Building muscle doesn’t need to be complicated. Whether it’s for strength, size, or confidence, there are plenty of ways to reach your goal.
We have expert advice on everything from bodybuilding to powerlifting, functional fitness and more to cover your training.
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Top tips to start building muscle
So, what will you need to start your muscle-building journey?
Whether you’re looking to set yourself a new challenge or training to compete, building muscle takes a little commitment. Here's what the experts say:
- Train correctly. Design a workout programme and stick to it. Progressively overloading your muscle over time in your sessions is one of the best strategies to build muscle.
- Eat enough calories and protein. This can be the hardest part to get right, but following the right nutrition plan and modifying every few months is important for success.
- Recover right. Sleep and rest are crucial for getting results. Take regular rest days and aim for 6-8 hours every night. This is where your muscle grows and adapts to your workouts.
Training guide to get started
Discover the perfect training split for your fitness journey.
The classic five-day gym routine, with two rest days, ensures vital recovery time. You could do five days in a row or embrace flexibility with a two-days-on, one-day-off approach.
Consider options like the upper-lower split (upper body day, lower body day, rest) or muscle-specific split (back/biceps, legs, rest, chest/shoulders/triceps, legs, rest). Craft a training plan that suits your needs and schedule, making the most of each workout and rest day for a balanced fitness journey.
For those with a busier schedule, you can still build muscle with a 3-day per week gym routine. Try a Monday-Wednesday-Friday approach or pick any three non-consecutive days that fit your schedule best.
It’s best to focus on full-body workouts each session, targeting major muscle groups for maximum muscle gain and overall fitness. Remember, consistency is key, so make the most of your gym days, and allow your body to recharge during rest days for steady progress and long-term success.
Why is nutrition important?
Nutrition is what fuels the body for exercise performance and helps your body recover.
Gaining muscle usually calls for eating or drinking extra calories, which is the fuel your body needs to grow and meet the demands you're putting on it.
A large calorie surplus can help you add more size, more quickly — but can also increase the amount of body fat you put on. A smaller calorie surplus can minimise putting additional body fat, but it might take longer to build muscle. An additional 300-500 calories per day on top of what you need every day is generally recommended by nutritionists.
Protein also plays an important part. It contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass and maintenance of bones. It’s needed for the formation of new tissue in the body and helps to repair any muscle fibres that might have been damaged from exercise.
It’s also important to consider where your energy’s coming from when you’re exercising. Carbohydrates are crucial for building muscle as they provide energy for workouts and replenish glycogen stores, aiding in faster recovery. They also facilitate muscle growth and repair by promoting nutrient delivery to muscle cells through insulin release.
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