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Building Muscle: How Do I Build Muscle?

Did you know that strong muscles not only improve your appearance, but also increase your general fitness, strengthen your bones and improve your posture?


Yes, you heard right. Muscles bring lots of benefits!


In this article, we'll tell you the best way to build them up and the role your training and diet play in this.



Why is muscle building important?

2 athletes doing box jumps

This question is actually quite easy to answer: it's not just about looking like Popeye.


Here are some good reasons that might convince you:


  1. Strong and fit in everyday life: Imagine lifting heavy shopping bags, climbing stairs or playing with your children - all these everyday activities will be much easier if you have more muscle. Muscle building not only makes you stronger in the gym, but also fitter and more resilient in everyday life.

  2. Fat burning: Did you know that more muscle mass boosts your metabolism? Muscles burn more calories than fat tissue, even at rest. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn - even if you're just chilling on the couch!

  3. Better posture: If you spend a lot of time at your desk or on your cell phone, it can damage your posture. Muscle building, especially in the back and torso area, helps you to maintain a better posture. This not only looks good, but also prevents back pain.

  4. Protection against injuries: Strong muscles stabilize your joints and bones. This reduces the risk of injury, whether during sport or in everyday life. Muscles act as a kind of protective shield for your body.

  5. More self-confidence: It's no secret that feeling strong and fit boosts your self-confidence. When you see your progress in the mirror and notice how you are getting stronger, you automatically feel better and more self-confident.

  6. Stay young for longer: Building muscle also has anti-ageing effects. As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass, which can lead to weakness and frailty. By exercising regularly, you can counteract this process and stay young and vital for longer.



How does muscle building work?

Muscle parts on a tablet

Muscle building is actually quite fascinating and not as complicated as it might seem.


This is how it works:


Training and tension


When you train your muscles, for example with CrossFit or other strength exercises, you put them under tension. This tension causes tiny tears in your muscle fibers. It may sound scary, but don't worry - this is completely normal and necessary for muscle building.


Repair and growth


After training, your body begins to repair these small tears. This is where the magic comes in: your body uses proteins to repair the damaged muscle fibers, making them stronger and bigger than before. This is called hypertrophy.


Nutrition plays a role


Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles. To support the repair process, you need to eat enough protein. Good sources of protein include meat, fish, eggs, pulses and dairy products.


Progressive overload


To keep your muscles growing, you need to keep challenging them. This means that you should increase the weights or the number of repetitions over time. This will ensure that your muscles continue to get stronger.


Recovery and sleep


Muscle building doesn't just happen in the gym, but also during recovery. When you sleep, your body does most of the repair work. Therefore, getting enough sleep and rest between training sessions is extremely important.


Muscle building in a nutshell


Muscle building works like this: You train, your muscles get small tears, your body repairs these tears and makes the muscles stronger, and you support this process with the right nutrition and sufficient recovery. Boom!



Muscle building training plan: What and how often should I train?

Athlete training with the SmartWOD Timer

Ok, now you know the basics and are probably wondering what an effective training plan might look like.


We have a few tips to help you get started:


How often should I train?


As a beginner, you should train 3-4 times a week. This gives your muscles enough time to recover and grow between training sessions.


A simple split training plan could look like this:


  • Monday: Chest and triceps

  • Wednesday: Back and biceps

  • Friday: Legs and shoulders

  • Saturday: Full body workout or cardio


This way you can train each muscle group at least once a week and get enough rest.


What should I train?


A good training plan for muscle building should include both basic exercises and isolation exercises.


Here are some of the best exercises:


  • Squats: great for legs and glutes.

  • Bench press: Perfect for the chest muscles.

  • Deadlift: Trains the entire back and back of the legs.

  • Pull-ups: Ideal for the upper back and biceps.

  • Shoulder presses: Strengthens the shoulders and upper back.

  • Bicep curls: Focus on the biceps.

  • Tricep presses: Targets your triceps.


How many sets and repetitions?


A good starting point is 3-4 sets per exercise with 8-12 repetitions. This repetition range is optimal for muscle building as it sufficiently challenges the muscles and at the same time increases the volume, which is important for growth.


Tips for your training


  • Warm-up: Take 5-10 minutes to warm up. This can be light cardio or dynamic stretching to prepare your muscles and joints for the workout.

  • Technique before weight: Make sure you perform the exercises with the correct technique before increasing the weights. Good technique will help you avoid injury and train your muscles effectively.

  • Breaks: Take a 60-90 second break between sets. This gives your muscles enough time to recover without cooling down completely.

  • Variation: Change your training plan every 4-6 weeks to give your muscles new stimuli and avoid plateaus.


Sample training plan for muscle building for beginners


Here is an example of what a training plan for the week could look like:


Monday: Chest and triceps

  • Bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Incline bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Tricep press: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Dips: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions


Wednesday: Back and biceps

  • Pull-ups: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Barbell rows: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Bicep curls: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Hammer curls: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions


Friday: Legs and shoulders

  • Squats: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Leg press: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Shoulder press: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Side raises: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions


Saturday: Full body workout

  • Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Bench press: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Pull-ups: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

  • Squats: 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions



How do I increase the training intensity?


Progressive overload is the key to building muscle. This means that you should regularly increase the weights and/or the number of repetitions.


Here are some methods to increase the intensity of your training:


  • Increase the weights: Add small weights regularly to increase the challenge.

  • Increase repetitions: If you can't increase the weights, try doing more repetitions.

  • Shorten the rests: Reduce the rest time between sets to increase the intensity.

  • Vary the exercises: Alternate between different exercises to target all muscle fibers.



Muscle building diet: What should I eat?

Man who holds protein foods

Have you set yourself the goal of building muscle? Then you should not only reach for the weights, but also for the right foods!


Here are a few tips to help you achieve your goals:


Proteins, proteins, proteins!


Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles. Without enough protein, your body will struggle to repair and build muscle.


So what should you eat?


  • Chicken and turkey: Lean meat that is rich in protein and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

  • Fish: Particularly fatty fish such as salmon provide additional healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Eggs: An excellent and versatile source of protein - perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

  • Pulses: Beans, lentils and chickpeas are ideal for vegetarians and vegans.

  • Dairy products: Curd cheese, yogurt and cheese provide plenty of protein and calcium.


Carbs are your friends


Carbohydrates are your main source of energy. They help you to train more intensively and recover faster.


Here are some good sources:


  • Whole grain products: Oatmeal, wholemeal bread, brown rice and quinoa.

  • Fruit and vegetables: Not only rich in carbohydrates, but also in vitamins and minerals.

  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes: Great sources of energy that also taste great.


Don't forget healthy fats


Fats are important for hormone production and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.


Here are a few healthy options:


  • Avocados: Rich in monounsaturated fats and super versatile.

  • Nuts and seeds: Ideal as a snack or topping for salads and yogurts.

  • Olive oil: Perfect for salads or cooking.


Drink, drink, drink!


Water is essential for all bodily functions, including muscle building. Make sure you drink enough – at least 2-3 liters per day. If you train intensively, it can be more.


By the way, we mean water or unsweetened tea, not sugary drinks or coffee.



How long does it take to build muscle?

Athlete who holds on to rings

This is one of the most common questions that many people ask themselves when they start building muscle. We'll spoil it briefly: you need patience!


The first weeks: Small progress


You can expect to see some visible changes in the first 1-2 months. Especially if you have never or rarely trained before, you will see the first results relatively quickly.


Your body will adapt to the new training and you will notice that you are getting stronger and may already see a slight definition in your muscles. This is the so-called "newbie effect" - enjoy it!


3-6 months: Visible changes


After around 3-6 months, you should see clearer progress. Your muscles will become bigger and more defined and you will notice that you can lift more weight or find the exercises easier.


This phase is super motivating because the results become more and more visible.


6-12 months: Significant muscle mass


In a period of 6 to 12 months, you can build significant muscle mass, provided you train consistently and stick to a good nutrition plan.


Your body will now be used to training and progress will be slower but steady. It is important to remain patient and keep working hard during this phase. Remember: building muscle is a marathon, not a sprint.


It is a lifelong process – there is always something to do and something to improve.



On your marks, get set, build your muscles!


Now you know what it takes to build muscle effectively - from the training plan to nutrition and proper recovery.


It's no secret that building muscle takes time and dedication, but it's worth the effort. The key to success is a combination of hard work, patience and the right strategy.


Remember: every step forward, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. So keep at it and enjoy your training!

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