How to get muscle gains: A beginner’s guide to becoming buff

How to get muscle gains: A beginner’s guide to becoming buff

Whether you exercise to feel better or to look better, you know that building muscle takes a lot of work. It’s more than a simple correlation (more squats and bigger glutes), gaining those gains is like solving an equation with many variables, including the exercises you do, how much you rest, and what you eat.

Without understanding the roles of each element, you will likely spend hours lifting weights every day, but that won’t make a difference in your progress. You don’t need to be a math genius to get buff, and winter is the best time to start.

How your muscles are made

When you work out your biceps, the strain of the movement causes micro-tears. This means that the fibers of your arms that make up the muscle can be damaged or even cut at a microscopic level.

When your body has all it needs to heal, it will overcorrect by growing new tissue in place of the damaged tissue. This will prepare your muscles for exertion, and prevent future micro-tears. This cycle of training, repairing and securing your muscles will continue to grow your strength and size.

Although it is a simple process, there are many things that can be done to make it more efficient.

The essential elements to making


There’s four key elements to remember when you grow your muscles. Understanding how they interact will help ensure your health and allow you to see results in the spring.

Consistency is key

Consistent effort is the only way to make progress in bulking up. You can only increase your muscle size and strength by experiencing and healing micro-tears repeatedly.

Consistency is built with discipline over time. Sometimes, however, that is not enough. You will need to find some motivation to get moving.

When I started my fitness journey, having a friend helped me to stay on track. My roommate and me bought a treadmill together and we decided that each other would run whenever the other did. This forced consistency helped me go from wheezing through two to three minutes of painful running to running effortlessly past the mile mark within a few months.

Wield those masses right

Muscle growth is only possible if you lift heavy and often. There are two ways to determine how heavy you should lift.

Push to failure is fitness jargon that refers to lifting weights to the point where you cannot do another repetition without losing weight. As you gain strength, you will find that you can do more reps with the same weight weights. This is why you’ll need to gradually increase the amount of weight you lift over time.

[Related: Muscle stiffness can be an athletic superpower]

“Going through the motions won’t build muscle like actually pushing and getting to a few reps short of failure,” says Jim Bathurst, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and the head of fitness at Nerd Fitness.

To get more gains, he recommends prioritizing exercises that target multiple muscle groups at once, also known as compound workouts. These include standards like bench presses, deadlifts, pull-ups, squats, overhead presses, and rows. These six exercises will help you to strengthen every major muscle in your body.

But whatever movements you incorporate into your routine, Jim suggests that you use proper form to complete them: “This will help minimize injuries and increase how hard you work .”

Practicing and learning how to master your form is key. To get a better understanding of each exercise, you should first do your research. There are many apps and videos that can help you. Then, you can apply what you have learned by working out in front of a mirror. You can also film yourself and review your movements. If you have any questions, it may be time to consult an expert. A coach or trainer will pay attention to your form and help you correct it if necessary. They can adapt certain exercises to suit your level of expertise or previous injuries.

Eating right is a crucial part of your routine

After you have caused all the above micro-tears through lifting, you will need to let them heal. Your muscles won’t be able to repair and grow if they don’t get enough calories and protein.

“Unlike fat reduction, the development of lean muscle tissue requires energy as you are building the body and need material to do so,” says Michael S. Parker, a certified fitness nutrition specialist, and founder of Forge Fitness.

Parker says that each person is different and that it is up to them to determine how much food they need daily to achieve their goals. This means you should eat enough calories each day to compensate for the ones you burn by exercising and staying alive. This extra energy is called caloric surplus, and it’s the additional oomph your body needs to build new muscle. While everyone’s body is unique, generally speaking, you don’t need much of a surplus to fuel growth–between 300 and 500 extra calories a day will do it. This only applies to those who lift to failure at least three to four times per week.

If you don’t know what your maintenance level is, there are a number of online calculators that can help you with that. These tools take into account factors like your age, weight, height, and typical daily activity levels to provide a fairly accurate picture of your caloric needs. You can also use an app like MyFitnessPal, which is intuitive and offers a vast library of foods so that you don’t have to enter each one manually.

Apps will also give you an estimate of how many calories your workouts have burned. However, a fitness tracker can provide a more detailed picture. These gadgets vary greatly in terms of accuracy, but in my experience, the Garmin Venu 2 Plus delivers outstanding results compared to products from companies like Fitbit or Whoop. This gadget can also track a variety of activities such as strength training, swimming, and cycling.

But calories in and calories out are not the only thing that matters. Quality is just as important as quantity when it comes to food or muscle growth.

” To ensure maximum absorption and distribution, you will need to have a balanced amount of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins,” Michael explains.

He explains that

Protein are essential for building muscle because it aids in cell replication. Carbohydrates are a source for energy and help your body and mind perform at their best.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that in most people, muscle growth or maintenance requires a daily intake of 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This means that if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be eating 105 grams of protein per day to build muscle. This is equivalent to three eggs, two pieces bacon, a cup Greek yogurt, one chicken breast and a protein bar.

Don’t forget to get some fat in. Clean dietary fats should be prioritized (think avocados and peanuts, as well as monounsaturated (fish and sunflower seeds, walnuts), but you can also add some saturated fats (butter and coconut oil, cheese and bacon).

But you also need to get some rest. Cortisol, a stress hormone, is catabolic, meaning that it hinders your body’s ability to synthesize proteins, directly disrupting muscle growth.

Supplement with caution

There are many products that claim to increase muscle growth, fat loss, or performance. However, supplements are not magic bullets.

Jim says

“[Supplements [are not meant to replace the fundamentals like quality exercise, proper nutrition, and quality sleeping patterns.” Supplements will not fix .”

if you are slacking in your exercise routine, failing to eat enough calories or protein, or staying up too late and getting poor sleep.

There are a few supplements that can help you make your progress more safe, affordable, and scientifically supported. Talk to your doctor if you have any health conditions before you make any major changes to your diet.

Michael says that protein supplements can help with those gains but are unnecessary if you already get what you need from your food. Creatine is another popular supplement for those looking to bulk up. It’s also very affordable. It’s not essential to muscle growth, but if you want to get a little boost, research has found that creatine is safe, and when properly used, it can help with rapid muscle gains by improving the quality of your workouts.

“Caffeine or other natural stimulants can help push you harder during workouts but should be used sparingly,” Jim explains. Too much caffeine can cause sleep disruptions, as we have already mentioned.

People should be cautious with non-caffeine-based preworkout supplements, Michael warns. There is no scientific backing for their safety or efficacy and they could even become addictive.

“Safety of supplementation has improved quite a bit over the last 15 to 20 years,” he says. “However, it is still prudent not to supplement .”


As you get more experience, there will be many ways to tweak your routine. No matter where you are at in your fitness journey, the basics will remain the same: consistent, vigorous workouts, proper nutrition, and the necessary recovery afforded through good sleep and relaxation.

Rinse (because it’s not fun to be the stench at the gym), and then repeat.

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