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The Secret to Building Muscle Revealed

Updated on February 25, 2014

If you have a hard time building muscle then you need to read this article.

When you realize why your workout might be holding you back, borrow tactics from a prisoner and follow a few basic tips you will be well on your way to a muscular body.

By the end of this article you will finally be able to pack some meat onto those bones.

Why Your Hardgainer Workout Doesn’t Work

When you look at all of the other “hardgainer” workouts out there they all seem to want to overload you to spark new muscle growth. This might work for some people that have a hard time gaining muscle but for a lot of people it really taxes the nervous system. It can bog you down so much that you can’t recover quickly enough to make muscle gains and you just break even.

You don’t want to break even; you want to end up with more muscle than before. So how do you do it?

One simple way to fix this problem is to shorten your workout. Most hardgainers will shrug this suggestion off because they won’t feel like they’re working themselves hard enough; they’re use to the over-taxing workouts that everyone else does. But if you structure your workout correctly you can pack on muscle in less time because you give your body a chance to actually heal. Overtraining keeps your body from being able to recover completely and that means no muscle gains for you. So try this out before you brush it off as nonsense.

One technique you can use is to stop doing so many isolation exercises. Don’t focus so much on individual muscles; aim to work on whole muscle groups with compound exercises. Exercises like squats and deadlifts are natural movements that call upon many different muscles at once. This allows you to get a full body workout in less time while still recruiting a TON of muscle fibers. You could do an A/B split by having two different days that you alternate back and forth to ensure your body has time to recoup. It could look something like this.

Day 1

  • Squats - 1 Set of 20 Reps
  • Flat Bench Press - 2 Sets of 6 Reps
  • Military Press - 2 Sets of 10 Reps

Day 2

  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts - 2 Sets of 12 Reps
  • Chin Ups - 2 Sets of 8 Reps (add weight if you need to)
  • Standing Calf Raises - 3 Sets of 15 Reps

A workout like this will allow your muscles time to recover and it’ll get you out of the gym faster. You want to choose weights that are a challenge for you to use with each and every exercise. Since we dropped the volume you’ll want to raise the intensity by using heavier weight, but still perform the exercises in good form. Now let’s borrow some muscle building tactics from a questionable source.

What You Can Learn From a Prisoner

Many people that go to jail end up coming out a lot more muscular than when they went in. How do they do it? It’s not like prisoners are the most intelligent people, so what advantages do they have over you?

Well first, they’re not going anywhere; they’re stuck in jail! Building muscle takes time and if you hop from flashy workout to workout then you’re never going to see the benefits from your workouts. You need to commit to a specific workout and be in it for the long haul. Give the workout time to show progress before you toss it aside.

Secondly, prisoners are consistent. They have a set schedule that they have to stick to in order to not get in trouble with the warden. They have a specific time in their day where they know they’re allowed to workout so they get it done quickly to ensure that they don’t miss the opportunity. They don’t put it off for other things; workout time is workout time.

And lastly, prisoners know how to follow directions. If they disobey then they suffer the consequences! There’s no reason to try to cut corners and take the easy route with your workouts. Do what is proven to work and stick to it and I’m sure that it’ll end up working for you too. That being said, here are a few basic directions you need to follow in order to build muscle.

Mass Building Tips

The biggest thing that is going to help you gain muscle is eating MORE FOOD! You can’t build new muscle unless you have excess calories, so you need to consume more calories than you burn. You need to ensure that you are consuming lean sources of protein like chicken breast, salmon, egg whites, cottage cheese and tofu. You also want to be sure that you’re consuming meals that digest slowly. So you want to drop a lot of the sugary food in your diet and exchange it for things like rolled oats and flaxseed.

You’re also going to want to avoid cardio because you want to be focused only on building muscle for now. If you were to do cardio, especially long distance steady-state cardio, your body will start to realize that you don’t need all the muscle you have. In fact, a lot of the muscle building “gurus” out there today use to be endurance athletes like cross country runners. Their training held them back from building muscle and as soon as they strictly focused on building muscles they blew up and packed on slabs of meat!

Another thing you can do to help boost your muscle building efforts is to start taking supplements. You don’t have to take supplements but they can help you see results a lot quicker. Just remember that they are called supplements for a reason; they are to be used in addition to a nutritious diet in order to fill in the gaps that your food doesn’t cover. So don’t start drinking strictly protein shakes and think you’re doing your body a favor. Take proven supplements like creatine or whey protein along with whole foods and you’ll reach your goals a lot quicker.

These methods are proven to help pack muscle on even the skinniest of frames. When you avoid overtraining, workout like a prisoner and adhere to the mass building tips above you can be sure to build new muscle. Now building muscle shouldn’t be such a dreaded and impossible task.

© 2010 Ben Guinter

What's YOUR Secret for Building Muscle?

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    • musclebuildexpert profile image

      musclebuildexpert 5 years ago from California

      Great article mate, I actually lost a lot of weight recently as I was training to run a marathon for charity, and trying to put muscle back on has reminded me how hard it can be if you don't get the fundamentals right.

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 6 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      I wouldn't say it prevents it, Nadim... in fact, if it's just a really mild jog it would be alright to do that just to warm up your body. But if you plan on going hard, or doing intervals then save that until after your lifting so that you have enough energy for your heavy lifts.

      For the longest time, I've been jumping rope for a minute before I go into the gym, as a warm up... I definitely still gain a lot of muscle. It's been said that a minute of jumping rope is equal to anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes of jogging, so you should be fine. Just keep it light and you're golden!

    • profile image

      Nadim 6 years ago

      Hey Bendo if you do a five minute cardio like a run to warm off at the beginning of your work those that prevent muscle growth. :)

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Yeah Max_Power, that's really the best way to win the race toward any fitness goal... you have to keep at it!

    • Max_Power profile image

      Max_Power 7 years ago from Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

      Hi Bendo,

      Great hub.. Informative, well written and straight to the point!

      I had actually wondered how prisoners were able to pack on muscle. Especially since they would have to eat what they are given, and would not have access to supplements.

      It looks like slow and steady is the key.

      Good stuff.

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Gaz, I've never used that supplement before but it's supposed to give you a pumped feel and look.

      Some great supplements that I have used before are whey protein, glutamine and creatine. Those I have taken and know they work... and there are a lot of different companies selling good products for each supplement.

      I have some Myofusion protein myself right now and then just some basic glutamine and creatine powder... nothing added to those last two powders, just straight supplement.

    • profile image

      Gaz 7 years ago

      does extremeno work and is there anything else i could get instead and oick up from a health shop

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Yeah aimbig, they can help jump start things for you... thanks for reading!

    • aimbig profile image

      aimbig 7 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Supplements can really give your work out a boost. Great hub!

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Yeah LivingFood, if you're doing long endurance runs then you're working against building muscle. There are endurance muscles but they are the smallest muscle fibers you have and are the weakest... all they do is last long.

    • LivingFood profile image

      LivingFood 7 years ago

      I had no idea that cardio could prevent muscle gain. thanks for sharing your tips!

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Weight gainers can help for sure, theone321.. and if you're going to eat red meat, make sure it's really lean cuts. With bread you will want to stick to wheat breads or eat whole grain oats or whole wheat pastas. Thanks for the simple tips!

      If you added these to my other diet tips I'm sure they'd help you add some muscle to your body.

    • profile image

      theone321 7 years ago

      Take a weight gainer, Here is an awesome one Cytogainer and eat red meats and bread plain and simple.

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      You're welcome, Hello, hello,... thanks for reading!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      This a awesome and comprehensive hub. Thank for all the tips.