You may have 99 problems, but don’t let your gains be one! Here are 99 facts and tips about building muscle that you should know.
- For muscle growth, train movements before muscles. That means pushing, pulling, squatting, hip hinging, and carrying before your perform any type of isolation exercises.
- The quality of strength is the foundation for all other athletic qualities. To build more muscle, spend some time getting stronger.
- The scientific name for increasing muscle size is hypertrophy…just in case you were wanting to do a PubMed search on the most current research.
- For bigger arms, focus your arm training on developing your triceps. Your biceps only have two muscle bellies, while your triceps have three muscle bellies.
- There are two types of muscular hypertrophy: sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibular hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase in muscle cell volume and myofibular hypertrophy is an increase in muscle fiber size.
- A training session should last no more than 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, any time that you spend training is working against you.
- Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase in cellular fluid volume in the muscle cells. Stimulate this kind of increase in size by training with rep ranges around 8-15 reps in a set with a moderate intensity weight.
- Myofibular hypertrophy is stimulated by training at high intensity with low rep sets of 3-6 reps.
- Exercise raises your levels of the stress hormone cortisol which is a good thing short term, but you don’t want it to hang out long after you have finished working out.
- Your workout will need some form of variation about every 6 weeks to optimize gains.
- Muscle soreness is caused by micro trauma to the muscle fibers which can be increased by the eccentric/negative portion of an exercise.
- The true definition of intensity is the percentage of your 1RM that you are using on the bar, not how difficult you perceive a workout to be.
- Workout volume (sets x reps x load) and hypertrophy are directly correlated which means that, up to a point, more volume equals more muscle size.
- Progressive overload is necessary for gains in size and strength. You must improve to grow!
- Training legs makes you stronger and bigger overall because it stimulates production of more testosterone and muscle building hormones than exclusively training your upper body.
- Lifting weights is a time to stimulate muscle growth, NOT burn calories. An intense workout will only burn around 200-300 calories.
- You can gain more strength and size by cycling your loads from set to set instead of pyramiding up. For example one set medium, one set light, one set heavy.
- Perform HIIT to preserve muscle mass and stay lean while using your time efficiently.
- You recruit more muscle when you are lifting by crushing the barbell or dumbbells.
- A proper warm up that includes tissue quality (foam rolling), activation of core and stabilizer muscles, and dynamic movement can improve performance in your workout and help with injury prevention.
- There is no such thing as the perfect workout program. Your goals change or you adapt.
- Balancing pushing and pulling exercises will keep your shoulders healthy.
- A bad workout program performed with consistency and proper progression can still produce results.
- No matter what workout you choose to follow, give it enough time to work. At least six weeks is necessary for the adaptation process to become noticeable.
- The main role of your abs is to keep your spine straight and to prevent you from getting into compromised positions.
- Training unilaterally (one side of the body at a time) can prevent injury and increase athleticism.
- Static stretching pre workout reduces the amount of power that your muscles can produce.
- The gains in strength that you make during the first weeks of training as a beginner are from your nervous system becoming more efficient at exercise.
- You will make more gains with consistent workouts than you will with extremely intense workouts over a shorter period.
- You don’t need to vomit on the floor every workout. Leave one to two reps in the tank most days and then once in a while go all out on the last set.
- As you become a more advanced trainer, your gains will come more slowly.
- If you cannot bench press over 300lbs, squat over 400lbs, and deadlift over 500lbs, you are not advanced! Save the advanced training for advanced trainers.
- Training should obey the SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) which means that you must train for one or two goals only and not train for every athletic quality.
- Often times the exercise that you feel is the most difficult is the exercise that you need to be doing more of.
- You need to cool down properly or your muscles will become short and stiff. Perform some form of light exercise and flexibility work after your workout.
- For optimal gains in size, stick to around 25-30 total reps for an exercise. You can split it up 5x5, 3x8, 3x10, or 4x6 - all are great and with appropriate loads will get you bigger and stronger.
- Consider time under tension when trying to build muscle. You increase muscle size with more time under tension.
- You don’t need a gym to build muscle, Training with your own bodyweight is a great way to build functional muscle.
- It’s important to consume protein with every meal.
- Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. In fact, your brain actually runs solely on the glucose that is found in carbohydrates.
- The most anabolic hormone in the body is insulin, not testosterone. Make sure that you’re staying sensitive to insulin by monitoring your carbohydrate intake.
- Whey Protein hydrolysate is the most rapidly absorbed form of protein. Make sure that you are getting some form of rapidly absorbing protein post workout to facilitate recovery and muscle building.
- If you are training with weights regularly, you should be consuming around one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight every day.
- If you have ever taken pre-workout and felt a tingling in your face, it’s from the amount of niacin in your preworkout.
- Hydration is necessary for optimal performance while working out and building muscle. Aim for drinking a gallon of water a day.
- Your body’s stored form of carbohydrates is called glycogen, and it’s your primary source of energy during weight training.
- Low vitamin D levels have been associated with lower levels of testosterone. Ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D from supplementation or by spending some time in direct sunlight. Get a blood test to find out if you are deficient.
- Casein protein is a slow digesting protein found in milk products that is optimal for a pre-bedtime snack to provide your body a steady supply of protein while you are sleeping.
- Your body uses dietary fat for the raw materials to build hormones necessary for bodily function including building muscle. You have to eat fat to get fit.
- If you are training for size, you need carbs. Start off with around 3-5 grams per pound of bodyweight.
- Red meat is naturally high in creatine. Shoot for one or two red meat meals a week.
- If you are lactose intolerant, use whey protein isolate which is filtered to remove all fat and sugars including lactose. If it still upsets your stomach, switch to a plant based protein.
- Consume a high carbohydrate meal post workout to blunt the cortisol in your system so that the muscle building process can begin.
- There are 4 calories in 1 gram of protein.
- There are 4 calories in 1 gram of carbohydrate.
- There are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat.
- There are 7 calories in 1 gram of alcohol.
- There is no caloric value to vitamins and minerals which means that your body cannot use them directly for energy.
- Proteins are sequences of amino acids which are the building blocks for muscle tissue, so make sure you are getting enough.
- You need to be in caloric surplus to gain muscle.
- Creatine Monohydrate is the most researched supplement and has been proven to increase muscle size and strength.
- Drink a protein and carbohydrate mixture following a workout to get a jump start on the muscle building process and reduce soreness.
- Medium Chain Triglycerides, or MCTs, are an easily digested, instant source of energy found in coconut oil and grass fed butter.
- Your body stores glycogen (#46) in the liver and muscle cells, which is why your muscles look flat on a low carb diet.
- Branched Chain Cyclic Dextrin is a very fast digesting starch that replenishes glycogen stores in a very short amount of time.
- Consuming your daily carbohydrates around your workout will help minimize fat gain while training for size.
- Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil supplements have been shown to help prevent muscle protein breakdown during intense training.
- Carbs and fat are protein sparing. If you are eating enough of these macros, your body can utilize the proteins that you eat to repair any muscles or other tissues instead of getting utilized as energy for other bodily functions.
- You can increase the absorption of creatine by 60% by taking it with a carb source.
- Carb/calorie cycling is effective for minimizing fat gains while trying to build more muscle. Workout days means more carbs and rest days mean less carbs.
- Fat calories should make up 1/3 of the total calories in a diet to start with and then adjust from there.
- Maintaining optimum levels of electrolytes is important for muscle contraction and proper nerve function. Ensure that you are getting enough calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium in your diet by eating colorful fruits and veggies.
- Complex carbohydrates are long chains of carbohydrates hooked together with chemical bonds that take significant time for your body to fully digest and absorb. These allow for a nice even supply of blood sugar.
- Simple carbohydrates are single and short chains of carbohydrates that are rapidly broken down and absorbed by the body and are useful post workout for lowering cortisol and replenishing glycogen.
- The bacteria in your gut aids in digestion of the foods that you eat. Keep your gut healthy by eating probiotics like yogurt and kefir.
- Caffeine is the best stimulant for increasing energy and improving performance.
- For every gram of glycogen your cells absorb, they take in three grams of water.
- If you are having trouble getting a pump, eat more carbs pre workout.
- A balanced whole food meal will always beat a food supplement.
- The amount of meals that you eat each day is a preference, the amount of calories is not. Remember, you need excess calories to build muscle.
- Taking excessive amounts of vitamins does nothing but turn your urine fluorescent yellow. Enough is enough with vitamins.
- You must consider the quality of the food that you are eating as well as the quantity. Not either or as some popular diets would have you believe.
- Eat some form of protein every 3-5 hours to make sure that you are maintaining an anabolic state.
- Epsom salt baths can help facilitate recovery from intense training and reduce muscle soreness.
- Self-myofascial release, also known as foam rolling, has been shown to aid in recovery and reduce muscle soreness from training. Spend some time after a workout foam rolling.
- Contrast showers (3 min hot/ 3 min cold) can increase blood flow after a workout which can speed recovery.
- It takes up to 72 hours to fully recover from a high intensity (% of 1RM) workout. Plan accordingly.
- Sleeping allows for recovery and growth. Get more.
- Over-training is a serious physiological problem that is brought about by extreme volume without proper recovery. It is rarely experienced by weight trainers, so don’t worry about it.
- Over reaching is often experienced by individuals who train intensely with weights and allows for gains in size and strength when accompanied by a de-loading week. Think three weeks of hard training followed by an easier week.
- You must have adequate amounts of sleep every night in order to grow. Get at least eight hours.
- Drinking alcohol kills your gains by elevating estrogen and dropping testosterone.
- Melatonin can help with sleep quality if you have trouble getting restful sleep.
- If you wan’t to gain size, don’t smoke. Ok, don’t smoke period.
- Sitting is the new smoking. Stand up and move once and a while.
- Pain is not weakness leaving the body. If it hurts, go get it checked out.
- Health is the absence of disease and the proper function of your body’s systems. Fitness is the ability to perform a given task. Know the difference.
- You need to drink more water. Really.
- Chronic stress will hinder any gains in size and strength. Chill out and take care of the areas in your life outside of training that need to be addressed before any attempt at building serious muscle size and strength.
To recap the basic principles: train hard, eat smart, recover just as hard as you train, and examine your lifestyle choices to see if they line up with your training goals.
Number 60 is a myth it is totally possible to burn fat and build muscle at the same time to burn fat you must be hypocaloric. It's all about nitrogen balances
"The main role of your abs is to keep your spine straight and to prevent you from getting into compromised positions."
Maybe politicians should do more ab work!
sounds good to me. I like Number 17. I have noticed recently when using what I called "nickels and dimes" a better result over pyramids, rest set or drop sets. I used 10 reps light ,225 on bench and 5 reps heavier ,295 and back to 10 reps light 225 and add to the heavy, maybe 10 pounds or depending on how I feel. I do this for a toatal of 5 sets and thats after a good warm up set, so a total of 6 sets. Also, I have to work chest twice a week or Its back to feeling like a baby on the bench. 10,5,10,5,10 - nickels and dimes . I know to younger folks this sounds light but I'm 63 years old. 5'9" and 190lbs so this is a good chest blaster for me.
makes sence to me.I'm 51 and i sterted lifting when i was 18.some of these things i never heared before,until now.thanks
Pretty good write, most points are good....but a few I do not agree with and have been shown to not be true.
48. Casein protein is a slow digesting protein found in milk products that is optimal for a pre-bedtime snack to provide your body a steady supply of protein while you are sleeping.
Regarding 48, just making sure you consume adequate protein will be fine for your body, you don't have to do casein before bed. Nitrogen balance is what is important.
In fact, you are probably better not to take in any food at least 2 hours before bed, this way insulin levels are kept low. When you go to sleep, that is when your body releases Test and HGH, and insulin has been shown to hinder production. So keeping insulin low would be the better way to go....but in the grand scheme of things, this is very minor. Overall calories and macros are what is more important.
66. Consuming your daily carbohydrates around your workout will help minimize fat gain while training for size.
70. • Carb/calorie cycling is effective for minimizing fat gains while trying to build more muscle. Workout days means more carbs and rest days mean less carbs.
Regarding 66 and 70, over all calories consumed is what will determine how much fat you take in. Cycling calories/macros does nothing.....even on the days you cut out carbs, but consume more calories from protein and fat, you can still get fat if you consume more calories than your body requires.
82. You must consider the quality of the food that you are eating as well as the quantity. Not either or as some popular diets would have you believe.
Really??? Lyle McDonald wrote about this, and has shown that regardless if the food was made at home or from a fast food place. When calorie and macro counts were the same, the body responded the same.
So once again, you are better with staying on point with your needed calories and macros.
83. • Eat some form of protein every 3-5 hours to make sure that you are maintaining an anabolic state.
Number 83, Complete Broscience on this one....I do IF, eat between 1pm - 8pm, workout from 1130am - 1230 pm. As long as you train hard and stay on point with your nutrition, timing of said calories is not that important.
I mean if you sleep for 8+ hours, does that mean that for 3+ hours of your sleep, you are eating up muscle?? No I don't think so.
Not bad. Some of these are more bro science than real science. The old idea of lower body work increasing testosterone output for example is backed by science. However, the increase is transient and has been essentially disproved as the cause for an increase in muscle mass in the rest of the body.
Similarly, the "eat protein every 3 hours idea" has been blown out of the water as a way of feeding muscle growth. Sometimes we need o just let go of old ideas. Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day..... it just doesn't necessarily have to be first thing in the morning.
Love the stuff Luke churns out, always is to the point and real, this is no exception. Always looking forward to your next piece Luke.
Thanks Yang, I appreciate the positive feedback!