You carry half of the “load” in each hand. Start off with lighter weights, and then gradually increase weight as you build endurance and strength.9
How Eating Right May Contribute To Muscle Mass
Building muscle isn’t just about slinging weights around the gym. A healthy diet can also promote muscle gain. Many people who follow a strength training regimen load up on muscle building foods that are high in carbohydrates. In fact, if you perform strength training exercises two times a week or more, you should get half of your calorie intake from carbs. This means high-quality carbs, such as the ones you’ll find in cereals, fruits and vegetables, and whole-grain breads.10
Fat also plays a role in muscle building. The body needs fat for energy. It supplies that fat to each muscle group while you work out. But you should focus on consuming healthy fats, such as those found in foods such as walnuts and avocados, as well as fatty fish such as mackerel, halibut, and salmon. Be careful with your fat intake, because it has twice the calorie content of other muscle-building substances such as carbs and protein.11
Bonus Diet Tip: Make Sure To Get Enough Lean Protein In Your Diet To Build Muscle
You need protein in order to live. Protein ranks behind only water in terms of necessary nutrients. If you don’t have enough protein, you’ll have a hard time stimulating muscle growth through a workout. But in order to maximize the growth of muscle fibers, you need to consume the right amount of protein.12
In general, a person who weighs 150 pounds needs about 82 grams of protein a day in order to retain muscle tissue. The maximum amount of protein someone of this weight should consume would be about 109 grams per day. If you consume too much protein, that can lead to health issues. Good sources of protein include vegetables, meat, and dairy products. Skinless poultry, seafood, and skim milk are great low-fat sources.13
Talk to your doctor to determine the right amount of protein (and calories) you need for your body weight. Don’t make any substantial changes to your diet without first getting the advice of a medical professional.
Be Smart And Have Fun
If you’ve made the commitment to building muscle, you’re making a fantastic choice for your long-term health. But before you hit the bench press or start compound exercises, make sure you know the right techniques for the exercises you’re considering, so that you stay as safe as possible.