4 Essential Muscle-Building Tips

March 24, 2013 | Drew Henley

Must See Strength Training Videos

The great thing about sports research is that each year it provides us with improvements in training. Although some fitness fads lack staying power,  generally the new research findings keep us out of a rut and help us enhance our performance. Here are four new techniques we can incorporate to build muscle faster.

Follow these tips while staying on top of your strength program, and you will be able to build muscle fast to perform better in your sport. Although the tips will help, there is no substitute for time and effort. Nothing great is achieved in a single day, so just continue to build, brick by brick.

Focus on Big Lifts

Pounding out Bicep Curls and Leg Extensions until your limbs want to fall off may feel like a great workout, but you're just speeding your way to an injury.

Instead, focus on compound lifts like Squats, Deadlifts, and Multi-Joint Presses and Pulls through their full range of motion. The increased stress produced by these movements stimulates growth hormone synthesis while improving anabolic response and muscle building. (See also How to Build Muscle Fast With Complexes.)

If you are relatively new to strength training (less than two years of lifting experience), work your way up to heavy sets of four to five repetitions. More experienced lifters can build up to sets as heavy as one- to three-rep maximums.

Lift Weights Over Your Head

Lifting weights overhead requires nearly every muscle fiber in your body to keep you from collapsing under the bar. There are several variations, depending on your goals for the training session:

Olympic Lifts (Snatch and Clean & Jerk)
Overhead Squat
Push Press/Military Press
Turkish Get-Ups
Waiter Carries

Besides adding muscle mass, these exercises work the smaller stabilizer muscles of the hips and shoulders and provide a great core workout.

Keep Reps at 12 or Less

Anything more won't offer enough resistance to work your fast-twitch muscle fibers, those responsible for heavy lifting and powerful movements. Primary compound lifts should stay below eight reps to increase growth hormone production; and supplemental lifts (lower intensity, single joint movements like Curls) should work in the six- to eight-rep range to maximize hypertrophy (i.e., muscle growth).

Eat Like an Athlete

Michael Phelps may be renowned for his ability in the pool, but he's also envied for his metabolism out of the water. How many stories have we heard about Phelps taking in 8,000 calories a day just to maintain? And he doesn't fill up on junk food or greasy fries; he eats chicken, steak, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits. Combined with his training program, the nutrients in these foods help his body recover and grow.

Here are two excellent pieces of advice about diet:

  1. Eat to fuel, not to feed. Make sure what you're putting in serves a purpose in your growth and recovery.
  2. Eat more food, mainly plants and animals. Notice the phrasing—"food," not "food products." You should be eating natural food and avoiding processed food. Stick to plants and animals for a relatively healthy diet.
Topics: BUILD MUSCLE
Drew Henley
- Drew Henley is the creator of Henley Sports Performance, a strength and conditioning resource for athletes and coaches. A former Division I track and field...
Drew Henley
- Drew Henley is the creator of Henley Sports Performance, a strength and conditioning resource for athletes and coaches. A former Division I track and field...
Must See
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,229,784
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,321,290
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 5,787,172

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,015,900
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,235
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 69,996
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,676
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,294
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,576,462
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,004
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,053

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

3 Keys to a Solid Squat Setup

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Use Sled Pushes to Increase Speed, Strength and Power

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

The Most American Workout Ever

The Most American Workout Ever

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Increase Athletic Strength with Rotational Bodyweight Training

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

YardBarker