Home Strong 7 Things Every Beginner Must Know About Building Muscle

7 Things Every Beginner Must Know About Building Muscle





Today’s society would lead you to believe that the more complicated something is, the more effective it must be.

“The illusion of complexity” is the psychological terminology for it.

But more often than not, actually I’d say close to 99% of the time, success can be found when the methods are as simple as possible.

So in keeping with the notion that “simple can be effective”, I’ll leave out at the story-telling and extraneous background information for this article and get right to the goods.

Instant gratification! If there’s something my generation knows about, it’s how to get what they want immediately when they want it! So here it is.

1. Have a Plan

If you’re rolling up the gym and asking yourself “what body part should I go HAM on today!?”, you’ve already gotten off to a terrible start. Building muscle mass  requires some form of structure and foundation. Volume (reps x set x weight), intensity (how hard you push it), and frequency (how often you train) of the workout are all integral components to this foundation.

If you’re just training random body parts on a whim or jumping from one movement to another using a grab-bag decision style when it comes to weight, reps, and sets, consistently building lean muscle just isn’t going to happen, bro. Always have a program/plan in mind before you step foot in the gym.

2. Your Warm-Up Isn’t Your Workout

What this means is, your warm up should be just that: warming up. It should not take more than a few minutes to get some blood flowing to the target parts of the body. Forget the burpees, calisthenic moves, and all of that static stretching. Static stretching does not do much of anything in regards to preventing pulled muscles. A better method is dynamic stretching which involves using light resistance and performing a movement under load. But like I said, keep it short and light. Save the good stuff for the real training.

3. Keep It Short and Sweet

Get in. Get out.

Don’t be the guy hanging around the water fountain trying to get the girls to scope you out. Some of this goes back to the first notion of having a plan.

Your workouts should not last longer than an hour unless you’re training for a powerlifting meet and your rest intervals are 5 minutes long. And if you’re jumping from one machine to another hoping to really go “beast mode” on your chest, this can be diagnosed as “fuckaround-itis”. Yes, it is a very real disease. So take necessary precautions to avoid contracting it by keeping your training short and sweet.

4. Don’t Always Train to Failure

Training to failure has it’s time and place. But it’s definitely not every set for every workout every day. Training to failure is a type of high intensity training (HIT, not to be confused with HIIT), that can be effective in stimulating the muscle in just 1 or 2 sets.

This drastically minimizes the amount of volume workouts usually require, but it’s also more demanding on the central nervous system and can leave you feeling fried extremely quickly. By unintentionally performing HIT and training to failure, you’re overly taxing your body. In most cases, you’ll also reduce the amount of volume in your workout by having to bring down the weight on the bar due to fatigue. So train smart, and know when to implement failure training.

5. Focus on The Muscle You’re Training

This isn’t that bro-science “mind muscle connection” hippie nonsense.

What focusing on the muscle means is simply feeling the muscle as it’s being trained. Still ambiguous?

Basically, you should feel the targeted muscle for the lift you’re doing. For instance, if you’re doing pull ups, you should feel the contractions almost solely in your lats and parts of your back. Not in the biceps, forearms, chests, or anywhere else. Focus on making the back the primary mover through the movement.

It’s a simple principle, but often gets overlooked when guys start adding too much weight to their lifts and end up swinging and using momentum to get the weight up. Once again, train smart and with the proper amount of weight and focus on the body part you’re looking to target.

6. You Don’t Have to Squat or Deadlift

Some guys (and squat booty gals) are going to read this and think “blasphemy!”.

“Squats are the only way to grow the lower body!”

I hate to be the one to tell you, but that isn’t entirely accurate, young lady.

While squats and deadlifts can be effective in that they allow you to move a high amount of weight and stimulate working muscles, there is a lot of injury risk involved. And that isn’t even the worst part. A lot of the time during squats, the trainee’s squat mechanics may not be great, and they end up working too much lower back and not enough legs.

If you’re training for a 500 pound squat and 700 pound deadlift, then by all means, squat and deadlift. But if you’re really just focused on aesthetics; then leg presses, extensions, leg curls, can be just as effective at adding muscle mass to your lower body. Learn what suits your body best, and focus on the end-game.

7. Trust The Process 

People get too caught up in the fact they aren’t making gains today. Even if they have a great program and they’re following it to the letter, they’ll abandom the program and swear it’s not working because they’re not receiving instant gratification.

If you’re someone who’s been training for years and has seen great success, the sad truth is that you’re not going to be able to make lean muscle gains like you you did in the beginning stages of your training.

It just doesn’t happen.

And for those who are just starting out and are getting frustrated due to the lack of results, you have to learn how to trust the process.

Some people may see gains faster than you while on the same program, but that does not mean it’s not working.

Learn to trust and enjoy the process. (Read This: The Transformation Mind-Set)

If you’re not having fun training, you might as well not even be doing it. If you’re someone who forces themselves to go to the gym just to go through the motions because you’d feel guilty otherwise, then you have no business making an attempt to change your life.

Making changes to your physique is simple, but it’s not easy. It’s going to take some time, blood (especially if you deadlift), and sweat. But if you learn to enjoy it, it no longer becomes a chore and, instead, adds to your quality of life.

Wrapping it Up

Building an impressive physique doesn’t have to be rocket science, despite what mass media and supplement companies may want you to believe.

If you’re willing to learn a few things, workout hard, put some time in, the body of your dreams will be within your grasp.

The sad reality is that most people who set out to reach their dream body never make it. There’s many reasons for this, but a lot of it comes down to lack of (accurate) information, and perhaps frustration due to the speed (or lack thereof) of the process. They throw in the towel after a month if the scale hasn’t moved, or stop lifting weights because they feel llike they don’t have the genetics for it.

But that isn’t you.

Because if you’ve made it all the way to this point in the article, I’m willing to bet you’ve made it pretty far on your own muscle building journey.

And you’re about it make it even further.

About The Author

With a background in mechanical engineering, John Craven’s never ending search for “how everything works” and problem solving skills have carried over to helping individuals achieve their best physiques possible. His passion is to contribute science-based information about nutrition and training to anyone looking to take control of their body composition while improving the overall quality of their lives.

You can contact him at –
What Are You Craven Website
What Are You Craven Facebook Page
Instagram @WhatAreYouCraven


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Chad Howse

Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.

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