Principle One- Lift Heavy
This is self explanatory but I see way to many people in the gym lifting way to light and not even reaching failure. To grow you must push your muscles to the point to where they must adapt by getting bigger and stronger. Basically when you contract a muscle using resistance (weight) you create little tears in muscle fibers, which must grow back bigger and stronger. The most common rep range used to build muscle is 6-12 reps with relatively heavy weight.
Principle Two- Fail
You must go to failure when lifting. This doesn't mean go to failure on every single set, but the majority of sets you should fail in the desired rep range e.g in the 6-12 range you should fail anywhere in between, if you can go above 12 increase the weight, if you cant reach 6 reps decrease the weight. YOU MUST FAIL TO SUCCEED.
Principle Three- Progress
You should be increasing the weight week to week. When you first start training your strength gains should be quite fast. Remember you must keep giving your body a reason to grow or else it will plateau and your gains will come to a stand still.
Principle Four- Keep Workouts Short
In general your workout should be 45 minutes to an hour and a half no longer. Its widely accepted that you will cause drops in testosterone (vital muscle building hormone) if you workout too long/overtrain. Length of your workout will be directly related to the rest you take in between sets (60-90 seconds).
Principle Five- Structure Your Workouts
Your workouts should be well structured. They should start with heavy low rep compound lifts e.g bench press, and then followed by lighter high rep isolation exercises e.g chest flyes. The main reason behind this is that you will have more energy at the start of your workout for lifting heavier loads.
Principle Six- Use Correct Form
Form is everything, when you use bad form e.g using your back while doing barbell curls, you decrease the stimulation on the bicep, and your just cheating your results. There is a time and place for cheating and that called forced reps. (I will do an article on that later, this article is just a basic outline of building muscle). Also when you use weight you cant handle you increase the chance of getting an injury. Trust me injuries are no joke they are very taxing physically but more so mentally.
Principle Seven- Eat Enough Calories
In reality you must eat more calories than you spend to grow. You may grow slightly if your just starting lifting without changing your diet. Most people say you need an excess of 3500 calories in one week to gain a pound of muscle. This is a myth in my opinion. 1 gram of fat = 9 calories 1 pound of fat = 3500 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories 1 pound of muscle = approximately 1800 calories ( including glycogen store)
You do the math, if your gaining a pound a week most of it is probably fat. Eat a surplus of about 150-300 calories daily to gain muscle slowly but surely. You cant bully your body into building more muscle by eating 5000 calories.
Principle Seven- Protein Power
Ideally you should get around at least 1 gram per pound bodyweight. You need protein to provide your muscles with the building blocks it needs to grow and repair. Don't think if you eat 500 grams of protein a day you will gain muscle twice as fast than eating 250 grams. Your body can only synthesize a certain amount of protein daily,after that it is either stored as fat or excreted as urea. This is determined by genetics and hormone levels. Why do you think pro bodybuilders get so big, they take hormones e.g testosterone to increase protein synthesis... they can expect to grow more on extremely high protein diets.
Principle Eight- Sleep To Grow
Ideally you should sleep 8-9 hours a night, realistically you should sleep at least 7 hours. Sleep increases hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone, leptin and also improves insulin sensitivity. All key for muscle building.
Principle Nine- Supplement Wisely
Supplements are to supplement an already good diet not replace it. You should only supplement what you cant get in your diet from whole foods. I recommend whey protein, fish oil, multivitamin, pre workout or creatine ( if you have the money). This is not an essential muscle building principle but it will give you that extra 10%.I will do a separate article on supplements in the future so check back under the nutrition header.
Principle Ten- Educate Yourself
Probably the most important muscle building principle. You cant go into this process of building muscle blindly, you have to know what your doing. Unless your some genetic freak who gains muscle just looking at a dumbbell, you have to do your research.