What Actually Matters when Trying to Build Muscle

Summer is coming. Are you looking to get ready for the beach? It’s been a long few months of Covid stagnation and restrictions, and your beach body might be lacking. A lot of people have fallen off of the fitness wagon. You still have time to get back to where you want to be. You need to be focused and stick to workouts that actually matter for muscle growth. Here are some suggestions to maximize your fitness routine.

Work Hard

This might sound obnoxiously obvious, but so are the people who wander around the gym and do a set every ten minutes. This is obviously not hard work, and the results will show, or fail to show. Depending on how you look at it. You are there for a purpose. Put your head down, turn your music up, and focus on your goals. It’s not a social hour. Working hard with a decent routine will always get you better results than being lazy with a great program. Results don’t come easy. You have to work to earn every one. You can increase intensity, weight, reps, or exercises, but you can’t be complacent. You will only plateau.

Progressing in Load

Whether you are trying to gain muscle mass or just get stronger, progressing in load is necessary. Progressing in load just means increasing weight. If you stick to the same weight and don’t push your body, gains in strength and size won’t come. You have to make them come. If you never make load increases, your body will never change.

Go to Failure or Close

Studies differ about this, but they all indicate going close to failure with your sets being two reps away from your rep limit, or complete failure with zero reps left in the tank. This should be replicated with each exercise and set. If you are not going to at least close to failure you will not make the gains you are looking for. This will stimulate much more muscle growth.

Use the Best Exercises

The basics are basics for a reason. These tried and true exercises should be the foundation of any workout program. Squats, bench, deadlifts, rows, and chin-ups are these types of exercises. Gimmick exercises or workouts might help with redundancy, but won’t help you make the gains you are looking for.

Get Enough Volume

There are two schools of thought when it comes to volume. You can either do as much as you can then de-load, or do as little as necessary but in a quality way. Either is fine as long as you are making gains. If not, it might be time to change the volume of your routine. You can also do something in the middle. Volume is very individual. You need to find what works for your body.


If you are making gains, don’t change anything. If not, changing the frequency of your exercises and workouts might be necessary. Spreading out exercises over two or three days increases frequency and will also help you put more quality work.


Sleep is important. If you are not getting enough sleep, you are not giving your body the opportunity it needs to recover. You can do everything else correctly, but if you do not have good sleeping habits, your gains will stop. Stress will also affect your gains. Stress and sleep are closely related, so one impacts the other. Your body won’t recover if it is constantly taking energy away to deal with stress.

Avoid Injury

This is an obvious one, but so crucial. A small injury, a little strain, tendon or ligament inflammation, can slow or stop the process of muscle building you have been working toward. A lower back strain can limit your workouts in many ways. Certainly deadlifts, rows, squats, and possibly bench press could all be out. Significantly limiting the movements you are able to do because of injury will slow your gains. A small injury can nag your for awhile, weeks or even months. If you have limited movement ability, you can’t complete the exercises necessary.

Eating Enough

Getting enough food is needed for muscle growth. This means real food, not just filling up on protein drinks. You need energy from calories. Proteins, carbs, and fats need to work in conjunction to give you energy for muscle gains.

Ultimately you need to find what works for you and your body. Sets, reps, weight, frequency, exercises, sleep patterns, and stress levels are all individual to you. These are suggested ideas, but they are also functionally proven to work and help you make the muscle gains you are seeking. At the end of the day though, it’s all about the level of work you are willing to put in. This is mentality based. You can have all of the suggestions in the world, but if you aren’t going to put in the effort to utilize them, you’re wasting your time.

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