11 Useful Tips For Building Muscle Mass

Want to know more about building muscle mass? Incorporate these tips into your fitness routine!
building muscle mass

There’s a lot of information about this topic with all sorts of possibilities for building muscle mass. There is no one size fits all answer on the best way to do this. I found that many pieces of advice for building muscle mass almost seem to contradict one another, but it’s really about the exact method used to do these things that yields results. Research for this article took a long time, but I found some valuable information that should be beneficial to those looking to build some muscle.

Remember that building muscle is like running a marathon. It is a very slow process, even if you execute all the tips listed in this article flawlessly and consistently. Keep at it and over time, you will see results. Expect the journey of putting on muscle mass to take YEARS. Not weeks. Not months. YEARS.

Continue reading to learn more about how to start putting on some muscle.


Proper nutrition is crucial to building muscle mass.

Basically you need to get the right number of grams of protein, carbs, and fat in your diet every day in order to reach your goals. These are your macronutrients, or macros for short. To reach your macros, you will need to make sure a certain percentage of your calories come from each of those three. The USDA recommends the following split [1]

  • Carbs: 45-65%
  • Protein: 10-35%
  • Fat: 20-35%

So how do you do this? You first need to determine how many calories you need to eat for the day. There are many online calculators and apps for this. Once you’ve determined the number of calories you need, then you can determine how many grams of carbs, protein, and fats you need to eat. Then from there, it’s about setting up a meal plan to meet your nutritional needs! 

This may all seem intimidating, but don’t worry. Many consider nutrition to be the toughest part of fitness. Once you master your nutrition, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your fitness goals! Above all else, you must make sure that your nutrition becomes a part of your life. You can’t eat well only once or twice and expect to get ripped. You have to consistently eat well if you want results.

Eat More

In order to gain more muscle, you’ll need to eat more food.

Up above, I mentioned that you need to determine the amount of calories you’ll need to figure out your daily macros. Often, your body requires a calorie surplus for building muscle mass. This means that if you normally eat 2000 calories a day, you may have to eat 2500 to reach your nutritional needs for the day. 

Being a smaller guy, I will say that it gets tough having to eat a lot. You’ll need to eat roughly every two to three hours in order to get enough calories for the day. Bear in mind this is a guideline and not a general rule. I have a friend who likes to get all his calories in his breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are some people who like to fast for the whole day and then have one big meal at the end of the day. That’s called intermittent fasting.

When it comes to building muscle mass, this is an aspect of nutrition that you shouldn’t ignore. Eating more calories is a concept that may scare off many people, but you must do so along with regular lifting to build muscle. 


Building muscle mass can be easier with the help of supplements.

Supplements are not required for building muscle mass, but can really help a lot. Like mentioned above, I used to have a hard time eating enough to get all my calories for the day. Adding in a simple protein shake made it easy to get the extra calories and protein I needed to ensure I was meeting my nutritional needs. 

Protein Powder is one of the primary supplements you can include into your daily nutrition. A primary nutrient required for building muscle is protein, and protein powders will give you quite a few in a single serving and often are high in calories. 

Mass Gainers are often similar to protein powder, but you can use them for the very high calorie content they provide per serving if meeting your caloric needs is your primary issue.

Creatine is a common supplement used for its ability to help improve workout performance. [2]

Sleep More

Sleeping is just as crucial to building muscle mass as actually training.

When you go to sleep, your body releases a muscle growth hormone, which occurs in deep sleep. The more deep sleep you get, the more of this hormone your body releases. [3]

Studies recommend that you sleep 7-9 hours every night for optimal muscle growth and recovery. [4]

Lift Moderately Heavy

The amount of weight you lift helps determine how your muscles respond to the training. 

Lifting a moderate amount of weight will maximize muscle hypertrophy. Maximizing muscle hypertrophy is crucial to building muscle mass. Muscle hypertrophy is what allows the muscle to break down and regrow. Lifting heavy will still break down the muscle, but is best suited for maximizing muscular strength. [5]

A moderate load is one that allows you to lift between 8-12 reps per set. [5]

Do High Intensity with Low Volume

A high intensity workout with low volume means lifting heavy weight for only a few reps. I know, I just said that you should lift moderately heavy to maximize muscle hypertrophy. But you can maximize muscle hypertrophy in more than one way. With moderate loads, you want 8-12 per set to get maximum muscle hypertrophy. 

By using a heavy weight that you can only do for 3 to 5 reps and incorporating a long rest interval of 3 minutes, you can get great results. [6] It is a great way to maximize muscle strength and hypertrophy. [6]

The main downside of this training method is that you need heavy weight to do this, which you may not have access to right away if you’re working out at home. This training method can be extremely effective for power lifts, such as Bench Press, Deadlift, and Squat if you have the option to do these.

Mind Muscle Connection

The Mind Muscle Connection is an important training concept that can immensely help you with building muscle mass and getting a better workout. 

The Mind Muscle Connection is the idea of focusing on the contraction that a particular muscle makes when doing a particular exercise. If you’re doing bicep curls, then you want to give all of your attention to the movement and contraction of your biceps. It’s almost like a form of meditation. By giving intense focus to the contraction of the muscle(s) you’re working, you’ll get a much more intense workout. [7]

Utilizing the Mind Muscle Connection with moderate loadings seems to have the best results on muscle performance. [8]

Eccentric Movement

An eccentric contraction is the downward part of a movement. If you do a bicep curl, raising the weight is the concentric contraction and lowering it is the eccentric contraction. 

Using eccentric portions of a lift is great for building muscle mass and strength. An older individual can use eccentric contractions to counteract the effects of Sarcopenia (muscle loss from aging). [9] This is an indication that eccentric contractions are a good way to put on muscle.

For beginners, a study on the use of eccentric contractions in training showed that they enhance muscle hypertrophy. [10

Eccentric movements are sometimes called negatives. You can do these for a lot of body weight exercises like Pull Ups. If you’re not strong enough to do a particular exercise, you can build up to it by doing just the negative portion of the rep as slow and controlled as possible until you have the strength to do a full rep. 

Decrease Rest Time Between Sets

The amount that you rest in between sets is important. Up above, I mentioned that long rest with high volume will yield great results with muscle hypertrophy and strength, but it’s not the only way. 

You can rest for longer periods of time in order to lift heavier loads for your next set. Your muscles won’t be as fatigued due to the longer rest interval. If you’re doing moderate intensity exercise (8-12 reps), keep your rest time between sets at 30-60 seconds. [6,11]

Remember, do shorter rest periods with moderate loads. Heavier loads=longer rest periods.


A Superset is when you do one exercise for a full set and then immediately move to another exercise without rest or minimal rest. 

Similar to above, a superset allows you to do two exercises back to back and still get a good workout in. Supersets are best utilized when short on time while still allowing you to maximize muscle hypertrophy so you can build muscle. [12]

Supersets are also a good way to hit a muscle or group of muscles hard if you’re looking for an extra challenge in your workout. 

Lift Until Failure

Lifting until failure is when you do a particular exercise until you can’t do any more reps with the current weight you’re using.

Several studies have shown that you don’t actually need to train to failure to maximize muscle strength and hypertrophy, but only if you’re already lifting at a high intensity. That said, if you’re doing lower intensity exercise, you can achieve similar results to higher intensity exercise by training to failure. [13] This is good to know if you’re training at home and only have access to lighter weights. 

You don’t need to train to failure every time you train. Training to failure is more likely to lead to injury, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. [13]

What Next?

Now that you have a pretty good idea on what you can do to help with building muscle mass, it’s time to start taking action! Get to training and make sure to keep an eye on your nutrition and out of the gym habits for success!

Donald Wilson

Donald Wilson

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