Bodybuilding101 - the principles of gaining muscle.


- The principles of building muscle.





Building muscle is probably one of the easiest things in the world.


1. You have to be in a caloriesurplus or at maintenance if you're a beginner.

2. You have to apply sufficient stimulus to your muscles to make them grow


Most of us know about the training part and believes that the diet part is either "i just need to eat enough protein" or "I just need to eat healthy". These things are important as well but more importantly is that you need to be in a calorie surplus if you have been lifting for a while.


To be in a calorie surplus you can either:

1. Eat everything within sight to make sure you eat enought and gain a ton of fat in the process(I don't recommend it)

2. Calculate your intake so it allows for optimal muscle gain and minimal fat gain.


The first option is probably the easiest, at first. You will gain muscle but loose most of it when your trying to shred of the excess fat you've gained which leaves you back at square one.


The second option is counting calories. Counting calories has got a real bad rep. Some people believe that it's difficult and that it will make you end up fanatic and isolated from social dinners. I think it's up to you and how you handle it.

For me, counting calories has never been bothersome and when i'm at social dinners i simply just "eyeball" the meal and make an estimate of the calories in it. I might not get it exactly right but it doesn't really matter as long as its in the right ballpark.(a few hundreds of calories more or less wont make a difference in the long run)


Counting calories ensures that i'm heading towards my goal + it keeps my math skills in check.


I just don't see the reason to support the negativity regarding caloriecounting. I know i have to do it in order to reach my goal so what's the point in complaining about it? It's a part of the process that you just can't skip. 

The steps you're taking towards your goal has to be in line with the goal that you are trying to reach. If you aren't taking the steps necessary, your goal isn't really a goal. It's hopes and dreams that you're hoping to reach by luck. 


You just can't neglect your calorieconsumption when your trying to shape your body in a specific way. The expectation that you'll just randomly hit the optimal ammount of calories to gain muscle without getting fat, isn't any different than  throwing a basketball in the dark and still expecting to hit the hoop.


Some people with excellent genetics manage to get impressive results without even giving a damn about their calorieintake. This is however not possible for the majority of people.





Getting started.


This article will teach you how your foodconsumpotion(calorieintake), will affect the results you are getting from your workout. I will also gently walk through some advice on how to keep getting stronger.



Building muscle is easy. The tricky part is to actually make it happen.


Usually it is suggested to be in a calorie surplus of around 300 calories, less will lead to less muscle gain and more will lead to more fat gain.

(Keep in mind that this various from person to person depending on several factors, therefore i encourage you to experience a bit with these numbers)


When it comes to fat loss it is suggested to be in a calorie deficit of around 500 calories.

If you're very obese you can have a higher deficit without the "side effects" that goes with it. "These effects of a higher deficit is that your body will start burning muscles along with fat. As your body fat(bf) drops your body tries to preserve by burning muscle as well. On top of that a high calorie deficit can affect your mood and lead to a state of being constantly annoyed aka. "hangry".(I been there). The severity of these effects increases proportional to a deacrease in bf. This means that if you're very obese with a bf percentage of 25, you might not feel very hungry or lose any muscle mass even with a deficit of even 1000 calories. On the other hand, if your bf percentage is around 6(extremely shredded), you might consider to keep your deficit smaller than 500 in order to sustain muscle mass.


Does more calories equal more gains? 


Yes it does, until a certain point. At that certain point your body will start storing most of the additional calories as fat- 


Lets say you're eating 100 calories above maintenance. At that surplus, maybe only 0 or 10% of the weight you're gaining might be fat. Unfortunately it wont lead to optimal gains, there is simply too few calories for your body to build from. At a 300 calorie surplus maybe 20% of the weight gained is fat, and at 500 calories maybe 40% of the weight gained is fat. In simple words - The more calories you eat above maintenance the more calories will be stored as fat,  but since you're gaining muscle as well, the fat gain might not even be noticeable. 


The sweet spot aka. The point of dimishing returns is where the muscle gain is at its highest while fat gain at its lowest. We can't know exactly where that is and certainly depend on your trainng status & genetics.  As i've stated earlier. I believe "the spot"  for the average is around 300 calories. 

Eating less and you won't build muscle optimally and eating above can cause too much fat gaint. 


This model should be able to give you the idea of the ratio in which the body distribute your caloriesurplus. 

(It's just a model and might vary a lot from Person to Person.)

Noob gainzz?


If you're just starting out weight lifting you're muscles are very susceptible to weight lifting. They aren't used to the kind of stress that they're being put through. Therefore it is easier to gain muscle in the first half year-ish. The myth of "turning fat into muscle" is quite misleading, but there is some truth to it. If you aren't in a calories surplus when you are starting out lifting, your body can utilize fat to build the muscle. This phenonomen is only occuring in the beginner phase. 

What about my PROGRAM?




Sure the program has some say to it, if you're not getting stronger, you aren't building muscle either - no matter how much you eat. Some people claim that 90% of gaining muscles is pure dieting and only the remaining 10% is your workout. I don't believe you can put it this way since it gives the idea, that you can get results by picking up a dumbell every now and then as long as you eat right. That is certainly not the case.


The workout ignites the process and your calorieconsumption guides the direction of the process.

If you're not progressively increasing the load in your lifts you aren't getting stronger either.

The best program is one that will allow you to do that. Most programs will do -  full-body, 2day-split, upper-lower are all good candidates. Don't make the mistake of following some big drug infused bodybuilders program since it's not optimal for you. Your program should be tailored to your experience, goals and preferences.

Here is a few general rules of thumb that i recommend that you stick to:



  • Train each muscle group at least 1 1/2 times a week(3 times on 2 weeks) 


  • Base your program on compound lifts. - STICK to these and track progress(i use notepad on my iphone)


  • Have 1 KEY lift for each of your big muscle groups(chest, shoulder, legs & back) and focus on progressing in these lifts. 


  •  Don't go to failure in every set. Training to failure is very demanding on the nervous system and can take many days to recover from, that means that you can't lift as heavy the next time you hit those muscles even though your muscles are recovered. Always keep 1 rep in the tank for your next workout.








That's it.

To be able to apply the information of calorieintake and muscle gain you need to know your daily calorieneeds. This topic will be covered in the very next article. 






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