How to Keep Building Muscle

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash

So maybe you’ve changed your body composition and have learned how to gain muscle and get buff. But you are not where you want to be and it seems the muscle growing has slowed down or tapered off completely. What is that next step to build more muscle?

All is not lost and before you get fed up with your lack of muscle growth, just know you can do more to grow your muscles. For starters, the reason things taper off is because you are growing muscle. Your body has become accustomed to this new you which means you’ve already taken great strides.

But now your body is ready for a new challenge in order to grow more muscle and bulk up. It’s a combination of pushing yourself further in your workouts as well as changing things up with your nutrition intake. I talk about this all the time in the Bones to Bulk podcast.

With your workouts, here are three things you can do to really push you body in the gym:

  1. Do 3 new workouts every gym session.
  2. Increase your amount of sets to five on every exercise.
  3. Limit resting time in between each set to 45 seconds.

You will find just these few things can greatly impact your workout.

Second for your nutrition intake, your body needs a lot of clean power packed calories for that additional muscle growth. That means you have to eat more, but not just anything, you’ve got to eat more clean calories. Just increasing your daily intake by 500 calories a day can make a huge difference in the amount of muscle mass you put on.

So don’t get mad and throw in the towel as your muscle gains slow down. Change things up and dig deep.


Why Your Bench Press Is Wrong

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Head into any gym on any given day and chances are someone will be on the bench press. Pumping out reps. It’s one of those staple workouts that must be done. But are you doing your bench pressing right? Are you even hitting your chest muscles while performing your reps? There’s a chance you aren’t. There’s 3 major mistakes we can make when doing the chest press.

  1.  Arching your back. From slight arches to insane ones, it’s easy to arch your back so much that your back barely touches the bench. This is taking the load off of your chest muscles and also setting yourself up to get hurt. Keep your back flat on the bench.
  2. Not coming all the way down. So often I see people only come about half way down with the bar, or stop a couple inches above the chest. You want to bring the bar completely down so it touches your chest.
  3. Bouncing. This is the last common mistake I see, performing your reps so fast that you are using the momentum of the movement to “bounce” the bar back up after it comes back up.

All of these mistakes are easy to do, but also are easy to correct. So next time you are trying to crush it on the chest press, evaluate yourself and see if you are making these mistakes. For more check out this week’s podcast.

Can You Eat Too Much Protein?

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So if you want to build muscle you have to eat protein right? But why? Why are people who lift obsessed with downing globs of protein powder? Well, while we may not need as much as we think, there is a reason behind getting a good amount.

If our body has an excess of protein it goes into an anabolic state, which means our body can build muscle. If we get too little protein then the muscles start breaking down as our body will take the protein from our muscles for other important body functions. In my nutrition guide I point out a lot of the essential sources of protein.

It’s recommended to eat between 1 and 1 1/2 grams per pound of body weight for protein. But while this is recommended there’s still a lot of confusion about exactly how much protein our bodies can digest and actually put to use at once.

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In addition to making sure get the right amount, you want to make sure you have a steady intake of it throughout the day. So make sure you are getting a good chunk of protein at each meal, as well as in your snacks.

You also want to make sure you are having some after your workouts, as this is a time your muscles will really be needing those amino acids to help repair themselves and ultimately grow. To learn more check out this week’s podcast.

Why Sugar is Killing Your Gains

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Sugar is everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It’s infused in about everything we eat, regardless of whether it’s a “healthy” item or not. While your body can process some natural sugars and can actually put them to good use to feed your muscles, we don’t need it in it’s refined from. Having a complex carb or something like a banana after our workouts can do great things to repair and build our muscles, but grabbing a sugary energy drink or candy bar is not the way to go.

Natural sugar comes in the forms of things like complex carbs, whole fruit, honey, Stevia etc. These can be beneficial to us in small portions. It’s when we get into the refined sugars like candy, many sports drinks, soda, etc. These are what can have devastating results on not just your lean muscle gains, but on your overall health. Getting lean muscle mass is great, but at Bones to Bulk I truly believe that it’s just as important to be healthy on the inside as the outside.

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Too much sugar can cause a whole myriad of health problems including diabetes and others. But it’s not just that. Everything we put in our bodies is either used by our body to function properly, or has no purpose throws our body off. Sugar is an empty calorie that does nothing for us. When we consume it our bodies can’t handle the typical large doses we consume in every day products and it is stored as fat, this doesn’t get us any closer to our goal of lean muscle mass.

Remember, food is our body’s fuel, we’ve got to put high quality food in for us to get good results out.

I Want to Gain Muscle

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Why is it so hard to gain muscle? Well in truth it is and it isn’t. I struggled so much in my early fitness years with trying to gain any kind of muscle mass. I was lifting every day. I knew I was getting stronger because I was lifting heavier, but my body composition just wasn’t changing. It was frustrating and I even thought that maybe I was just destined to be a skinny dude.

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Often it can be extremely frustrating when you want a certain body but just can’t seem to get it, but it is possible. When I wasn’t able to build muscle I had two options, quit or figure out what the hell was going on. Thankfully I chose the latter. Muscle building is not just about lifting heavy pieces of iron, though that is a part of it. It’s about fueling your body. You can’t expect to become full of muscles if you are not eating like you are full of muscles, and this is the key component that I left out when I started.

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So if you’ve hit wall after wall and feel like giving up, don’t. Fitness is about changing everything, your physical habits through workouts, your mental habits in how you think about yourself, and your nutritional habits in how you eat. Change these three things and you are going to get to your goal. You’ve got this.

Find out more here. Also if you are looking for a place to get plugged in, check out my Facebook group, no judgement, just people on in all stages on their fitness journeys encouraging each other.

Clean Snacking To Grow Your Muscles

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So you are shortly into your new workout regimen.  You are pumped, determined and are ready to see those muscles start popping.  Then it happens. You are sitting watching an episode of the Office or Stranger Things and you suddenly are craving ice cream, cookies, or some Doritos.  The snacking monster is awakened.

To effectively build muscle and get a surplus of clean calories you have to eat a lot of food.  And in addition to healthy meals, you have to eat healthy snacks.  Snacks make up a huge portion of your diet when trying to fit in 3,000 – 3,500 calories a day.  And let’s be honest we don’t want to have to squeeze a second meal of chicken and broccoli in between meals.

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We have it ingrained in our heads that when we are down and out, depressed, we “deserve” a snack, a cheat snack.  Or on the contrary, sometimes we tell ourselves if we’ve done really well, then we deserve a reward.

I’m going to stop you and call BS right there.  You don’t deserve to put a bunch of crap in your body because you are either having a bad day or because you had a good week.  What you do deserve is to fuel your body the way it needs and deserves by giving it healthy snacks things that will fuel your body, your mind, and help build those muscles.

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For starters here are few to try:

Greek yogurt cups with some granola sprinkled on top.

Tree nuts: almonds, pecans, and cashews.

Cottage Cheese

Fruit and Protein Smoothies: any concoction of low fat or almond milk plus protein powder, a banana, and other fruit of your choice, and some greek yogurt and you’ve got a protein packed calorie rich smoothie.

Protein powder in milk, something good that you can throw together if you are in a hurry and need some extra calories.

Always be thinking of ways to mix up your snacking habits in healthy ways.  You’ve got this, and your muscles will thank you for it.

Join the Facebook Community and get more information, videos, and encouragement from others who are on the journey.  If you are ready for true change check out the Bones to Bulk 8 Week Program on Bones to Bulk


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The Relation Between Muscles and Food

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There is often a disconnect between lifting weights and eating.  When it comes to weight loss people tend to turn to diets, but when it comes to gaining muscle whether just for definition and strength or for actual muscle mass, it’s usually equated with lifting heavy weights.

While yes this is a part of the equation, just lifting heavy weights is not going to add mass to your body.  Yes you will get stronger, and yes you will gain some definition, but mass?  No.  If you want to gain muscle mass you’ve got to eat like it.  And no, this doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want because you are bulking.  So don’t try that excuse here, it doesn’t fly.

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There are some modes of thought that follow that being healthy and having muscle mass are two different things.  While they can be, they shouldn’t be.

I am all for gaining mass, that’s what I strive for, but I also want to be healthy, on the inside and out.  I don’t want to be in good shape on the outside, and my arteries clogged on the inside because of all the “bulking burgers” I just downed.

Eat clean and eat a lot.  Now yes this does consist of eating a lot.  For me personally I aim for roughly 3,300 calories a day. That’s what works for me, but one size does not fit all in this scenario.  Second those 3,300 calories come from clean foods, no garbage.  It’s hard.  Eating clean and consuming that many calories is no walk in the park, but it’s worth it, because you will feel better on the outside as well as on the inside.

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So what does clean eating look like?  It means drinking nothing but water and low-fat milk. Eating lean meats, chicken, fish, or turkey.  Fresh veggies, fresh fruit, complex carbs like sweet potatoes, couscous, brown rice, whole wheat breads and pastas, whole grain oats, whole grain cereals. It means not eating out five nights a week, or grabbing something quick on the go.

Yes this is a lot, and yes it does take work, but the biggest work involved is getting your head in the game and committing and building the habit of eating healthy day in and day out.  Once you have that habit developed you are golden.  So get in there and eat clean, lift hard, and put on the mass.  You’ve got this.

Check out more at Bones to Bulk.  Also if you are looking for a fitness community to get connected in regardless of your fitness level or goals, check out my Facebook Community and get plugged in, we’d love to have you.