6 Principles of Muscle Building — In-Depth Guide For REAL Results

6 Principles of Muscle Building — In-Depth Guide For REAL Results

I handed my friend welcome I'm dr. Anthony Bal doozy founder here at the fit father project in today's special video we're gonna cover the six principles of muscle building and how you can apply these principles into your workout routine your eating routine to build muscle quickly and safely and really see progress sustainably week after week and before we get into this video I want to tell you a little bit about why you should even listen to me because there's so much content online about muscle building and the best ways to do it well first off I'm a former national champion body builder I've spent ten years studying what it takes to build muscle and I'm helped a lot of clients around the world do the same and the thing is I was never like a big kid growing up I was real skinny and I had to figure out from the research of what it would take to take my body as an ectomorph excuse me I and really just pack on some serious muscles so these principles work they worked on me they've worked on all my clients and some of the pictures that you've already seen and they're gonna work for you too because these are the foundational principles they're not the you know whiz-bang do this gained five pounds overnight if you're looking for that this is not the video for you if you're looking for the tried intro principles this is the video you want to pay attention to and I know you're gonna learn a ton so we're gonna cover these principles right now I want you to get out a pen and paper and take some notes as we're going through cuz there's some really really important stuff that I want you to apply into your life so you can actually see results so let's dive on in and get into the six principles of muscle building all right so the first principle of building muscle is a little counterintuitive for some people it's the fact that you need to focus on getting strong before you focus on getting big and the reason I say this is because there's so many distracting things out there these days if you look in the muscle magazines you're gonna see all these quote unquote bodybuilding hypertrophy specific routines that have a lot of small isolation exercises in them they have things like bicep curls and shoulder lateral raises and leg extensions and listen those exercises do have their place in a routine but they're not the foundation the foundation is you need to focus on getting strong at the main motions the squat the deadlift pull-ups overhead press bench press the big five you need to get strong at those and strength is a prerequisite to size it's really really essential because as you get strong at these main motions what you're gonna be able to do is train at higher volumes more sets more reps at a heavier weight and that's really gonna stimulate the muscle growth and as we begin lifting weights if you're a beginner the first thing that changes in your body is not that your body starts packing on tons of muscle but your nervous system gets more efficient you get neurologically efficient so you get more efficient at using the muscle that you do have so a lot of the initial gains when you start training to build muscle and you're doing the deadlift for example you get strong very rapidly and it's not that your back is immediately super wide it's the fact that your nervous system gets more efficient so we need to focus on getting strong in those movements there is not a single person who started lifting and then put 200 pounds on their core lifts so start off with a hundred pound squat and gets up to a 315 pound squat let's say who did not gain size through the process so keep that in perspective the first principle is strength is a prerequisite to size so you're gonna be able to carry heavier weights for higher volume and that's gonna really help you get big but focus on getting strong first those main motions do not get distracted by BS exercises that are really not nearly as effective as these big core motions and that leads us immediately in there number two when it comes to building muscle we need to prioritize compound movements multi-joint movements movements that are heavy then they maybe they use a high load that involve multiple major muscle groups so things like the squat things like the deadlift like the pull-ups like the rows these are far superior exercises for building muscle than a single arm isolation exercise like a single arm reverse preacher curl or any other crap you see people doing in the gym these days a single arm lean away lateral raise for your shoulders ah screw that stuff you need to get strong and doing a mill at the barbell military press or an overhead push press focus on the compound motions in getting stronger because what the research actually shows is not only do compound motions you know involve more joints so you can more muscle groups you can work more muscle simultaneously to prioritize recovery which we're going to talk about a second but they activate more fibers the heavier you can lift the deeper the motor unit recruitment of your muscle patterns is so when you can overhead press there's a big difference in your shoulder recruitment from doing shoulder fly's with 50 pound dumbbells versus throwing 135 pounds on the bar and doing overhead presses it's gonna work your shoulder a lot more it can hit those deep-lying fibers so we need to prioritize compound movements which is absolutely essential next principle for muscle building is we need to prioritize recovery muscles grow outside the gym you're probably aware of this but I really need to have a sink in right now for you exercise lifting weights is the stimulus that your body uses to initiate protein synthesis and building new muscle but that actual growth happens outside the gym when you've trained you create that stimulus now we need to recover and our two main factors when it comes to recovery are one sleep in to nutrition so these are pit stops we're gonna talk about these a little bit right now when it comes to sleep right now if you are not getting at least seven and a half quality hours of sleep you're compromising your muscle gains look is it possible to build muscle unless sleep yes it is but it's a hundred percent suboptimal the more you can sleep the better you're gonna do in fact I remember this old school book I got when I first started bodybuilding like almost two decades ago now the Encyclopaedia body will notice a quote that stuck out to me and it was if you don't have to walk stand if you don't have to stand lie down if you don't have to lie down sleep and so the concept was you're gonna invest all of your precious energy into training your butt off during that hour that you're training you're kicking ass and all the rest of the time you're recovered you're relaxed you're allowing that parasympathetic rest and digest nervous system to take over and you're feeding your body with good sleep and good nutrition so get the sleep you're missing the sleep and you're missing out a muscle and when it comes to nutrition one of the next principle we're gonna talk about is you need to be in a calorie surplus as a general rule of thumb you need to be eating more calories then you burn every day to put on muscle and you can see this happen all the time with young high school boys who are training for sports and they're just not eating enough and they're going to like two-a-day practices and they just never seem to make any progress in the gym there's still rail-thin after training for a year or two years why does this happen well our body needs to be in an animal like state to build muscle we need the extra calories so we got to make sure we're eating enough and the way to do that is to actually figure out what are the number of calories that you burn every day which is your total daily energy expenditure your tdee then we want to have an idea of what that number is then we want to overshoot that by 250 to 500 calories on the safe side now the thing is first off to calculate your tdee we have a free calculator we have we have a Google spreadsheet you can make a copy of that there's gonna be a link below in the description where you can just punch in your data and it actually kicks out your tdee so I want you to check that out it's below the video nice resource we have for you so check that out and then add 500 calories to that number and that's gonna give you a good starting point for your nutrition and then how you break those calories up he's basically up to you but there's a really good rule of thumb I want you to set your protein at 0.8 to 1 gram per pound of body weight so if you are a hundred and sixty pound person then you want to have 160 grams of protein roughly speaking per debt and that's well research supported you can get away with a little bit of a lower protein intake at that 0.8 grams per pound body weight but it's optimal for most people to hit that 1 gram per pound body weight so that's the amount of protein you have and then the rest of those calories we're gonna fill that out from your carbs and your fats and for most guys because fat is actually essential if you're a natural lifter to keep your testosterone levels high is to set that fat roughly at a minimum of 70 grams but as you as you get up higher maybe even over a hundred grams of fat a day this can be very good in supportive and it's easy to get your healthy calories in from lots of good fats so including avocados wild salmon grass-fed beef lots of pasture-raised eggs extra virgin olive oil coconut oil putting these healthy fats in your food is gonna be a great way to up your calories without feeling like you have to eat tons of chicken every day and just a ton of food because it can be hard putting on masks to feel like you're eating all the time especially of your busy schedule healthy fats the rescue adding some healthy fats those meals is gonna get your calorie count up without throwing a lot of digestive stress on your body and then the other thing is the carbs carbs are so essential for muscle building they're great and they get a bad rap because we're in living in an age right now where so many people are doing these low-carb ketogenic diets but carbs are a key driver of muscle growth insulin which gets spiked from carb intake is one of the most anabolic substances on the planet it actually triggers the downstream cascade of muscle protein synthesis by acting on mTOR this mammalian target of rapamycin without getting to the science basically this is the cascade that builds muscle insulin is a direct signaler for that so making sure we keep the carbs high particularly in the pre-workout and post-workout phase is a really brilliant idea so whatever your carbs end up being for our 160 pound guy what his macros might end up looking like assuming he exercises three to four times a week is roughly let's say it's a hundred and sixty grams protein 80 grams fat and around 250 grams carbs that might be a good macro starting point for this guy and we'll see he'll take his weight once every 3-4 days up to a week and if the weights not moving we bump the calories on the carb side of the equation keep the protein the same no need to bump that any higher keep the fat pretty much the same we'll just creep up those carbs until we're gaining weight at the right rate now a good way to see if you're on the right target on this nutrition front is to make sure that you're not gaining more than two three pounds a month three pounds of quality size a month if it's actually muscle is a ton of muscle and that might not even be possible for you based on how far you are in your training age when you're starting out those kind of gains are possible but as you get more advanced those gains slow down we have a totally separate video that's very popular here on YouTube called how long does it take to build muscle where we get into the science of the different rates that you can expect based on your training age but point being if you're finding that you're gaining more than five pounds a month chances are that you're putting on fat which may not be the best scenario for you especially if you're putting on a lot of fat and then you have to go diet it off after the fact so the muscle actually shows you can end up losing a lot of muscle in the cut so what I recommend is that you do a steady gradual approach you creep up those calories you stay patient you gain around that two to four pounds per month and you focus on getting stronger because if your body weight is staying roughly the same and it's increasing a little bit and you're getting stronger there's a great chance that you're actually putting on muscle so the next principle I have for you here has to do with volume and intensity so when it comes to muscle building we've we're focusing getting stronger we're picking those compound movements we're prioritizing arrests in the recovery and we're setting our macros up properly but the next thing is to keep our body's adapting I'm gonna make sure that we continuously get this muscle protein growth is we need to increase our volume and intensity throughout a training cycle so for example in a good period ice training cycle periodization is the process of changing the amount of volume sets and reps during a training cycle what I like to say to people is look if you're just getting started set yourself up with a dedicated 8 to 12 week training cycle where you know that you have 12 weeks where you're focusing on a specific thing and you have a training program for 12 weeks and as the week's go on you're gonna be increasing the number of sets and the volume to keep your body you know adapting and stimulating so let's just say on your first workout and you're doing six sets of chest maybe when it comes to week eight or nine of the program later on you might increase the number of sets to increase the volume you might do six to eight sets chess in the beginning maybe you're up to 10 to 12 sets of chess throughout the week so the point being is that we want to gradually increase the volume and increase the intensity as your training cycle goes on that's getting able you to continuously make gains doing the same kinds of exercises week after week is not is typically will stagnate your progress and that's why I recommend somewhere around the four to six week mark is a good idea to change up your exercises it doesn't have to be dramatic but let's say you've been doing your primary pressing motion as the flat barbell press then maybe at the six to eight week mark you make that primary pressing motion and incline dumbbell press just change the angle a little bit same concept same muscle groups work but just changing the angle a little bit will be very beneficial and a couple other key points here is progressive resistance meaning getting stronger in lifting heavier weights is a foundational principle of muscle growth I mean quite frankly it shouldn't have taken me this long in this video to say that if you are not lifting heavier weights consistently and tracking your weights and hitting rep targets and continuously pressing the moving the weight and higher those exercises you're not going to make games you've seen the guys at the gym if you go to a gym without lifting the same dumbbells every single time on the same exercise they make no progress even adding two and a half pounds or five pounds to the side of the bar is gonna coax your body to continuously adapt it's absolutely essential and to give you some story like when I started out skinny kid and I love deadlifts though he was a total body exercise I would add two and a half to five pounds on the bar every single week and then well into my competitive body when I was at my strongest I was doing high five hundred-pound almost up to 600-pound deadlifts because I added two and a half pounds on the bar pretty much every week for almost a decade right so the little gains incremental gains do not discount them it's the Kaizen principle small incremental adjustments lead to big gains over time so definitely make sure the progressive resistance is huge and increase in the volume in the intensity as a training set goes on the final principle I want to leave you with today is to do regular deload weeks and that is a time when you have your training cycle you train for eight to 12 weeks hard you take a week of D load and D load is either a week you take completely off and you just do restorative stuff like yoga and stretching or a week that you take your normal training weights and you cut them in half and if you basically a really easy week to give your nervous system and your muscles a chance to relax you know why is this important and why will so many people listen to this and not do it well because we don't want to take the time off we want to continuously pressing harder but our bodies sometimes need the time off and you know if you're watching your training weights they're staying stagnant you're feeling stressed you could take your morning pulse in the morning you're and you're noticing that your pulse is a lot higher than normal for a couple weeks and your body's under a lot of stress and you're not making gains in the gym it's time for a D load your body's saying hey dude give me a break let me catch up if you don't do that what's gonna happen is you're gonna stall on your weights and you're gonna stall on your plateau and even worse those minor joint like niggles and pains you might have in your elbows or knees or back are gonna start to become bigger issues and eventually they'll lead to an injury and that's gonna sidetrack you for weeks if not months and you're gonna lose your gains so what I want to say is play the long game take the strategic D load weeks you know elite lifters elite power with here sometimes take you know small scheduled D loads is frequently Z every four weeks so they build these things into the training plan to make sure that those injuries don't pile up the nervous system can adapt and recover in getting injured it'll the worst things you can do for your progress so make sure that your you're really taking these d load weeks doing your foam rolling and the stretching before you exercise and keeping your body nice and loose and limber when you do have pains back off back off do not push through that little elbow pain you have on the tricep press down because it's only gonna get worse it's not gonna go away if you don't treat it address and let the body catch up so that's the long game of this lifting thing you need to make sure that your body is primed to do this over the long term so having those training cycles of those d load weeks is a really good tip so those are some big picture principles of muscle building I hope you found that valuable and I'd love to continue to help you in deepen this discussion we have other great videos here on our Fit file project youtube channel on muscle building where we deep dive into some more stuff from the nutrition training and exercises if you'd like our forum guide on the five best muscle building exercises things like I told you like the deadlift overhead press the bench but how to modify those exercises to make them safer on your shoulders your low back in your knees then we have a free video for that we can send it straight to your email it's a special thing that we reserved for people who subscribe to our Fit Fowler project blog so if you subscribe we'll send that video straight to your email and you can check that out and I'll show you how to modify these exercises to keep them healthy on your joints you can start lifting and stay lifting long term and this is essential for you especially if your guy watching this over 40 you want to keep your joints right these are the exercises you need to modify so that video is free for you and if you'd like are completely done for you muscle building plan and we have a program called old school muscle that takes some of the best old-school strength training principles that the old-school Giants used you know guys like reg Park arnold Frank Zane to build their amazing bodies and when we layer on the new-school science that we've learned and we basically create the best hybrid program it's an amazing strength training program old-school muscle guys are getting amazing results with it and again that's available for purchase we have that below in the description as well as all over our blog highly recommend you check that out if you'd basically like all these principles distill down into a a plan that you can read the next 30 minutes and get started on this week to see great gains it actually gives you a full 12 week training cycle so really great program check that out as well and other than that I'm really happy you found this video I hope you got at least a couple tips so you can implement into your life and if you like this give us a thumbs up in YouTube let us know that you found this valuable and hit subscribe to join our fit fellow project youtube channel we have hundreds of videos on the channel already right now on things like muscle building but we also cover fat loss how you should be eating how to stay motivated how to get your family on board with all these healthy changes we have all that content on our channel we'd love you to subscribe and stick around and get new updates and other that check out those free resources check out old school muscle I'm happier here go forth kick some ass I can't wait to hear about your muscle building results and comment below to let me know which one these tips you found most most valuable for you and if you have any other ideas and tips that you'd like to suggest that have been important for you on your muscle building journey I can't wait to hear from you and I'll talk to you very soon my friend

About the author


  1. loved your content. strength training is very imp. it's been around 2 years and i've been focusing on isolation movements. I hardly can do 3-5 pullups. m gonna start over again

  2. Nice vid mate, very useful summary of many other training routines.  Having retired, I now have the time to take weight training seriously, for fitness & longevity.  I agree with all your points, especially the need for REST & RECOVERY – I now have time for these, particularly as I am now nearly 70.  The other routine I have found especially useful for me, is draw downs (or step downs) as per Arnie S., start of on max weights, do as many reps/sets as you can, till you cannot do any more; then drop the weight by a third, same again;  then down another third, and finish of with almost no load, full movements, to clear the lactic acid out of the muscles which aids recovery.  Over the last year, I have gone from an exhausting 1 hour in the gym to FOUR hour sessions,  lifting weights 3x more than a year ago, sets / reps 5x more than a year ago.  And much to everyone's derision, I'm lovin' it.   Will be checking out your other vids, thanks.

  3. Maintaining 6 principles are tough. If you missed one of them it will have impact on your health. I wonder how to focus on strength and get an effective result for proper muscle building.

  4. As a gym rat, I find this information to be very fascinating and look forward to using to steps in helping build more muscle mass.

  5. This is an informative and useful video about the 6 principles of Muscle Building. I have learned a lot from it guys. Thanks for sharing your details guideline.

  6. Wow this video tips is awesome and helpful for us. In this video tips we can get easily seek of principles of muscle build up. Thanks for sharing this tips.

  7. Hands down the best tips I've found for muscle building properly. All the principles are important but I think #3 proper nutrition and sleep is the big one. Without focusing on that the rest is useless. You MUST have proper nutrition to build the muscle and you MUST get good rest to recover. Great information as always Doc, I can't thank you enough for how much you've helped me.

  8. I'm loving this! It's super detailed, lots of great information too. Awesome video, Doc, thank you very much! 🙂

  9. I have a friend that was pretty skin all his life, now hes also a body builder. He must have followed all of theses steps in this video. All great info! Thanks 🙂

  10. You've made me way bigger than I ever thought possible in these 1 years since I started lifting.

    Mad respect for you man.

  11. Very useful information. Everyone needs help on building muscle and I hope this video will be useful to those that are learning

  12. This sounds like a great system to try and it's nice and simplified for your every day, average body builder. The doc has a way of breaking this system down in an easy way that anyone can understand. Most importantly, he reminds you that safety is your number one concern.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *