I remember watching the Hodge Twins on YouTube years ago and they would start their videos with the question ‘Man, you wanna build some muscle?‘ Well, if you’re asking that (most of us are), then here’s a rundown of the five principles of building muscle mass.
As I’m constantly making subtle changes to my workouts, I got to thinking about the core principles for gaining muscle. I think we over-complicate this sometimes, and I’m guilty as well. So I’m going to break it down (this information is based on my 27+ years of weight training experience and some of Elliot Hulse’s concepts I recently watched on YouTube).
Five Principles of Building Muscle Mass
- Weight – One of the question I hear is ‘do I go heavy to build mass and light for getting cut?’ Neither are necessarily true. There’s a balance. Going heavy will indeed increase strength but you also need the reps to pump blood into the muscle. On the other hand, if you go too light you’re not putting enough stress on the muscle to grow. Try about 75% of your max.
- Volume (sets and reps) – Another common question is how many sets and reps are needed to build muscle. This ties in with weight because the amount of weight you use will dictate how many reps you can do. The sweet-spot for building muscle is 8-12 reps, and i prefer 3-4 sets (4 for larger muscles).
- Intensity – You need to train its intensity but you need to be smart about it. IN short, I save the extreme intensity for the final set of each exercise. This could be going to failure or it could also mean adding a drop set it negative rep at the end. Intensity will also dictate how muscle volume and how much weight you do.
- Training frequency – This will vary depending on how quickly you recover. So you need to make sure you’re giving your body the proper nutrients and supplements needed to recover. Some train each muscle one a week, and I’ve subscribed to that for may years. I personally like to train each muscle twice a week.
- Types of exercises – In my opinion, you can’t get away from the basic compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench press. These simply give you more bang for your buck, recruiting more muscles. You can follow those up with other exercises but make sure you’re hitting these core lifts at least once a week for maximum muscle growth.
That’s just my two-cents on building muscle. They’re simple concepts, but building muscle mass isn’t a complex math equation. Stick to the basics that have proven to work for decades. There’s no magic formula. Just time and consistency.
Train with Passion,
P.S. – If you’re looking for a true strength training program, check out Mike Westerdal’s Critical Bench 2.0 program!