The process of building muscle is relatively simple if you can apply a few primary practices to your health and fitness routine. To help you understand the basics of building muscle, I have broken this article into three parts. First, is the type of equipment needed to build muscle. Second, what type of workouts are needed to build muscle. Lastly, I will touch on a few other important variables you need to focus on to set yourself up for muscle build success. In a general sense, muscle building happens when you lift heavy things. When you lift something heavy, the muscles used are stimulated to respond to this heavy load. To clarify, a heavy load is something you can’t lift repeatedly of the course of a extended period of time. We will discuss this further in the “workouts needed to build muscle” section of the article. While it is possible for some people to build muscles without any equipment, your opportunity to build more muscle will be significantly improved when you have the right equipment in your home gym.
What equipment do I need to build muscle?
If you apply the two above principles when selecting muscle building equipment, then you can easily determine what equipment you will need to build muscle. For example, cardio machines are not muscle build machines. They are made to be used for several minutes. The amount of force required to move your body while doing long bouts of cardio will not stimulate muscular growth. This should move your selection process away from cardio equipment if your goal is muscle building. I would suggest starting your muscle building journey with a set of adjustable dumbbells. Dumbbells are great tools that allow you to add significant resistance to every major muscle group on your body. This will ensure that you have the opportunity to build a balanced muscular physique. For many, a good set of adjustable dumbbells is sufficient to get started.
Ready for next level muscle building?
At some point you will outgrow your dumbbell set. While you could invest in a complete dumbbell set, this could set you back hundreds if not thousands of dollars and take up all your free space in the process. This is why many exercisers looking to increase their muscle building potential invest in a good squat rack, barbell, bench, and weight plates. This type of equipment makes performing heavier compound movements like squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows easier and safer for more effective muscle building workouts. Compound exercises train multiple muscles at the same time allowing for heavier weights to be lifted. The heavier the weight lifted the greater the stimulus for muscle damage and repair that leads to muscular growth. This is one way you can increase the demands of your muscles so they can continue to make gains in size and strength. This is commonly referred to the principle of progressive overload. Check out one of these example home gyms that can give you the ability to perform compound exercises.
What kind of workouts will help me build muscle?
The kind of muscle building workouts you should perform will depend mostly on your exercise experience and desired workout frequency. If you are new to muscle building workouts, you should aim for completing 2 to 3 full body resistance training workouts that target all the major muscle groups in your body. A minimum of 2 sets of 15 reps should be performed for each exercise. This will help you build some endurance while not over stressing your muscles and joints. After a few weeks you can increase to 3 sets per exercise and lower the reps to 12 to 8 repetitions per exercise. After a few more weeks you should see a significant amount of muscle gained based off measured amounts before you began. This of course assumes that you are consuming proper amounts of nutrients and calories to compliment your muscle building program. If you are a more experienced, you may be able to handle a higher volume of work for each major muscle group. If so, then you could start to apply split routines to your muscle building program. Split routines can vary, but usually consist of training one or two muscle groups during a single training session and then training different muscle groups on another training session and then repeating those works twice per week. Higher volume is one way you can use progressive overload to stimulate more muscle growth if you are seeing a plateau from full body workouts.
Other variables to consider
Protein intake is critical to muscle building. Without proper intake of protein, your body will not be able to rebuild the muscle tissue that was damaged from your workouts effectively. Check out our complete article on weight training for more specific recommendations on proper protein intake. Another variable you need to monitor is your recovery time. Overtraining happens when exercisers start to experience negative effects from their workouts. Not allowing the muscles you train to recover and rebuild will cause them to wear down rather than build up. We have a great article that will help you recognize whether or not you are working out too much or too hard. Another important variable to consider is an injury or limitation you may have that will prevent you from performing resistance training exercises safely. Performing exercises incorrectly will not only prevent you from seeing optimal muscle building results, it could lead to injury that will put a stop to all your progress and potentially cause you to lose the progress you gained. For this reason, I suggest speaking with a medical professional about your desire to start a muscle building program, and seeing a qualified fitness professional so they can assess your current abilities and provide you with an appropriate exercise program.