Whether you want to bulk up your body or be healthier, adding muscle is a vital part of your plan. There is more to it than just lifting weights, though. There are fundamental principles that can help ensure your success.
What Causes Muscle Growth?
When you do strength training, you create small microtears in the muscle. After your exercise, the body will break that muscle down and build it back a little better than it was before. The goal is to keep you from injuring that muscle again.
That is the basis of strength training. You need to continue to challenge that muscle even as you get stronger to keep the process going.
Five Fundamentals to Building Muscle
The key is to stress the muscle continuously so the body feels the need to make it stronger.
1. Set Your Weight Level Based on Repetitions
You already know that the goal is to stress the muscle, but how do you know when that is happening? If you can lift the weight over 20 times, it’s not. So you need to choose weights that are heavy enough but not so heavy that you can’t lift them safely.
Ideally, you want to lift the weight between six to 12 times to build muscle and between 12 to 20 times to maintain it. If you can raise it more than 20 times, increase the weight.
2. Target Specific Muscle
To build muscle, you need to isolate it. You can do this with individual muscles, like lifting barbells to isolate the biceps. Or you can target large muscle groups. For example, squats target the legs, lower back, glutes, or butt.
You can also do compound strength training, such as lifting a barbell while doing a squat. This isolates the bicep and adds additional stress to the large muscle group.
3. Don’t Overtrain
It seems like common sense that the more you lift, the more muscle you build. However, the truth is your body needs time to go through the process of breaking down the muscle and building it back up. If you interrupt the effort, you risk injury.
This is why you should rotate your training to work on different areas daily. If you work the arms, chest, and upper back on Mondays, don’t do it again on Tuesdays. Instead, switch to legs, butt, and lower back.
4. Tension is Just as Important as Weight
You will still get some benefit if you lift weights fast, but if you add tension to the mix, you’ll do even better. For instance, try raising a weight very slowly, holding it for five seconds, and then lowering it slowly.
5. Diet is an Essential Part of Strength Training
Protein has the essential elements your body needs to build muscle, so it should be your top priority. Research suggests that you need to eat .72 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. So, a man who weighs 200 pounds would need to eat 144 grams of protein every day.
The key to building muscle is a combination of following the right exercise strategy and eating plenty of protein.