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  • Sarah Louise & Bill Wynne

The 6 essentials for building muscle

Building muscle takes time, commitment and hard work, and results won't happen overnight. But if you make sure you're doing the right things, you can definitely speed up the process. Everything, from what you eat to how you workout, plays an important role in building muscle. Having a general understanding of good nutrition and how our muscles work and grow, will help you a lot!

That's why in this article, we're breaking down the 6 essentials for building muscle will help you reach your goals more efficiently. Scroll down to read 👇

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#1 Apply "tension" and "stress" to your muscles

Your body builds muscle as a response to the "resistance" you put them through by e.g. lifting weights or doing heavy labour work. It builds muscle to be strong enough to handle the resistance you are applying. The two types of resistance you can apply to your muscles are called "mechanical tension" and "metabolic stress":

What is mechanical tension?

Mechanical tension is the resistance we apply to our muscles by lifting weights or applying resistance to them. It's important you use a weight that's challenging for your muscles, so they have a reason to grow.

In the beginning, bodyweight exercises might be challenging enough, but over time as you get stronger, you will need to increase the weights to keep staying at the point where your muscles are challenged.

What is metabolic stress?

Metabolic stress is the "burn" you feel when you're maxing out on reps. Depending on the weights you're using, this is often at a 8-12 rep range. If the weights are lighter, you might be able to do more reps.

When you're doing you're reps you're "stressing out your muscles" and your body’s response to this signals the need to build bigger and stronger muscles.

#2 Add progressive overload to your training

Applying progressive overload is how you avoid hitting a plateau. As mentioned before, you'll get stronger over time and therefore it's important to gradually build up the intensity of workouts so your muscles remain challenged and don’t grow too comfortable with your workouts.

There are lots of ways to add progressive overload to your training. We recommend following a progressive training plan to do this. Here are other ways you can apply progressive overload:

  • Increase the number of reps

  • Increase the weight you’re working with, or if performing a bodyweight workout, incorporate equipment

  • Reduce the rest time between sets of exercises

  • Extend the overall length of your workout

  • Add an extra training day each week

Trainn App How to build muscle

#3 Eat enough calories

The simple fact is however hard and diligently you workout, without enough calories and the right nutrition, your muscles won't have the fuel needed to build themselves bigger and stronger. You need to ideally eat at calorie maintenance or in a calorie surplus so there's an excess of "energy" in your body your muscles can take from. However, if your goal is to burn fat at the same time (and you're therefore in a calorie deficit), it's still possible to build muscle. You just need to make sure youre 1) not too low on calories, and 2) eating plenty of protein to compensate for the lack of "energy".

Eating a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats is essential as they all play an important role in building muscle:

  • Protein is the building blocks of your muscles and is needed to help restore muscle cells.

  • Carbohydrates is your body's main energy source. Without them, you won’t have the energy to do your workouts. Aim for unprocessed and wholegrain carbs.

  • Healthy fats help keep your hormones, organs and brain functioning properly, as well as keep you full and satiated after meals. Aim for unsaturated fats, as these are healthier than saturated fats.

  • Fruit and vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and will help keep you healthy.

Looking for meal inspiration? Check out this article on how to get 100g of protein each day.

#4 Strength train 2-4 times per week

As mentioned in the first few tips, your muscles need to be stimulated and challenged to have a reason to grow. That's why 2-4 strength workouts each week is recommended for muscle building. With this amount of workouts, you are activating your muscles enough while also allowing rest days to help recover and restore your muscles.

To do this, optimise your workout split. This means optimising your workout layout so you are activating each muscle group 2x per week. For example, your workout split could look like this:

  • Mon: upper body workout

  • Tue: lower body workout

  • Wed: rest

  • Thur: upper body workout

  • Fri: lower body workout

  • Sat: rest

  • Sun: Cardio and abs

If you want to strength train 5-6 days per week, you can optimise your workout split even further. Read this article on how to do it

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#5 Optimise your rest days

Muscles need time to recover between your workouts. It's on your rest days that your muscles are building themselves back up after the tension and stress you have put them under during the workout.

A rest day doesn't mean you have to glue yourself to the sofa, you can still go for walks, runs and be active if you want to. As long as you take a day off from lifting weights for the specific muscle group you have just trained, it's a good rest day.

Sleep also matters. As you enter deep sleep, your body releases 70% of your growth hormones. Aim for 7-9 hours uninterrupted sleep each night and you’ll put your muscles in a great position to recover.

Trainn App How to build muscle

#6 Build a consistent routine (here's how)

Building muscle takes time and one or two weeks of good effort won't be enough. That's why building a consistent routine is important. Follow all these 6 steps every week (or as much as you can) and you will see amazing muscle building results.

An easy way to create a consistent routine is to follow a training plan. We're on the rise of great fitness apps and the trainn app is one off the top ones. It's clever technology will develop a personalised training plan perfectly fit to your lifestyle and goals. Each week it adjusts to push you further, establishing a consistent routine optimising progress. With weekly-set healthy habits to inspire you, and your in-app personal trainer available to message anytime, you can reach the lasting muscle-building results you deserve.

Start your muscle building journey today. Sign up to trainn below:


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