Muscle Building Secret?

by Josh Hanagarne on August 24, 2010

Psst…come here…I’ve got a secret for you. It may blow your mind. It is the greatest muscle building secret ever. Are you ready? It’s really super-secret. Okay, here goes:

The secret is that there’s no secret. Despite the tens of thousands of pages devoted to the “special muscle building formula” being sold in every bodybuilding magazine in existence, there is no secret. There is no magic product, there is no supplement that makes everything perfect, and there is no piece of strength equipment that will make the ultimate difference in whether you are able to build muscle or not. I’m sorry, there just isn’t.

Now, the fact that it isn’t a secret is a good thing. It means the information you need is already out there. And since it’s not a secret, you can probably save some money if you tell yourself right now that you’re going to stop looking for a shortcut.

It is very, very simple to build more muscle. I didn’t say easy, and I didn’t say simplistic–but simple, yes.

The best way to build muscle

There are three factors that have made a greater difference in my training than anything else. They are not secrets and they are not unique to me, and yet millions upon millions of dollars per year are spent in pursuit of a goal that requires only these things:

  • Lifting more weight, more times
  • Eating enough food to grow
  • Sleeping and resting

If you lift more weight every time you go into the gym, whether that means pounds on the bar or total volume lifted during your training session, then you are getting stronger. Progress is strength. It is very difficult to get stronger without getting bigger. It is possible, but you would have to make strength without size your goal and monitor your calories and reps accordingly.

Get stronger and grow. Just add reps to your sets, or sets to your workout, or pounds on the bar, or do more work in less time. There is always a way to make progress.

Eat

Your body cannot grow muscle without adequate nutrition. Most guys think they eat a lot. Most guys are wrong. I know because I used to say “I eat a lot.” And of course I never gained any muscle. I kept looking for the muscle building secret instead.

Here is how I changed it: I counted my calories for a few days. I was eating under 2,000 every day. I’m 6’8″ and weighed 220. Of course I wasn’t gaining any weight! Combined with a higher workload, I upped my calories slowly by 500 at a time until I was eating between 4,000 and 6,000 calories a day. I consumed about half of it in a drink.

Find out how many calories you are eating. Don’t guess.

Sleep

This is so key and I am so bad at doing it. I can kill it in the gym and I can dial in my nutrition without much effort. But I’m busy and I shortchange myself on sleep. But I have made my greatest gains–I have gained 30 lbs of muscle since September of 2009–when I am sleeping between 8 and 10 hours each night.

My advice would be to sleep more than you think you need to, take naps whenever possible, and monitor your results. If we actually pay attention to our workloads, eating habits, and rest, and then we adjust accordingly, we will gain muscle.

That’s the secret that matters. There’s nothing complicated about it. There’s no missing program or tool or supplement.  Time to take action, build muscle, and call off the search for shortcuts.

Josh

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