Evolution dictates that men should be big. Bulking up is one of the most common goals for gym enthusiasts everywhere. But increasing one’s body muscle mass is easier said than done. It takes dedication and absolute tolerance to push your body to the very limit. The following tips are some of the most time-tested strategies that have been used for years before your time by most bodybuilders to gain muscle and to do so fast.

First things first, you will either need to join a gym or own some weights. If at all possible, get a personal trainer to work with you. They work as excellent motivators and keep you on task. That being said, here’s what you do:

1. Compound exercises

These are some of the most effectively efficient training regimes today. Compound exercises work more than just one muscle. The most effective compound exercises include squats, bench presses and deadlifts. Exercises such as deadlifts and squats help with your body’s growth hormone production. This ensures that your various muscle groups respond better to the training you administer. With this improved response, you can build muscle mass faster. Due to the fact that compound movement exercises work on various muscle groups at a time, it is imperative that you identify them so as to vary the exercises. It is unwise to include many compound exercises in your daily routines. Formulate a program that allows you to work different muscle groups on different days. This prevents injuries, muscle exhaustion and gives your body time to heal and recuperate.

2. Eat, eat, and eat some more

If you are to grow any bigger, you need to do more than just go to the gym religiously. You need to eat and eat well. The key body building blocks which are proteins, fats and carbohydrates need to be taken in at a much higher rate than you would normally. The plan here is to create what is known as a ‘caloric surplus’. This happens when you take in more calories than you actually use up. This surplus goes into body muscle repair and increase. A healthy dose of proteins every three hours or so will help repair and create new muscle tissue. This is when the actual bulking up begins.

3. Concentrate on free weights

A lot has been discussed about whether it’s better to use machines or free weights when trying to bulk up. The truth is, free weights are better because they make you use stabilizing muscles that would not be called into action when using machines. Using free weights such as dumbbells and barbells force upon you more muscle contractions which in turn involves many more muscle fibers. It is advisable to concentrate on lifting heavy free weights. Make it so you have trouble carrying out more than 4-8 reps of your chosen weight. This puts both your nervous system and muscles under a great deal of pressure which in turn stimulates muscle fiber and thus muscle growth. You need to be careful however, because the heavier the weight, the higher the risk of injury. Of course you can include body weight and machine training exercises in your program. Cardio training is also an important part of the exercise regime but no more than 30% of your daily routine. All in all, be sure to concentrate more on the free weight exercises.

4. Healthy supplements

It cannot be stressed enough that you need to eat. Your caloric surplus can come from add-ons such as peanut butter, ice cream, olive oil and fruits like avocado. In case the constant eating proves too much, you can supplement it with periodic protein shakes. It is also advisable to use certain proven supplements such as Creatine. This is safe and gives your body the energy boost it needs to go the extra mile. Be sure to cycle the Creatine though. You can do one week of 5 grams followed by another week of 20 grams and an occasional week where you do not take it at all.

5. Hydrate

This is almost as important as your diet. You need to drink lots and lots of water. Dehydration is you enemy and with high intensity training, it can very easily occur. Drink a lot of water to help your body heal and get rid of the energy-sapping toxins. Due to your increase protein intake, your kidney will be working overtime to get rid of the metabolic waste produced. It needs water if it’s to do its job right. Including antioxidants such as Glutamine in your water is also a good idea. This helps prevent what is known as ‘free radical damage’ which occurs with high intensity training sessions.

Remember to always follow the safety regulations and be sure to consult your trainer should you be unsure about how to perform a certain lift. This is how irreparable injuries occur.

Photos: Ian Carroll, Usodesita