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The Basics of Building Muscle

Understanding the key concepts and considerations to building muscle is essential to be successful. But realize that you are an individual, and there may be some trial and error to find the right combination for you.

There are those few genetically gifted people that seem to do practically nothing and have a six-pack or that quad separation. But, let's face it, that's not normal for most of the world. To achieve that look you have to work at building quality muscle, and not just gaining weight. To do this takes a combination of training, fuel and time.

The Time Component

Unfortunately, there is no set time limit or time frame when it comes to building muscle. Some are genetically predisposed to put on muscle more easily than others, so they seem to see results more quickly. People that are naturally lean and slim sometimes have a challenging time putting on muscle — it just takes longer. You will not know how your body reacts until you start training, and stick with it consistently for an extended period of time. This means that you aren't going to add five or 10 pounds of muscle in a month or two. So, stick with it because consistency does pay off.


Bodybuilders are masters of building muscle tissue. They know how to manipulate their workouts to accomplish their physique goals. They also often spend a lot of time training. If you are new to building muscle, or workouts in general, start slow. Full body workouts a couple times a week may be a good starting place to get your body accustomed to weight training. Then maybe you move on to an upper and lower body workout twice a week. Finally, you move into a training split where you only train two to three muscles a day — and you train them hard and often only one to two times each week.

How often you train, and the type of split you use will depend upon your desired end result. It also depends on how much time you can spend training. Muscle building workouts are intense, and often you will need longer recovery periods between sets, and between training sessions. Do not skimp on those rest periods! Adequate recovery is essential for muscle growth.

When building muscle you will not spend hours doing cardio. You may do it a few times a week for heart health and keep body fat in check, but that really depends on you as an individual. Adding muscle also helps burn calories to help control body fat. Often cardio gets amped up to shred some fat and show off the hard work after the muscles are built.

Fueling your Muscles

Most people think you just need more protein to build muscle. Not true! You need a balance of carbohydrate, fat, and protein to properly fuel your workouts, aid recovery and build muscle tissue. If you drastically reduce your fat and carbs in the quest to build muscle your body will rebel. You need the right combination and an increase in calories to build tissue. A dietitian experienced in working with these types of athletes will help you to gain that desired weight without all the excess fat.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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