Fundamentals of Training and Building Muscle


Like all things in life, what you need is balance.

It’s pretty much the same with working out while trying to build muscle.

A common misconception is that you just need to lift heavy and push yourself to the limit in order to get those gains. But that’s just one part of the equation.

When it comes to building muscle, both the exercise that you do AND your diet play an integral role.

Spending hours in the gym and exercising a lot won’t do much, if you’re eating too much of the “wrong” foods.

It’s the same as expecting to see muscle definition and gains solely by eating “healthy”, and not having a carefully planned out exercise routine.

So how do you actually train properly and start building muscle?

Start by learning how protein works.

Everyone knows that we use protein in order to build muscle. The more protein you have, the larger your muscles grow.

Now, the process of storing protein in your body is called protein synthesis

The thing you need to understand is that protein isn’t just used for building muscle...

Your body is consistently using the protein you consume and store in your muscles for other crucial body functions, like making hormones and enzymes, or as energy for the day.

This results in less protein being available for building muscle.

What experts recommend is that you build and store proteins faster than your body uses your protein reserves. And this is where your diet comes in – and why all the body-builders and weightlifters are so keen on consuming their shakes and chicken breasts.

Here’s a quick rule of thumb:

Aim to consume about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. According to a landmark study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, that’s roughly the maximum amount of protein your body can use in a day.

To give you an example, if you weigh around 160 pounds (72kg), you need to consume around 160 grams of protein per day. After that, split the rest of the food you consume to hit your target calories for the day equally between carbs and fats.

So, what is 160 grams of protein? 

That’s roughly 8 ounces of chicken breast, 1 cup of cottage cheese, a roast-beef sandwich, 2 ounces of peanuts, 2 eggs, and a glass of milk. You don’t need to eat it at once – but remember, you need to eat all of that throughout the day when you’re trying to build muscle.

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Eating actually builds muscles.

With that much amount of food, you’ll see that it’s not just about lifting weights and starving yourself. That’s actually counter-intuitive. As well as having protein in your body, you actually need more calories when you’re training to build muscle.

Here’s an easy guide to calculate the number of calories you need per day in order to gain 1 pound per week:

  1.       Take your weight in pounds
  2.       Multiply it by 12 to get your daily calorie needs
  3.       Multiply that by 1.6

This is your resting metabolic rate, or the rate at which your body burns calories without factoring exercise.

And then, do the following:

  1. Multiply the number of minutes you lift weights per week by 5
  2. Multiply the number of minutes per week that you run, cycle, or play sports by 8

The factor in number 1 above is for the amount of strength training you do; number 2 on the other hand is for the amount of aerobic training that you do.

  1. The next step is to add those up, and divide by 7. And then add it to your resting metabolic rate. This will give you your actual daily caloric needs.
  2. Then finally, add 500 to your daily caloric needs. This is your estimated daily calorie consumption to gain 1 pound per week. Wait 2 weeks for the results – if you haven’t gained by then, increase your calorie consumption by 500 per day. With the right exercise, you can turn those pounds into muscles.

Start Training Heavy.

Now that you have the food part of the equation down, you need to start thinking about how you’re training...

Remember, in order to use the proteins that you consume, you need to start challenging yourself. Basically, when you train heavy, you “tear” your muscles – and the protein you consume actually helps you build it back up, and they become stronger.

In order to build muscle and strength, you need to train heavy, safely, and efficiently. Experts know that heavy training pushes your muscles, not only concentrically (i.e. when they shorten) but eccentrically (i.e. when they lengthen) as well. If you’re working out properly, this stimulus of a heavy weight going down and up with control will cause greater muscle tear – and when eating right, muscle rebuild.

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Basically, start thinking about your exercises.

To start thinking about training heavier, you need to be conscious about the reps that you are doing.

High-rep sets has its own value (especially when you’re starting out). However, not every set you do needs to have 10-15 reps.

Don’t be afraid to do sets of 3-5 reps, but with heavier weights. This is perfect for multi-joint moves like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. Training with low reps but heavier weights build more pure strength. As you progress, you’ll go stronger, and will allow you to lift heavier weights for more reps.

Here’s one way to approach this…

  • Start your workouts with low reps but heavier weights
  • Do 4 sets of 3-5 reps for your first exercise
  • After, do 3 sets of 10-12 reps (with lighter weights) for your next. 
  • This way, you build pure strength at the start, and then get the benefits of more reps.

Remember though that it’s best to check in with experts, to know the right program for you. However, it doesn’t hurt to experiment and see what your body can do – so long as you’re doing the exercises correctly and safely! 

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Try EDT (Escalating Density Training).

Now that you have the concept of training heavier to build strength, it’s time to kick it up a notch by trying Escalation Density Training (EDT).

EDT is a form of muscle-building whose goal is to progressively do more work in the same amount of time as the prior workout.

It’s built on simple and sound muscle-building principles – essentially, your body adapts to the amount of stress you place on it. EDT accomplishes this by systematically increasing your workload based on your body’s ability to adapt.

You’ll see it (and actually feel it) as you progress – it’s easier to lift, or maybe you can do more reps. That’s when you know your muscles are adapting and getting bigger.

Here are a few suggested programs to give you an idea of how EDT looks like: 

  • In each time frame, the exercises are performed in an alternating fashion, back and forth. Use the same weight for all sets, and alternate it until the time frame has elapsed.
  • For Progression: Each time you repeat the workout, your objective is to simply perform more total repetitions in the same time frame. 
  • As soon as you can increase the total number of reps by 20% or more, start the next workout with 5% more weight and start over.

 Workout 1 - Lower Body

Set 1: Time frame - 20 min window to complete as much quality work as possible

  • A1. Kettlebell Goblet Squat
  • A2. Kettlebell Walking Lunges

(The Adjustable Kettlebell is a great tool for this as you can go up in weight slowly)

Set 2: Time frame – 20 min Window to complete as much quality work as possible


Workout 2 – Upper Body

Set 1: Time frame - 20 min Window to complete as much quality work as possible

Set 2: Time frame - 20 min Window to complete as much quality work as possible


Workout 3 - Lower Body

Set 1: Time frame - 20 min Window to complete as much quality work as possible

Set 2: Time frame - 20 min Window to complete as much quality work as possible

  • B1. Hamstring Leg curl
  • B2. Kettlebell Swings > the Adjustable Kettlebell is a great tool for this as you can go up in weight slowly


Workout 4 - Upper Body

Set 1: Time frame - 20 min Window to complete as much quality work as possible

 Set 2: Time frame - 20 min Window to complete as much quality work as possible

  • B1. Dumbbell Hammer Curls
  • B2. Tricep Cable Push Downs

Bonus Tips: What to Eat Before and After Workouts

Now you are well equipped to start training to build muscle. However, here are a few bonus tips on what to eat before and after you train.

First off, drink protein shakes before working out, not after.

A 2001 study at the University of Texas shows that it’s more effective that way. They found that lifters who drank a shake before working out has increased protein synthesis compared to those who drank the same shake after exercising.

Researchers from that study found out that drinking a carbohydrate-protein mixture before your workouts leads to greater uptake of amino acids in your muscles. This is due to the fact that exercise increases blood flow to your working tissues – hence, your body absorbs more.

The shake contained 6 grams of essential amino acids, which acts as the muscle-building blocks for protein. It also contained 35 grams of carbohydrates. Ideally, you’ll need about 10 to 20 grams of protein – usually about one scoop of whey-protein powder. So get your Protein Shaker, and down that shake before you hit those weights!

Next, it’s not just about proteins.

After training hard, you actually need to consume carbohydrates. You’ll rebuild muscle faster this way. So don’t skip out on those carbs, especially on your rest days.

Research shows that post-workout meals with carbs increase your insulin levels. This, in turn, slows the rate of protein breakdown. Try having a banana, a sports drink, or even a peanut butter sandwich after training.

And finally, have carbs and proteins before going to bed!

On the days that you train, eat a combination of carbs and proteins around 30 minutes before going to bed. Try a cup of cereal with skim milk. The calories are more likely to stick with you during your sleep – this helps reduce protein breakdown in your muscles.


Hopefully you find these tips helpful on your fitness journey. It pays to know how your body works and how to train smart in order to achieve your goals. Now that you know all of these, it’s time to hit those weights and get to it!

And don’t forget, if you need top-notch exercise equipment, we’ve got you covered. Check out our shop to find the equipment that’s right for you.

Good luck, and we wish you all the best!