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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 January 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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