If you are looking to build muscle mass – and not just small amounts of muscle, but substantial amounts, then I really cannot recommend any other method other than training with weights.
There are many methods to build strength, endurance, and some muscle mass. Callisthenics – better known as bodyweight exercises – are one such method. However, in order to build muscle, the universal law which must be acknowledged is progressive resistance. This is why weight training is king and always will be… the potential is limitless, and how could it get any easier than simply adding a plate or two to a bar?
My first piece of advice to anyone looking to start out isn’t to rush into the gym, it’s to spend a few weeks learning as much as possible. By learning as much as you can before hitting the weights, you’ll maximize the effectiveness of your muscle training because you’ll have a better understanding of it. Plus, with the hands on experience you’ll eventually get, you’ll really be in a great position to make great gains.
A few quick pointers to get you started would be:
- Train 3 times a week: As a beginner, just about anything you do will spur growth. Training any more than 3 times a week simply isn’t necessary – any maybe never will be.
- Train hard, and keep the workouts brief: You really shouldn’t spend hours in the gym. Any workout which takes longer than an hour to complete is probably a workout which is either too large in volume, or, you are taking breaks between sets for too long and not simply getting on with it. Intense workouts are the key element in workouts you must stick to.
- Eat enough calories: Seriously… don’t foul up on diet. I know what it’s like to put the effort in at the gym, only to see I get no gains from it at all. When this happens, it’s because you simply didn’t eat enough calories. As a rule of thumb, try to get between 12 – 15 calories per pound of bodyweight, each and every day. You’ll know when you’ve gotten it right, because you’ll grow. Stick to whole foods and avoid junk and sugary foods – these won’t do you any good, but will make you fat. Simply ensure you eat more calories than your body needs, and include plenty of protein, complex carbs, and good quality fats.
- Make sure your program is based around compound exercises: Rarely will any true mass building program be sparse on compound exercises. Compound exercises are exercises which involve more than one simple muscle group, like isolation exercises do. Therefore, because more than one muscle group is involved, a greater amount of overall muscle fibres are worked, which equates to more growth both locally and overall. Some compound exercises are: dead lift, squats, bench press, military press, bent over rows.
- Rest: Once your workout is over, that’s it. Take it easy. You’ll be far better off avoiding any other type of physical activity which will deduct from your calorie intake, and continue to stress muscles which are trying to repair.
Not an exhaustive list by any means, but they are what I would consider to be the key principles to allow a person to build muscle fast. By all means, take a look at the rest of the site to find more in depth information on each specific element.