Gain Muscle Naturally: Number 1 Priority!

This afternoon I worked out at a local gym.  I actually don’t work out often at a commercial gym and I never go later in the day.  It was good to see so many guys and gals working hard in the gym.  Watching folks workout is a very good thing for me as it exposes me to what people are doing.


As I was witnessing many folks working out today, I noticed some glaring errors.  What I saw is obvious to me but is not so obvious to many.  Assuming all the guys there were interested in building muscle.

This brings about another topic, real quick:  Why Listen To Me?

For one, I have been trying to build muscle via strength training and nutritional interventions for the past 25 years.  The second reason, I have witnessed over 20,000 training sessions, training clients of all walks of life at my own training center.  The third reason, I know what it is like to struggle to build muscle mass, I remember spending hours in the gym performing tons of volume with no real gains.  The fourth reason, I have managed to scrape together some great gains in lean mass, enough to win my WNBF Pro card and compete successfully and I am not genetically gifted.  The fifth reason, I have an academic background in exercise science and nutrition with a BS, MS, and work toward my PhD.  Honestly, the fifth reason is probably not as important as the other four.

Now, you can choose to listen to me or not.  But ask yourself this one question.  How much lean mass have you really gained in the past year?

Lets think this through, if what you are currently doing is not working, perhaps you should try something different?

My observation….

Today at the local gym, I saw so many young guys performing curls, leg extensions, leg curls, crunches, tricep pushdowns, and a bunch of single joint stuff.  There is a place for these exercises, but not until you have performed the big exercises.   No one was squatting, deadlifting, or even leg pressing, I don’t think I saw anyone doing any heavy pressing or pulling either.

Multi joint exercises that engage a lots of muscle mass are going to provide you the most muscle gains.  You must be progressive in these exercises.  Never sacrifice number of sets for strength.  I fear that many times folks get into doing so many sets that they lose sight of just getting strong.

I preach this concept over and over to my clients that are training for physique events.  You must get as strong as possible and then do everything imaginable to keep every bit of that strength while dieting.

On another tangent:  If you think while dieting you should lighten the resistance and somehow that is magically going to get you leaner you are seriously mistaken.  The same strategy that allows you to build muscle is the same strategy that will most likely help you keep it in low calorie conditions.

I would bet the farm (I don’t have a farm 😉 ) that if every gym in the country would remove all machines (cable crossovers, cable machines, leg extensions, leg curls, cybex, lifefitness, etc) and only have a power rack, dumbbells, and maybe a leg press, trainees would immediately start to experience gains.  All the distractions would be gone and they would be forced to perform the money exercises.

You show me someone who has doubled their strength on big multi joint movements and I will show you someone that will eventually have significantly more lean mass.

These are just my thoughts today.

Just looking out for you!

If I knew of a better way to build lean mass Naturally, I would tell you 🙂

See Part 3, discussion of exercise selection and 

See Part 1, discussion of Progressive Overload

I would love to hear your comments, Agree, Disagree?

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