While some people seem like they’re naturally skinny and others have to work hard to create a fit, toned look, everyone has to work hard to build muscle.
There’s no way around this. Muscles don’t just grow on their own and they definitely don’t appear overnight. Not to mention, each body requires its own muscle building workout plan to create an even, full composition.
The last thing you want is wide shoulders and big arms on top of a pair of chicken legs. Or, you may find legs are easier for you to build and the upper body is what needs more focus.
Still, there are certain rules of weightlifting and muscle training everyone can benefit from. If you want to see bigger muscles when you look in the mirror, here are the 5 things you need to start doing in the gym.
1. Learn How to Target Each Muscle Group
To change the way your body looks as a whole, you have to focus on each individual muscle group. These are:
*The back and the legs are often split up into smaller groups. One leg day can turn into working glutes and hamstrings one day then targetting quads and calves another day. The back is mainly composed of the lats and the traps, but there are other supportive muscles you can target to make these bigger groups stronger.
With seven major muscle groups to target – and some that can be split even more – clearly, you need to be in the gym at least 5 times a week. Every day needs to have a specific focus, and each week should be consistent.
In other words, have a plan. Don’t walk into the gym and target whatever muscle you feel like doing that day. Follow a muscle mass workout schedule to help you get the results you’re looking for.
2. Create a Plan That Makes Sense for You
Speaking of having a plan, consider whether or not it makes sense.
Maybe you’d love to be in the gym every single day of the week but you have other commitments in your life to balance workouts with. Maybe you’re able to exercise as much as you want, but you find that your body is running out of fuel in the middle of the week.
Take a step back and think about how you’re targeting each muscle group. You can’t target the same group from one day to the next, and you have to think about the motions required to build each muscle, too.
For example, the upper body is built with pull and push motions. The chest, shoulders, and triceps are a push, and the back and biceps are a pull.
You have to balance push and pull. Some people do this by focusing on back and biceps on the same day to get them all out of the way. Others create at least one day in between each push/pull muscle group.
A few ways to set up your workout week could be:
- M – legs, T – chest/shoulders, W – back, TH – biceps/triceps, F – abs/cardio
- M – back, T – chest/triceps, W – glutes/hamstrings/abs, TH – biceps/shoulders, F – quads/cardio
- M – chest/triceps, T – quads/cardio, W – back/biceps, TH – legs, F – abs/shoulders
As you can see, there are various ways to combine muscle groups without overworking yourself. Oh, and yes – you still need to do cardio to build muscle! There’s a common misconception that cardio is only for weight loss, but it’s good to do no matter what your goals are.
3. Avoid Complacency
Finding your ideal workout routine during the week is only the start of your muscle-building journey. As the weeks add up, you have to find new ways to work each muscle.
This means you can’t do the same leg day routine or the same chest workout every time that muscle’s day occurs. You have to find ways to find a balance between a consistent routine that you can track growth with and being complacent.
Try adding 5-10 more pounds to the motions you do on a regular basis. If you did 10-12 lat pulldowns at 70 pounds last week, aim for 8-10 pulldowns at 75 or 80 pounds this week.
Or, change the grip on your pulldowns or find a machine where you can focus on each arm at a time. These are small changes you can do every day to create the big results you want to see. Try them for all your muscle groups, and explore the benefits of burnouts and supersets, too.
4. Remember Food Is Part of the Equation
Another part of building muscle is what you eat. In fact, some argue that this is more important than what you do in the gym!
You need to refuel properly after one workout in order to perform well during your next one. It sounds like common sense, but most people fail to recognize the importance of following a mass-building diet.
The basics of building mass by what you eat include consuming protein right after your workout, proper hydration, and eating something an hour or so before you go into the gym. You can experiment with recovery supplements like glutamine and creatine, and maybe even try pre-workout to really get the pump you want.
5. Let Yourself Rest
The final tip to help you build mass is to rest. No matter how big you want to be – or how muscular you may already be – you’re still human. Bodies need rest to perform their best.
Just as you can’t work legs on Monday then do the same workout on Tuesday, sometimes, you need to give all your muscles a day off. This is especially true if you’re only beginning to get into a workout groove or if you’re one to “go hard” every day of the week.
Beginners need to give their bodies time to adjust. As you start working out, you’re going to feel hungrier throughout the day and more sore, too. Your body will learn to keep up with your new habits, but you have to give it time to do so.
Those who have a “no days off” mentality, on the other hand, need rest in order to recharge. Your body may be used to hard workouts and cutting/bulking cycles, but a little bit of rest will significantly improve your results.
How to Make Any Muscle Building Workout Plan Effective for You
The truth is there isn’t one standard muscle building workout plan that works for everyone. The best way for you to build muscle takes a bit of trial and error. You have to find what your body responds to and figure out how to make the gym part of your schedule.
For some, that means targeting more muscle groups during 3-4 days at the gym. For others, the issue isn’t getting in the gym every day, but rather learning how to make the most of the time there.
If you want more tools and tips to guide your muscle-building process, click here.