There’s a lot more to building muscle than just eating a lot of food and lifting weights.  

You could have the best training routine in the world and eat like a horse, but without considering your lifestyle, recovery and mindset, you won’t get great results.  

These 10 tips for building muscle may just surprise you, and some may just be the reminder you need to kick your routine up another level.

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1. Measure your body fat regularly

Gaining muscle does not necessarily mean you need to gain fat at the same time.  If you have enough calories available to build muscle, you’ll just build muscle.  

If you have too many calories available, those calories will overflow from muscle building into fat storage.  

It is obviously easier to just eat and not track calories or body fat – a dirty bulk.  But in the long run, your high fat stores will start causing your body to produce less testosterone, making it hard to build further muscle.

2. Get a coach

Even if you have great knowledge and extensive experience in the gym, you should still have a coach or trainer.  

A coach will push you to follow training routines you’ve never considered and will hold you accountable when things get tough.  

A coach will track your progress for you and can make objective decisions based on the results.  A coach saves you so much time.  

They can adjust your nutrition and programming without you having to plan new phases yourself.  They help make changes to break through plateaus.  

They teach you more than you could ever learn from browsing the internet.  Most importantly, they are just like any other professional.  If you want your accounts doing right, you hire an accountant.  

The same goes for health – hire a trainer who can guide you in the right direction and give you piece of mind that you are doing things right.

3. Get lean before you start training purely for hypertrophy

The leaner you are the more free testosterone you’ll have to help you build muscle.  You’ll also maintain better conditioning, allowing you to push through hard, high volume hypertrophy workouts.

lean

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4. Look after your gut

You need enough calorie intake to build muscle.  You need quality, diverse and healthy nutrition to feed your muscle growth, not just volume of food.  The saying goes 'you are what you eat'.  In reality – you are what you eat, then digest, then absorb.  If your gut isn’t healthy, you’ll digest and absorb poorly.  This means your body will struggle to absorb the relevant nutrients, leaving you without adequate nutrition to reach your potential – regardless of what you’re eating.  

So, make sure you keep your gut healthy by keeping sugar and hyper-allergenic foods in the diet low and get proper amounts of fibre and probiotics.

5. Leave your phone in your locker

The gym isn’t time to catch up on your personal life, take selfies, do work emails or look at funny videos.  You’re there to train. Leave your phone in the locker rooms and give your workout 100% focus, attention and effort.

6. Respect your training environment

The gym is your dojo.  You don’t walk into a martial arts dojo and see kit laying out on the floor.  Your gym is where you build your body, your health and your character.  Respect it, or you’ll never fully respect what it can do for you.

Nick Mitchell commandments

7. Don’t worry about what other people are doing

There will always be others who are bigger, stronger or leaner than you.  If you start worrying about what they are doing, you’ll lose sight of what you are doing.  It’s easy to lose heart when comparing yourself to others.  Focus on the ways in which you are better than yesterday.  Look in, not out.

8. Get good quality sleep

Sleep has the biggest influence on muscle growth, second only to training.  Remember, muscles are torn in the gym and then repaired and rebuilt bigger and stronger while you rest and recover.  Sleep is when most of this regeneration is done.  

During your sleep, growth hormone levels rise and muscles are repaired. A good night's sleep doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sleep 10 hours.  It does mean solid, uninterrupted sleep though.  It is not normal to wake in the night.  

If you are getting less than six hours a night or wake once or more during your sleep, your results will be less than optimal.

9. Get focused

Don’t just go through the motions – train with passion.  The best training plan in the world will do nothing if you don’t bring intensity to every workout.  NOTHING can replace hard work.

10. Get soft tissue work regularly

This is vital, both for avoiding injuries and maintaining proper range of motion.  

If you are too restricted in your shoulders to get a neutral grip dumbbell press down to your chest, you’re missing out on vital stimulus for growth.  This is just one example – the same applies to all exercises.  

If you leg press because you can’t get into an ass to grass squat or can’t straighten your arms on a bicep curl because it hurts your elbows – get some manual therapy.

Want to train with world-class personal trainers and get a taste of the real UP training experience? Click here to sign up for one of UP's famous Hypertrophy Camps.