I’m a car guy. And when I was 19 the cool car to have, and to beat, was the 5.0 Mustang. If you had one, you worked it on weekends, with a cloud of ‘Stang smoke that left others in your tailpipe. If you didn’t have a 5.0 ‘Stang, you always claimed you had a “five-liter beater”.
At the time, Chevy and Dodge were both out of the picture. The 5.0 ‘Stang was the only true pony car. That meant that if you had a “five-liter beater” you were obsessed with beating sheer cubic inches of 300 horsepower with a turbo-charged Japanese import.
More often than not, the ‘Stang prevailed.
So why do I bring this up in an article about how to build natural muscle?
One word: fundamentals.
You can turbo-charge a car, but it’s not natural. There’s turbo lag, and you’re more likely to burn the engine out faster than if you laid your tire tracks on the pavement with a naturally aspirated bad boy of a hot rod like that 5.0 Stang.
See any parallels here?
If you want to build muscle, stick to the fundamentals. Don’t turbo charge your body with dangerous steroids. There ain’t no substitute for proper diet and rest and a whole lotta elbow grease in the weight room. Stay with that program and you’re gonna add, and keep, a muscle-bound figure.
How Do You Get Muscles?
You build muscle with the fundamentals. You hit the gym with some basic movements, eat a high protein diet, get plenty of rest. Then you do it all over again.
Bodybuilding is a competition in which a bunch of muscle-bound guys, with exorbitantly high muscle content, no fat (and very often, no neck), grease up and pose for a panel of judges, who critique said guys on their form, definition and generally high proportion of muscle.
Weight-training is when you build muscles through resistance training. This is the basis of how you get muscles. Bodybuilders also build muscle through intense weight training, but most of us that hit the gym just do weight training for general non-competition muscle tone and strength. And of course, ’cause the ladies like muscles…
But there’s another factor that often pops up regarding muscle growth and athletic performance. That factor is supplements, and for the most hardcore, anabolic steroids.
Don’t do the latter. You can supplement though, with a natural growth hormone supplement, like HyperGH 14X.
Later in this article we’ll review how to supplement for muscle growth and why a natural supplement is a much better option. But for now, let’s look at some of the things you should be doing in the gym. Fundamentals first, remember?
The Basics of Weight Lifting
Curl a bar and you’ll get biceps. Work your core muscles and you develop an entire region of your body, for strength, muscle and stability.
Start with the core exercises, guys. Yes, we all want those washboard abs that women love to ogle on those warm, clothing-optional days in August, but abs are exactly that – stomach muscles. They’re secondary to the muscle groups that really matter: your chest, legs, shoulders and back.
There may be time to get that scintillating six pack down the road, assuming you cover the basics first. And these core exercises have the added benefit of working your arms as well. Bonus!
By the way, remember to always practice good gym etiquette as you’re huffing and pumping with these essential movements.
Personally, I work out in a university, and every September the gym gets mobbed by complete imbeciles who drop weights, hog machines and don’t bother to put weights back when they’re finished.
Don’t be one of these guys – show a little respect in the gym!
Core Exercises For Muscles and Strength
As a general rule, there are three core exercises that really matter. These are deadlifts, squats and bench press.
Though the first two exercises don’t have near the glamour of curling a set of 25s, they are, simply put, the best exercises you can do for resistance training. Not only do they both provide a full body workout, they also strengthen your spine, add stability to your frame and develop true physical strength like nothing else.
Frankly, these three exercises are the winners, hands down, as the best exercises for muscles and strength. Everything else is an also-ran.
The very definition of a power move. If you did one exercise all week, you should do deadlifts.
This basic movement is suprisingly simple to perform, yet it requires close detail to form. Any movement with heavy weights that use the back should be done with your spine in and your butt out.
Remember too that it’s really tempting to load the weights on with deadlifts, and while this is, admittedly, one exercise that rewards hard work, watch your form here.
To do a deadlift, stand in front of an Olympic bar with your feet a little wider than your shoulders. Assuming you’ve got the weights on the bar, and with your back in and butt protruding out, bend your knees slightly and lower your upper torso to the bar, hold it with your hands the same width as your feet. Then, push down with your legs and raise the bar. Hold briefly and return to the starting position.
Remember, risk and reward go together. Although deadlifts place tremendous weight on your lower back, this exercise is excellent for thickening the all-important muscles of your lower back, to say nothing of the rest of your body. Just watch your form, keep your back in, butt out, and if you have to arch your back to lift the bar, it’s too heavy.
A close second to deadlifts on your list of exercises that develop both muscle and power, squats rock the same muscle group, with a hardcore showing of RPMs from your legs and lower back. Your chest, shoulders and pretty much the rest of you shows up for squats as well.
As with deadlifts, squats put substantial weight on your lower back and legs. I no longer do squats in the traditional manner, with an Olympic bar resting on my shoulders, behind my neck, because I believe this form of doing squats is simply too much for the back. Most guys compress their spine when they do squats this way. That won’t be on my to-do list anytime soon.
Having said that, squats rock. And there are many, many variations to this universal exercise that are both beneficial and safe. You can do squats with dumb bells, against a wall, even standing on one leg!
Try doing squats with a trap bar. It’s designed to work your trapezius muscles, around the neck, but works great for squats. In this variation, you stand inside the bar, hold the grips and push up with your legs. Keep your back in and butt out as you lift. Then, while maintaining this form, lower back to the original position.
Do squats. They’re right up there with deadlifts in terms of developing that power you’re searching for. Just remember to watch your form. Back in, butt out. Can’t maintain that position? Lighten up.
The pinnacle of weight training. It’s not often you’re asked how much you can squat. But bench press? That defines your ability in the weight room!
Well, that’s not totally true. There are other exercises (hint, see above) that are just as good to rock your body with muscle growth and gut-pounding strength. But the bench ranks way up there, and in terms of working the upper body, it’s arguably the king.
Bench doesn’t put as much weight on your back, which is great, but it’s still important to watch your form here. Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor when you do bench. Heavy weights? Grab a spotter.
You know how the rest of this goes. To perform bench press, lie down with your back flat on the bench. Keep your feet rooted flat on the floor and hold the bar with your hands just wider than your shoulders. Lift the bar off the rack and slowly lower it down to your chest. Then, and without bouncing it off your body, raise back to the starting position.
Take your time when doing bench press. Lower the weight slowly, taking at least three seconds, and double that time on the way back up, to really work the muscles involved in this fundamental movement. Which muscles are those? Your chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps; a total upper body workout!
And one last time, always use a spotter when piling on those heavy weights. Even Arnold knew his limits and had someone standing close by if he knew he couldn’t do more than several reps.
The core movements listed above are the all-stars of your training regimen, but they’re hardly alone in their ability to stack on lean muscle mass and develop physical strength. Perform these guys as well, and you’ve got the tools for a physique that’ll have the ladies swooning and guys sizing you up.
Bent-Over Row – Another power movement, do this with a regular curl bar. With that basic posture of your back in and butt out (relax, it doesn’t look fat), bend your knees slightly and lower your torso to the bar, grab it and slowly raise the bar to your stomach. Keep your elbows close to your sides.
Dumb Bell Flies – There are so many variations of dumb bell flies that you can do them for just about every upper body muscle group. In particular, consider dumb bell flies for your chest, while lying down or inclined, or your shoulders, while seated or standing.
Also remember that flies are done with your palms perpendicular to the floor. When your hands face the ground it’s called ‘press grip’. Different variations to an excellent movement.
Pull Overs – Another great way to develop your upper body, sneak pull overs into your weekly work out regimen for great pecs and massive upper body strength.
To do a pull over, lie down on the bench with your feet on the ground. Reach back with your arms behind your head, grab the dumb bell off the floor and pull it up and over your chest. Hold it briefly over your upper body and slowly lower to the starting position.
Leg Press – An effective way to build tree trunks for quadriceps, leg press ranks up there with squats as a power movement for your lower body. And with less strain on your lower back, it’s a movement you’ll want to do on a regular basis.
For leg press, sit down on the machine and place your feet against the platform. Lower the weight and press it back up. Pretty simple huh? The angled movement of this exercise allows you to push more weight than if it was vertical. A must do.
Chin Ups – Arnold Schwarzenegger once wrote an essay stating that chin-ups are the single best way to build biceps the size of watermelons. And with the many variations of this integral exercise, you’d do well to make chin-ups a common ritual in your muscle-building routine.
To do a chin-up, grab the bar with your palms facing you. Pull yourself up until the bar meets your chest. Then lower yourself down until your arms are back to the starting position. Don’t cheat by doing half the movement. When you grab the bar with your palms facing the wall it’s called a pull-up.
Want the complete gamut on exercises that will stack on the muscle and programs in which to use them? Start here.
WTF…Work to Failure
Here’s a principle that might surprise you. According to a Dutch study, published in the June issue of Applied Physiology, it’s not necessary to lift stupidly heavy weights to stimulate muscle growth. You can build muscle even with light weights – provided you go by WTF
WTF means work to failure, by the way, though the shocking discovery that it’s not essential to kill your muscles to grow them might invariably lead you to give WTF another meaning…
While it might be sexier to go heavy or go home, it’s not always possible. Athletes get injured, people get older and can’t lift as much, and a variety of other issues might prevent you from the big weights.
The good news is that you don’t have to go heavy. In fact, it’s often good to mix things up a little, with low weight and high reps and vice versa done alternately, and sometimes even in the same workout, to keep your muscles guessing. Muscle hates routine.
Just remember that to build muscles with light weights, it’s essential to do more repetitions. The last few should hurt, so make’em count.
The Intensity Factor
Loading up on heavy weights isn’t the only way to build muscle. You can also take shorter rest periods, do higher reps with lower weight and several other techniques that will keep your muscles guessing.
A compound set is when you do two exercises for the same muscle with no rest in between. This really cranks up the intensity of your work out and gets twice as much done in a lot less time.
A super-set is the same as a compound set, but targeting two different muscles. This works especially well for muscles that work together, like the biceps and triceps. Do dumb bell curls for your biceps and immediately go to work on your triceps with a lying tricep extension or diamond push-ups and you’ll have guns the size of a World War 2 howitzer.
Of course, if you’re really feeling hard core, plan on trying out for the Navy Seals any time soon or you just want to push yourself, do either a compound or super-set with three exercises rather than two. That’ll have you on the floor at first, but it burns calories somethin’ crazy and takes intensity to new levels.
Muscle Likes Healthy Foods
Hit the gym regularly and with Superman intensity and you’re gonna build muscle. But another part of the equation is the foods you scarf down.
Protein is the building block of muscle. And carbohydrates are fuel for your body to use in that explosive workout. The caveat with the latter is that healthy carbs should be part of your diet – not the fattening, highly processed sugar-laden offerings in the middle aisles of the supermarket.
Yet again we come back to protein as the basis of your muscle-building diet. Add these foods to your plate, eat healthy carbs, like whole wheats and brown rice, and you’ve got the makings of a high octane diet for muscles and power.
Eggs – Pound for pound, you’ll find few, if any more effective sources of protein than these under-appreciated muscle building powerhouses. Don’t fear the yolk either – that’s where the goodness lies.
Almonds – A rich source of antioxidant-fighting vitamin E, almonds help your muscles recover from the rigors of weight training, with the added bonus that they may guard against Alzheimer’s and fuel that other muscle that counts: your brain.
Salmon – Personally, I think this is the best food on the planet. Wild salmon packs a heart and brain-happy wallop of omega-3 fatty acids and sky-high levels of protein that assist your muscles with post-workout recovery. Avoid “atlantic salmon”, which is parlance for “farmed”. Choose wild instead.
Yogurt – A splendid blend of protein and energy-boosting carbohydrates, yogurt assists with muscle recovery and growth.
But a parting thought with yogurt. Some, including the good folks at Men’s Health, advocate for the often sugar-laden variety with fruit on the bottom, from which I respectfully disagree.
Opt for plain yogurt, with lower sugar content, for an easier ride on your blood sugar. You’re going for muscle, not diabetes, and it’s got higher levels of bone-friendly calcium.
With that notable exception, click here for the full run-down of foods that build muscle.
How to Supplement
Until now we’ve talked about the basics of weight training: the moves, the intensity and the foods that muscles like and the rest of your body will love as well.
We’re at that stage where we can talk about muscle growth supplements.
I know, I started this article with a tirade against steroids. But there’s a huge difference between risking your health with synthetic hormones and sustainable muscle growth achieved with a natural growth hormone supplement formulated specifically for results in the gym.
Think of a natural growth hormone supplement for muscle growth, like HyperGH 14X, as a high octane fuel for your car, with maximum natural performance. And steroids and synthetic HGH as a turbo charger that will quickly break your engine.
What Are Steroids? (PS – Don’t Do ‘Em)
Steroids are a class of drugs that mimic the effects of testosterone. They’re legal only when prescribed to treat hormone deficiencies and loss of body mass from AIDS.
Synthetic hormone is powerful stuff. Steroids have anabolic properties, meaning the ability to ‘build up’ body mass and enhance athletic performance. Crank with roids and you’ll be pushing some stupidly heavy weights. That’ll be fun for a while.
There is, of course, that whole thing about your health on steroids. And if you’re good with the following health risks, then by all means, juice away:
decreased sperm count
risk of heart attack
Steroids ain’t worth your health. Does Chris Benoit ring a bell? Avoid steroids completely. If you’re keen on supplements for muscle growth, there’s a safer, and read this again, NATURAL alternative that’s a much better option.
Natural Growth Hormone For the Gym
Back to that car analogy. Stay away from turbo chargers & superchargers that’ll burn your engine out faster than you can say Jack Robinson. Rather than that, fill up with a high octane fuel that gets the most out of your natural cubic inches and you’re in much better shape.
In that light, growth hormone is a protein-based peptide hormone responsible for cell growth and regeneration. Secreted by your anterior pituitary gland, growth hormone is responsible for your height, hair color, bone density, skin condition, fat storage, and, very notably, muscle growth and development.
A natural growth hormone supplement designed for the gym stimulates natural production of growth hormone. And it works in sync with your body’s exercise-induced growth hormone response, or EIGR, in which your body produces natural growth hormone in direct response to resistance training.
In other words, a natural growth hormone supplement for muscle growth is designed to squeeze the most out of your workouts, naturally, for more energy, faster recovery time and ultimately, more muscle.
You should also know that a natural growth hormone supplement for muscle growth is formulated with amino acids and clinically proven herbals that stimulate growth hormone production. There ain’t an ounce of synthetic growth hormone in the formula.
When you consider the health risks of steroids, that’s definitely a good thing!
Buy a natural growth hormone supplement formulated specifically for muscle growth and development. Where possible, choose a product with an oral spray with Alpha-GPC, which enhances the effects of the ingredients used in the formula.
Try HyperGH 14X. Then get your tail in the gym. Train hard, eat right, and a funny thing is gonna happen…
You’ll be ripped with natural muscle!