There are a few rules regarding to Building Muscle that most people do not know about. In this article you will learn all about them.

If you are looking to put on muscle mass, it is important that you follow a few rules and always keep those in mind when training. Your body does not “build muscle” while you are training. It actually builds them afterwards. Your whole lifestyle should therefore be adapted a little towards your training goals. With the following principles you will be assured that your muscles will grow overtime.

You Don’t Just Want To Build Average Muscle, You Want To Build As Much Muscle As You Possibly Can In The Shortest Time Period.

Since there are a lot of misconceptions on what the best way is to put on As much muscle mass As possible, I will clarify it once and for all.

1. Being in a caloric surplus
A caloric surplus is a state in which you consume more calories than you are burning. For every individual the number of calories will be different. It takes different things into consideration such as: Body weight, fat percentage, height, age, activity levels and metabolism. If you train 5 times a week instead of 2 you obviously will burn more calories and will therefore need to eat more in order to gain weight. Combining a caloric surplus with weight training will result in muscle mass. If you are in a caloric surplus without lifting weights, you will mainly put on fat. Your body uses those extra calories to recover your muscles and make them grow. If you do not stimulate your muscles, your body will not use those calories to recover your muscles and therefore store it as fat.

Obviously, when eating in a caloric surplus you do not want to have a surplus so high that you will put on a lot of fat too. You will always store a little bit of fat when eating in a surplus, this is unavoidable, although you want to minimize this as much as possible. From my experience, the best way to do this is eating in a surplus of 250-500 calories. If you eat more than 500 calories over your maintenance calories you will put on a decent amount of fat overtime. Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of calories you need to maintain your body in it’s current state. However, this does not take things into account such as exercising and incidental activities (walking, shopping etc.). Maintenance calories are also referred to as TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). These are the amount of calories your body needs in order to maintain it while exercising. If you add 250-500 calories on top of that amount of calories, you will put on muscle mass (considering that you lift weights and use the other principles I explain)

How can you calculate your maintenance?

The best way to find this out is actually experience. Play around with you intake and you will notice when you are gaining muscle and not gaining a lot of fat. However, this is not practical for everyone. We need somewhere to start!

There are different formulas you can use in order to calculate your maintenance.

Harris-Benedict formula
Mifflin-St Jeor
Katch-McArdle: Most accurate, but you will need to have an estimate of your body fat percentage. People often estimate their body fat percentage lower than it is in reality.

Usually these are BMR calculators. On some websites, the activity expenditure is a variable that can be clicked on aswell. If not, you can multiply your BMR yourself with one of these factors.

1.2 = Sedentary (little exercise)
1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (exercising 1-3 days a week)
1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (exercising 3-5 days a week)
1.7-1.8 = Very Active (exercise 6-7 days a week)
1.9-2.2 = Extremely Active (Athlete and very hard physical job)

2. Focus on compound exercises
A compound exercise can be classified as a lift that involves multiple major muscle groups at a time. Most often, one muscle is doing most of the work and one of more muscles are recruited as secondary muscles. Examples of compound exercises are the bench press, squat, deadlift and the overhead press. Compound lifts enable you to overload your body with the heaviest weight you can handle, recruiting a lot of muscle mass and a big release of hormones as testosterone that promote muscle growth. Therefore, it is extremely important that you make compound exercises the base of your workout. Progressing in these will directly force your muscles to grow. Think about it, have you ever seen someone bench pressing 3 plates for reps who did not have a chest?

I am not saying that you should avoid isolation exercises, exercises that involve one muscle group at a time. They can be extremely useful to bring up lagging bodyparts or to give that final touch to your muscles. That is why I always recommend to throw in isolation exercises at the end of your workout, so after you have done the compound lifts. For example, Leg extensions after Squats and Leg Press.

3. Progressive overload
Progressive overload refers to continually increasing the weight you lift in order to keep making gains in musle size, strenght and endurance. It is a very simple principle but often overlooked and not payed attention to. It is one, if not the most important rule when training. It basically means that you have to increase the weights you lift overtime. If you lift the same weights every training session, your body has no reason to grow muscle. Why not? Because your body does not change unless you force it to do so. The moment you increase the weights that you lift, your body has to adapt itself in order to keep up with the demands it gets put up with. Therefore, your muscles will grow, simply to be able to lift that same weight the next time. So if you keep increasing weights, session after session, your body will keep growing and growing.

The reason you see some guys in the gym that look the same for months and years is simply because they are not following this principle.
How to apply progressive overload?

There are different ways to apply progressive overload while lifting weights. You do not have to lift heavier weight every session. There are more ways to create an overload on your muscles. I will give an example for every technique. Obviously, the lower the weights, the bigger your overload per week will be. For example: If you are just starting out with Squatting, you can probably lift 5-10 pounds more every session. If you have been squatting for years and you are at a point of squatting mutiple plates, the progress will obviously be slower.

Increased resistance
Session 1: 100 pounds lifted
Session 2: 105 pounds lifted
Session 3: 110 pounds lifted
Increased repetitions
Session 1: 100 pounds for 8 reps
Session 2: 100 pounds for 9 reps
Session 3: 100 pounds for 10 reps
Increased sets
Session 1: 150 pounds 3 sets of 5 reps
Session 2: 150 pounds 4 sets of 5 reps
Session 3: 150 pounds 5 sets of 5 reps
Decrease rest time:
Session 1: 150 pounds 5 sets of 5 reps (3 min rest)
Session 2: 150 pounds 5 sets of 5 reps (2 min rest)
Session 3: 150 pounds 5 sets of 5 reps (1,5 min rest)