How To Build Muscle For Beginners
It should be no surprise to anyone that the most popular reason why people build muscle is to look good.
After all, a toned, well-muscled and proportioned body carries clothes well and easily catches the attention of the opposite sex.
But there is more to building muscle than just having aesthetic appeal.
Building muscle also provides many benefits to your health and fitness:
- Strengthens bones, ligaments, joints and connective tissue;
- Improves blood circulation;
- Regulates blood sugar levels;
- Burns off body fat;
- Increases metabolism;
- Boosts immune system.
The best way to build muscle is Progressive Resistance Training or PRT.
The underlying principle of PRT is that by increasing the amount of resistance on a muscle, you will create the conditions ideal for growth.
There are many ways you can add resistance to your muscle.
Calisthenics or the use of bodyweight as resistance against deliberate movements has been gaining popularity the last few years.
But hands down, the best way to build muscle is through weight training.
In the first place, you can adjust the level of resistance adding weight, increasing volume or decreasing the rest period between sets.
Second, you have a variety of “tools” to choose from: free-weights, machines or kettlebells among others.
Finally, you are training in a controlled environment. Everything you need is within reach.
Of the tools of the trade, free-weights are your best option. Barbells and dumbbells require balance, stability and allow you to easily adjust the amount of weight.
The best exercises for building muscle are compound exercises.
These are the exercises which recruit the highest amount of muscle fibres and utilise a combination of large muscle groups.
Among the most effective compound exercises and the muscle groups they develop are as follows:
1. Squats – Legs, Back, Abs
2. Deadlift –Back, Legs, Abs, Shoulders, Traps, Arms
3. Bench Press – Chest, Shoulders, Arms, Legs
4. Shoulder Press – Shoulders, Upper Chest, Arms, Abs, Upper Back
5. Power Clean – Legs, Back, Shoulders, Abs, Arms
6. Barbell Rows – Back, Shoulders, Arms
7. Floor Press – Chest, Shoulders, Arms
8. Barbell Lunges – Legs, Abs, Lower Back
If you are a beginner, focus on these exercises first. Compound exercises help build a strong foundation so you can progress though your program safely with reduced risk of injury.
Here’s a 4-day program you can use for the first month:
Squats – 5 sets x 5 reps
Barbell Lunges – 2 sets x 10 reps
Bench Press – 5 sets x 5 reps
Floor Press – 2 sets x 8 reps
Deadlift – 5 sets x 5 reps
Barbell Rows – 2 sets x 10 reps
Shoulder Press – 5 sets x 5 reps
Power Cleans – 2 sets x 8 reps
As a guideline, use a weight that you can perform 1-2 reps more than indicated.
For example, if you can Squat 90 kilos x 6-7 reps, use that as your working weight for 5 sets x 5 reps.
Another important component to building muscle is your nutrition.
You need calories from macro-nutrients to fuel your workouts and to facilitate recovery after exercise.
But first you have to know your body type.
There are 3 somatypes or body types:
1. Ectomorph – Lean; hard to gain muscle
2. Endomorph – Heavy set; puts on body fat easily
3. Mesomorph – Athletic build; puts on muscle easily
You have to eat according to body type.
Here is your macronutrient breakdown. The numbers are based per kilogram of bodyweight:
|Ectomorph||39 kcal||4.4 grams||3.0 grams||0.85 grams|
|Endomorph||26 kcal||1.65 grams||3.0 grams||0.60 grams|
|Mesomorph||33 kcal||3.0 grams||3.0 grams||0.75 grams|
Always make sure you get food from natural or organic sources.
Avoid foods processed with salt, refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients.
Processed foods have no nutritional value and can seriously compromise your health.
Finally, don’t forget to get enough rest. Contrary to popular belief, your muscles grow when you are resting.
Exercise stimulates muscle fibres but rest provides the conditions to encourage growth.