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.