10 Simple Strategies You Can Implement to Improve Your Physique

Gaining muscle is something nearly everyone can benefit from. Aside from elite endurance athletes who need to maintain a low degree of muscle mass in order to perform at their best, having more muscle mass on your frame is only going to benefit you in today's world of abundance and convenience. Why? Because people with more muscle mass have a faster metabolism. Muscle is an expensive tissue, meaning it requires more calories to maintain it and even more to gain it. Because high-calorie, heavily processed food has been engineered to make you want to eat more of it, and it is so readily available in today’s society, having a faster metabolism will help you stave off unwanted and unhealthy fat gain. 

Studies also show that having more muscle mass is also more physically attractive to the opposite sex. Most people work out because they want to look better (whether they admit it or not), and adding lean muscle mass to your frame (along with maintaining a relatively low body fat percentage) is the most important factor in improving your physique. Obviously, there’s a limit to how much muscle is attractive, but it takes decades of extreme dedication and usually the use of performance enhancing drugs to attain this. 

Females who are apprehensive to participate in a resistance training regimen because they fear getting too “bulky” should rest assured that it’s just not that easy. Females, compared to males, are at a hormonal and evolutionary disadvantage when it comes to gaining muscle. As a female, unless you have 1 and a million genetics or decide to use PED’s, you can lift for decades and not get “bulky”. If for some reason you wake up too jacked one day, you can always dial it back a bit. Losing muscle is exponentially easier than gaining it.

Studies also show that the two greatest predictors of health and longevity are Vo2 max and skeletal muscle mass. The stronger you are, and the healthier your cardiorespiratory system is, the fewer health problems you experience as you age. I’ll do a post in the future about the health benefits of cardio.

It’s important to remember that we all have different genetics, and some of us are able to gain muscle faster than others. Additionally, some of us have more muscle building potential than others. We all have a “genetic limit” to how much lean mass we can gain naturally. Beginners tend to have the ability to gain muscle much faster than more advanced trainees. Men have the ability to gain more overall muscle, and at a faster rate than women (generally speaking). Whether you have great muscle building genetics or not (either way, you have your parents to thank or blame), the steps you must take to gain lean mass are the same across the board.

In this blog post, I’ll lay out 10 tips on how to maximize your muscle building potential. As you probably already know, building muscle (or achieving any fitness related goal) requires you to be dialed in with your training, nutrition, and recovery. These tips will include all 3 of these important factors. If you follow all or at least most of them, even if you’re a low responder to training, you’ll be hard pressed not to see results. 

Tip 1

Focus on Strength

Unless you’re extremely advanced, it’s very unlikely that you’ll gain strength without gaining muscle. If you get stronger each week, chances are you’re getting bigger.


Tip 2

More isn’t Always Better

Unlike many other areas in life, where the harder you work and the more hours you put in, the more successful you’ll be, when trying to gain muscle mass this is not the best approach. There’s a right dose of training volume for all of us and it can take some experimentation before you figure out yours. Once you find it, doing any more will not lead to better results, and can often lead to worse results.


Tip 3

Focus on Compound Movements

Just because your favorite bodybuilder or influencer promotes a bunch of flashy and unique single joint isolation exercises, doesn’t mean they're the best for building muscle. Chances are that person built their physique over decades of compound, multi-joint movements. Your workouts should be made up of mostly these, with a few supplementary isolation lifts done occasionally

Tip 4

Weigh Yourself Daily

Although your weight can fluctuate day to day depending on your hydration status, sodium intake, and what you ate the day prior, weighing yourself at the same time each day (preferably 1st thing in the AM) can help you notice trends and ensure you’re staying on the right track. Gaining .5-1lb per week is realistic for newer lifters, and .25-.5 for more advanced. It’s highly unlikely that this weight gain is pure lean mass, but it will at least keep you going in the right direction. If you have a poor relationship with the scale, taking weekly or bi-weekly progress pictures is another great option.

Tip 5

Track Your Intake 

Unless you have a lot of experience with tracking in the past and are able to “eyeball” food portions to estimate their calorie content, I recommend tracking your overall calories and your macros. When you combine this with Tip 4, you’ll get a good idea of whether or not you’re eating enough.

Tip 5

Macronutrient Manipulation

It’s commonly believed that more protein=more gains, but this is mostly untrue. Once you consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, consuming more will not play any role in building additional muscle. In fact, if you’re struggling to eat enough, more protein consumption could be your issue. Instead, focus on upping your carbohydrate intake. Carbs are less filling and will provide you with more energy throughout the day and for training. Obviously, don’t forget to consume adequate healthy fat to support healthy hormone function.

Tip 6

Ensure You’re in a Calorie Surplus

In order to gain muscle, most people need to be in a surplus. Unless you’re brand new to lifting, a genetic .1%-er, or on PEDs, gaining muscle in a deficit or even at maintenance calories is nearly impossible. The trick is not to be in too much of s surplus so you can minimize fat gain. On average, 100-200 calories over maintenance (per day) is a good range to ensure you're not adding too much fat.

Tip 7

Trust the Process

Program hopping and having an “on the wagon off the wagon” mentality towards your training is a recipe for disappointment. Find a good program and stick to it. If you miss a day of training, don’t give up and miss the whole week, go train tomorrow! Some weeks or months you may not gain as much muscle and strength as others, this is totally normal. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Building muscle takes months, years and even decades!

Tip 8 

Don’t Ditch the Cardio

One huge mistake people make when trying to gain muscle is to stop cardio altogether and even try to limit regular daily activity. This is a mistake. Cardio is not only healthy for you, but will also help with recovery and lifting performance. If you’re sucking wind halfway through your weight training workout, how are you supposed to make the gains you want? An added bonus of cardio is that it increases your appetite. This can be a downside for someone with fat loss goals but something to take advantage of if you want to gain muscle.

Tip 9 

You Must Recover

Proper recovery is essential to growing muscle. Sleep and managing stress are the two most important factors that can affect recovery. You could have a perfect training program, the best nutrition plan, and never miss a workout, but if you’re stressed all the time and not sleeping adequately, it’s nearly impossible to make progress. For more on sleep, check out this post.

Tip 10 

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

As I mentioned in the intro, we all have different genetic abilities to gain muscle. If you compare yourself to another person’s ability, you may find yourself discouraged and disappointed. Keep trying to be better than you were yesterday and focus solely on your own progress.

If you follow these 10 tips consistently over time, you’ll soon be on your way to gaining more mass. In a later blog post, I’ll dive into 10 tips for losing fat (while keeping that hard earned muscle mass). 

What do you struggle with most when it comes to gaining muscle? Are you a hardgainer or someone who puts on muscle easily? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading!

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