7 Muscle-Building Strategies for Guys
Experts share strength-training tips that yield results quickly.
1. Commit to some form of strength training.
Unfortunately, there are no easy shortcuts to good health, says Kent Adams,
PhD, FACSM, CSCS, director of the exercise physiology lab at California State
University Monterey Bay.
"You don't have to train like a maniac," he says. "Just start a
reasonable, individualized resistance training plan."
For tips and workout plans, visit the web sites of organizations like the
ACSM or the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you don't have
access to free weights, head for the weight machines or a cable system. Other
alternatives include resistance bands, plyometrics, and calisthenics.
At a minimum, perform lunges, squats, and other exercises that work your
quads and hamstrings, along with extra cardio activity that will prompt your
legs to begin building muscle.
No matter which strength training method you choose, however, be sure that
resistance levels (the amount of weight you use) and the number of repetitions
you do are high enough to fatigue the muscle. Failure to do so, Adams says, will
hinder growth. The ACSM recommends three sets of 8 to 12 reps for each
To speed up the process, make the most of your workout, and keep your heart
rate and metabolism elevated, try "super-setting," says
Lisa De Los Santos, a Cooper's-Institute-certified personal trainer at
Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California.
She suggests one set each of two or three opposing muscle exercises. Rest,
then do a second set of each exercise before moving on to the next group.
2. Alternate muscle groups.
training creates tiny micro tears in muscles, which then repair and rebuild
during periods of rest. Serious injury can result if muscles are not allowed
adequate time to repair.
The ACSM recommends a three-day split as follows:
- Day one: Chest, triceps, and shoulders
- Day two: Lower body (quads, hamstrings, gluteals, hip abductors and
adductors, and calves)
- Day three: Back, biceps, and abs
Feeling sore? Take an extra day or two -- or work a new muscle group. Don't
forget delayed-onset muscle soreness, which can hit as late as 48 hours after a