Simple Steps to Muscle Gain




It's been said before but I'll say it again... exercise and strength training are essential pillars of both physical and mental health. The benefits of exercise on the body in reducing injury & disease, fighting signs of ageing and lowering cholesterol are long proven scientific facts. Exercise and training also benefits mental health by raising endorphins (the happy hormone), raising testosterone (the manly hormone) and lowering cortisol (the stress hormone).



Human beings weren't evolved to live in shoebox sized apartments, stacked on top of each other and not seeing natural light for an entire day. We're wild, we need to be outdoors, moving, doing things, we're social creatures and we need interaction, challenges and excitement. Sitting inside all day watching Netflix can be a great way to spend a cold, rainy Sunday, but this should not be your everyday life and certainly shouldn't be your only hobby.



In this article I'll go through a few simple steps that you can take to start lowering fat and building clean, natural muscle. This is something I think is important for the bald men among us, as it compliments the bald head with a masculine, primal look that is undeniably sexy.



So let's look at how this can be achieved...



1. Do Compound Moves



What is a compound move? These are exercises that hit multiple muscle groups all at the same time, therefore shocking the body into building more muscle in more places and assisting in your overall, natural muscle gain. As opposed to focused moves which focus on building very specific muscles - these include bicep curls and ab crunches.


Compound moves you need to be doing at least once or twice a week are:


Squats.

The squat is your number 1, absolute must, bread and butter move. You NEED to be doing squats at least once a week as a minimum as this move hits all of your biggest muscles and not only promotes more muscle growth than almost any other move, but has been proven to actually help raise your testosterone! Squats will also help you build your overall strength and stability so this is something you cannot skip.


For a guide to great squat technique, check out:



Deadlifts.

Second only to squats on the list, the deadlift hits more muscles than any other move. Though often considered a lower body exercise, deadlifts also target your lower back muscles, shoulders and forearms to name a few. By many professional standards, the deadlift is considered the yardstick for measuring overall strength.


Proper deadlift technique is extremely important. When done wrong, this move can cause pretty serious injury. For a guide to great deadlifting, check out:



Bench press.

Among the most popular moves in the gym, particularly for guys, is the bench press. The bench press targets a lot of your upper body muscles including the chest, shoulders and triceps. Building a big chest is also a pretty manly move so don't skip out on your bench press, this includes incline presses too in order to target the upper chest and shoulders more.


For great bench press technique, check out:



Pull ups.

Another good upper body move that focuses on a lot of the back and shoulder muscles, pull ups are something you can't miss. Pull ups will help to widen and thicken your upper back, helping you with that tapered V-shape upper body that is so desirable (think Johnny Bravo) and they also hit your biceps.


For great pull up technique, check out:



Dips.

Imagine the opposite of the pull up, and you have a dip. This fantastic exercise is a good way to hit your shoulders, triceps and lower chest. Add a weight belt to up the weight and really overload those triceps - after all: big arms are almost 70% triceps, not biceps!


For great dip technique, check out:



Clean & Press.

Last but certainly not least on this list, cleans & presses are a staple for overall strength and muscle gain, combining some of the best bits of deadlifts and shoulder presses.


To lean how to do an effective clean and press, check out:



2. Get your Diet in Check



I'd say almost 90% of lean muscle gain and effective fat loss comes from your diet. And when I say diet I don't mean "4-week diet" or fad, quick fix diet. I mean long term, sustainable and realistic changes to your eating habits. If you try to cut out every single bad thing permanently and only eat salads and organic chicken, I guarantee you'll last about a week before you give up and run to KFC. It's about making realistic changes and finding the right balance.



Carbs are good.

How many times have you heard people say you need to completely cut out carbs to lose fat? Well they're wrong. You need carbs for fat loss and muscle gain, you just need the right carbs and the right amount of them. Try eating brown pasta, brown rice, sweet potato, pulses and whole grains like breads and oats.




Get enough protein.

This is pretty common knowledge because it's true. You need protein to gain muscle. During a workout, you damage your muscle fibers and the protein is what drives repair. You should be aiming to get AT LEAST 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight every day. Good quality protein is found in lean beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, Greek yoghurt.




Lot of fruits and veggies.

Try to get in lots of nice, clean, healthy fruits and veg because they're full of vitamins and other great things. Try apples, oranges, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, beetroot, asparagus, spinach.







Healthy fats.

These are non-saturated fats and your body needs them (yes, even to lose fat!). Try eating some oily fish at least once a week like salmon and make sure you eat avocado, almonds, dark chocolate, extra virgin olive oil.




Supplements.

It's difficult to consume all the nutrients and muscle building foods you need so it's a good idea to top up (not replace!) your intake with some good quality supplements. Try some multivitamins and a good quality protein powder such as:








3. Lifestyle



Lay off the alcohol.

Some alcohol, in small amounts isn't bad for you and many studies have shown that drinking a glass of red wine every now and then can actually be GOOD for you because it can reduce the risk of heart disease. But getting out on the town twice a week and having 9 beers and 4 shots of Jaeger definitely isn't going to help your muscle gain at all. Quite the opposite.



Alcohol hinders muscle growth, causes dehydration and adds empty/sugary calories causing a beer belly, amongst other things. So if you're trying to pack on the lean mass, it's best to try and cut down the booze as much as possible but again, be realistic and allow yourself a drink every now and then, just don't overdo it.




Get more sleep.

Many studies have stressed the importance of sleep and it's very true. You'll hear a lot of people saying they function well on 5-6 hours a night, which can be true - you can function on 5-6 hours a night. But you won't be optimal. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep a night will give your body time to repair those muscle fibers and fix your mind, meaning you'll be fresh and rested and have more energy for the gym the next day!


Get out more.

I wish I didn't have to say this but I feel I do. Our ever-increasing, indoor, sedentary lifestyles cause more harm than you think. We need fresh air, low-medium intensity exercise and vitamin D from the sun to keep our bodies and minds healthy. Get out for a walk, cycle, swim or some form of light exercise every day.





Now you might be thinking this is a long list of things you need to do and you work 12 hours a day and have kids to take care of or you travel too often or you don't live anywhere near a gym... these might all be true and they're valid barriers, but they're not solid excuses to do none of the things I've mentioned in this post.



Try making small changes and once those take, add a few more. Unfortunately, as with many things in life, gaining good lean muscle and getting healthy isn't a quick fix and it takes perseverance and dedication. But once you've been doing it for a month or two, you'll start to see some changes and it'll become easier to keep up these healthy habits.