Top 10 Mass Building Tips

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

You want to build muscle and get lean.  And you don’t have all day to read about all the meaningless minutia. You just need to know precisely what to do. So read these mass building tips and you’ll be on your way to the physique you want.

The good news is you don’t need tons of fancy equipment or a thousand dollar a month supplement bill.  Its not complicated. This is simple stuff, my friends…

1) Do 3 Hard Strength Training Workouts Per Week

Some guys can train more often than this but for most average people with busy, stressful lives three sessions does the job quite nicely. This is especially true if you are doing other physical activities such as hill sprints, jumping rope, and playing sports on a regular basis.

And you should be. I highly recommend a bare minimum of one 20-minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) session per week. Most people would be stay leaner and healthier from doing two.

In addition to that you should be spending some time each week on your mobility and soft tissue health. Nearly everyone can benefit from some yoga.

Doing those things will give you more benefits than another strength training workout.

And remember, when your goal is to build muscle, recovery time is just as important as training time. You grow when you are recovering; not when you are training.

2) Limit Your Workouts to 45 Minutes

The hormonal response to training is a very important consideration. To keep your anabolic (muscle building) hormones high and catabolic (muscle destroying) hormones low you want to keep your workouts right around the 45 minute mark.

If you can’t get the job done in that time frame you are half assing it. On top of that, results are greatest when energy and mental focus are at their highest. That is during the first 30  minutes of your workout.

Get in, warm up, hit it hard, and get out.

3) Use Big, Compound Exercises

Squats, chin ups, presses, rows, deadlift variations, heavy sled pushes and loaded carries should always be the bread and butter of your training programs.

Don’t waste too much training time with small, isolation exercises. Unless you’re doing them to prevent or rehab injuries. Then I highly recommend them. But when it comes to building mass you want big, bang-for-your-buck exercises.

At least 75-80% of your exercises should be the big compound movements. Then you can fill in the remaining 20-25% with exercises like rear delt raises, neck work, grip work, and abdominal work.

4) Adhere to the Progressive Overload Principle

Over the course of time you have to continually force the body to adapt.

The same workouts, done repeatedly, will stop yielding results rather quickly.

You need to challenge yourself to do more. That means doing more weight or doing more reps with the same weight. Those are the two most effective ways to overload the muscle and force growth.

If you have been training for a long time you can use some more advanced overload methods like:

  • Doing more work in the same amount of time
  • Doing the same amount of work in less time
  • Doing more work in less time

But at the end of the day getting stronger is still the most important thing.

5) Use Smart Exercise Rotation

I just told you how important progressive overload is. But there’s the caveat. After your first year of training you can’t continually go up on the same basic exercises. So you need to start to rotate in a few variations.

What makes a good muscle building exercise is the amount of loading and the amount of progression you can make on it. That’s why we always talk about bench presses, military presses, chin ups, squats, 1 arm rows and deadlifts as being so effective. You can use a lot of weight and there is a ton of room to progress.

But eventually you will burn out and stop making linear progression. If that didn’t happen we’d all be capable of benching 1,000 pounds within a few years.

Now, obviously you can start a new training cycle with lighter weights. Then, over the course of 8-12 weeks you try to work up past your previous best. That’s a smart way to do it.

My biggest beef with that, however, is the fact that it can lead to overuse injuries and muscle imbalances.

I prefer to have 5-6 great exercises for each muscle group that you can rotate through, while constantly striving to set new personal records on. That’s a much safer long term plan.

That’s what we do with all Renegade Training programs.

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6) Train at About 85-90% of Max Intensity

In strength science intensity technically means a percentage of your one rep max. So if you could press 100 pounds, then 85 pounds would equal 85% intensity.

Forget all that. I’m talking about the Rocky Balboa definition of intensity.

Let’s say that 100% intensity is a Rocky IV training montage where you are training like your life is on the line and someone is holding a gun to your head on every rep.

Don’t do that. That’s fine from time to time and on a few sets here and there. But if you train like that every day you’re not going to get very far. You’ll be wiped out, you’ll feel awful and you’ll probably get injured.

Dial it down just a bit so that you can continue to train, plateau and injury free, long into the future.

Train hard, but train smart.

7) Never Underestimate the Power of Bodyweight Training

While dumbbell and barbell rows, presses, cleans, squats and carries are great, you should also include bodyweight exercises in every one of your training programs. They recruit a lot of muscle and help you learn the concept of maximal tension.

Instead of machine rows do ring rows.

Instead of lying triceps extensions with an EZ bar do extensions on rings.

Instead of machine crunches do ab fall outs on rings or an ab wheel.

Instead of leg curls do glute ham raises.

Instead of pushdowns do dips.

8) Eat Enough of the Right Foods

Some guys who complain about not being able to gain size just aren’t getting the job done in the kitchen. I’ve been out to dinner with so called “hardgainers” who pick at their food like birds.

You not only have to load plates in the gym but at the dinner table.

If you’re painfully skinny then you might have to force feed yourself if you have to.

Carbs are where it’s at when it comes to gaining quality size. It’s very rare to see someone not eat enough protein.

Much of the high protein hype is bullshit. You really don’t need that much and it’s quite easy to get. One gram per pound of bodyweight is plenty.

For carbs you’ll want to consume 2-3 grams per pound each day. That’s hard to do for some people. That’s what it takes, though. So load up on the rice and potatoes, and add some carbs to your workout drink if necessary.

Some of the best mass building foods are:

– Grass fed beef

– Wild game meats

– Wild caught seafood

– Free roaming, organic eggs

– Free roaming organic poultry

– Cottage cheese

– Greek yogurt

– Rice

– Potatoes of all kinds

– Quinoa

Add in some healthy fats (about 20-25% of total calories, max) from nuts, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado. Eat a few servings of fruit per day and all the green veggies you want.

9) Sleep 8 Hours Per Night & Take Naps If Possible

Sleep is when you recover and grow. Deep sleep boosts your growth hormone and testosterone levels and also helps manage your cortisol levels and improve your insulin sensitivity. Without sufficient sleep your results will suffer dramatically.

There is nothing more important for building muscle than sleep.

Most of you will ignore that and search for a better supplement.

That is why I repeat…

There is absolutely NOTHING (not supplements or diets or training programs) more important for building muscle than getting enough deep, high quality sleep per night.

10) Maximize Your Recovery Ability

No list of mass building tips would be complete without mentioning recovery.

The workout stimulates the muscles and supplies the signal for growth. Then you have to feed the body and let it recover. This is when the growth process takes place. If you have shitty recovery you’ll never grow. So do all you can to maximize your recovery ability.

Take contrast showers or baths after training, stretch, use foam rollers, meditate , eliminate stress, go for a walk or swim on off days, get massages and anything else you can think of to help you recover faster between workouts.