Basic Rules of Muscle Building…
There is no doubt we live at an amazing time in history – Never have we had immediate access to so much free information on just about any subject.
With that power though comes great responsibility, the ability to filter the information and take out only the proven and applicable seems to be a dying art.
This article aims to be such a filter…
We are going to give you just 5 Basic Rules of Muscle Building that, when applied, give the biggest bang for your muscle building buck!
Let’s jump straight in:
Basic Rule #1: You MUST Get Stronger!
Strength is regarded as a prime bio-motor ability as it influences all the other bio-motor abilities which are power, agility, speed, endurance, balance, coordination, and flexibility.
Tudor Bompa, a world-renowned sports training expert was the first to introduce bio-motor abilities into sports performance. The idea was to grade all your abilities on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the gold standard for that ability.
What Bompa found was that ALL abilities went up when an athlete got stronger.
How do we then take that information and relate it to our muscle building efforts.
Well, think of strength as a vessel in which you pour all your other training bits and bobs (hypertrophy training, fat loss, HIIT, steady state cardio…)
The bigger the vessel the more of the other stuff you can pour in.
The stronger you are the higher the resistance you can use and the greater the tension you can create whilst training for muscle growth!
One word of warning – Strength is relative. Don’t just load up the bar and try to pull big numbers before you are ready. Technique (as per rule number 2) is everything!
Basic Rule #2: You MUST Use Perfect Technique!
If you have come across me in person or read some of my mad rambles in the past you will be well versed in my number one pet hate in the gym – poor technique!
Clients of mine probably get sick with me reminding them that training is exactly that – training a skill, or set of skills.
Think about it for a while. Whenever you learn a skill you chunk it down (depending on complexity), and perform it repeatedly at a slow speed, UNTIL you become proficient.
This is so important for building muscle.
The muscles you train only recognise the stress and tension they are placed under. So rather than performing a set of incline dumbbell presses with poor range and too heavy a load, decrease the weight, get working through a correct range of motion, stretch as appropriate given your flexibility and mobility and really squeeze the working muscle in the fully contracted position!
Building muscle is as much about having the correct mindset (see the next basic rule) as performing a correct exercise at the correct tempo with an appropriate load!
Basic Rule #3: You MUST Develop Your Mindset as Much as Your Muscles!
You may very well know this rule under a different title: Leave your EGO at the door.
Trying to bolster your already inflated ego by performing ill-advised exercises when unprepared, or attempting to lift far too much weight is NOT the practice I was referring to in the previous rule!
Despite what any ‘online fitness guru’ tells you it takes far more than 12 weeks to build any significant muscle UNLESS you are a complete beginner with slighter better than average genetics and a world class coach!
This means you are in it for the long haul…
As such then, developing the correct mindset is vital.
Years ago, way before mindset became a ‘thing’ an old grizzled coach told the young and keen Paul Webb that, “Instead of trying to make heavy exercises easier, try instead to make lighter exercises harder by using more control and a slower tempo…”
Vital muscle building advice from the early 80’s.
Basic Rule #4: You MUST Train ALL Movement Patterns!
Right at the beginning of working with me, clients are introduced to the concept of movements rather than exercises.
The body is designed to function as one whole unit as opposed to a series of individual parts that we somehow must figure out how to synchronise to enable us to do a barbell squat!
The movement patterns I describe to clients are squat, lunge, push, pull, hinge (or bend) and carry!
Each training programme I prescribe for clients whether they be beginner, intermediate or advanced covers all those ‘bases’ over the course of the training week.
Master the movement patterns and you have at your disposal literally thousands of exercises…
Basic Rule #5: You MUST Eat and Sleep Like a Pro!
As simple as it seems this may be the most neglected of all the basics Rules.
If you want to build significant, quality, lean muscle you must eat correctly to support this. Just slamming in calories to ‘bulk up’ before you ‘cut’ is old hat and liable to lead to months if not years of frustration.
If you are super serious about your muscle building then not only do you have to commit to training like a pro, you must commit to eating like one as well.
Either research exactly what you need to do and track it, or hire a nutritional professional to do it for you – Either way get it done!
The same is true with your sleep.
I had tremendous problems putting muscle on a client once and was stumped as too why!
He was training correctly, eating well, doing everything as it should be done but had plateaued and I couldn’t shift him at all.
In a random conversation he mentioned that he had a second job, a passion he followed at night after he had finished his day job.
This passion (which he was hoping to turn into his full-time work) sometimes kept him up until 4am!
We addressed this and guess what? Yep, he started building muscle almost instantly.
Never underestimate how important sleep is to the muscle building equation.
BONUS Basic Rule: My Secret Success Formula!
As simple as it seems this basic formula that was introduced to me by a former mentor a few years ago, has proved its weight in gold in so many ways in my life…
SIMPLICITY + CONSISTENCY = SUCCESS
Take a moment to think it through.
Do simple things (it doesn’t have to be complicated), do them well (remember correct technique, etc.) and repeat them repeatedly…
It really is as simple as that!
Ex-Athlete and Strength Coach