Building Muscle

How To Build Muscle Mass

How Do You Grow Muscle Mass?

You need to stress your muscles so that they will adapt and grow. What does this means? When you engage your muscles to exert a force against resistance (training with weights), they will adapt. If you progressively increase the level of resistance overtime, your muscles adapt and grow so that they can cope with greater resistance in the future. If you lift the same amount of weight each time you exercise a given muscle group, growth will not occur.

Each time you exercise your muscles, the muscle fibres get damaged (microtrauma) through a cellular process known as microphyll hypertrophy. Don't worry, this is normal. This may be experienced as that familiar feeling of soreness after a workout (typically 24-72 hours post-exercise), especially if you are just starting, have tried something new, or increased the intensity of your workout. This is know as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). After a workout, your muscles begin the recovery and growth process. This is a good time to point out the importance of protein for muscle recovery and growth. To find out how much protein you require, refer to this exercise nutrition guide. It is also important to have enough rest and sleep for seven to nine hours.


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Before commencing any exercise, ensure you are properly warmed up. See here for an appropriate warmup routine.


Compound Exercises For Muscle Growth  

There are numerous exercises available, and this can be confusing if you are new to training with weights. however, compound exercises are the most effective in terms of building muscle. Compound exercises utilize multiple joints and are typically performed with free weights (e.g., barbells and dumbbells), as opposed to machines (e.g., cables/pulleys).


The best compound exercises for each muscle group.


Barbell/Dumbell Bench Press

Incline & Decline Bench Press




All Row Variations


Lat Pulldowns



Military Press

Dumbbell Press

Handstand Push Ups





Leg Press


Most Compound Back Exercises

Chin Ups



Most Compound Chest Exercises

Triceps Bench Press



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Repetitions And Sets

Aim for anything between 4 to 12 reps, 8 to 10 for beginners (for the first few weeks). Below 4 reps is mostly strength building, and anything over 12 reps is heading into endurance training.

Each workout should include 4 to 5 exercises, each being performed for 3 to 4 sets. Beginners should start with a lower volume, until they are familiar with the movement of the exercises. Volume = sets x reps x resistance. Increase the resistance (weight) for each set, and the last rep or two will be challenging - but don't go to failure as this poses the risk of injury.


Rest Between sets

You need to rest between sets. If you don't rest between sets, you turn your workout into more of an endurance session. Including a 2 minute rest between sets will help your recover and perform optimally on the next set. When lifting very heavy loads, a longer rest period may be required.


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The Four Key Exercises For Building Muscle

The following four exercises should be included in any good muscle building routine. These are four key compounds exercises.

Bench Press

Overhead Press (Military Press of Shoulder Press)




Example Of A Full Body Workout

Monday: Squats, Bench Press, Barbell Rows

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Deadlifts, Pull-ups, Military Press

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Squats, Bench Press, Barbell Rows

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Deadlift, Pull-ups, Military Press

Tuesday: Rest, then repeat the above routine



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