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How to Build Strength: Essential Tips to Build Muscle Mass

Watching as celebrities and actors get ripped overnight for movie roles, you can’t help but get inspired. It takes a lot to put on muscle in such a short period of time. You need the perfect plan and execution to make it happen.

Knowing the basics of how to build strength isn’t enough. Oftentimes there are genetic and biological factors that affect your results. A surefire way to kill motivation is not seeing results for long stretches.

Hey, stick in there, don’t give up, because we have a guide that will cover every reason you face resistance. Working smarter, not just harder, is the key to gaining strength, especially in a short span of time. Measuring gains by volume and the degree of pain you’re in is a bankrupt ideology.

Let’s break down the strategy for strength training. We’ll isolate the keys to building muscle in a healthy and productive way. At the end of this article, you should reflect on what you have been doing. 

If you plug these holes in your approach, you’ll start to see remarkable improvements. 

Is It Strength Training or Bodybuilding?

You’ll often hear these terms used interchangeably at the gym. Let us tell you, though, they’re not necessarily the same things. In fact, bodybuilding is used to describe two very different levels of competition. 

You have the classic bodybuilding pageantry, which is all about looks, firstly. Then, you also have bodybuilders who compete purely to excel in weightlifting metrics. These two rarely cross, since many bodybuilders resort to stuff like saline injections to get the “look” while jeopardizing their fitness.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about why most of you are here: increasing useful strength. This will revolve around incorporating key exercises, scaled levels of resistance, and consistency. Essentially, your goal is to strengthen your fast-twitch muscle fibers and your neurological impulses. 

Since you’re trying to get stronger, not necessarily bigger, you’ll see measurable results pretty quickly. It’s important not to allow physical metrics to deter you from your path of strength training.

Targeting Your Core Strengths

Strength training is all about maximizing your gains. Specific exercises are going to give you the best results. You’ll start with core exercises, bread-and-butter sets of push-ups, sit-ups, squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. 

As you gain more strength, you start incorporating multi-joint exercises to build on auxiliary muscle groups to further your capabilities. That’s where the lines of strength training and bodybuilding begin to diverge. Bodybuilders, for the most part, won’t waste much time on multi-joint exercises, just enough to get by.

The added benefit of these more involved exercises is the increase in levels of testosterone and growth hormones. While your buddy is plateauing on bench presses, you will continue to grow without burning yourself out. 

These exercises require multiple muscle groups to work in coordination. They also trigger your natural release of testosterone and growth hormone, both of which help you maintain and build strength and mass. There are, of course, other factors with testosterone production, which you may or may not need help with.

If you’re concerned about having low testosterone, look for these symptoms and see if they don’t improve with auxiliary and assistance exercises. It takes some time getting used to incorporating these exercises. They may not “feel” strong at first, but your form will improve greatly.

More Weight, Fewer Reps

You’ll need to strike a balance between reps and intensity. As you improve your strength, you’ll need to get used to keeping volume low. There’s a point in which strength training can dip into cardio if you don’t reach muscle failure properly.

You’ll start your day off with your core exercises, finding your range by testing your max weight for one rep. Then, you’ll take 80-90 percent of that max weight to find your sweet spot for training. When you reach beyond 10 reps, comfortably, then you start looking at increasing your weights.

Start Strong, Finish Stronger

In order to safely lift heavier weights and increase your strength, you’ll need to warm up. You need to get your muscles and joints loose and your heart rate up to provide maximum oxygen to do work. Start with your classic push-ups, treadmill, jumping jacks, and sit-ups. 

Get to your station and do a few warm-up sets to reach full efficiency. When you’re warmed up, your form is better. It should go without saying that you should never workout while injured. 

When you’re overcompensating due to an injury, your form suffers and you could hurt yourself worse. This is where the investment in a personal trainer pays off big. They’ll spot any weaknesses in your form, check your ego, and prevent you from really doing damage.

Time Your Sets

As you’re rotating through your sets of 5-10 reps, pace yourself. If you try to squeeze too many sets in too fast, you may sabotage your gains. Keep track of your time between sets.

On average, you should aim for two minutes, but you’ll get a feel for what works best for you. This minor detail can affect your long-term gains, and every little bit helps. You can spend long hours in the gym if you take too long between sets. You can likewise squeeze more sets in and reach intensity for maximum gains.

Overall feelings of fatigue also play a big factor in how much you can accomplish in a day. You may feel too drained to fit in your leg exercises if you spent so much time on upper body sets. This is a common struggle among bodybuilders, which can lead to sacrificing leg days.

Keep your routines down to under an hour and you will make it.

Pain isn’t Always Gain

It’s easy to fall into the trap of associating muscle soreness with gains. You get in a strong and successful session and you feel sore all over. Well, there’s a big difference between feeling sore at the end of a workout and punishing yourself.

If your body is aching to the point you’re barely able to pick up the weight, don’t “soldier on” and get that last rep. Lifting until your muscles are spent is very different than working out until you’re wrecked. There is no scientific evidence that says muscle soreness is linked to strength gains.

You Are What You Eat

You’re going to spend a lot of time fueling your muscles. They need building blocks and energy to grow bigger. That starts with protein and lots of it. The generally accepted rule is you need at least one gram per pound of body weight.

At the same time, start increasing your caloric intake by about 500. Eventually, you’ll need about 4,000 calories a day to sustain muscle growth. There are many types of foods that you’ll want to target for protein content.

There are also just as many foods that offer more than just raw protein. You can eat testosterone-boosting foods to get you even greater results. This will maximize your efficiency and intake of useable protein.

The Protein Shake

When protein shakes first took off as a gym staple, many thought it to be a fad. Purists still decry drinking your protein, claiming it’s unnatural or even ineffective. There are actually plenty of reasons to drink a protein shake before your workout.

For one, it jumpstarts the body’s protein synthesis early. By the time you’re done with your workout, your body will reach maximum efficiency for utilizing those building blocks. Blood flow is pumping and so is the ability to uptake those nutrients.

Protein shakes reduce the amount of fatigue associated with ingesting large quantities of food. You’ll need to eat a bunch of steak and chicken to keep up with your gains, protein shakes are good for replacing missed meals. You can supplement missing vitamins and minerals without forcing yourself to eat foods you don’t like.

At the end of the day, liquid meals are easier to digest and their nutrients get absorbed faster. 

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

We mentioned the importance of managing and not ignoring sore muscles. Every good workout ends with some level of soreness, of course. What you eat can help alleviate the pain you’re experiencing.

Before you inhale a bunch of pills, try incorporating anti-inflammatory ingredients into your diet. Proactively treat muscle pain by using turmeric, garlic, green tea, raw manuka honey, sweet potato, and kombucha. There are plenty of natural pain relievers out there that taste good, too.

Carbs Drive the Car

With all that protein, you need to have plenty of carbohydrates for synthesis. Carbs work together with protein by increasing your insulin levels. This slows the rate in which proteins are dissolved, giving your muscles more time to absorb.

Lean meats and complex carbohydrates are awesome combinations. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you put yourself on a strict Atkins-based diet. 

Rest

“Sleep is for the weak.” is a cute phrase used throughout life to rebel against laziness. It’s also a dangerous and counter-productive phrase that stunts growth in the gym. You might get away with running on 4-5 hours of sleep for a few months.

You soldier-on for awhile until you hit a wall. Your body revolts and then you’re extending goals, settling for mediocrity, and putting yourself at risk for injury. Sleep is the only way your body is going to build muscle.

You need to embrace the power-naps and early bedtimes. Make it a priority to get at least 7-8 hours each night. Also, it should go without saying, don’t put your gym time so close to bedtime if you have lots of things to do.

Ideally, your workouts should be spaced out with rest days in between two gym days. You can get away with one rest day per week, but only if your lifestyle permits it. Besides, rest days don’t need to mean couch potato days.

Take up some yoga or low-impact cardio exercises to increase your flexibility.

Mental Preparation

While you’re testing your physical limits on how to build strength, don’t let your mind falter. Keep your stress levels in check. Don’t workout on days you are emotional or stressed all the time.

Sure, it will help work off some steam, but stress is actually an enemy of strength training. The cortisol that is released when you’re stressed stunts muscle growth. This is a leftover survival mechanism that the body uses to conserve energy.

Spend time doing things outside of the gym to balance stress levels. Look into stress-prevention habits, rather than waiting until it gets too bad.

Journal Diet and Exercise

Is getting stronger a long-term goal of yours? Keep track of your weights, sets, and days you’ve worked out. The only way to overcome “peaking” in the gym is to recognize patterns and adjusting.

There are some great exercise apps with built-in trackers to help with your journaling. Compare your results with others online, the bodybuilding community is really supportive.

How to Build Strength Naturally

These are the keys to building strength, it’s up to you to figure out the best plan of action. You need to know how to build strength on your own before you start listening to others. A personal trainer will guide you, but they can’t guarantee your gains.

Start your journey to a stronger ‘you’ by getting a full physical. Do tests to see if you suffer from low-T, aka low testosterone. If you do, you won’t ever realize your full potential.

You can get help to treat this problem with testosterone therapy programs. If you would like to know more, contact us today. Don’t try to increase your testosterone levels on your own just to fix your performance issues.

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