Building muscle is about knowledge, discipline, patience, and perseverance. When you don’t have these things, you fail. We’ve seen many guys hit the gym, spend two hours doing exercises one after the other, and then disappear because of an injury (e.g. shoulder impingement, elbow tendonitis, and stress fractures). You don’t want to strain a muscle, a tendon, or a joint. You want to build muscle safely in the long run. What should you do?
Consider your current strength level.
You’re probably a beginner, so you have to be realistic. Most beginners will have a hard time doing workouts for the first time properly. When we say properly, it means doing it with correct tempo and form. Beginners have yet to build decent muscle mass and are at base, average strength levels. Many of them would have difficulty squatting 45 pounds in perfect form. That’s because they have not yet built the neuromuscular coordination for weight training. During the first few months, you will have to train using lighter weights. The goal is to train your nervous system and your muscles.
Do the exercises with proper form and technique.
Strength training isn’t just about doing 8 reps of barbel rows or bench press. It’s about doing each rep properly. Gym instructors and fitness coaches insist on the proper form for two reasons–to hit the muscles properly and to avoid injury. You may think you can just squat 90 lbs however you want, but no. You could risk getting spine or knee injury when you do squats wrong. You’re not supposed to progress to the next weight or to harder versions of an exercise before you learn how to it correctly.
You need to prepare your joints, tendons, and muscles before weight or strength training. That’s why you need to do warm-ups, which can be anything like jogging or cardio for 10-15 minutes. A proper warm-up should raise your heart rate and increase blood flow to the muscles, prepping them up for the following intense activity.
Have enough rest and sleep.
You don’t build muscle in the gym or in the kitchen. You tear muscles in the gym. You nourish your body in the kitchen. But building and repair happen during sleep. You don’t get enough sleep? You don’t build muscle. It’s as simple as that.
Be patient and determined.
You don’t go from skinny to super ripped overnight, not even in three or six months. It takes at least a year to see significant changes. Don’t listen to “experts” online who are out to sell you their so-called muscle building products.
Do not overdo sets, reps, and weights!
More sets and reps don’t mean more muscle. Over-training yourself is a sure way to end up on painkillers and trips to doc. Progress safely. Gradually build the intensity and difficulty of your workouts. There are no safe shortcuts here. When you’re done with your program for the day, get out of the gym.