If getting huge is your goal, then throttle back on your cardio workouts, says LaCerte—chances are, you’ll be burning far too many calories. So what should you do if you still want to get in some cardio? LaCerte says “a light jog a few days per week for 20 minutes is adequate.”
If you’re aiming to burn fat, of course, then focus on getting enough protein every day (usually one gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight), while still keeping your overall caloric intake low. Some trainers and lifters feel supplements can play a key role in boosting muscle gains.
Eat with purpose
Everything you consume should have substantial nutritional value. “You want the most nutritional bang for your buck,” says Dan Trink, C.S.C.S., a strength coach and trainer. “Everything you eat should serve some sort of nutritional purpose in your body, fuel your workouts, and (be) geared toward optimizing your body.” Remember, muscle tissue grows outside of the gym when you’re giving your body time to relax and recover following your workouts.
Understand the basics of building muscle
Talk to any personal trainer and they’ll tell you there are certain muscle-building basics. First, increase your caloric and complete protein intake, so your body has enough building blocks to get bigger. Then, when you enter the gym, focus on your form. Perform compound movements and train with weights on average around four times a week. Never underestimate the importance of rest.
Work your full range of motion
Don’t take any shortcuts. “Aim for the largest range of motion you can achieve in your exercises,” says Lee Boyce, C.P.T. “Your muscles will do more work per rep, and it will result in your breaking down more tissue by the end of the workout.” Creatine, for one, “seems to be about the most effective strength- and size-building supplement,” Trink says. To boost your performance, you may also want to try peppermint. Cardiello explains that the scent “alters the perception of how hard you’re working out,” making it seem “less strenuous, slower-paced, and easier to complete.”
Do not go too heavy
Wondering how to get the most out of lifting weights? “Use a weight that will have you failing on the set between the 30- and 40-second mark,” Duffy says. Time under tension causes muscle to grow. “If you’re failing at 20 seconds, you know that weight was too heavy.” If you subscribe to that theory, then chances are, you’re already taking protein supplements—but what else?