Are you feeling like you are not adding lean muscle mass fast enough? You are not alone. That feeling is very common amongst lifters and bodybuilders. While there are plenty of reasons for not building muscle fast enough, there are some proven solutions to ensure that you are maximizing muscle gains.
Use Compound Movements
I have said it before and I will say it again, your mass building routines should consist of primarily compound movements, which involve more than one muscle group or joint. Examples of compound exercises include squats, deadlifts and bench presses.
Compound exercises are very challenging both mentally and physically, but are worth every second of hard work that you put into them. Deadlifts make backs thick, which squats work so many various body parts. Only when you learn to embrace these often hated exercises will you truly benefit from them.
Stay Within Your Target Rep Ranges
To build mass, you want to stay within the optimal target rep ranges. For most exercises, between 8 and 12 reps are the best rep ranges to add mass. Some exercises have more of a 12 – 15 rep range, but this is mostly for legs and forearms.
Work to Failure
Many lifters do not work to failure. The point of failure is when you have done the last possible rep that you can with the weight on the bar. If you are performing a bench press with a specific weight, failure is when your body can no longer lift the weight even one more time without assistance. Most lifters will stop before this point whether it is from laziness or from not having a spotter. The last few reps are the ones that matter the most. One of my favorite sayings that I live by is that the set starts when the pain starts. Force those last few reps out and you will be surprised at the results.
Bodybuilding is a Marathon – Not a Sprint
Bodybuilding requires 100% effort from both your workouts and your diet 100% of the time. Cheating in the gym or in the kitchen will only hurt you. Your body is the proof. If you cheat, it will show. It really is that simple. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle, not a program with a start and end date. You can make gains in weeks, but if you think that those gains will remain with you the rest of your life without further working out, you are sadly mistaken. Bodybuilding is a lifetime lifestyle change. It is not for everyone, but if you are up to the task and fully embrace this lifestyle change, it will be the most rewarding change that you ever make in your life.
Work Out Regularly
This one seems a little obvious, but the fact of the matter is that some people do not get it. Do not skip workouts for extended periods of time unless you are deloading. If you are on a 5 day split routine work out all 5 days. If you find that you are missing workouts, think about switching to a 4 day split instead. Keep your workouts regular and efficient.
Eat to Maximize Gains
This is another one that seems a little obvious, but bodybuilding novices do not understand the importance of hitting their macros. Everyone has their comfort zone that they want to stick to in order to maximize gains. How many macros you need depends on the level of your workouts and your workout experience. Newer lifters will add mass easier than more experienced lifters. This is a proven fact assuming that all things are equal (same person with the same workouts).
Stick to Your Workout
It is very tempting for lifters to try new lifts and/or programs. Try to avoid the temptation as much as possible. While I switch things up every few months, I try and maintain the same workouts for a minimum of 2 months, and most of the time even longer. As we stressed above, stick to compound movements for the majority of your workouts, but it is perfectly fine to add isolation exercises into the mix as well. Maintain the same workout for a few months before trying something new.
As an example, I work my back twice per week. On Tuesdays, I will work out my back, traps, biceps and forearms. I will do the following:
|Barbell Bent Over Row||4|
|Barbell Reverse Grip Bent Over Row||4|
|Close Grip Reverse Lat Pulldown||4|
|Barbell Upright Row||4|
|Barbell Shrug Behind the Back||3|
|Barbell Drag Curl||3|
|Close Grip Preacher Curl||3|
|Alternate Hammer Curl||3|
|Barbell Wrist Curl||3|
I will perform this workout (give or take extra or less sets depending on how the workout is going) every Tuesday for 3 months before altering it. Even when I alter it, I may only switch out one exercise for another or switch the order in which I do the exercises.
The point of this is to stay the course for as long as I can until the workout becomes stagnant and I am no longer seeing gains. Once I plateau, I will think about switching things around.
Just keep in mind that adding mass is not difficult when you follow the tips above.