Time to Build Muscle!

Muscle - it's the Holy Grail of bodybuilders everywhere. We work for it, slave for it, and nothing is better than the high that comes from seeing new growth stare back at you in the mirror. Muscle growth is evidence - vindication - that the struggle of battle is worth it - proof that you've won.

Unfortunately, while muscle growth is easy for some bodybuilders, it's incredibly difficult for others, and this struggle is often made more difficult by confusing theories and technical jargon that are thrown around by experts on the internet and in magazines. As much as the advice found online and in magazines is meant to help you, it can often do the opposite, leaving you confused and stuck in the neutral growth zone.

If you're stuck, looking to grow and you want a proven approach that guarantees long-term growth, read on and read up.

The Rules

1. Start As Early As Possible

By starting early in the day you'll increase your metabolic rate over the course of the whole day, as well as increase your nutrient uptake for a greater time period compared to working out in the evening. And, you'll have the rest of the day to utilize the majority of your daily protein intake, and this may translate into more muscle and less fat.

2. Keep It As Simple As Possible

More than any other sport, bodybuilding can become incredibly complicated - from the countless training methods, workout programs, and supplement claims, to the basics that take time out of our lives everyday - the cooking, preparation, cleanup, training time, etc. Bodybuilding can become so complicated that it can be overwhelming - to the point that "burn out" becomes a real possibility for many bodybuilders.

Complication robs you of your focus and your motivation, so to make great gains you must keep things as simple as possible - and no simpler.

While keeping things as simple as possible, however, it is also good to keep your eyes open and be willing to experiment with new training methods, nutrition protocols and new supplements - within reason. But, no amount of experimentation and no persuasive exotic theory should come at the expense of the proven basics that keep you on track.

It's simple: if something new doesn't fit in with the basics, ditch it and keep training according to sound and uncomplicated principles that yield awesome results.

3. Use Only The Best Supplements

It's surprising that there are still people out there who claim that supplements are unnecessary. The fact is, supplements are necessary to ensure that you get the vitamins and nutrients needed first for basic health, and to ensure that you rapidly recover from the intense exercise that increases your need for vitamins, minerals and other nutrients above the average baseline values.

Supplements are important to use when you first start working out because they can literally take years off of the time it would take you to make progress. And, supplements become even more critical for your success the longer that you workout because they help you maintain your gains and make even more gains.

Simply: if you don't take supplements - the best and highest quality that money can buy - you will not get the full training effect, your recovery will be slow, and you'll be more susceptible to the negative effects of over-training.

Supplements like multivitamins, protein and creatine are essential for hard-training bodybuilders - so use them and reap the giant gains they give - both now and over the long-term.

4. Forget Others - Focus On Yourself

Bodybuilding is about building your body better than the next guy, and edging him out on stage in front of thousands of fans. Right? Wrong.

Bodybuilding competition is about just that, but bodybuilding itself is a solitary activity where you workout in a strategic manner and direct your body to grow and become stronger in specific ways. Bodybuilding is about creating strength and symmetry and transforming your body into a work of art. Bodybuilding is personal.

With the emphasis on permanent competition, it's no wonder, then, that younger bodybuilders are constantly comparing themselves to the professionals or seasoned amateurs and using the physiques that they see in the magazines. It's no wonder that the pictures we see in magazines are used by many as the standards of success.

It's simple: to make long-term gains, you have to decide what success means for you, and this means forgetting about competition with others, and instead competing with yourself by driving yourself to be better, bigger and stronger today than you were yesterday.

If you set your own metrics for success and drive yourself towards higher and harder goals, you win. And, if you do this over the course of your bodybuilding career, you'll continue to win - and grow. It's that simple.

5. Ignore Fads And Gimmicks

Fads and gimmicks are a dime a dozen in the bodybuilding industry. It seems that every week sees the debut of a new weight loss pill, fat burning belt, or some other virtual miracle. While chasing these fads can be tempting - because they promise fast gains - reality paints a different picture: frustration, and a thin wallet.While tempting, fads and gimmicks - no matter how good they're made to sound - are nothing but distractions that will derail your development and rob you of the gains you want and deserve. Avoid them and stick with what works. By ignoring the fads and gimmicks, you'll be doing what works, and reaping in the results: new muscle growth.

6. Rest And Recover - Automatically

While most bodybuilders focus on training and have an almost unending enthusiasm for getting into the gym and busting out set after crushing set, almost no one seems to give enough attention or focus to recovery. This is a mistake.

Scientific advances in recent years show that adequate exercise recovery is far more important than once thought. New science shows the major role that inflammation plays on immune system function and muscle growth, and we know that a recovery plan must be intense, precise and consistent for exercise-induced inflammation to be correctly managed.

Consistency is key - recovery must become an automatic muscle growth strategy and must be executed with as much enthusiasm as training.

Of course, recovery - eating, sleeping, drinking water, etc - isn't nearly as impressive as benching your one-repetition maximum, but the results of correct recovery - muscle growth - are much more impressive long-term.

7. Lift Heavy

It's just a fact that compound movements - exercises like squats, deadlifts and bench press- that involve multiple muscle groups working simultaneously dramatically outperform all other movements for packing on mass in a hurry.

While isolation movements tend to build muscle incrementally, compound movements build muscle exponentially - and this is because compound movements primarily work fast-twitch muscle fibers that grow rapidly, instead of slow-twitch fibers more suitable for developing endurance.

But while compound movements are the best way to build muscle fast, you also have to execute them correctly - and this means lifting heavy and with intensity.

While many bodybuilders make the mistake of thinking that "lifting heavy" means lifting a weight that is heavy by some objective measure, the term "heavy" is really subjective - and is defined by your conditioning, your age and a host of other factors. In other words, lifting heavy doesn't mean lifting an objectively heavy weight but, rather, means lifting a weight that is heavy for you, so that you can get the maximum anabolic hormone response to build muscle fast.

8. Don't Turnover

Turning over in your sleep doesn't make for a great rest or a great body, and being the victim of "exercise turnover" won't build you a great physique either. "Exercise turnover" is one of the largest reasons that bodybuilders fail to make the kind of gains they should make long-term. And what, exactly, is exercise turnover? The frequent changing of your workout routine.

While it's important to change up your workout regimen when it stops producing the kind of results you want and expect, many - most - bodybuilders switch up their exercise programs all too often, under the misguided notion that "switching it up" and "shocking the muscle" or "confusing the muscle" will lead to new growth.

Unfortunately, your body is slow at adapting to stimulus, and needs the same stimulus applied repeatedly until it's able to respond, so growth can come only with patience and the careful and repeated application of the same stimulus for an appropriate time.

So, avoid exercise turnover. Don't switch up your program too often or you'll confuse and shock your muscles with varying stimuli to the point where they won't be able to anticipate the stimulus and adapt to it.

9. Ditch The Deficit

Just as exercise turnover will totally crush any muscle gains that you could have made so too will having an exercise deficit.

An exercise deficit occurs when the results you should get for your effort decrease - making you work harder for smaller and smaller gains. In short, you know you're the victim of an exercise deficit when the "law of diminishing returns" rears its ugly head.

When you detect an exercise deficit, it's critically important that you pull the trigger on your exercise program and move on from it as quickly as possible - even if your exercise program has worked in the past and "should" work again. Importantly, and related to exercise turnover, you should only switch up your program when you start to see signs of an exercise deficit.

By holding on to your program for the life of its maximum effectiveness, you can ride the wave of gains to the top, and move on when the wave starts to die.

10. Just Say No... To Dieting Down

The first rule of gaining muscle is: don't lose muscle. While dieting down is important, it's also dangerous because it is incredibly hard to do without losing muscle. So what's the key to being able to show off your muscle without having to diet down? It's simple: keep your body fat levels in check by eating well and doing plenty of cardiovascular exercise in addition to your hard workouts.

Dieting down is dangerous because most people don't diet down correctly - either eating too much, eating at the wrong times, or eating too little, driving their bodies into starvation mode, and brining fat loss to a grinding halt. And, even if dieting down is correctly done, the risk of muscle loss is still real because of the hormonal changes that accompany training and eating to reduce body fat.

For every pound of total bodyweight that is lost from improper dieting down, 60% is muscle and only 40% is fat - not good at all for long-term muscle growth.

So, if at all possible, don't diet down. Instead, aim to feed your body exactly what it needs, increasing calorie intake on hard training days, and easing back slightly on days when you perform less intense and demanding work.

For bodybuilders, food is functional - so use it as a functional tool - one of many in your arsenal. Aim to control your body fat levels, and make quick dietary changes if you see that you're gaining body fat. In this way you can stay lean and avoid putting your long-term gains at risk by dieting down.

Final Thoughts

It's easy to get off track, working hard and getting no results. It's equally easy to get sucked into the latest and greatest sounding plan touted by "know it all" experts that promise all of the results with almost no effort required. In the end, however, being stuck in a rut and being seduced by the latest complicated training theory making the rounds is the same: frustration and stagnation.

Getting long-term results is possible only being patient and doing the right things right. And, the first two rules of success are start as early as possible and keep it as simple as possible. From these rules, the others flow almost automatically.

Muscle growth isn't easy - and it doesn't come quickly for most people - but muscle growth does happen, given enough time - guaranteed. Focus on these ten simple rules for getting great returns and you'll grow bigger and more consistently than ever before.


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Copyright © Clayton South, 2008 All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Clayton South

Clayton South

Bodybuilding has played a large part in forming my personality. It has given me the discipline that life success demands, and the determination to ove

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