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November 14, 2016

Can I Build Muscle?

couple build muscle

Yes, regardless of your age.

Assuming your health is generally ok, of course. Virtually anyone can build muscle.

The question back to you is: Are you willing to devote 30 – 40 minutes for 3 – 4 days every week to do it?

If you can’t muster that consistent discipline, you will not build much muscle. If you can, you will.

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One of the problems holding people back today is the over-abundance of training routines getting pitched constantly. There are times when too much information is not helpful, it’s just adding confusion. This is one of those times. The fitness industry is choking with methods, gurus and hype.

Tune it out.

The art and science of building muscle hasn’t changed much at all from the old school days (except of course for the dangerous devotion to drugs in the pro bodybuilder ranks).

Try to screen out all the hype for a moment and view this with fresh eyes. There is absolutely nothing complicated about building muscle. It does NOT require a complex course of action and coaches yelling at you.

It does not require Insanity, Confusion or Bootcamps — or Pain.

The real formula has never changed. It goes like this: Muscle fibers grow in response to controlled damage that we do to them through specific exercises. The muscle fibers tear on a microscopic level. This damage is repaired while we sleep using the good nutrition we’ve put in our bodies as fuel. IT IS NOT ABOUT PAIN. Forget the old saying, “no pain, no gain.” Think NO PAIN EVER.

Exercise + Good Nutrition + Rest & Recovery = Muscle Growth.

If you’re working hard enough, you will feel a bit sore. Think of that soreness as the “Pump.” That’s a good feeling. That’s your body sending blood into the muscle fibers with healing nutrients. Pump is good. Pain is bad.

We create that muscle “damage” by targeting specific muscles with various types of resistance exercises. These can be done with weights or with resistance bands or even with bodyweight movements. Our muscles don’t think. They just respond to resistance and don’t care where it comes from.

The ideal amount of resistance is one that you can finish 8 to 12 clean repetitions with before reaching “failure.” By “clean” I mean no cheating. No swinging the weights around or using body english. “Failure” means you can’t do the next rep in a clean way.

Do 3 – 5 sets per exercise. Decrease the number of reps as necessary to finish the final sets. Rest as briefly as possible in between sets. If you’re first starting out, this time will slowly decrease as you get in better shape. 30 – 40 seconds rest is ideal.

You’re main focus is not increasing the amount of weight you use. It is on taking the target muscle to “failure” in each set. You can adjust the number of reps and the amount of resistance as you work through your sets. You are not focusing on numbers. You are focusing on the feeling in your muscle.

You want to get into a mental groove called the Mind/Body Connection. Feel the pump. The amount of weight and the number of sets are just tools to get you to the pump.

Once you’re in shape, you want to have a good amount of “volume” in your workout plan. Volume relates to how much work you’re putting in. Personally, I find 3-5 sets of each exercise is ideal with up to 3 – 5 exercises per body part. In other words, if I’m working my biceps, I do 3 different exercises, with 5 sets for each:

Standing biceps curls X 5 Sets
Standing concentration curls with dumbbells X 5 Sets
Standing cable curls using the triceps rope X 5 Sets
That’s 15 sets in all for the biceps and that’s considered a lot of Volume. But I am an experienced lifter and can handle it. If you’re new, start smaller and build your way up over time.

Me at 60 in my basement gym

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If you want big arms, you’ll be doing a variety of bicep curls, triceps work and some work on the forearms and wrists. My arm workout consists of the above Biceps routine, plus a similar routine for the Triceps (back of the arm) and I do some specialty work for forearms with a “wrist roller,” and some “gripper” devices.
I recommended targeting one area per workout day. That gives that area several days of rest and recovery before the next workout.

That’s it in a nutshell. We can get into lots more details, but secret to building muscle is not complicated. It’s simple.

Doing it consistently is the hard part.

Thanks for stopping by!

Please feel free to leave a comment below, or write to me at: brian@boomermuscle.com

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Brian Patterson

I'm a 40 veteran of the corporate world settling into a new role with this website. I want to help other Baby Boomers and people over 40 learn how they can build muscle and reverse the negative effects of aging on their bodies. We're entering the second half of life and if we do something now we can walk tall into our golden years, rather than hunched over and in pain.

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