Muscle and strength are the foundation of fitness goals. Building more muscle and gaining more strength is easier than you might think. Let’s review the three things you need to do to get swole and strong.
- How to Build Muscle and Strength
- Muscle and Strength Workouts
- What Are the Best Supplements for Muscle and Strength Gains?
- Protein Supplements
- Weight Gainers
- Testosterone Boosters
- Nitric Oxide Boosters
- Fish Oils
What guy or girl doesn’t want more muscle and strength? Muscle is aesthetically pleasing and having more strength never hurts when you’re doing chores or opening a jar for your significant other. Gaining more muscle and strength is simple if you follow a tried-and-true formula.
Let’s take a look at the basics for building muscle. We’ll also throw in some muscle and strength workouts to get you started and quick guide for the best supplements for muscle gain and strength.
To pack on muscle mass and increase your strength, there are a few foundational principles to keep in mind:
Muscle and Strength Full-Body Workouts: Isolation exercises are great if you have years of weightlifting experience, but for newcomers and those who want to target the greatest number of muscle fibers, we highly recommend full-body workouts based on compound movements. Squats, deadlifts, barbell rows are great examples of compound exercises. You can perform several compound movements per workout, aiming to hit the gym at least three times per week with a rest day in between.
Acute Variables: The acute variables of your workout refer to the sets, repetitions, weight used, etc. For a full-body muscle building workout program, we recommend the following acute variables:
- Sets: 3 to 5
- Repetitions: 8 to 12
- Weight Used: 65% to 75% of your one-repetition maximum or 1RM (the maximum amount of weight that you can lift one time with perfect form)
- Tempo: 2 seconds lifting the weight / 0-second pause / 2 seconds lowering the weight
- Rest: 60 seconds between sets
Reaching Volume with Periodization: In order to maximize strength and muscle, you’ll want to use a periodization-style program, which alters the acute variables from week to week. You’ll cycle through different cycles that tackle a unique fitness goal: endurance, hypertrophy, strength, and power. By using a periodization program, you’ll improve all four of these areas. Here are the acute variables for each:
- Endurance: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions (50% to 60% of your 1RM)
- Hypertrophy (Growth): 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions (60% to 70% of your 1RM)
- Strength: 5 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions (70% to 80% of your 1RM)
- Power: 6 sets of 1 to 5 repetitions (80% to 100% of your 1RM)
Alternate these muscle and strength workouts with a rest day in between:
Full-Body Workout A:
- Barbell Back Squats
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Lat Pulldown
- Hanging Leg Raise
Full-Body Workout B:
- Cable Crossover
- Barbell Row
- Sumo Squats
The bulk of your results are going to come from a well-balanced diet that focuses on protein, and a comprehensive exercise program with resistance training and cardiovascular training. Muscle and strength supplements can also play a helpful role in muscle building. Here are the best supplements for muscle gain and strength.
When it comes to muscle building, no other supplement gets well-deserved attention quite like protein. Containing the very building blocks of muscle tissue, protein is a must-use supplement when you want to increase muscle size and strength. Studies show that supplementing with protein in combination with a resistance training program can increase protein synthesis, muscle recovery, and muscle growth.
While there is no set dosage for protein supplements, many veteran lifters still swear by the one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Another veteran bodybuilding supplement, creatine can help to improve your performance, increase your muscle recovery, and boost your muscle growth. One extremely in-depth research review looked over 500 studies involving creatine supplementation. Of the 300 studies that found statistically-significant results, creatine was found to:
- Increase maximal power and strength by an average of 5 to 15%
- Boost maximal effort muscle contractions by an average of 5 to 15%
- Improve single-effort sprint performance by an average of 1 to 5%
- Increase work performed during repetitive sprint performance an average of 5 to 15%
Outside of significantly increasing athletic performance, creatine can also support muscle building. Studies show that creatine can increase lean tissue mass when used with a resistance training program.
For hard gainers who have a tough time putting on mass, high quality weight gainers may be an effective way to support muscle mass gains. The one thing to watch out for with weight gainers is the overuse of carbohydrates and the under-dosing of protein. Many low-quality weight gainers provide plenty of calories, but all based on maltodextrin and very little protein.
When you’ve got bulking on the brain, we highly recommend using a combination of tried-and-true bulking supplements to support all areas of fitness, performance, and recovery. Our bulking stack includes the following:
- D-Bal: Comparable to the effects of Methandrostenolone (a.k.a. Dianabol, an insanely popular anabolic steroid), D-Bal is a natural and safe alternative that can increase protein synthesis and red blood cell production.
- Testo-Max: A natural way to increase your testosterone production and increase luteinizing hormone, Testo-Max can boost your anabolic environment, priming your body for muscle growth.
- DecaDuro: One hell of a performance booster, DecaDuro can increase nitrogen retention, protein synthesis, and red blood cell production, promoting both growth and recovery.
- Trenorol: Based on the androgenic steroid Trenbolone, this all-natural version can skyrocket nitrogen retention and protein synthesis.
Best of all, with every bulking stack, you get a comprehensive guide for getting swole that includes workouts and meal recommendations.
BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)
While there are 20 amino acids in the human body, three have been found to be extremely effective at promoting fitness gains, especially muscle growth. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine make up what are known as branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs.
Leucine: Studies show that this amino acid may activate protein synthesis and support muscle tissue repair and growth. This is why leucine is often cited as the muscle building amino acid.
Isoleucine: A great intra and post-workout recovery supplement, studies have found that isoleucine can increase athletic performance and reduce muscle soreness by improving glucose uptake.
Valine: Studies show that valine can help to prevent muscle catabolism or what is commonly known as protein breakdown.
Testosterone is a male-dominant hormone that has an important role in muscle building as it has been shown to increase protein synthesis, boost muscle recovery, and foster an anabolic environment that promotes growth.
While diet and exercise have the greatest impact on your testosterone levels, you can also support them with a natural testosterone booster. Testo-Max contains a variety of proven t-boosters that are all-natural and safe for long-term consumption including D-Aspartic acid, magnesium, zinc, vitamins D, B6, K1, and more.
Nitric Oxide Boosters
Studies show that nitric oxide boosters can help to skyrocket performance, which is important for reaching the volume needed to promote muscle growth.
By naturally increasing your levels of nitric oxide, you can dramatically increase the amount of blood, oxygen, and nutrients that are carried to the muscle tissue. In turn, this can boost performance and cause that famous blood pooling feeling in the working muscle, a sure sign of getting swole.
We recommend NO2-Max, which features L-Arginine alpha-Ketoglutarate, a well-known nitric oxide booster.
Caffeine can’t directly boost the size of your muscles, but it can increase performance and intra-workout strength. This is just as important as you’ll be able to reach the volume needed for you to trigger muscular hypertrophy or growth.
Studies show that caffeine can significantly increase your athletic performance. What’s more, caffeine is a nootropic or brain-boosting ingredient, which means it can increase alertness, mental energy, and reaction time. This is why caffeine is such a popular addition to pre-workout drinks.
Omega-3 fatty acids have remained extremely popular during the last decade for fighting inflammation and supporting overall wellness. If you needed another reason to love fatty acids, here it is: fish oils can help to promote an anabolic (muscle growth) environment while fighting back against a catabolic (protein breakdown) environment.
Studies show that fish oil supplementation has been suggested to reduce the risk of muscle catabolism, which means it can prevent your body from breaking down muscle protein for fuel.
Muscle and Strength = Diet, Exercise, and Supplements
The three-step formula to building muscle focuses around having a protein-packed diet, a rigorous training program of muscle and strength workouts, and supplementing with proven ingredients. Put these three together and top it off with consistency. Results won’t come overnight, but if you stick with it, you’re bound to reach your muscle-building goals.