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How To Build Muscle

Okay so before you say “well I don’t wanna build muscle I just wanna tone, I don’t wanna look bulky, I just wanna lose weight and slim down” I’ll just stop you right there and explain why that’s not going to happen. I’ve been trying to look bulky for over 5 years now and I’m still not where I want to be. It doesn’t happen overnight. Plus if you’re looking to lose weight well then consider this..
Having any additional muscle on your body chews through calories simply by existing which is why it’s so important to weight-train no matter what your goals are for fitness.

Building muscle requires a whole bunch of factors to line up. It’s like a puzzle, all the pieces need to fit into place. You need to get your nutrition on point, you need to be consistent, your training needs to be right and you need to know what you’re doing in the gym. All of this took me about 3 years to understand and even then, I’m still learning things everyday. Lucky for you I’m going to save you from a whole bunch of wasted time and give you all the cheat codes right here and now.

Training split/weekly schedule:
Okay so the first thing you need is a plan for your workout program. To do this you need to ask yourself how much free time you have throughout your week? Do you feel you can make it to the gym 3 days a week? 4? 5? it’s important because you’re going to have to build your program around your schedule.
Here’s your first cheat code:
If you can only make it to the gym 3 times per week then you should be on a full body split. That’s three full body workouts per week. If you can make it to the gym four times per week then you should be doing an upper/lower split. That’s two upper body workouts and 2 lower body workouts per week. Any more than that and you should jump on a push/pull/legs split. That’s chest, shoulders and triceps one day, back and biceps and next, and legs on the third then a rest day and then you go again.
quick note: I know the idea of training legs doesn’t seem very appealing, I know. But training legs is great! To quote The Shawshank Redemption: First you hate ‘em… then you get used to em’… enough time passes it gets so you depend on ‘em” What I mean by that is yes the first few leg sessions hurt like hell but you get used to it and legs build muscle really quickly. Eventually you’ll grow to look forward to leg day plus it has insanely good benefits that extend far beyond gaining some decent looking thighs.

Exercise selection:
Compound movements are the meat and potatoes of anybody’s workout. A compound movement is an exercise that requires 2 or more joints in the body such as a squat. A squat requires 3 joints; your hips, your knees, and your ankles. Compound movements are the movements that build the most muscle as they allow you to load the muscle up with more resistance than any other exercise and stimulate more muscle growth. In my opinion you should always open your workout with at least one compound movement in order to really shock the body and force adaptation to take place, just remember to warm up correctly before loading up a barbell with your 6 rep max. You also have isolation movements which require only one joint such as a bicep curl or a leg extension. These movements are great for developing a real connection between the muscle and the mind which then bleeds over into your compound movements. They allow you to really target areas of the body that you may feel are falling behind in comparison to others. But before you go into the gym doing an hour of bicep curls you need to look into things and ask if you could be putting all that energy to better use.
chin ups are a great example of this because they target the biceps, similarly to bicep curls, BUT they also target a whole lot of different muscles in the back at the same time. So instead of just targeting the one muscle you should always look and see just how much bang you can get for your buck.

Putting your workout plan together can be tricky, and unlike sorting out a training split, there’s no clear-cut cheat codes. Instead, you just need to base it off of your goals, your body, and your injuries (if you have any).
Here’s a few basic guideline programs that you’re welcome to take and adjust based on your preferences and your injuries…

Squats 3×8
Lunges 3×24
Stiff leg deadlifts 3×10
Leg curls 3×15
Calf raises 4×15
Abdominal crunches 3×15

Flat dumbbell bench press 3×8
Machine pec flys 3×12
Dumbbell shoulder press 3×10
Lateral raises 3×12
Pull ups 3×8
Chin ups 3×10

Incline barbell bench press 3×8
Machine chest press 3×12
Machine pec flys 3×15
Dumbbell shoulder press 3×10
Lateral raises 3×12
Overhead tricep extensions 3×12

Pull ups 3×8
Dumbbell rows 3×12
Chin ups 3×12
Close grip cable rows 3×15
Reverse flys 3×15
Barbell curls 3×10

If all of that sounds like total gibberish to you then don’t stress! YouTube is a gold mine for finding out what these exercises are and how to do them correctly!

Remember! These exercises aren’t set in stone. Have some fun and play around with what feels good for you because everyone’s body’s are built differently! Some exercises are very tough or even impossible for some people, like pull ups. Most gyms offer at least one variation to make the movement accessible for everyone, such as the lat pull down machine or the assisted pull ups machine. Fitness is for everyone! And the first step is always the hardest.

Thank you so much for reading! I’ll be covering the remaining topics on building muscle next week. Things like nutrition, how to apply certain training methods to speed up muscle growth, and more! So stay tuned.

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Andrew Kelly

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