When it comes to building muscle, there are numerous theories, methods, and preferences. Whether the goal is improved health Opens a New Window. , aesthetics, performance, or a combination of all three, there is no shortage of advice to help you get there. So much so that it can sometimes become overly complicated and you forget about the basic facts. But, it’s simpler than it seems.
Getting stronger isn’t just about what takes place in the gym, though that’s a key component. How you tackle the rest of your day and night, including sleep Opens a New Window. , goes a long way to determining how or if you build muscle.
When trying to build muscle, people often times over-complicate things, but at the end of the day, there are actually only 3 things you need to build muscle.
Today my aim is to make you understand these 3 factors and help you realize just how simple muscle building actually is in a broader sense of the word.
If just one of these factors is not in place correctly then you will not build muscle.
The 3 muscle building factors are:
These 3 need to work together in unison or you WILL NOT build muscle optimally, or at all for that matter.
The Muscle Building Triangle
Think of building muscle like a triangle. If one of the sides is missing then things are not going to work!
As we mentioned, the 3 sides are made up of stimulus, recovery and rest.
This is the part where we need to stimulate the muscle to adapt, either to get bigger (hypertrophy) or stronger.
How do we do this?
Since we mainly deal with getting bigger and building muscle on this site we will focus on the hypertrophy side of things.
Muscles are forced to grow when they are overloaded and need to adapt to the load placed on them.
As we lift weights there are small “micro-tears”, this means that the muscles are breaking down literally from the load placed on them.
We need this to take place so when we recover the body can adapt and repair the damage and allow the muscle to cope with the load we have been placing on it.
This is why we get sore a day or 2 after we have been lifting weights. It is the micro-tears.
However, for this to happen we need to ensure we are getting the STIMULUS we need.
To do this we need to:
- Progressively Overload the Muscle.
Keep a muscle building tempo.
Proper range of motion (no half reps).
If we train the muscles in this manner they WILL be getting the stimulus they need to be broken down and stimulate growth.
To ensure you are training properly so the first leg of the triangle is sorted.
Recovery – Nutrition
This is the most important leg of the triangle.
Once we have adequately stimulated the muscle to break down, it, of course, is going to repair itself and adapt.
However, in order for the muscle to recover and adapt it needs adequate nutrition to repair the damage done.
To Build Muscle:
- 500 Calories more than maintenance
1-1.5 grams of protein per pound body weight
Simply put, you NEED to eat enough to build muscle. Around 500 calories per day more than maintenance.
If you aren’t eating enough then you can train for the rest of your life and you won’t gain an ounce of muscle!
This is because yes the muscles are getting stimulated, but they are not getting what they need to adapt and get bigger and stronger.
The building blocks of muscle are proteins (amino acids).
This is why it is imperative to not only be in a caloric surplus but to eat enough protein to build muscle too.
You need to aim to get around 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound bodyweight to build muscle.
Nutrition is where most guys make their mistakes. Don’t be one of them!
Make sure you have this base covered and you have already won most of the battle.
The most overlooked leg of the triangle.Most of us have been or are guilty of this!We train our asses off and eat perfectly, but after a while, we start seeing diminishing returns.Why? Because we are NOT resting enough!
To build muscle we need at the very least 8-10 hours of sleep per day.
This is when most of the magic happens and the damage we stimulated in the gym can be recovered and repaired. This means bigger and stronger muscles! If we don’t rest and sleep enough this CANNOT happen optimally and we end up regressing after a while. When we talk about “rest” this does not only mean sleep. In the broader sense of the word, this applies to overtrain too. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing!
We need to allow our nervous systems to rest as well as give our muscles a break every now and again.
If we don’t we will end up having signs of overtraining which eventually leads to plateauing, regression and eventually injury.
If you have these 3 bases covered you WILL build muscle.
It will be impossible not to build muscle from a scientific perspective.
But make use of the tool of the muscle building triangle, make sure all the sides of it are covered and you will always build muscle.