Muscle Building Tips For Sustained Bulking

If you ask a few random people at the gym how they managed to build up some muscle, you’ll probably get a load of different answers. Many people think they have figured out some secret when, in reality, it comes down to some very simple factors.

Weights + Diet = Muscle

At the same time, there are so many silly mistakes that a lot of people make, which result in much slower growth rates. 

Based on my own experience over the past 10 years, I’ve put together this guide that I know has worked for many friends.

Let’s start with some basics. 

How Does The Body Build Muscle?

I’ll get into more details below, but the concept behind building muscle is relatively simple. You basically have to trigger physiological processes that increase testosterone and growth hormone production.

In addition to this, you have to put massive strain on muscles groups in order for those muscles to start repairing and building new fibers. 

This, however, requires a lot of very specific nutrients, especially protein, in order to really start bulking up.

In other words, you need to lift very heavy weights, with very few reps, and give your body all the nutrients to build up new muscle.  

Why Build Muscle In The First Place?

Bodybuilding doesn’t have to mean you set off on a path to compete in the next Mr. Universe. For most people, bodybuilding actually means bulking up a little for the benefits of extra strength.

This extra strength itself has many different advantages. 

First of all, it can come in very handy in many different sports. I even know a competitive ping pong player that managed to crush it because he built up very strong muscles in his arms and shoulders.

Then there is the physical appearance and becoming more attractive to others. You can show any woman a before and after photo of a flabby guy who turned things into muscle and the majority will find the muscular man more attractive. 

How Fast Can You Build Muscle?

This is a very tough question to answer as it will very much depend on your height, skeletal build, and your current muscle size. 

If you have never done any weight training, you’re not obese, and have an average height and build, then it is entirely possible to gain about 12 lbs of muscle in 3 to 4 months. 

This will require lots of training and eating the right foods, but with discipline, it is possible. 

However, the more muscle you gain, the more difficult it becomes to gain more. At the high end of bodybuilding, athletes can be aiming for as little as 4 lbs muscle gain per year.  

Preparation

If you’ve decided to build up some muscle, then there are a few things you need in order to get started. Yes, you’ll obviously need some shorts, t-shirts and running shoes, but let’s focus more on the training specific requirements.

What Gear Will You Need

So, you can either try and set yourself up at home if you have space, or you’ll need to make sure that a local gym has plenty of the following. 

The advantage of a home gym is that you have faster access, and there’s no waiting around. What you miss out on is the comradery of other bodybuilders which can be very motivating.

Anyway, my top tip is to stay away from all the fancy machines. With just a few types of weights, you can create highly effective compound exercises that will work way better than machines. 

Dumbbells

You will need two of each weight, and don’t bother with the adjustable ones. It will take too long to modify them, resulting in an unnecessarily long time between sets. 

It’s probably best to start at around 10 lbs and go up as far as you think you can curl. As you get stronger, you can add heavier stuff to your sets.

Bar And Weights

Whether for squats, deadlifts or bench presses, you’ll need a decent barbell with a wide range of weights. This is where it can get very expensive for a home gym set up.

Squat Rack And Bench

You’ll need the rack for both squats and bench presses, so don’t think you’ll be able to do without it. Ideally, you want something that can easily be height-adjusted for different types of exercises, so don’t go for the absolute cheapest option.

Also, when checking out gyms, take a look at what types of racks they have — the more adjustable, the better.  

Choosing The Optimum Location

So, your two options are to spend a few thousand dollars once-off and get set up at home or in your garage. In the long run, this is cheaper than paying for a yearly gym membership.

However, there are advantages to joining a gym, like access to personal trainers, being able to work out with friends, and having a much larger range of equipment.

Before you pick a gym, ask the manager what the busiest times are. Then, revisit the gym at that time to see if people end up waiting around to use the weights. 

If so, then you may want to pick a different location. 

Training Tips To Bulk Up

If you do any Google search for the best exercises and routines to gain muscle, then you’ll find hundreds of pages all claiming to have the secret identified. In reality, there is no one way that works best, and you should just get started with a routine and then modify it as you start seeing results.

But here are some tips to get you started.

It’s All About The Weight

If you want to build up muscle, then you have to lift very heavy stuff. Now, this is relative to your current strength, but a good way to judge it is to lift weights where you feel the burn after 4 reps, and you have to stop after 7 (more on this below).

Simple Compound Exercises

You sometimes see bodybuilders work on very precise muscles, but this is not how they got big in the first place. Yes, it’s how they can fine-tune their body shape, but when starting out, you want to do compound exercises. 

These are moves that target multiple muscles like during squats, deadlifts, overhead press, bench press, inverted rows, and even weighted pull-ups. 

When multiple muscles are targeted, then more growth hormone and testosterone are released.

Train 4 Days A Week

Going to the gym once or twice a week will just leave you sore and frustrated. In order to start bulking up, you’ll need to lift weights 3 or 4 times a week, with some light training and cardio days in between.

There is no other way to bulking up.

The Right Number Of Sets And Reps

Here is the guide amount I work off.

For explosive strength and maximum bulking, I aim to do 3 to 5 sets of each compound exercise with 5 to 7 reps in each. The important thing is that the last 2 or 3 reps have to really burn and test your stamina and willpower. 

 

It’s All About The Diet 

They say that when it comes to weight loss, about 70% of the effort is diet and 30% is exercise. For bodybuilding, it’s probably more like 40% diet and 60% weight lifting, but that’s still a significant factor to deal with.

Load Up On Calories

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they don’t realize how much extra energy their body will need for a bulking phase. 

If you lift heavy weights and end up with net negative calorie intake, then you’ll lose some fat, but nothing much will happen in your muscles. 

You can use one of the many online optimum calorie intake calculators to get a baseline, and then add 10% to15% extra to your food plan, especially on the training days. 

Eat More Natural Protein

We’ll get to supplements in the next section, but the more natural protein you can get into your diet, the better. That means plenty of chicken and eggs and anything else you can get your hands on.

If you took a look at a professional bodybuilders breakfast, then you’d probably be as surprised at the amount of protein as the sheer amount of food. 

Drink A Lot More Water

Most people just focus on this while they are at the gym and losing fluid through sweat. But it’s just as important during your recovery phase and on rest days, as the ongoing protein synthesis is heavily reliant on water. 

An extra 1 or 2 pints of water per day is a good starting point.  

Supplements

We could probably create dedicated pages to each of these supplements, but these are the most important ones to consider for your training days.

Pre-Workouts

These are natural performance boosters that take advantage of the effects that certain types of proteins and caffeine have on energy release and availability. You’ll be surprised at how much easier a training session can go.

Mass Gainers

If you’re struggling with eating enough food to bulk up, then mass gainers are an important choice to make. They are simple shakes that are rich in carbs and healthy fats to give you more calories.

Post Workout Shakes

Once you finish training, your muscles will crave protein to repair muscle fibers. This is also the phase where new muscle tissue is created, which requires even more protein.  

Hopefully, this will have been a good starting point for you, and with the help of all the other content on this site, you should be in a very good position to start getting your pumps on.