How To Gain Muscle And Add Mass

how to gain muscle

How To Build Muscle: Let’s Go

When I get asked how to build muscle, I have always liked the caveman approach to building muscle for its simplicity and because it is pretty damn spot-on. It goes something like this: “Eat more and lift bigger rocks!

We aren’t talking about getting bigger than Hulk Hogan or more “swoled” than a brat on the grill we are talking about adding that first 10-15 pounds of muscle (and where you go from there is up to you)! Gaining muscle can be extremely hard for men and women alike. Many people blame genetics (which can be an influence) but with hard work and the proper plan you can still get the results you want; it just may take a little longer.

How To Build Muscle

Below you will find some great strength training and nutrition tips to teach you how to build muscle. I know these tips work; a recent client/friend recently built over 20 pounds of muscle in a little over 2 months without a copious amount of supplements (pictured above)! Let’s break it down.

The Workout Split

Personally, if your main goal is to gain muscle then I would suggest splitting your workouts into body parts.

By that I mean, only work for certain muscle groups on a certain day; this will give your other muscles time to rest and recoup (along with allowing you to totally tax them on their working day).

A common split would be: Day 1 – legs/abs, Day 2 – shoulders/traps, Day 3 – rest, Day 4 – back/biceps, Day 5 – chest/triceps, Day 6 & 7 – rest. This gives your muscles time to grow and relax and allows you to really concentrate on one group at a time.

Sets and Tempo

How to build Muscle

When it comes to the number of exercises to do per muscle group it is really up to you and how well you feel like you are taxing the muscles. I would recommend 4-5 exercises per muscle group.

One thing I have always tried to do is workout at a fast pace (with proper form) in order to keep my heart rate elevated the entire time (smashing calories) but to also get the workout over faster while maintaining the pump the entire time.

A way to do this is to super-set each of your exercises. For instance, on the back/bicep day perform a mainly back exercise (wide-grip pull-ups) and then immediately perform a bicep exercise like a preacher curl. Make sure to move between sets at a fast-paced with little to no rest between sets.

The only day I DO NOT superset is the chest/tricep day. Although you do use multiple muscles during all of the days mentioned above, for the chest/tricep day I want to have all of my power for the chest exercise and because for many of these (bench press), the triceps are used as well.

I perform all of my chest exercises in a row then all of my tricep exercises. This gives me more power during things like incline bench press in order to build a bigger chest.

The First Set

If you want to work for a muscle group extra hard (I do this for my first set of chest and shoulders) you can perform a pyramid set.

For this, you start out relatively lightweight and perform 12-15 reps, add weight then perform 10-12 reps, add weight and perform 8-10 reps, add weight and perform 5-8 reps, and then finally add weight (this is around your max) and perform as many reps as possible. After you work your way up, start taking the weights off and trying to reach the same number of reps we just laid out on the way down. This will SMOKE your chest right from the get-go!

The Last Set

If you want to know how to build muscle this is important! So you’ve crushed your workout so far and are super pumped and feeling great!

This is when we push ourselves over the edge with a drop set! For a drop set of bench press (we will just continue on with this example) load the bar up with about 25% less than your max, all with small plates (5-10lbs). Then perform as many reps as you possibly can (once again with good form; spotter recommended). Then drop off 5-10 pounds from each side and immediately perform as many reps as possible.

Keep dropping weight off (for 5-6 sets) until you are only using the bar and then rep that out as well! These drop sets will finish you off…no doubt about that! Remember that you take almost no rest between sets for this one!


If you want to gain muscle you need to push yourself. Push yourself on every set. You got to know when you can get one more rep and push yourself to get it.

Just one more rep…that is where the growth begins and how to build muscle!

Rest Days and Sleep

It’s incredibly important that you take your rest days! I take 3 a week. These are crucial so you don’t get burnt out, injure yourself, and let your muscles grow and recharge. We are going to be pushing ourselves hard so remember to take your rest days seriously!

Another VERY important consideration that people overlook is sleep. Sleep is vital on so many levels from ramping up our immune system to improving brain connectivity to growing muscles! Getting around 8 hours a night will allow you to be energized the next morning and will help your muscles rest and grow!


How to build MuscleWell DUH, I saved maybe the most important for last! Nutrition is huge when it comes to gaining muscle. If you’ve always been uber skinny and can never seem to gain weight you NEED TO START EATING! I’m not talking about eating everything you see. You can still eat healthily and gain muscle.

If you want to build lean muscle you can’t eat all of that crap out there and not expect to gain fat! Eat healthily and you CAN build muscle while not gaining a large amount of fat as well! We want to gain weight but in the form of muscle!

A good way to determine the calories you need is to use the IIFYM calculator and make sure to select the “Bulking” option.

We aren’t going to go into the specifics for your day-to-day nutrition but one thing we will discuss is protein. I would recommend consuming as many grams as you want to weigh in protein per day. So if you weigh 150lbs and want to weigh 175lbs start consuming 175grams of protein per day.

Sounds like a lot but just make sure to drink enough water and remember that you are going to have to make big changes in the way you do things in order to see big results!

Likewise, one of the best things you can do to help maximize the effectiveness and the results from your workout is to concentrate on your post-workout nutrition! This can really help speed up your results and get that muscle gain you have always wanted.

I’m not going into full details on that subject; you can get a complete in-depth description of a great post-workout shake HERE! Read that article and start consuming one after every workout!


If you want to know how to build muscle (check out how Bradley Martyn added major mass), it really is all about pushing your muscles to tax them and make them grow.

By combining a great workout (lift heavy) and the proper nutrition you will get the muscle gaining results you want! Remember: “Eat more and lift bigger rocks!

Updated 5/16/18

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Josh is the founder of DIY Active - your at home fitness source! He enjoys blending the latest science and expert advice with health practices to help you exercise smarter at home!
Josh Anderson
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