How to Build Muscle
(TIME IS RUNNING OUT. Find the truth in Christ now.)
Every guy in the world wants to figure out how to build muscle, but obviously not many have. If everyone out there knew how to build muscle, then you'd hardly see any little scrawny or fat guys out there, but it seems like majority of the male population are not in the best shape. Why is that? Because of the incredible amount of misinformation in bodybuilding magazines and on websites all around the internet.
The truth is there is not ONE sure fire diet or weightlifting routine that is bound to help every single guy out there build muscle. Every different guy out there is going to need to eat a different diet and follow a different weightlifting routine to build muscle. The required strategies to get big and build muscle are just as unique as the genetics of the men trying to gain muscle size. The bottom line is, the entire route you need to take to build muscle is dependent on your body type.
In this article, I will help you identify your body type and then show you how to use that information to decide how many times a week you should be lifting, how much you should be eating and whether or not you should do cardio, with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
Identify Your Body Type
Before I can suggest what your diet should look like and how often you should lift weights, you must first identify which of the following body types seem to describe you the best:
- Endomorph - These guys pile on fat extremely easy. It seems no matter how hard they try to cut calories or how long they run on the treadmill, they always have a substantial amount of fat covering their entire body.
- Ectomorph - These guys are the opposite of endomorphs. They can eat an entire box of pizza all by themselves and not even gain an ounce. If you're an ectomorph, you may be frustrated because it seems impossible to gain any muscle whatsoever at times.
- Mesomorph - Hated by both endomorphs and ectomorphs, mesomorphs are naturally lean and muscular, regardless of training frequency. They gain muscle ridiculously easy and, like ectomorphs, can eat whatever they want without gaining an ounce of fat. If you're a mesomorph, I highly doubt you needed to read this article in the first place.
If you are frustrated trying to reach your fitness goals, chances are you're either an endomorph or an ectomorph. Decide what you are now, so you'll know what information you should abide by below.
Train Smart to Build Muscle
Notice in the title of this section I wrote train SMART. Not train hard, not train intense and definitely NOT train long. In fact, training any longer than hour per session is the opposite of smart -- it's down right stupid and counter productive. Studies have shown that after an hour of intense weight training, the body begins to release large amounts of cortisol which, if you've done your homework, you know causes muscle cannibalization and fat storage. Do NOT train any more than one hour in the gym per day that you train.
But how many days a week should you train? This is where it's vital to know your body type.
Ectomorphs have a much slower muscle recovery abilities, so they'll need longer to recuperate, recover and rebuild muscle in between work outs. It is recommended that ectomorphs do not lift any more than three times a week MAXIMUM. The most convenient way to lay this out for most people is lifting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It is critical that ectomorphs do NOT do any cardio while they are trying to gain weight as it will burn all of their progress right off.
Endomorphs, on the other hand, have insanely fast muscle recovery abilities and benefit the most from training five days a week. "Ugh! I don't want to lift fiiiive days a week! Ectomorphs only have to lift THREEEEE!" Yes, this is true, but look at the bright side -- you can gain more muscle faster than ectomorphs, if you're an endomorph, because your body is capable of rapidly recovering from damage to muscles. Cardio is advised up to three days per week for endomorphs.
Last, but not least, is mesomorphs. Mesomorphs receive the greatest benefit and achieve the best results when lifting four days per week. Usually they train on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
What work out routine should you use when you do lift?
There are several different good ones out there, but I recommend German Volume Training (also known as 10 x 10). German Volume Training, GVT for short, is what Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger and world renowned bodybuilder Reg Park used to pack on the slabs of muscle we've all seen them parading around in.
What is 10 x 10? It's exactly what the name implies. You lift 10 sets of 10 reps per exercise. However, that's not all there is to it, of course. You have to superset moves together in groups of two. Supersetting simply means to do one exercise back to back with the next, with no rest in between. So for example, you would do bench press immediately followed by tricep dips with no rest in between. After finishing tricep dips, you would THEN take a quick rest before restarting the superset. In 10 x 10, you only get a 1 minute break between each superset.
I have prepared a workout routine for your 10 x 10 German Volume Training below.
Frequency of Workouts
If you are an ectomorph: Do Day 1 Monday, Day 2 Wednesday and Day 3 Friday.
If you are an endomorph: Do Day 1 Monday, Day 2 Tuesday, Day 3 Wednesday, Day 1 Thursday and Day 2 on Friday. Then on the upcoming Monday, do Day 3. So on and so forth.
If you are a mesomorph: Do Day 1 Monday, Day 2 Tuesday, Day 3 Thursday and Day 1 again on Friday. Then on the upcoming Monday, do Day 2 again, so on and so forth.
NOTE: Utilize progressive overload in these routines. That means you need to either lift more weight or more reps than you did on that workout the time before, so you're constantly forcing your body to evolve by getting bigger and stronger. Your body will not grow and produce muscle if you don't give it a reason to.
KEEP A LOG! You need to write down how much weight and how many reps you did for each exercise, so the next time you do that workout, you can look back and BEAT your old goal. This is critical. If you're too lazy to keep a log, you might as well not even bother lifting weights in the first place, because the only way you're going to grow is if you're able to constantly look back and see what you did, then top it, by lifting more.
Diet to Build Muscle
Now it's time to figure out how many calories you should be eating a day. Really quickly, right click and open in a new tab or window the following calorie calculator tool:
Use this calorie calculator to determine how many base calories you need to feed your body each day to MAINTAIN your current weight. I'll explain how your body type plays into this in a moment. It's going to want you to enter you age, gender, weight, height and how often you intend to exercise. Refer back to the section titled 'Train Smart To Build Muscle' to see how often you should be working out, based on your body type, and plug that workout frequency into the calorie calculator.
Plug in all of that information and hit 'CALCULATE' and you will see a list of three numbers pop up. You're not reading this article to lose fat, so ignore the bottom two numbers and write down or take mental note of the number labeled ''Maintenance.''
If you are an ectomorph, consume 650 more calories a day than your maintenance. If you are an endomorph, consume 300 calories more a day than your maintenance. If you're one of the lucky guys who were privileged enough to be born as a mesomorph, you can get away with eating 900 more calories a day than your maintenance intake. Eating these prescribed numbers, based on your body type, will enable you to gain approximately a pound of solid muscle a week. I wouldn't recommend eating any more than what is prescribed here, however, or else you'll start packing on fat as well.
You should be treating rest just as important as you treat the time you spend in the gym. Your body does not build new muscle while you're busting your butt at the gym, but while you're at home resting or sleeping.
If you are doing all of the above that I have recommended in this article, but you're staying up till midnight talking to your girlfriend every night, you're probably not going to gain an ounce of muscle. Sleep is CRITICAL to bodybuilding. Not just any sleep, but quality sleep. For example, sleeping from 9 PM to 5 AM is MUCH better for your body than sleeping from 12 AM to 8 AM. Sleep studies have shown that each hour of sleep you get before midnight is twice as rejuvenating as each hour after.
Now, when I say rest, I am not just referring to sleep. You should NOT train any more frequently than the number of days per week recommended for your body type. This will lead to over training and will actually prove to be counter productive, because you will not allow your body time to grow new, larger and stronger muscles.
Rest is critical. Utilize it!
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If you incorporate everything I have suggested above, you will be training just right for your body type. You'll easily gain 5 to 10 lbs within 6 weeks of this program. If you have any questions, please ask in the comment box below. I'm here to help you the best I can with all this. Good luck!
Dave on June 05, 2016:
Actually this is a dumb article, in which ectomorphs are discouraged in body building. Same for endomorphs. Brad Pitt (yes he's an actomorph) and many other ectormophs did build their body: all you need is eating more calories than you burn! Problem solved.
Asifal Azad from Dhaka, Bangladesh on December 18, 2014:
jaredbangerter (author) from New York City on December 14, 2014:
Alex, back when I wrote this, I would have recommended a four day split no questions asked. However, as I am continuing to discover more and more, it may seem like doing a full body workout 3 times a week would be your golden ticket. If I were you, I'd go do a search on Steve Reeves and his bodybuilding routine. That's what I am using now.
Alex G. on December 13, 2014:
I'm an ectomorph, how many times per week should I be targeting each muscle group?
Garrett on November 11, 2014:
Yes this is very helpful, I train with a trainer and she was like you really want to try 5 days week.. Bad mistake for me the most i can push is 4
Shea on November 08, 2012:
Great article. I used to be a trainer at one time and I'm an ectomorph as well. You will not gain noticeable muscle doing cardio as an ecto. It just won't happen! You can get chiseled but you won't gain much. Kudos!
jaredbangerter (author) from New York City on October 30, 2012:
Glad you're enjoying the information here. :] Best of luck to both of you.
Lisa Callahan from Texas, United States on October 30, 2012:
Thanks for your help! I'm an ecto trying to gain lean muscle and my boyfriend is an endo trying to lose weight. We've both been really perfecting our diets & work out routines in the last few months. I never knew how complicated and difficult the "fit life" could be. But your hubs are very helpful :)
jaredbangerter (author) from New York City on October 30, 2012:
@LCall - but you're not looking to bulk up, now are you? If you are trying to go for max size, then yes, cutting cardio is a good idea if you are an ectomorph. Go ask every body builder out there. Scooby, Twin Muscle Workout, Jay Cutler, you name it. They all agree if A) You're an ecto and B) You want to gain mass then DO NOT do cardio. Also, I notice you are female. Perhaps females should do cardio no matter what, cause their lack of testosterone leads to easier fat storage, but I know for sure male ectos looking to gain size should NOT do it, aside from MAYBE a 5 minute warm up and or cool down. Haha, I should know, because I am an ectomorph after all and I tried doing 10 to 20 minutes of cardio while bulking for years - to no avail.
To answer your questions, it all depends on the individual and their genetic make up. Personally, if I were an endomorph, I would focus on shedding off all of my fat first and THEN working to pack on lean muscle. That way I could more easily see when it was time to do another cut. :]
Lisa Callahan from Texas, United States on October 29, 2012:
I have a couple issues with your article. One, I'm an ectomorph. I think it's silly to discourage all cardio. Cardio is emotionally essential, and burns fat. I know it shouldn't be the focus of a muscle builder's work out but it is still good for you. I was told by a trainer to get 20 min cardio in 3x a week.
Second and third, and these are more like questions, should an endomorph focus on losing weight or gaining muscle? Fat is burned way before muscle is made, correct?
Jacobstayconnected on March 25, 2012:
why would u list back with chest? there not the same muscle group.