If you would like to build muscle, then here is how I’ve gained 43lb of muscle in Belgium, and how you can gain as much muscle in America (or elsewhere).
The secret to gaining muscle is to get stronger. The stronger you get, meaning the more weight your can lift in the gym, the more muscular you’ll be. This is especially true if you’re a natural drug-free lifter with average or, worse, lousy genetics like I am. More strength is more muscle.
Before you continue reading how to build muscle, watch this free video in which I reveal the most effective way to gain muscle fast. Just click play to watch it…
Are You Making This Muscle Building Mistake?
Go to any gym and you’ll find most guys doing body-part split routines. They’ll train five to six times a week… one muscle a day… going to failure on every set in order to get pumped… and using at least ten isolation exercises per workout to hit each muscle from every angle. I’m sure this sounds familiar to you.
Many guys think they’ll build muscle with these body-part split routines because that’s what they read in some muscle magazine. Or because that’s how they saw some ripped dude in their gym train, and so they hope to get the same results if they train the exact same way – monkey see, monkey do.
In reality, most guys will never build muscle with body-part split routines. Worse, they’ll look EXACTLY the same five years later. The few who do gain muscle with split routines almost always belong to one of these groups:
- Genetic Freaks – Some guys will build muscle DESPITE doing body-part split routines, NOT because of them. They’re genetically blessed. I’ve seen guys who were ripped and muscular before they even touched a weight. Not to sound rascist, but this is quite common with black people. Yet unless you were also born lucky with superman genetics, forget about building muscle with body-part split routines.
- Steroid Users – Drugs are extremely common among lifters, yet few guys are honest about it. Before I got my home gym, I trained five years in a commercial gym and more than half the guys there were on drugs. That’s why they managed to build muscle REGARDLESS of doing bullshit split routines – it’s because they relied on the muscle building hormones they injected in their body to gain muscle NOT on their training. Drug-free lifters like us won’t get away with that, we play by different rules.
- Advanced Lifters – Most top bodybuilders belong in this group. They used split routines to chisel their physique… AFTER first spending years building muscle mass by getting strong. Unfortunately most guys put the cart before the horse… and that’s like a sculptor trying to carve out a masterpiece from a tiny piece of clay – you just don’t have enough mass to work with. Similarly, split routines won’t work unless you’ve spent years building muscle mass. And that requires getting strong first..
Here’s what this all means: if you’re a drug-free lifter with average, or worse, lousy genetics like me, then building muscle boils down to this…
If You Are Not Lifting More Weight Today
Than You Did One Year Ago, Or Even One Month
Ago… Then You Are NOT Building Muscle!
And I don’t care how pumped or sore you get. You can dumbbell bench on a bosu ball with 30lb in each hand until you’re blue in the face… but the guy who benches 250lb will always have a bigger chest than you. And that’s because he’s lifting heavier weights. More strength is more muscle.
Think about it, why are the best-built guys that ever existed strong as hell? This isn’t a coincidence. They know that more strength is more muscle. They know that the stronger you get, the more muscular you’ll be.
As an example, consider Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 7x Mr Olympia winner. Few guys know this but Arnold did strength-based workouts for years. Heck, he even competed in powerlifting BEFORE becoming a bodybuilder. And in his latest auto-biography “Total Recall“ the Governator reveals why:
“The truth is that not all bodybuilders are strong, especially those who have done most of their training with weight machines. But years of power lifting and working with free weights had given me massive biceps and shoulders and back muscles and thighs. I simply looked bigger and stronger than the rest”
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall
The above picture shows Arnold Deadlifting 616lb and 710lb in powerlifting competitions… several years before winning his first Mr Olympia title. His other best lifts include a 473lb Squat and 440lb Bench Press. Strong, period. And he’s not the only guy who knew that more strength is more muscle. Here are more examples of champion bodybuilders who were frigging strong…
- Franco Columbo – Arnold’s trainingpartner was even stronger. Franco was a champion powerlifter from Italy who could Deadlift 755lb, Bench Press 525lb and Squat 655lb. He was so strong he could even pop a hot water bottle by inflating it orally. Arnold eventually convinced Franco to compete in bodybuilding, and he won the Mr Olympia twice. He too built muscle by getting strong first because more strength is more muscle.
- Reg Park – Arnold got the idea to build muscle mass by getting strong, and then later chiseling it down with split routines, from his mentor. Reg Park could Deadlift 700lb, Bench 500lb, Squat 600lb and created the 5×5 workout. Park won the Mr Universe 3x and, unlike Arnold, he did this BEFORE steroids existed. This proves that building muscle by getting stronger also works for natural drug-free lifters like us.
- Dr Layne Norton Phd – this pro-bodybuilder and lifetime natural drug-free lifter also happens to be an elite powerlifter… with a 617lb Squat, 386lb Bench and 700lb Deadlift. I interviewed Layne for my StrongLifts Inner Circle once, and he revealed that nothing ever worked to get rid of his chicken legs until he increased his Squat to 500lb. That took his thighs from 21″ to 28″. More proof that more strength is more muscle.
- And many, many more… including Ronnie Coleman, 8x Mr Olympia, who could Deadlift 800lb and once said “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder but nobody wants to lift heavy weights.” Or Sergio Oliva, the olympic lifter who could lift 300lb overhead and won the Mr Olympia 3x. Or Stan Efferding, the strongest pro-bodybuilder, owner of the world record in the Squat (854lb). The list of strong bodybuilders goes on and on.
Look, these bodybuilding champions wouldn’t have spent years increasing their strength unless they were convinced this was critical for building muscle. Why do you think they all continued to lift heavy weights even after they switched to split routines? It’s because they know that more strength is more muscle.
And You Don’t NEED To Be A
That’s right. Most guys find this method of building muscle by getting stronger not only revolutionary, but also liberating. Because few of us are interested in getting oiled up on stage wearing thongs. Few of us desire to be bodybuilders. Very few of us want to be part of this emasculated narcissistic circus.
Instead, most guys are perfectly happy with building an athletic physique that not only looks strong but actually IS. Especially once you realize that you can achieve this by simply training three times a week for about an hour… without taking drugs or supplements, and without being anal about your diet.
Most guys simply don’t know that there is an alternative to bodybuilding. They don’t know you can build muscle without doing time-consuming, ineffective and boring body-part split routines. Yet you can. It’s called strength training.
Here’s how it works: each workout you try to lift more weight. Then, as you get stronger, as the weight on the bar increases, your body builds more muscle. It’s simple, easy, fun, most of all, it’s the fastest way to gain muscle without drugs.
More good news: you don’t need to Deadlift 700lb like Arnold did either. Heck I can’t do that. And yet, although I wasn’t born to be big and strong (and lack any athletic background) I still gained 43lb of muscle without using drugs. How? Simple: train for strength instead of pump. And if I can do it, if my thousands of Stronglifts Inner Circle Members can do it, so can you.
How To Build Muscle Fast:
The 9 Most Powerful Muscle Building Tips For
Drug-Free Lifters with Average Genetics
Let’s cut the bullshit. I have the worst genetics ever to gain muscle. In fact a lot of guys consider me a hardgainer because my thumb overlaps my middle finger when I grab my wrist. They call that skinny-ectomorph genetics…
Yet I still managed to gain 43lb of muscle drug-free. And after helping tens of thousands of guys from all over the planet gain as much muscle (or more…) here are the 9 most powerful tips to build muscle fast that I’ve found…
1. To Build Muscle, Get Stronger
In Ancient Greece, the wrestler Milo trained for the Olympics by carrying a new-born calf on his back every day. As the calf grew bigger and heavier, he had to carry more weight. This forced Milo’s body to get stronger and build muscle, and that’s how he became the strongest guy of his time, winning the Olympics 6x.
I’m sure this story is more legend than fact, but the moral is that to gain muscle you must get stronger by adding weight. This is the simplest, most powerful way to build muscle… and it means you can forget about all those painful and complicated methods from muscle magazines. I’m talking about…
- Stop “Confusing” Your Muscles. You don’t need to change exercises every week to build muscle. Heck, that’s the worst way to know if you’re making progress because strength varies on each lift. Plus you’ll never master proper form. If you want to confuse your muscles, simply lift five pounds more than you did last workout. Now they’re confused.
- Stop “Tearing” Your Muscles. You don’t need to hit failure on each set for your muscles to grow. That crap will only inflame and overtrain your muscles. That’s why the only thing failure training achieves is getting you sore and injured instead of strong and muscular. Plus it’s so painful it will drain you mentally. You’ll lose motivation and quit.
- Stop “Pumping” Your Muscles. You need to build muscles BEFORE you can get them pumped. Even then, pumping your muscles merely bloats them with water, as soon as you’re out of the gym the pump is gone. All pump training does is build fake, puffy bogus muscles without any real strength. It’s bullshit stacked high and stinking strong.
Some guys claim it’s possible to get strong without gaining a single pound of muscle. That strength is all neurological. They know someone who Squats 500lb but has chicken legs… Well I’m sure there’s a freak like that somewhere, but I’ve never met one. Why? Because these are urban legends! The stronger guy will always be more muscular because more strength is more muscle.
If you only take one thing away from this article, make it this – more strength is more muscle. Like Milo, you must try to increase the weight each workout. Don’t worry about pump. Simply add weight on the bar. As you get stronger, as you’re lifting more weight, you’ll automatically build muscle. It’s that simple.
2. To Build Muscle, Do Compound Exercises
I spent four years doing five variations of curls each Sunday for 45mins until my arms were sore. So when I found Reg Park’s 5×5 workout, which had no curls, I thought I’d lose muscle. It’s only when I tried 5×5 one year later and saw my arms grow bigger without doing isolation exercises that I finally understood.
You don’t need to train a muscle directly for it to grow. When you do a heavy compound exercise like a Bench Press, your arms are holding the bar. It’s not just your chest working, your triceps have to push the weight as well… and a much heavier weight than on isolation exercises like triceps kickbacks.
That’s why you’ll never meet a guy who can Deadlift 500lb but has skinny arms. Trees with strong, large trunks have big branches. Compound exercises work the muscles close to your trunk but ALSO your limbs. And that’s how thousands of StrongLifts Members built bigger arms without doing a single curl.
Bottom line: if you want to build muscle, stop doing isolation exercises and start doing heavy compound exercises. This means:
- If you want bigger biceps, stop doing curls. Do Barbell Rows
- If you want bigger chest, stop doing dumbbell flies. Bench Press
- If you want bigger shoulders, stop doing front fraises. Overhead Press
- if you want bigger back, stop doing lat pulldowns. Deadlift
- If you want bigger legs, stop doing leg extensions. Squat
With compound exercises you’ll also achieve a much more balanced physique because you’re not favoring body-parts. And since they work several muscles at the same time, you’ll burn more calories and get a full body workout with three exercises. You’ll build more muscle and burn more fat while saving time.
Muscle Building Tips 3 to 9
I’ll be sharing the rest of the tips during the next days. If you’re signed up to my free newsletter, you’ll get notified automatically when I publish them.
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