If you're a starting weight lifter, it can be difficult to determine exactly what are the best steps to take, and exercises to tackle, to most effectively build your muscles and increase your strength.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that top bodybuilders rely on to grow muscle. Follow these strength-training tips to achieve maximum muscle gain.
1. Focus on the free weights
Training with free weights is the best way to grow muscle, increase your strength and improve your flexibility. It's best, too, to concentrate on easy compound exercises. These exercises work on more than one group of muscles at a time, and include such exercises as bench presses, lunges and squats.
2. Do not skimp on the work
You have to be committed to weight training to actually see gains from it. It's not enough to hit your weight-training equipment once every two weeks. You must adhere to a regular strength-training regimen. And you must try to boost the length and intensity of your workouts. If you do not do this, you will not see any positive results.
3. Progression is key
Do not be disqualified during your first weight-training forays to discover that you can not lift as much weight as many times as you had hoped. In strength training, it does not matter where you start, it's where you progress to that counts.
In other words, you want to get better from week to week. This means you want to lift more weight and tackle more repetitions every week. If you do this, you'll gradually grow your muscles, building strength and endurance along the way.
4. Do not overdo it
Spending too much time on your weight-training equipment is almost as bad as skipping out on regular workouts. If you overdo your strength training, you'll simply fatigue yourself. Your muscles need to recover from your workouts if they are to really grow. If you're constantly working them, they'll never have this chance.
5. Eat more frequent, but smaller, meals
It's one thing to hit the gym on a regular basis. Eating properly, though, is an entirely different challenge.
Too often, people follow their weight-training schedule, but then blow their health by overeating. The key to avoiding this is to avoid getting overly hungry.
Instead of eating three big meals a day, eat five to seven smaller meals every two to three hours. This way, you'll get your nutrients without having to suffer the hunger pains that throw so many people off their diets.
6. Take in more protein
If you're looking to grow muscles, you definitely want to take in enough protein. Of the three major nutrients – which are protein, carbohydrates and fats – protein is the one most responsible for muscle growth.
The truth is, if you do not take in enough protein, you'll never grow your muscles and increase your strength. A good rule is to take in one to one-and-a-half grams of protein daily for every pound you weigh. Of course, make sure to get this protein from quality sources such as poultry, eggs, beef, milk and fish.
7. Drink more water
It could not be any simpler: If you want to maximize your muscle growth, drink more water. Drinking water will help increase your strength. At the same time, it's a great way to fend off hunger pains that lead to overeating.
8. Consistency is the key
Finally, as with most things in life, your strength training will only be successful if you lift weights, exercise and eat consistently. Do not lift weights for two hours a day for one week, and then hit the gym only once the following. Your body simply will not build muscle this way.
Building muscle, gaining strength and becoming physically fit does not happen quickly. It requires a real commitment. But if you're willing to consistently put in the hard work, you'll soon see the results: a healthier, stronger more active you!