1. Eat More Food
2. Don’t “Dirty” Bulk
3. Control the Movement
4. Follow a Training Program
5. Get a Friend or Coach
Tip 1: Eat More Food
This is why 90% of people who want to build muscle never do. Muscle is very stressful for the body, meaning it requires a lot of energy to keep it. If we aren’t consistently eating enough food, our bodies will start using up some of our muscle for energy, a process called gluconeogenesis.
The best tip I can give for eating more food is using liquid nutrition by making smoothies daily. You can easily make a 1000 calorie smoothie and one or two of those should be enough.
Tip 2: Don’t “Dirty” Bulk
Eating a bunch of unhealthy shit won’t make you feel good and it’s not a sustainable path to building muscle. “Dirty” bulking implies that you will build a bunch of fat during your bulk, but having body fat above 15% has been shown to have negative effects on building muscle.
Also, unless you want to be fat forever, you’re going to have to cut that fat off by eating a calorie deficit for a few weeks/months. Since it’s more difficult to build muscle on a calorie deficit that means you’re really only building muscle for a fraction of your year.
Why would anyone do that?! Well, bodybuilders popularized cutting and bulking because they would take one group of steroids to bulk up and then take another type of steroids to cut down, thus bulking and cutting became popularized.
You don’t need to bulk and cut. Instead, practice “lean bulking” or eating just slightly more than your body needs so that your body has the energy to build muscle without building excess body fat. You can find out exactly what your body needs here.
Tip 3: Control the Movement
Most people in the gym have terrible form or don’t know if their form is any good. Lifting weights that are too heavy is a mistake that almost every lifter makes because lifting heavy makes us feel cool, but if you’re trying to build your chest with bench press and you’re feeling it in your shoulder instead of your chest, how cool is that?
If you’ve only been seriously lifting for 2 years or less, don’t focus on weight, focus on control. Control means you move without any momentum. I recommend lowering the weight for 3 seconds, pausing 1 second at the bottom, and then raising it for 1 second, or a 3-1-1-0 tempo.
Control needs to be your primary focus if your goal is to build muscle. If you want to train your joints and lift heavy weight like a powerlifter or olympic lifter, go after it, but if you want to build as much muscle as you can, control the damn weight. If you’re not sure what control looks like, here is an example of a controlled dumbbell bench press.
Tip 4: Follow a Training Program
If you ask almost any young guy in the gym what he’s training he’ll say “chest & triceps” or “back and biceps” because this is what most top bodybuilders and fitness models do. However, if you miss just one workout while on a body part split, it can seriously mess up your schedule.
Most people in the gym should be training full body workouts 3 days a week because it’s more than enough and if you miss a workout you can just jump back in. The only reason to split up body parts is because you love being in the gym or you’re so advanced that you need to train 30 sets per week for each body part and you just can’t fit it into 3 days.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here is a lean bulking program that I reserve for paying clients only but I’m feeling generous and I want to help you on your journey.
Tip 5: Get a Friend or Coach
Most people know they should eat vegetables and exercise regularly. The problem is not knowing what to do, but actually doing it! If you feel like you know what to do but you’re just not doing it, getting a friend or coach to join you on your journey can guarantee accountability and results.
If you know that someone else is waiting at the gym for you or that someone else will see if you completed your workouts or not you’ll be much more likely to follow through. Start out by asking everyone you know if they have any fitness goals because you might be surprised.
If you’re having difficulty staying accountable and you can’t find anyone to train with or make sure you’re training and eating as you should, hiring a coach is a great option. If you’d like to work with a coach, visit https://www.tompfeiffer.com/consultation and I can help you on your fitness journey.