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Published on May 18, 2018

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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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