Before you begin any weight training exercises, be sure to have read the nutrition section, because without good nutrition, you'll be wasting your time in the gym and you won't get the desired results.
1.Use compound exercises
What are compound exercises?
Compound exercises such as squat, deadlift, bench press, pullups (or rows) and overhead press are multi-joint movements, it works several muscles or muscle groups at one time. Squat for example, use quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves and lower back. If you noticed, all bodybuilders use that kind of exercises in their workout routine because it's the most effective way to get results. Compound exercises are the real mass builder, they build the most muscle and increase the strength the fastest. However, like any other exercises, you have to perform these exercises correctly to get the maximum results and also to prevent to be injured since the weight is heavier.
What are isolation exercises?
Isolation exercises such as biceps curl, triceps extension,side lateral raise and most of the machines work one muscle group rather than multiple muscles groups and joints as in compound movements. This kind of exercises target specific muscle group, they might not the best exercises to put on muscle mass fast but they are useful for lagging body parts, injuries rehabilitation and in superset with compound exercises. Compound exercises don't have the same loading of each muscle group compared to their demands in terms of stress (i.e. you can easily overtrain a muscle group and undertrain another). In this case, isolation exercises are a good way to work all muscles equally and to get the best gains possible.
Why choosing compound exercises over isolation exercises?
Compound exercises allow you to use heavy weights and stimulate the maximum amount of muscle fibers thus making your muscles to grow faster. As for example, overhead press and side lateral raise use shoulders, you are more likely to lift more heavily with overhead press exercise than if you were doing side lateral raise exercise so you gain muscle mass more easily. There's many benefits to use compound exercises in your workout routine, it;
2.Add more weights to your exercises
To gain muscle mass, you have to add more weights to your exercises or do few more repetitions to get your muscles to grow bigger. Your muscles would have to rebuild these damaged tissues to become stronger and to be able to deal with such trauma in the future. Lifting the same weight every time you go to the gym will only maintain your current muscle size but it won't make you bigger! Increase the weight as fast as you can but be careful to keep a good form, if you added weight and your form suffer, then it means you're not ready to add weights yet.
When should I add weights to my exercises?
If you were doing 8 repetitions on an exercise and that you could still do 1 to 2 more repetitions after your last repetition of your last set with good form then you can add more weights. What I can tell you is never add too much weights too fast, add weights gradually because your ligaments,tendons doesn't build as fast as your muscles and you would get injured in just a matter of time. It's very easy to add weights to an exercise when using a pre-workout supplement, it contains some powerful ingredients in it that it makes you stronger and go harder on exercises, it feels like it's too easy performing the exercise when in fact you are taxing your body a lot and have higher chance to get injured if you're not careful enough. You have to listen to your body and know when you are going to hard on exercises. What already happened to me is that I was adding 5lbs easily every week to each of my exercises while using a pre-workout and got the best shape of my life really fast but guess what...? I also end up with injuries fast, that's just not worth it trying to upgrade weights too fast. I will talk about the use of supplements in another topic.
3. Get the right number of repetitions and number of sets
Well it depends of your goal, how many months/years you been working out to know if you are a beginner,intermediate or an advanced trainer. Also the rep range can vary from people to people because we are all different, some can benefit more from low rep range and others from high rep range. Usually, we are using low rep range (6 to 8 reps) for building muscle and for a fat loss, that's what works for most of the people in general.
When you're new to training you should not begin to do 6 to 8 repetitions, you have to strengthen your ligaments/tendons in first. What I recommend for beginner is always to start with a rep range of 10 to 12 repetitions and then lower the repetition when the trainer become more experienced, as for an intermediate it would be 8 to 12 repetitions and for an advanced trainer it would be 6 to 8 repetitions.
How to know if I am a beginner,intermediate or advanced trainer?
The beginner phase usually take a year before becoming an intermediate trainer but someone with a good physique and an excellent genetics may become an intermediate trainer in less time because he could start training at higher volume and frequency faster thus gaining more muscle mass.
After a year, the trainer will go into the intermediate phase for about 1 to 3 years long. Again, it can vary depending on some factors such as genetics and also the dedication and diet. It's during these years that the trainer will see the greatest and most changes in their body and even some of them will begin to compete towards the end of this phase.
Then, after the intermediate phase the trainer become an advanced trainer. At this time, the trainer is ready to take it to the next level with hardcore diets,supplements schedules and intense workouts. This phase is the longest one, there will be early advanced,middle advanced and elite advanced bodybuilder in this phase. It can take years for going from one to the other and the keys to making constant progress are dedication and staying injury-free.
4. Use a good tempo while performing an exercise
You might wondering how can a tempo would affect your gains, well it's as important as your reps and sets. You could have the the right reps/sets but without a good tempo it would affect your gains and also there's higher chance to get injured if you lifting the weight too fast. A good tempo helps you to have a better control of the weight,keeps you with a better form,build more muscles,decrease the chance to get injured and burn more calories because the intensity is higher.
How the tempo works and which one is the best to use?
Tempo is the speed at which you lift the weight, when you lower the weight,pause at the bottom and top of each repetition and the overall time of the set. You've probably already seen 3 to 4 numbers (ex; 3/1/3 or 4/2/4/2) in your workout routine plan aside every of your exercises but wonder what is it and how it works. It's simple to read and understand these numbers (ex; 3/1/3), the first number mean the time in eccentric motion, 1 mean the time of the pause at the bottom and the last number is the time in concentric motion. If you are doing bench press for example you would lower the bar for 3 seconds, you would pause for 1 second at the bottom and you would raise the bar for 3 seconds. It's the same thing for the tempo with 4 numbers except for the last number that mean the time of the pause at the top of the movement before you begin your other repetition.
Now which tempo is best to use, let's begin to talk about fast tempo. This is something that I would no recommend and that shouldn't be used to build muscle. You don't break muscle tissue enough while performing repetitions too fast which result in poor muscle gains. In this case using slow tempo would be a lot better for building muscle. As for example, slow tempo on bench press would be like 3 to 4 seconds in eccentric motion,1 to 2 seconds pause at bottom, 1 to 3 seconds in concentric motion. It's also good to contract your muscle for 1 to 2 seconds after each concentric motion on some exercises like biceps curl,triceps pushdown,legs extension, bench press,dumbbell flyes.
How much time should I rest between sets?
This depend on your goals and which exercises you are doing. If you're bulking (trying to gain weight) and lifting heavy weights doing 6 to 8 repetitions, your rest time between sets and exercises would be 3 to 5 minutes on compound exercises and 2 to 3 minutes on isolation exercises but usually 2 to 3 minutes is enough for all exercises. However, if your goal is to lose bodyfat, your rest time would be 30 secondes to 1 minute between sets while lifting heavy weights (yup that's quite intense) but if that's too intense for you, just begin with higher rest time and then slowly reduce your rest time as you get a better cardio. Having a low rest time between your sets is the greatest way to lose bodyfat, it also increase your growth hormone thus helping to reduce your bodyfat as well but the main goal for now is to put on weight, fat loss is for later!
5. Things to not do in a gym