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How to Make Muscle Building Workout Work for You (+Workout Routine)

How to Make Muscle Building Workout Work for You (+Workout Routine)

It may not be common knowledge, but 80% of muscle building is done outside of the gym/workout-space. This article explores all aspects of building muscle that you may not have heard about from your local trainer, or fellow gym-goer and will get you the muscle building workout that works for you.

Your biggest block to building muscle

Before we start discussing muscle building workout routines, I’d like to explain that one of the biggest deterrents from building muscle is stress in the body. No matter what routine you apply, if your life is filled with stress, you’ll find building muscle to be quite challenging.

Stress can completely diminish your efforts of building muscle by way of causing adrenal fatigue, which is a taxing of the adrenal glands, forcing them to overproduce or under-produce cortisol, the stress hormone, at the wrong times.

Stress will also impair your ability to get a good night’s sleep, which in essence is when you are in fact building the most muscle – during the 5th stage of the sleep cycle – REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Deep Sleep.

This video discusses about how sleep has effect on your muscle building process:

Effective methods to reduce stress include being in nature, meditation, regular exercise, and the dietary removal of simple sugars and carbs.

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High sugar/carb diets will increase inflammation, cause joint discomfort, and generally make you feel lethargic which will inevitably lead to increased stress levels due to your inability to optimally manage life circumstances as they arise. Essentially when you are consuming large amounts of sugar, your capacity to think clearly and perform problem solving is severely diminished.

How diet affects muscle building

Since we’re on the topic of diet, I’d like to make it very clear that if you are not consuming antiquate macro nutrients (Protein, Carbs, Fats) and Micro Nutrients (essential vitamins and minerals), any effort you make towards building muscle will be in vein.

A quality high protein diet

To effectively build muscle, you absolutely must support any muscle building routines with a quality high protein diet. Now you may be thinking, “hey, I make protein shakes all the time!”.. let me explain that synthetic protein holds no comparison to that of high quality food based protein.

The branched chain amino acid complex from a steak or chicken breast far surpasses that of any protein powder. The only time you should consider protein supplements is if they are to support an already established well rounded diet. Those powders should be compounded from hemp, pea protein, or even grasshopper protein – all of which I suggest above any whey/isolate proteins.

Minerals and supplements

Along with structured dieting, you must consume lots of water to actually reap the benefits of your training efforts, and I also suggest supplements such as Creatine Monohydrate and unflavored BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acid) which are the essential amino acids valine, isoleucine, and leucine.

Utilizing BCAA powder will help stimulate muscle Protein synthesis – the metabolic process that takes place when your body creates new muscle protein. BCAA’s will also help reduce the rate of protein breakdown by reducing activity in the protein breakdown pathway, and decreasing the expression of complexes involved in protein breakdown (reducing the amount of mRNA).

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Now that we’ve discussed stress, quality of sleep, and diet.. let’s get into the actual muscle building routines that’ll get you some muscle gains!

Keep in mind any workout routine requires absolute dedication and consistency to see results – if you are not consistent, don’t expect miracles!

What is a good muscle building workout training?

Generally speaking any muscle building workout program should consider both high repetition training for hypertrophy and low repetition for strength training.

Hypertrophy is n increase in size of skeletal muscle through a growth in size of its component cells. Two factors contribute to hypertrophy:

  • Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, which focuses more on increased muscle glycogen storage;
  • Myofibrillar hypertrophy, which focuses more on increased myofibril size.

For strength training, it generally means the strengthening of the C.N.S. (Central Nervous System), that occurs while working out in a lower rep range with higher amount of weight – increased physical exertion by way of maximal force production.

Our goal is to build larger muscles but to support them with a foundation of strength. You can achieve this by implementing a simple workout routine, which I’ll describe below, or a more complex training program.

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How to start as a beginner

Developing muscle heavily revolves around ‘pumping’ blood and oxygen into the muscles. In fact that’s where the popular term ‘getting a pump’ is derived from.

Red blood cells carry hemoglobin which oxygen bonds with as the hemoglobin rich blood cells move through the lungs blood vessels. The now oxygen rich blood cells carry that oxygen to the cells that are demanding it, in this case skeletal muscle cells.

If you are a beginner to building muscle and working out, then it’s actually very effective to apply a ‘Whole-Body Split’ routine, whereby you are literally working out all muscle groups each day for at least 3-5 days per week. This approach is effective for newbies because you have not developed any muscular hypertrophy and your body will respond quite well to full body routines before you hit a plateau/ceiling.

As a beginner, your body will adapt well to the high frequency training. When I first started lifting weights, I performed full body routines for the first 3 months before hitting this plateau which requires changing to a more intermediate, and later advanced routine. The routine I’ve found most effective includes a blend of cardio vascular training, high repetition weight training, and low repetition strength training.

In this video, I discussed how much cardio to do for weight loss to give you an idea of how to apply cardio within your routine:

An effective muscle building workout routine should include at least 3 days of training per week, and ideally 4 or more days.

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The simple muscle building workout routine

Below outlines the basic structure of a 3-day per week bodybuilding/muscle building workout regimen. This is merely to give an example of a training ‘split’ which I recommend for optimal muscle development and allowed recovery time.

Feel free to adjust the day in which your workout lands; as long as you are hitting a 4 day minimum and giving antiquate time for rest, you’ll see results!

Monday (Push/Pull – Chest & Back)

  • 15min Warmup Cardio (increasing the pace every 5min)
  • 30-45min Weight Training/Resistance Training (super-sets being ideal to maintain elevated heart rate and ‘pump’)
  • Exercises such as push-ups, weighted or normal pull-ups, bench press, dumbbell press, bent over rows, cable machine chest fly, lat pull-downs, and more
  • 10min Cool-Down Cardio (steady-stay, walking pace or slow jog)

Tuesday

  • Optional REST

Wednesday (Lower Body – Quads, Hamstrings, Calves)

  • 15min Warmup Cardio (increasing the pace every 5min)
  • 30-45min Weight Training/Resistance Training (no supersets, but keep minimal rest between each set 3-5min)
  • Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, leg press, calf raises, sled pushing, plyometrics such as box jumps, and much more
  • 10min Cool-Down Cardio (steady-stay, walking pace or slow jog)

Thursday

  • Optional REST

Friday (Arms – Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps)

  • 15min Warmup Cardio (increasing the pace every 5min)
  • 20-30min Weight Training/Resistance Training (super-sets being ideal to maintain elevated heart rate and ‘pump’)
  • Exercises such as shoulder raises, bicep curls, tricep extensions, overhead pressing including Arnold shoulder-press
  • 10min Cool-Down Cardio (steady-stay, walking pace or slow jog)

Saturday

  • Optional REST, recommend active recovery cardio activities (walking, biking, hiking, jogging)

Sunday

  • Optional REST, recommend active recovery cardio activities (walking, biking, hiking, jogging)

Bonus: Complex muscle building workouts

Now that we’ve covered the basics of full-body splits and 3 day a week splits, I’m going to touch on popular muscle building workout programs that are commonly used by intermediate to expert bodybuilders, powerlifters, and powerbuilders (a combination of the two).

You can download these programs as templates (in microsoft excel format) and enter your information. Below outlines the suggested programs which will help build muscle and strength.

  • Jim Wendler 5-3-1 Template
    The core philosophy behind 5/3/1 revolves around basic tenets of strength training that have stood the test of time.
  • Texas Method Template
    The Texas Method (TM) is a strength training program renowned for its ability to provide intermediate to advanced lifters (those with 18-24+ months of continuous training according to legendary strength training coach Mark Rippetoe) with increased variety and physical adaptation.[1]

Conclusion

Building muscle requires dedication, commitment and there are simply no shortcuts.

In this article, I’ve outlined several approaches to building muscle for beginners, as well as those that are more advanced. Please keep in mind the pillars of building muscle which I had mentioned above – stress reduction, quality sleep, and adjustments to diet including increased hydration.

If you apply these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to building loads of muscle – good luck!

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] Starting Strength: Mark Rippetoe

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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