(there’s an infographic for you to save down at the end, because we really don’t expect to remember all of this after one read)
Building muscle is as hard to do as it is easy to do.
Let me explain.
Building muscle is hard because it takes three main factors that everyone knows but doesn’t apply (After all Common Sense is never always common practice)
Patience – Giving yourself 6 months to a year to see noticeable progress
Consistency – Hitting the Gym and your Diet month after month without fail
Hard Work – No one ever looked at their body in the mirror surprised wondering “how on earth did I get a 6 pack?!?”
Assuming that you understand these fundamentals I’m going to give you a little abbreviation to remember when it comes to building muscle. CMCVA which stands for
“Jamie, I’m struggling to build muscle.”
“How many calories are you consuming?”
“I don’t know.”
This is all too often the response I get from people that struggle to build muscle. Your first port of call when it comes to building size it that you are eating enough food. There are hundreds of online calculators that you can select to find out however they can become very confusing!
This is why I have come up with a very simple guide to selecting the right calorie amount to start with in order for you to put on some serious size.
Times your bodyweight (in lbs.) by these numbers depending on your activity levels
Bodyweight x17 – Minimum Baseline Amount
Bodyweight x18 – Moderately Active
Bodyweight x19 – Very Active
Example – A 170lb Male that is Moderately Active will require 3,060 kcal
Macros (Short for Macronutrients) Are the next requirement to workout when it comes to building Muscle.
Protein – Important for your Body’s Growth and Development
Fats – Important also for Growth and Development plus enable your body to absorb essential vitamins
Carbs – Preferred Energy Source for the body and very tasty!
How much do you need? I tend to try and keep it as simple as possible so as long as your body is consuming at least 1g of protein per lb. of lean bodyweight you will be getting enough (e.g. Our 170lb male will require at least 170g protein to maximize muscle building potential)
It’s important to note the calorie amount per gram of each macro so you can work out how much of each you need:
Protein – 4kcal per gram
Fats – 9 kcal per gram
Carbs – 4kcal per gram
If our 170lb male is consuming 170g of protein this will take up 680kcal of his diet. Leaving him 2,380kcal to be split out between fats and protein.
I recommend hitting a minimum of 0.5g per lb. of lean bodyweight for your fat intake which would equate to 85g. This as a calorie amount would equate to 765kcal leaving 1615kcal for your carbs. Carb intake therefore would be 1615kcal minus 4 which will give you the recommended intake of 403g (Carbohydrate Heaven!)
I’m going to break down Volume to two important types to consider. Training Volume and Food Volume. Both are essential things to consider when trying to build muscle.
Volume of food
Peanut butter is a pretty calorie dense food made up predominately of fat and with a little protein and carbs. If we were to compare calorie to calorie the peanut butter with some white potato here’s how it would look like from a measurement of weight and volume:
Now ask yourself this: what would be easier to consume? 100g of Peanut Butter or 760g of White Potato.
Therefore, selecting the right foods when you are trying to eat a lot is so important! For the average active 170lb male it can be pretty hard to consume 3,000kcal consistently per day not to mention expensive too! But reducing your volume of food down can make the whole process much easier so you can better be consistent with your goals.
Let’s take a look at Training Volume now…
Volume = Weight Lifted x Number of Reps x Number of Sets
This is an extremely important thing to consider when it comes to getting bigger and stronger. Your aim is to increase your training volume over time but you can’t do this until you know what you are currently doing.
I look at Training Volume as the calories of the weight room. If you aren’t progressing with a particular muscle group, you need to start looking there as to how much volume you are putting through the muscle.
Let’s take Chest for example and the old saying “how much do you bench?”
Person – “Hey Jamie, how much do you bench”
Me – “3200kg”
Person – “That’s impossible!”
Me – “No it’s not… 100kg Bench Press for 4 Sets of 8 is 3200kg
It really doesn’t matter how much weight you can lift with 1 rep to build muscle! What matters is that you are getting stronger and increasing that volume number over time.
Of course being able to lift heavier weights will make it easier to hit your volume numbers but that will come as you stay consistent and get stronger
One important thing that I say to people looking to build muscle is “concentrate on your compounds.”
Compound exercises are any exercise that engages two or more different joints to fully stimulate entire muscle groups. This enable you to hit multiple muscle groups with fewer exercises.
Here is a list of in my eyes the best compound movements for each muscle to get stronger and better at in order to build muscle:
Biceps – Chin Ups, Barbell Bicep Curls
Triceps – Dips, Close Grip Bench Press
Back – Deadlifts, Pullups
Shoulders – Military Press, Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Legs – Squats, Reverse Lunges
Chest – Incline Dumbbell Bench Press, Push Ups
Consistency is one of the most important things to achieve anything in life so building muscle is no different!
Think about the things in your life that you are consistent with…
Playing football every week? Watching the latest episode of Prison Break? Why are these things so easy to keep consistent with yet you struggle to keep consistent with your diet?
Because you enjoy them
Yes, folks! The key to Building Muscle and keeping consistent with it is enjoying the process and enjoying the foods that you eat and the weights that you lift.
To make building muscle easier and more enjoyable you need to start seeing the results! Make sure you are being realistic about those results and measure and manage them correctly.
Here are three things that you need to ask yourself weekly and measure and manage to effectively build muscle.
If you can answer yes to all of these questions each week then you are on the right track with what you are doing.
So there you have it! My Beginners guide to Building Muscle! Always remember CMCVA
Calories – Make Sure you are eating enough
Macros – Make sure you are getting the right balance of the three
Volume – Make sure you understand the importance of calorie dense foods to get the calories in and make sure that you are increasing the weight that you lift.
Compounds – Concentrate on getting stronger in my recommended compound movements
Consistency – Pick a plan of action that is enjoyable and you can see yourself doing a year from now.