In this introduction we take a look at the basic things you need to know if you want to gain muscle mass and ACTUALLY get results as a skinny newbie.
Keep in mind that this is just a brief overview of the muscle building process, and that the rest of our website will cover all these points and everything else you need to know in more detail. If you're just starting out then this will get you going on the right track.
We will divide this introduction of how to gain muscle mass in two halves, weight training and nutrition. To build muscle you must have both, proper weight training and a solid nutrition plan too. You can't expect to see any decent results by just doing weight training for instance, and forgetting about your diet. You need both pieces of the puzzle.
The following four pieces of advice are a good starting place to learn how to perform proper workouts:
1. Focus on Free Weight and Compound Movements
For the best results possible in the gym it's critical that you focus on using free weights (as opposed to machines) AND focus on performing compound exercises. Compound exercises are any lifts that stimulate multiple muscle groups at the same time. For example: squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin ups, barbell rows, dips.
Compound exercises are the best to gain muscle mass as they place your body under the most stress and allow you to use the heaviest weights. The more stress your body is put under, the more muscle you will be able to build.
2. Focus on Improving Every Week
Your body will only pack on new muscle mass if you put it under more and more stress over a period of time. If you used the same amount of weight and did the same number of reps every week, then your body would adjust to this and your muscles would stay the same size.
So every week you should aim to improve on either the weight you lifted or the amount of reps you performed, and you are bound to see gains in strength and muscle mass in no time. This basic principle of progression MATTERS. A lot.
3. Avoid Overtraining Your Muscles
One of the biggest mistakes made in the gym is overtraining your muscles. Most people believe that the saying "more is better" when it comes to weight lifting, but that is far from the truth.
Your muscles actually grow when you're eating and resting, not when you're in the gym. You need to give your body enough time to rest so that they can become larger and stronger. Going to the gym everyday for example, is perhaps the worst thing you can possibly do to gain muscle mass.
4. Always train with intensity!
The difference between those who build a little bit of muscle and those who pack on huge amounts is how hard they train. To gain substantial muscle mass you absolutely must train to your limit, and push yourself that little bit further.
Training to what is called 'muscular failure' is also highly recommended. This means that when you're doing a particular exercise, you keep performing reps until you simply cannot move the weight another inch with proper form.
See the Muscle Building Workouts Guide section of the site for more information on all aspects of intelligent weight training for muscle gain.
Now let's take a brief look at what you need to focus on with your nutrition plan to gain muscle mass:
1. Eat Lots of Protein
Protein is without a doubt the most important nutrient in the role of building muscle. It's function in the body is to build and repair body tissue. Without eating protein it will simply be physically impossible for your body to build muscle.
You need to focus on eating between 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight that you have. The majority of your protein must come from high quality sources such as whey protein, poultry, beef, fish, eggs, milk, and cottage cheese.
2. Eat More Frequently
To build muscle mass you need to provide your body with the right nutrients every 2-3 hours. That makes for 5-7 meals per day. For some people this is hard to achieve and where they fail miserably in their quest for more muscle mass.
By eating every 2-3 hours you keep your body in a muscle-building state that is known as an anabolic state. You need to include high quality protein at every single meal of the day.
3. Drinks Lots of Water
Drinking plenty of water everyday plays an important part in general health and in your muscle building endeavors. Water helps your muscles appear fuller and more vascular. You should aim to consume 0.6 ounces of water for every pound of bodyweight each and every day of the week for the best results.
See the Muscle Building Diet Guide section of the site for more information on all aspects of eating for effective muscle gain.
All the points we have covered above are very important and should not be overlooked. The rest of our site covers all these topics in more detail, and everything else that you need to know about building significant muscle mass in a short amount of time.
Always remember though, consistency is everything. Putting these strategies together to use is one thing, but consistently doing it over and over again to reach that powerful and muscular physique is another thing. At the end of the day, consistency will separate the men from the boys. Keep that in mind!