Everybody says it: building muscle is easy. I know I’ve said it many times in the past, and undoubtedly will do so in the future. But, looking a little deeper at the issue, just how easy is it to build muscle mass… and is it actually a little harder than we like to believe or admit?
If we consider everything that goes into weight training to build muscle mass, you can’t overlook the fact that it certainly takes a heck of a lot of dedication. There’s the training: sticking to it, and pushing yourself at every session. There’s the diet: the stricter, the better the results, but no matter what you eat, you invariably have to eat a lot more food than you are used to, and it’s difficult at times. Then there is the resting. Results come much sooner if you give up other sporting or physical activities whilst trying to build muscle. Those are just the facts. It’s a combination of dedication and sacrifice.
But beyond that is the deeper issue of just how quickly can we build muscle mass?
We’ve all seen the wondrous claims on the internet: ‘I gained 25lb of solid muscle in 3 weeks’, and so forth. And the simple facts are, even a genetic superior person pumped full of cutting edge performance and physique enhancing drugs would be very hard pushed to make those kind of gains. So, why do we judge our successes on what are in all probability, absolute fallacies?
Partly because we don’t want to believe that building muscle, transforming our bodies and lives will take a long time. Years, even. We want it now, so will believe anything that backs up our dreams.
I’m sure we’ve all seen it happen before: a new trainee comes along, works out for a month or two and packs on a lot of size. But, how much of that is muscle, and how much is fat?
Many underestimate just how much fat they are putting on, contributing to their weight and size gains. And of course, the fat has to come off, and in doing so, they have just made their job much harder because they have to diet for months, losing muscle building time in the process, just to lose that fat.
I think the key to making muscle building easy is simply this: regular fat measurements and regular weigh ins.
Although beginner trainees do put on a lot of muscle quickly, by no stretch of the imagination will they be able to become huge with solid muscle only in a short time. That sort of thing takes years and dedication and is done slowly and steadily.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking because the scales don’t move, and the tape doesn’t expand every week that you aren’t building muscle. Fat happens quickly, muscle doesn’t. Dehydrated muscles or muscles not storing much energy appear smaller. Measurements can be inaccurate because the spot measured on isn’t precisely the same. You may weigh yourself under these conditions, and may also have less or more stomach or bowel contents. These are just the facts.
Don’t get caught up in it all. Muscle building isn’t easy, and it does take time and patience and dedication. However, I believe if you set your stall out to add around 1-2lb of bodyweight every month – although it doesn’t sound a lot – you will ensure that at least 90% of that is muscle, which in the long game, puts you way ahead of those packing on lb after lb of fat. Train smart and you’ll get results.