Build muscle mass: the ultimate guide to a muscular body!


It’s the ultimate goal of almost every person that regularly visits a gym; a perfect, muscular physique that consists of muscular arms, strong legs, a big chest, wide shoulders and killer abs.


But gaining muscle mass can be hard if you don’t know what you are doing. In this article the key factors of building muscle mass are explained. Follow these key factors and you will build the perfect shaped physique.


This is the ultimate guide to a muscular and perfectly trained body! Building muscle mass is easy if you know exactly where to focus on. In this article you will learn everything you need to know about the 3 most important topics:


1. Fitness techniques: the perfect balance in exercises, sets, reps and rest time.

2. Nutrition: eat to grow.

3. Sleep: five tips for a good night rest.


build muscle mass grow bigger muscles

1. Fitness techniques

All important fitness elements come together in your workout plan. This means that if your plan is good the results will come automatically. If you want to develop a well trained body you have to make sure that the following factors are perfectly aligned: exercises, sets, reps, weight, rest time and number of training days.

1.1 Exercises

Make sure that you include at least 5 different exercises per muscle group in your daily routine. Performing less than 5 exercises will decrease the effectiveness of your workout and therefore the end result. Building bigger muscles means putting in your hours in the gym! Ideally, you include 6 different exercises for the largest muscle groups (chest, legs and back).


Click here for a complete overview of all fitness exercises for every muscle group!

1.2 Sets

Perform 3 to 4 sets per exercise. Performing less than 3 sets means that you are not fully tackling the muscle. You want your muscles to be completely done at the end of your workout. Performing more than 4 sets is simply too much. 4 sets times 5 or 6 different exercises is enough to really tear up your muscles.


1.3 Repetitions

When focusing on building mass it’s important to perform between 8 and 12 reps per set. When you perform less than 8 sets you are focusing on developing muscle strength instead of building mass. And when you perform more than 12 reps the focus is shifting towards increasing muscle stamina and losing weight.


1.4 Weight

When developing muscle mass it’s important to use a weight that is around 75% of your maximum weight. The maximum weight is being defined as 1RM. RM stands for Repetition Maximum and it defines the heaviest weight that you can lift in order to make one repetition.


Example: the heaviest weight you can make 1 bicep curl repetition with is 80 lbs / 36 kg. In order to ensure muscle growth you perform the exercise with a 60 lbs / 27 kg weight (75% of 80 lbs = 60 lbs). If you train with a weight that’s 80% - 100% of your 1RM you focus on developing muscle strength. And if you use a weight that’s 0% - 50% of your 1RM you focus on burning fat and therefore weight loss.


Progressive overload is a concept that involves continuously increasing the demands on your muscles to make sure that they keep growing. Holding on to the same exercises and the same weight will get you nowhere! Keep on adding more weight to your exercises and keep pushing your body to seek new challenges.


1.5 Rest time

Ensure a rest time between sets of a 45 to 90 seconds. This way you allow the muscle to recover from the exercise that you just performed but at the same time don’t let it recover fully. You want that muscle to burn and be finished at the end of your workout. So keep the intensity high!

1.6 Training days

As said before, building muscle mass really means putting in your hours in the gym. This doesn’t mean working out for 2,5 hours per session. You should be able to complete your workout within 60 minutes. But it does mean going to the gym at least 4 times a week. The ideal workout schedule is based on 5 workout days per week. If you train 2 different muscle groups per session it means that you train each muscle group at least 3 times in 2 weeks.


1.7 Changing schedules

The effectiveness of your workout schedule decreases when the weeks pass. Because your body has the amazing ability to adapt itself to specific, heavy repetitive movements it gets used to performing the exercises of your workout schedule. For the smaller muscle groups (biceps, triceps, shoulders and abs) it means that after 4 weeks the effectiveness dropped significantly. For the larger muscle groups this happens after 5 to 6 weeks (chest, back and legs). Therefore, never hold on to the same workout plan for more than 6 weeks. The graph below shows the decrease in effectiveness per muscle group over time. The line in the middle of the graph at Y=50 shows the turning point from effective to ineffective.


decrease effectiveness muscle groups workout plan.

2. Nutrition

“Muscles are not made in the gym, they are made in the kitchen”. This is the most important concept you should remember when your goal is to build muscle mass. You can train all you want, if your diet isn’t right you will never reach your goal. No matter how many days a week you go to the gym.


The most difficult part when it comes to your nutrition is eating enough. Food is your fuel, and without enough fuel you will get nowhere. Only when you take in enough protein, carbohydrates and calories your body will start to grow. If your muscles don’t grow it means that you’re not eating right.


2.1 Do the math: calories and protein

protein carbs carbohydrates fat protein products food

2.2 Eat every 3 hours

If you are not growing you are not eating enough. If you eat a meal every 3 hours you should be able to take in your daily amount of calories. By spreading your intake throughout the day you give your body time to process the nutrition and you keep your digestive system up to speed.


2.3 Supplements

Fitness supplements are a good way to support your diet. Because supplements have higher concentrations of carbs and protein they are a fast and easy way to reach your daily nutrition targets. In order to get the most out of your supplements you should take amino acids and protein before or during your workout and carbohydrates after your workout.


There are plenty of websites that offer a wide range of supplements. Here you can order all the supplements mentioned above and much more!


2.4 Drink enough water

Your body needs water to transport nutrients to your cells. Water is therefore needed to support your diet and to increase the effectiveness. It helps to form the structures of protein. Also, water transports waste out of the body. It acts as a natural detergent for your body to help keep everything clean. The more food you take in, the more water is needed to transport nutrients and waste.


Water helps to keep your skin look young, your teeth and bones strong, your joints healthy and your digestive system up and running.


When you are training hard to build extra muscle mass your body needs about 1 - 1,5 gallons (4 - 6 liters) of water per day.


build muscle mass grow bigger muscles water transport recovery

3. Sleep

When you are asleep your body produces the most growth hormones. Therefore, a good night sleep is an important part of your workout. The longer you sleep the bigger your muscles get. All the cracks and tears in your muscles after your workout are repaired at night. A lack of sleep therefore has a negative effect on all your efforts in the gym. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is sufficient.


3.1 Sleep phases

Every night you go through 5 different sleep phases. Each cycle of these 5 phases lasts about 1.5 hours. The first phase is the transition from being awake to going to sleep. Then 3 phases of deeper sleep break in which you sleep a little deeper at each stage. Finally you end up in the deepest sleep phase; the REM sleep.


Not sleeping enough will lead to physical complaints. Symptoms of a lack of sleep are:

- headaches

- depressed feeling

- lack of energy

- unable to concentrate

- stress

- irritable


3.2 5 tips for a good night rest


1. Sleep enough: make sure you sleep at least 7.5 hours every night. This gives your body the chance to complete all sleep phases, which will lead to an equipped and fit feeling when you wake up.


2. Do not set an alarm: your body can determine exactly what the best moment is for you to wake up. Many people set their alarms at the same time on workdays, while it can be beneficial for your body to wake up fifteen minutes earlier or later. So rely on the rhythm of your body instead of that annoying beep of your alarm clock.


3. Do not snooze: although it feels good knowing that you can sleep a bit longer after your alarm goes off, it’s not good for your night's sleep to snooze. There is a chance that you will be pulled out of your REM sleep abruptly, which leads to you waking up feeling tired.



4. The same rhythm: when you go to bed at the same time every day your body will get used to it. Therefore, it will also wake up again around the same time in the morning. This natural way of waking up creates a more rested feeling when you get up. Therefore, try to ensure that you do not completely reverse your rhythm during the weekend. You will regret that on Monday morning.


5. Use technology: nowadays there are several apps and smart watches that can give you all kinds of information about your sleep. For example, they measure how many hours of your total sleep have been in your REM sleep. This knowledge gives you insight in your sleep pattern and offers you the opportunity to make changes where necessary.




In order to build muscle mass you perform at least 5 different exercises per muscle group, 3 - 4 sets per exercise, 8 - 12 reps per set, rest time between 45 - 90 seconds in between sets using weights around 75% of your maximum weight. Your workout plan should include at least 4 training days per week and you alternate workout plans at least every 6 weeks.



Your nutrition determines the effectiveness of your gym efforts. If you don’t eat enough your muscles will never grow. Make sure that you consume 20 calories per pound of bodyweight and at least 1.0g protein per pound of bodyweight in order to ensure muscle growth.


Bodybuilders usually stick to the 50/30/20 diet plan. This means that on a daily basis their nutrition consists of:


                50% complex carbohydrates

                30% protein

                20% unsaturated fat



Drink enough water. Your body needs water to transport nutrients to your cells. Water is therefore needed to support your diet and to increase the effectiveness.



When you are asleep your body produces the most growth hormones. Therefore, a good night sleep is an important part of your workout. The longer you sleep the bigger your muscles get. All the cracks and tears in your muscles after your workout are repaired at night. A lack of sleep therefore has a negative effect on all your efforts in the gym. For most adults, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is sufficient. 


Mass-building workout plans

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