5 Crucial Tips For Building Strength And Muscle

The process of gaining strength and muscle is both relatively easy to understand and to apply, especially if you follow these tips for building strength and muscle.

I have myself made many mistakes especially when I was starting out. I hope that these tips can help prevent you from doing the same.

If you have any questions feel free to use the comments section below.

5 Tips For Building Strength And Muscle

Here are 5 important things you need to know about gaining strength and muscle when you structure your workouts.

# 1 – Lift Heavy, But Not Too Heavy

In order to gain strength and muscle, you need a lot of muscle recruitment.

Put in another way you need to challenge your muscles. The best and most time-efficient way to do that is to focus on heavy compound lifts.

Research has shown that lifting heavy weights is significantly better for both strength and muscle growth than lifting lighter weights.

Even though most people already know that you have to lift heavy weights in order to become stronger, I think many fail to realize how heavy it actually has to be either because they do too many reps or they don’t push themselves enough.

If you are doing a heavy compound lift, your focus should be on lifting around the 4 – 6 rep range.

Lifting very heavy and pushing yourself is a habit that you have to learn.

In the beginning, you have to force yourself into lifting as heavy as possible while still performing the exercise right and unassisted. Perhaps you will be surprised at how much you can actually lift.

When that is said you obviously also have to not lift too heavy.

If you are “pushing through” a heavy exercise with a lot of help from another person, or you are letting momentum or other muscle groups assist you too much you could be decreasing your strength gain considerably and wasting time and effort.

Some people will say you should lift until failure, but I would not recommend that. You really don’t have to push yourself to failure in order to become stronger.

I would argue that even if you gained something from pushing yourself to failure it would not be worth the added stress on your body. Also, you risk getting injured and in most cases, you would need a spotter. This might be different if you are a very experienced in lifting weights.

# 2 – Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the most powerful drive for strength and muscle growth.

It means to increase tension in muscle fibers over time (link: Wikipedia) and is arguably done easiest by increasing the weight and/or reps performed up to a certain degree.

When your muscle has grown stronger from lifting a given amount of weight for a given amount of repetitions you NEED to make the lift harder, e.g. by adding some extra weight.

If you are doing the same exercise in the exact same way over and over again your strength will not increase for long, since your muscle already adapted to this amount of stress.

Assuming you are doing everything right, your muscles can only adapt to small increases at a time.

When you are lifting in in the rep ranges 4-6 and 5-10, progressively overloading your muscles while still lifting very heavy it is easily manageable.

# 3 – Only Incremental Increases

Strength and muscle gain is an adaptation to the stress experienced by the muscle – a muscle adaption.

It is very important to understand that the muscle will for the most part only be able to adapt to very small/incremental increases.

That means if you try to add too much weight or add too many extra repetitions to the exercise your muscles are not able to adapt. It will simply be too much for your muscles to handle and you won’t get anything out of it.

The best way to get consistent and reliable strength gains is to be slow but steady and progressively overload your muscles with a little bit more weight or 1-2 more repetitions.

The increase might only be small, but over a period of for example 3 – 6 months it will result in significant strength and muscle gain!

# 4 – Get Your Nutrition Right

Providing your body with the right amount of energy and nutrients is absolutely critical for having success with gaining strength and muscle.

You cannot build a house without the materials.

However, instead of just stuffing your face with food in the name of becoming stronger and gaining muscle you should take a more fine-tuned approach.

For optimal strength and muscle gain, you need a calorie surplus. That is a surplus in the energy balance of your body.

Keeping that in mind, your body can only use a limited amount of surplus calories with a correlation to the speed of which you are able to build muscle. Any more calories than that will get stored as fat.

Essentially, you have to eat just a bit more than your body needs to sustain itself (maintenance calories).

Most people are interested in gaining the maximum amount of strength and muscle while keeping fat to a minimum, but still, some make the mistake of eating too much. I have made this mistake myself.

# 5 – Be Serious About Your Recovery

Technically, it is not the act of going to the gym and lift heavy weights that will increase your strength and muscle size.

It is the physiological process that happens after that makes you stronger.

When you are recovering your body will literally repair small wounds in your muscles that are a result of you lifting weights. In the process, you end up a little stronger.

If you want to be able to continually add strength and muscle for a long period of time, then you need your regular schedule to provide sufficient time for your body to recover.

But having a good recovery does not only mean you just wait some time before doing the same exercise again.

There are many factors you need to consider to ensure a good recovery. Most importantly is eating the right stuff, getting enough quality sleep and managing your stress levels.


tips for building strength






My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to write about fitness and health and share what I have found “works” for people like YOU. If you want to know more about me and my vision for this website then you can click here.

8 comments… add one
  • Tennille Mar 25, 2017 @ 10:23

    Great article, there is so much different information around these days but this makes total sense. Just wondering if there is a recommended number of reps that I should aim for to help me to determine wether the weight I’m using is correct? And how many sets per exercise is ideal?

    By the way, the little picture in this article made me laugh, I love it!

    • Marcus Mar 25, 2017 @ 13:56

      Hi Tennille

      Thanks for the great questions which I know many would be interested in! Actually, I will soon make a long post that goes in-depth on this topic and I would suggest you visit my website again another time 😉

      However, I can give you a quick and very short version:
      You generally want to be in the lower end when you are training for strength. A good “general” range that I would recommend is 4 – 8 reps per set for 3 sets total.

      But I know many people who also go lower with the reps, and that can also be really good. If you go lower then you can increase the amount of sets, e.g. 1-3 reps per set for 5 sets. If you are only doing a single rep you can even go up to 10 sets.

      For this kind of training in general it is important to have a long rest between sets. 2-3 minutes rest between all sets is ideal and will ensure you can lift at your full potential.

      When starting out or if you are unsure of how much weight you should lift, I recommend lifting a little lighter than what you think you can do. If you are able to complete the exercise within 4 – 8 reps for 3 sets with good form, then you that you can go a little more heavier next time.

  • Norman Mar 25, 2017 @ 12:44

    Hello and thanks for sharing, this is a great post that shows how to build strength. I am one that loves it when to comes to having a good work out plan that can really improve the body keeping it strong and healthy. Building strength is a good way to keep the body active and fit. Your post is well detailed with tons of great information. It is good how you broke it all down to make i easy to follow. Your readers will love how you laid everything out.

    • Marcus Mar 25, 2017 @ 12:44

      I’m glad you liked it!

  • Lyle Apr 2, 2017 @ 16:28

    You’ve got some great advice here Marcus, I’ve never been too big on strength training because I don’t feel I’m getting a good workout (maybe because I’m not pushing myself enough or something?) but I do understand how to do it correctly. I have done it in the past and have seen results, the key for is consistent training using the correctform and, like you said, gradually increasing the weight.

    I focused mainly on deadlift and got up from 95kg to 107.5kg in about 5 or 6 weeks. I know this isn’t much but I was pretty happy about it.

    • Marcus Apr 2, 2017 @ 20:03

      I think I know what you mean by not getting the “feeling” of a good workout. The thing is that after a great strength training workout you shouldn’t feel exhausted, and muscle soreness is also not a gauge of how great your workout was.

      A succesful workout is one where you have been able to perform a little bit better than last time. And that is it. You can’t compare it to something like a crossfit workout or other cardio intense workouts.

      Deadlift is such an awesome exercise! Your progress sounds great, and is definitely something to be happy about 🙂

  • Ben Jun 27, 2017 @ 21:20

    This is some good tips for building strength. I go to the gym now and then, but some times I end up drinking a lot of alcohol on the same day that I went to the gym.

    I know that it obviously affects my training negatively, but I have always wondered how much. It is probably hard to say, but do you know how much?

    • Marcus Jun 28, 2017 @ 0:07


      Drinking alcohol is all about moderation 🙂

      If you get completely “shitfaced” it will mess up your recovery. From personal experience on the “very rare” occasions, I got drunk on the same day as I trained I had the feeling that it also made my hangovers worse than if I haven’t trained.

      Another important thing to mention is the HUGE amount of calories you are getting from all that alcohol. If you are interested in how to gain strength and lean muscle you can check out my free white paper here.

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