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Every guy that’s ever stepped into a gym, at one point or another, has had some aspiration to getting bigger. However, the age-old problem has always been—how to do it. To help simplify the process, we’ve compiled a list of the 25 best ways to get big and kept them short and sweet, so you can get on to your workouts.
“Extra calories combined with training leads to growth,” says Sean Hyson, the group training director for Men’s Fitness. It’s really that cut and dry, more muscle comes from more food.
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Proteins are the building blocks of muscle. They assist with the rebuilding and recovery process. Shoot for 1-1.5 grams of protein per lean pound of body weight.
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Numerous studies have pointed to the benefit of protein supplements in muscle building, but many of them also mention carbohydrates as a hormone-balancing component that maximizes your gains after workouts.
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Montreal-based strength coach Andrew Sakhrani, C.S.C.S., encourages occasionally swapping out barbell work with dumbbells. Why? “Dumbbell presses open up the chest and recruit more muscle fibers.” This works for other exercises, too.
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It’s easy to focus on your arms and chest. However, too much training on those areas can lead to imbalances and injury, most of which can be avoided by doing plenty of rowing/pulling work.
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“Most of your growth hormone release in a day comes during sleep,” says Hyson. Stick with eight hours as a guideline.
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Bodybuilders, widely known as the biggest guys on the planet, have an age-old training method that has withstood the test of time: volume training. They typically do five or more exercises per body part, four sets of 8-12 reps, amounting to approximately 200 reps per body part.
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Circuits might get the blood flowing, but heavy lifting skyrockets testosterone levels throughout the body. Hyson recommends using the heaviest load possible for “sets of five or fewer reps.”
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The foundation of a big, muscular body comes from big, compound lifts. (multi-joint). Sakhrani says, “The chinup is the original biceps curl.” He adds that this principle holds true for all muscle groups.
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Just like a car having maintenance done, some of your gym days should look the same. Decrease the weight, up the reps, and slash the last two sets. Occasionally scaling back allows for full recovery.
Although we follow workout “routines,” there’s always a need for variety. A workout shouldn’t just be a weight lifting challenge, there should also be a level of complexity and variation to the moves.
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Squats and deadlifts release massive levels of testosterone resulting in total-body growth. These two moves alone will add muscle everywhere.
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Remember, Bruce Lee was ripped and his muscles certainly weren’t small. He always touted the importance of body-weight exercises.
“Competition in the weight room boosts testosterone and makes you enjoy your workouts more, so you’ll stick with them. You’ll also be forced to train harder,” says Hyson. So grab a buddy and get after it.
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Creatine has been linked to muscle gain in almost every study that has been performed on it. Don’t believe us? We’ve got plenty of great reading material on the benefits of creatine.
Being out with an injury sucks, and it kills your progress. Keep your form strict and you’ll build more muscle and while reducing the risk.
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Going to the gym once a week won’t get you bigger. Pick a number of days to work out (3-4 is optimal), show up, and work hard, and you’ll see results quickly.
Tension and stress cause the release cortisol, a stress-hormone that inhibits muscle-building and promotes muscle breakdown. Try and breathe easy, keep stress at a minimum to maximize your muscle.
If you’re stuck at a weight and unsure if you can make that jump up to 225 from 215 on the bench press, don’t just walk away from it. Grab a spot and give it a shot. Worst-case scenario? You fail, then you can try again next week.
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Spotters help you get that extra rep, and when done consistently, those extra reps will lead to muscle gains in the long run.
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There’s a reason that most trainers are big—they know what they’re doing. Search out an educated trainer and have a session or two with him or her to learn some new moves or some new nutrition tricks to employ in your fit lifestyle.
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Whether it takes a certain playlist on your iPod or you have to wear that weird pair of shoes, it’s important to have the right mindset when you enter the gym or you’ll be distracted and feel like you can’t get anything done.
Joking around, texting, and being social are great—just not in the gym. Focus on your workout, that’s what you’re at the gym for. If you have to respond, keep it short and do it during your rest interval.
Every time you lift, you’re waging a war on the weights. However, you won’t see any benefit without preparing properly for that war. Take care of your joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Warm up!
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If you’re following a program, be sure to give it at least 6-8 weeks. If you’re not happy with your results, don’t be afraid to try something completely different. Change the exercises, amount of weight, reps, rest periods, amount of days, you name it.