Here are 150 of the best muscle building tips I could piece together in one evening. They are short, sweet and to the point. But don't let that fool you. Follow them and you'll be successful.
150 Muscle Building Tips
1) Compound exercises are your best tools for growth. Use them.
2) Eat your biggest meal of the day about 30 to 60 minutes after you lift weights.
3) Get strong! There are no weak bodybuilders. You don't have to become a powerlifter, but you do need to dramatically improve your strength over what it is now.
4) Squats are king of the muscle builders, and they are not bad for your knees unless your form is horrible and/or you are half-squatting.
5) Deadlift. If squats are king, deadlifts are second in command. They are not bad for your back unless your form is horrible.
6) Learn proper form. Read every article, and watch every video you can on proper exercise form. There is no excuse for having sub-par squat and deadlift form.
7) Balance your upper body work. This means equal effort for chest, back and shoulders. Stop doing 7 exercises for chest and only lat pull downs for back. Balance will keep you healthy, strong and help to stave off shoulder issues.
8) Beginners...stop training like advanced lifters, using advanced splits and training techniques. They are not needed. What you need is to get strong on the basic compound lifts more than anything.
9) Beginners...stop adding training volume. Having 3 bicep days per week isn't going to help. You need to get strong right now, not fatigue yourself with endless sets.
10) Stop believing that muscle building is rocket surgery. It isn't. Get stronger, eat enough food and stay persistence.
11) Stop missing workouts.
12) Stop complaining about muscle soreness. It's part of the game. Don't miss workouts because of it. No excuses - get to the gym.
13) Stop complaining about every ache, pain or strain. Lifting weights is hard, and a man's game. You're going to feel off occasionally. No excuses - get to the gym.
14) Proper muscle building nutrition is much more than broccoli, rice and chicken breasts. Eat a variety of whole foods each week.
15) Eat more red meat.
16) Eat more eggs, including the yolks. Egg yolks are nutritionally dense.
17) Drink plenty of water. Then drink more.
18) Sleep at least 8 hours a night and take naps when possible.
19) Learn to cook. Muscle building nutrition doesn't have to be bland.
20) Having trouble reaching your calorie goals? Add butter or olive oil to your veggies.
21) Having trouble reaching your calorie goals? Switch to whole milk, and drink at least 3 large glasses per day.
22) Having trouble reaching your calorie goals? Add sour cream and cheese to every possible meal.
23) Having trouble reaching your calorie goals? Snack on almonds and nuts in between meals.
24) Beginners...stop obsessing about muscle confusion. You won't plateau for years and years. Confuse your muscles with more weight.
25) Stop changing workouts every 2 weeks. This is a huge waste of time. You're spending more time adapting to the specific conditioning requirements of the workout than you are building muscle.
26) Obsess about keeping your abs and undereat to stay lean, and that's all you'll ever be: skinny with abs.
27) Learn to evolve your training based on needs rather than making random workout changes.
28) Industry standard bodybuilding workouts contain a high percentage of nonsense. Ever notice how 95% of these workouts never tell you how to add weight? Guess what - adding weight is the cornerstone of progress and results.
29) Not all supplements are bad, but some supplement claims can be. Learn the difference.
30) Very few muscle building topics are black or white. Balance what you read with what advanced, successful lifters are using.
31) Science can help, but training is still an art. Everybody is different. Try new things based on science, but tweak them to fit your personal needs.
32) Anyone that insists a topic or training concept is 100% black or white should be approached with caution. Different things work for different lifters.
33) Progression of weight is the magic muscle building key.
34) Why does every workout seem to work? Because a lifter who is dedicated, eats right and gets stronger can thrive on even the most unorganized muscle building workout.
35) Fat is not bad. Do not avoid healthy fats. Your body needs fat to function properly.
36) Eat 90% healthy, whole foods. Allow some of your calories to be fun calories, so you can stay sane and a member of the human race.
37) Just because someone has a six pack doesn't mean they know how to build muscle. Learn the difference between a diet expert and good muscle building advice.
38) Squats above parallel are dangerous (bad for the knees).
39) 20 rep squats are insane and amazing. Try them.
40) Have more sex. It's good for you.
41) Perform cardio 3 times a week for overall health. better health is never a bad thing.
42) Cardio will not limit your gains. Only poor effort in the gym and a weak diet will limit your gains.
43) A great back training combination includes the deadlift, a row, and a lat exercise like pullups, rack chins or lat pulldowns.
44) Dips are underused but potent. They were once considered the upper body squat. Don't underestimate their ability to pack on chest and tricep mass.
45) Find abs exercises that allow you to increase resistance, like weighted situps or cable crunches.
46) Stubborn calves? Try heavy, low rep, high volume work for several months as a change of pace to high rep sets.
47) Most bulks that result in excessive fat gain and little muscle gain happen because 90% of the emphasis is placed upon the diet. A bulk is only going to work if you train insane. Go crazy with compound exercises and building strength so you can maximize muscle growth without wasting those extra calories.
48) Eat as many fruits and veggies as you want. Red, green and yellow colors equal plenty of nutrition.
49) The body needs sodium. Don't under-consume salt.
50) Having a proper sodium/potassium balance is very important for overall health. Instead of worrying about salt, make sure you are taking in enough potassium.
51) Your body needs cholesterol to function properly. If you are eating healthy, don't obsess about your cholesterol intake.
52) Pound for pound the best bicep builders are heavy rows and pullups/chinups. Barbell curls are a good addition to these exercises.
53) Use a heavy compound lift and an extension when targeting triceps; for example...close grip bench presses and two arm seated dumbbell tricep extensions.
54) Dips and close grip bench presses are potent tricep builders.
55) Want big arms? Remember that the triceps makes up 2/3rds of your arm size.
56) Lagging traps? Try the combination of heavy deadlifts, power cleans, power shrugs, heavy behind the neck presses and heavy rows.
57) Don't discount fullbody workouts. Prior to the steroid era they built some amazing physiques. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger himself was weaned on fullbody routines
58) Heavy rows are the best rear delt builders.
59) Isolation exercises stalling and becoming hard to add weight without compromising form? Switch to a machine isolation exercise instead; one that allows a higher range of progression.
60) Perform your compound exercises first while you are fresh.
61) Training for failure is not necessary, and generally involves more risk than reward. Stop a set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep.
62) Don't train with poor form. If your exercise form starts to deteriorates during a set, stop the set.
63) Performing the bench press with your arms flared out at 90 degrees is one of the worst things you can do for your shoulders. Being your elbows in to about a 30-60 degree angle, give or take.
64) Don't bounce bench press reps off your chest. This is dangerous in many ways.
65) Don't curl in the squat rack. The squat rack is sacred, and for squatting.
66) When bench pressing make sure your elbows are directly over your wrists. With your arms at a 30-60 degree angle from your side, this will help you find a natural grip width.
67) Close grip bench presses are NOT performed with your hands 6 inches apart. This is a good way to injure your wrists. Tuck your elbows at your side, and make sure your wrists are over your elbows. This will help you find the proper width.
68) Eating 180 to 240 grams of protein per day isn't going to harm your kidneys. Eat your protein.
69) Eat a variety of protein foods...meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk. Each protein source has a difference amino acid profile, so variety is a good thing.
70) Lifting weights will not stunt your growth.
71) Creatine is a quality choice and has been extensively researched. Try it for yourself.
72) Work big muscle groups before small muscle groups.
73) If you are using a split, separate your shoulder and chest days as much as possible. Both are "pressing" days and utilize the same muscle groups to different degrees.
74) Beginners...rest as much as you lift. For every lifting day you want a day off. Your body is responding to the intense demands of lifting and you need plenty of rest and food.
75) Stop calling yourself a hardgainer. Focus on getting your bench press to 300, squat to 400 and deadlift to 500. Once there, look in the mirror and see if you're still a "hardgainer."
76) Muscle building takes years, not weeks or months. Don't forget that.
77) If you really want to learn something interesting, ignore how a bodybuilder trains now, and find out how he trained the first 2 years when packing on mass.
78) Train most compound exercises between the 5-12 rep range. Heavy weight works best with moderate reps.
79) Train most isolation exercises between the 8 to 15 rep range. Lighter weight isolation lifts work best with a few extra reps.
80) Muscle soreness is not a be all, end all indicator of workout effectiveness.
81) Beginners...stop focusing on "the pump." A pump won't help if you're using wimpy weights.
82) Eat some protein 60-90 minutes prior to lifting, but don't train on a full stomach. Use whey protein if you have to.
83) Enjoy the journey.
84) It's ok to insert your favorite exercises as long as 80% of your workouts consist of potent movements.
85) Taking advice from a lifter without personal experience is a risky journey. Do your homework.
86) Be careful about trusting Internet advice from someone who doesn't have up at least a picture, video or some form of valid credentials.
87) You never master form on the big lifts. Remember that. The heavier the weight, the more challenging keeping proper form becomes.
88) Overhead presses are not inherently bad for the shoulders, but doing 5 bench press variations while ignoring overhead presses is.
89) It is generally better to perform compound movements before machine exercises.
90) Don't look for ways to make your workout easier; look for ways to make it harder. Embrace the most challenging exercises!
91) Never perform cardio before your weight training. Save your energy for muscle building, and when done do cardio.
92) Performing cardio after lifting? Consider giving your body some protein in the form of a small whey shake before hitting the treadmill.
93) Ignore the nonsense that all supplement companies are to be ignored. Some fringe products are certainly hyped, but that doesn't mean all supplements are without value.
94) Add volume after you've already built a fair amount of strength.
95) Add advanced training techniques like drop sets and slow negatives after you've added a fair amount of strength.
96) Don't trust everything you read on the Internet. Even this article. Research and try things for yourself.
97) Don't discount upper lower splits.
98) When looking at bodypart volume, consider weekly sets. You could do something like 9-15 sets one day a week, 5-8 sets twice a week, or 3-5 sets 3x a week.
99) There are no magic number of sets and reps.
100) How many sets should you do? Use the "one hour guideline." As long as you are training hard and keeping your workouts around an hour, you will be performing a sensible number of sets.
101) The stronger you get, the more using higher rep sets for compound lifts becomes a solid way of training for muscle building.
102) Don't be afraid to take a complete week away from the gym every 8-12 weeks. You won't shrivel up and lose all your muscle. In fact, you'll heal some nagging aches and pains and probably train better when you come back.
103) Intermediate lifters can use a lighter week every 3-4 weeks. Call it a deload. This will allow you to go hard and heavy for several weeks, and then take a lighter week to recover.
104) How wide should your squat stance be? Get in a position like you were guarding someone in basketball and check your foot width. This should be about your squat stance width.
105) Do not squat with your knees forward. Knee angle should match toe angle, and toe angle for most is about 30 degrees. During squats your toes and knees should never be pointed straight ahead.
106) Believe in your workout plan. If you won't trust it will yield results, why are you using it?
107) Eat when you're hungry. This is simply good old fashioned common sense.
108) Snacks in between meals don't have to be complicated. Fruit, protein shakes, whole milk, almonds and nuts, string cheese, protein bars and beef jerky are all simple but solid choices.
109) Start with the basic supplements...a quality multivitamin, fish oil and whey protein. Once you are consistent with your training and making gains, then you can explore things like pre-workout formulas, BCAA drinks and creatine.
110) There's a good chance if you're an ectomorph that you might benefit from more frequent lifting. So try out a fullbody workout.
111) If you're very overweight focus on training hard and getting stronger while dropping the fat. This should be your main priority.
112) Overweight lifters who are trying to lose fat should not train with lighter weight and higher reps. Switching to lighter weights signals they body that you no longer need as much muscle tissue.
113) True plateaus take years and years to reach. Gains always slow over time. If you're adding a couple or reps to a lift each month, you're not stalling.
114) Leg presses are a good exercise, but they are not better than squats. If you want a great leg blasting tag team, use both.
115) Log your workouts. You must use some system of training your progress.
116) Avoid unmotivated training partners who are always late or rarely show up. Surround yourself with motivated people, or no one at all.
117) If you can't do bench presses because you have no spotter, use dumbbell bench presses instead.
118) If you're going to train to failure, do so only on your last set of an exercise.
119) Never waste a set. If you aren't pushing for as many reps as possible, there's no point in performing the set.
120) Always try to improve. If you performed 7 reps for an exercise last week, try for 8 or 9 this week.
121) When losing fat, rapid weight loss usually leads to rapid muscle loss. Try to lose no more than 1.5 to 2 pounds of fat per week.
122) Be careful about trusting advice focused around extremes. Most lifters are in the middle, and not utilizing extreme training or dieting practices.
123) Understand that natural muscle builders will never get as big as steroid users. It's a fairy tale to believe so.
124) If you are unsure about squat form, use goblet squats for several weeks to get the feel for the exercise.
125) Ignore extreme claims such as: "Gain 2 inches on your arms in 2 months with this bicep blaster", or "pack on 10 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks." This is simply nonsense created to get your attention.
126) Use straps if you have to on rows and pullups. Never let a sub-par grip hinder your back training.
127) Want a stronger grip? Try 30 to 60 second barbell static holds in a squat rack.
128) Never perform a compound exercise without first performing a few non-taxing warmup sets.
129) Train your abs last. They are a small muscle group. Blast bigger muscle groups first.
130) You don't need to train abs every day. 1-3 times per week is plenty.
131) So what if you're tired. Workout! Odds are you'll feel better when you're done, and the quality of your performance will most likely surprise you.
132) Don't be afraid to train opposing bodyparts together - chest with biceps, back and triceps. Variety can be a good thing.
133) For fun, finish a bodypart with a pump set. Blast it with a 20-40 rep killer set before moving on.
134) Lagging body part? Try a 7-14 day blitz. Hit it with 10 sets per day, every day, using moderate weight. Then rest that bodypart completely for a week.
135) Limited with time? Try rest-pause training.
136) Hammer your shoulders! It's ok to use more than one pressing movement per shoulder workout. Stop babying your shoulders.
137) Eat first thing in the morning. You're body has been without fuel. Kick start your day with some quality fuel.
138) Eat frequent protein. This has been the staple in bodybuilding for decades, and has never let a lifter down to my knowledge. Eat at least 4 protein meals per day, with 5-7 meals being optimal.
139) Use the "shake and bake" rule post workout. Have a whey shake immediately after training, and 30-90 minutes later eat a whole foods meal (something that is baked/cooked, etc.).
140) Eat your protein before bed. If you're not up for whole foods, drink a casein protein shake.
141) Don't miss meals. Don't miss workouts, don't miss meals...seeing the big picture?
142) Frequently tired? Use a pre-workout formula to give you an extra workout boost.
143) Workout during the time of day when you have the most energy, or when you are least likely to miss workouts.
144) Hate veggies? Dice 2 handfuls of spinach and then sautee in a frying pan until wilted. Spinach reduces down to virtually nothing, is tasteless, and can now be added into nearly any dish. Quick and easy veggies!
145) Ignore haters and detractors. Stay away from people trying to keep you from reaching your goals.
146) In a rut? Try something completely different like a 10x10 workout.
147) There is no need to frequently test your max. Get out of this habit and focus on muscle building.
148) Stop believing that days off are wasted time. Get a life outside of the gym.
149) Attend a local bodybuilding competition. This is a great motivator, and it's cheap!
150) Train like you are expecting to be lifting at age 70. Beating yourself up occasionally is fine. Hard training is hard. But don't overdo it. Get in, work hard and get out!
Got any other muscle building tips? Post them in the comments below:
Lame? Your lame son. These tips are all very useful and very applicable.
General advice gets you general results. Lame af imo
Sir , I want to make a fit and attractive body. Can you tell me best gainer . I am 20 yrs old and my height 178 cm
i wanna loose my belly fat and what shod i do for that, my rest of the body is lean and even my hips are firm.
Insane and Awesome.....Whoever wrote this ...definitely has been doing a lot of exercise rather than a lot of research. Which I think is the best.
Will #134 work?
hmm its great Body building technique EAT MULTIPLE MEALS
sir i want make lean body but please suggst good protein powder.
my wieght 65 kg
my highet 185 cm
These are some good protein powders:
- Dymatize ISO-100 or Elite Whey
- On Gold Standard
- BPI Sports Whey HD
- MuscleTech Platinum Whey
Regarding tip #40... well, okay. If you insist.
Not impressed with number 13. Man's game? Not a game, not just for men. Poor choice of words.
It's a man's world
Great artical thanks for all the advice
I am 68 years old, healthy except gradually developing feelings of weakness and tiredness. I do my own housework, I am in full time work, quite active, exercise with a band and aerobic, have always done quite regularly. Can you help or do you only write for young people.
"66) When bench pressing make sure your elbows are directly over your wrists...."
Steve, nice work, but how can you put squats ahead of deadlifts for muscle building ? Deads recruit many more muscles than squats. I do agree that both are a must. Thanks.
1. Dont count reps. Count seconds that your muscles are under stress. Do Slow reps.
2. Eat as much as you can of the good things and only a little of the bad things. Fill up on the good
stuff like fruits, vegetables and protein.
3. Workout every 3 or 4 days. Rest in between but do some stretching and some aerobics.
4. Stretch your muscles.
5. Eat a good breakfast and a big mid-day meal. Fruit, vegetables and some protein for evening.
Hello.Sir.. I get started bodybuildiing past one yeat. I want very bigger and massive body.so please.
yoursuggest and send your workout plan. and meal plan.
Well I dnt do this but I laughed life hell when I read do sex its good for you ! Lol is it serious ? Can we gain weight even with frequent sex ? :p
Hey there Steve. I started training 6 months ago, and because of being a night worker, my entire schedule is completely different from everyone else's. I work 11 to 7 in the morning, I go home, get some sleep until around 3-4 PM, hit the gym, then rest a bit before going back to work. How should I plan my meals? I usually get something to eat before going to bed in the morning, a shake after waking up, one after getting out of gym, and a couple of snacks before work. Is that OK? Thanks.
Im female and have been working out consistently for a while now ( including a couple of weights classes a week) but have only recently become serious about gaining some muscle. I am already lean and toned but want to take it a bit further but need nutrition advice, i know i am supposed to increase my daily intake to gain muscle but am reluctant to in case too much is fat, so i want to be pretty spot on, what do i do?
I am 5ft6, 113 pounds and 19 years old
Not having a go but I don't understand 118 and 119, they seem to say opposite things? Could you clarify?
118) If you're going to train to failure, do so only on your last set of an exercise.
119) Never waste a set. If you aren't pushing for as many reps as possible, there's no point in performing the set.
Hey Steve, great article! Me and a few friends are working on muscle building and using these tips, and they're working great! One personal problem I've experienced is that my right pec is lacking in size compared to my left one. It's nothing substantial, but noticeable to me. I'm not even sure why. I've checked myself countless times on my form and nothing is uneven about it. I've even gone as far to tape it to make sure. Any advice?
It's very common that one side of your body is bigger than the other for a given muscle group. It's not so much about form as it is everyday life. You'll even out over time.
i started training 3days ago but its not my first time to train i have trained before just for physical fitness.Now i went on a break of like 4months n am back but this time am serious about it n i want to gain muscle n i mean serious muscle.I have had an option for steroids but they are too expensive for me to be able to purchase..Could you please take me through some steps to gain good results..am in Kenya n the gym that i go to is not state of the art but can work with..some assistance please
I have a bad back and shoulder, i have done body building before but my back keeps me from progressing further how would i go about building my back up so my body doesn't grow weaker, age 22 height 5'8 weight 142
This article sucks. It just sounds like a bunch of do's and don'ts. If you are so smart why don't you try explaining some of this stuff rather than just saying don't do this and don't do that.
This is supposed to be "short, sweet and to the point." If you were to look around the site, there are MANY in-depth articles covering these points.
Enjoyed reading this article. I have been told that fat will naturally come off as you slowly build more and more muscle. So don't worry, in a sense, about losing fat. It should come naturally. Any advice or thoughts on that?
With more muscle you'll be more effective at burning fat. You shouldn't expect to lose fat while building muscle however. After your'e happy with the amount of muscle you've gained, it would be time to change goals and focus on losing fat.
Ive always wanted to bulk up so i started on the mass gainers, ive put on a fair bit of weight and am quite proud of chest,arms,legs size etc, but i have one problem, with mass gaining came abit of the tummy weight and slight love handle look, any tips on decreasing them, much appreciated
A bit of fat gain should always be expected when bulking. I wouldn't worry about it too much. When your'e happy with the amount of muscle you've built, it will be time to cut and you can get rid of that belly fat.
i am 5'8 214 pounds i like to lift but need to lose fat wich should i train harder?
That's entirely up to you! Many people will choose to cut fat first until they're happy with what they see in the mirror. Then it's a good time to start packing on the muscle.
Thanks so much for those pearls of wisdom. You've probably saved me years of trial and error. I've ineffectively dipped in and out of weight training for 5 years now, with the typical accompanying splurges on a variety of supplements I don't understand and complicated programmes.
6 weeks ago I threw all supplements out except the multi-vitamin, cod liver oil and some protein shakes and now stick to one chest day, one back day and a leg day each week, with a mixture of rep ranges and as many compound exercises as possible. Keep It Simple Stupid certainly applies to beginners like me.
I'm glad to hear it'll be years before I hit a plateau, for now I'll stick to the basics.
Thanks for the article.
As a female beginner lifter, how many additional calories should I eat on lifting days (3 days), how many on resting days(2 days), and how many on cardio days (2 days)?
My RMR is 1510.
I would need to know more info...height, weight, age, etc.
I am 5'6", age 40, and 146 lbs now since I think I've been overeating trying to gain muscle....I should normally weigh about 130-135.
"Think" is the key word. The more precise you are with counting calories and monitoring your diet, the more precise results tend to be. I would start with around 1600-1800 calories per day, focus on progression of weight, take before and after pictures, and monitor the scale for a month. Try to lose about 1.5 pounds per week and adjust calories as needed.
Okay thank you. I will try this.
Will that amount of calories be enough to build muscle on the lifting days? And should I eat the same amount whether I do cardio or lifting?
...and actually, I was counting calories, on the advice of a paid dietician who told me to eat between 1900-2500 calories per day to gain muscle. When I saw her I weighed 135....I wish I had read this article first.
I appreciate your thoughts.
It can be extremely challenging to build much, if any muscle while losing fat. I would train hard, lose the fat, and then bring up your calories when done to encourage the muscle building process.
hi steve ..really a great article.I wanted to tell you about my workout program to see if it is ok.I do chest-biceps on monday,shoulders-triceps on sunday,cardio-abs
on wednesday,legs on thursday,back on friday,and cardio-abs on saturday.i want to know what you think or what you may suggest
You're working two "pushing" days back to back. Chest, triceps and shoulders involve similar muscle groups and shouldn't be worked on back to back days.
Steve, do you have any tips about training around elbow pain? Tendonitis in particlar? I have been trying to train around the pain for a couple months now with only minor success . Basically I do all my rowing and pushing movements w a false grip, do not do direct arm training, and have substituted squats w hack squats.
I would post this up on the forum:
The topic of tendinitis comes up frequently, and you'll get some good advice.
Been reading a few of your guides they seem very useful.
I have recently started going gym about 2 months ago and I am looking to put on a bit of muscle. However I had a car accident a couple of weeks ago, and I am suffering from whiplash. Would you recommend doing minimal weights for squats and deadlifts and then slowly building up good form so I have minimal risk for injury, or just staying away altogether until I have finished physio?
I would contact your physician and see what he recommends. If he says you can lift, I would definitely take ti very easy for a few weeks. It's always a good idea to start back slow and steady after any type of injury.
you put to eat your biggest meal 30 to 60 mins after work out. i work night shift and train after work then go to bed? could you give me some addvice please?