Hard Truth About Gaining Muscle

Ben Walker from London Fitness – In Home Personal Training explains how gaining muscle means having to gain weight at the same time.

Many bodybuilders take to the gym with two goals in mind. The goals to aim for simultaneously are building muscle and burning fat in the same workout. Top athletes will obsess their weight-training program with their diet and struggle to meet both objectives. This is simply because its not possible to shed pounds while you build your body.

So how do we build muscle and shed the pounds?

There are simply two main steps to a muscle building program, hypertrophy and diet:

Step 1 – Hypertrophy


People who want to gain muscle need to succeed hypertrophy in their strength-training program. This means lifting weight to your highest capacity over 8-12 repetitions, causing your muscle fibers to break down so they can repair and grow. The best exercises to achieve this are usually isolated muscle exercises, involving one movement. This allows you to lift more weight opposed to compound movements to achieve this effect.

Great isolated exercises for bulking through hypertrophy include:


1- Seated Bicep Curls

The best way to isolate your bicep muscles for hypertrophy is by performing bicep curls in seated position. Resting your elbows will support the movement in lifting more weight for muscle breakdown.

2- Tricep Rope Extensions

Tricep Rope Extensions

Rope Extensions on the cable machine are the best way to target all three triceps muscles. By locking in your elbows at the side of your body, contracting the muscles with downward pressure from the rope is the best way to engage your fast twitch muscle fibers.

3- Hammer Curls

Hammer Curls are another way of isolating muscles in your arms. This time by changing the position of your fists to neutral position, you’re engaging your forearms very effectively, meaning these muscles are targeted as well as your biceps. This exercise is a great after burn after performing the bicep curl.


4- Tricep Dips

Tricep Dips

Tricep dips are also a brilliant exercise for isolation. The downward movement helps target your triceps as a primary muscle, but also engages muscles in the shoulders and forearms.


1- Seated Leg Press

Seated Leg Press

The seated leg press is great for isolation as your back is rested against the weight. The machine also gives handles for support to stablilise your lower back. By keeping all these body parts stable, we have better ability to push more weight with our legs on this machine, much more than a typical lunge or squat.

2- Seated Leg Extension

Seated Leg Extension

The seated leg extension is a great exercise for isolating our quadriceps. Like the seated leg press, the machine will offer support to your back and support of the handles.


1- Barbell Chest Press

Barbell Chest Press

I’ve picked the barbell chest press opposed to the dumbbell chest press. The reason is that the weight distributed across barbell better than doing free weights. This means that dumbbell chest press uses more stabilizer muscles, which will reduce your ability to lift more weight.

2- Chest Press Machine

Chest Press Machine

There are many exercise you can do for your chest that help you bulk. Chest flys are great but they require other muscles to counteract the resistance in standing position. This is why I’ve gone for the chest press machine. In a seated position again, you can contract your pec major and pec minor by pushing the weight away from your body, but have the back support of the upward facing bench. This again helps to push more weight over higher repetitions.


1- Seated Overhead Press

Seated Overhead Press

The Seated overhead press is a great exercise for contracting your muscles in isolated position. By resting your back, you take away the support needed from your traps and core by engaging in this routine. This will help you push more weight on the contraction phase.

2- Cable Lateral Raises

Cable Lateral Raises

Lateral Dumbbell Raises are a great isolation exercise for muscle building, but I think lateral raises done on a cable machine give more benefit


1- Seated Row

Seated Row

One of the best isolation exercises you can perform. All the muscles in the body support this movement without feeling any exertion. This allows maximum repetitions for he rhomboids in your back without feeling any fatigue from other assisting muscles. In my view the best exercise for back isolation.

2- Lat Pull Downs

Lat Pull Downs

One of the best isolation exercises you can perform. All the muscles in the body support this movement without feeling any exertion. This allows maximum repetitions for he rhomboids in your back without feeling any fatigue from other assisting muscles. In my view the best exercise for back isolation.



The is a few key reasons for why diet is important in muscle building:

1- Caloric Deficit

When our muscles break down, they require three things to grow – protein, enzymes and calories. By absorbing very few calories after achieving hypertrophy, we are actually damaging our body. With very little calories, we are giving our body no ability to heal, meaning you will stunt muscle growth.

2 – Fuelling Before and After Workout

Before a workout, you will need to fuel with the right nutrients to be able to lift weight to your best ability. This will be from long lasting stable carbohydrates. Foods include oatmeal, whole wheat and natural carbs and high carb natural fruits. After your workout its essential to get at least 20 grams of protein and plenty of amino acids.

  • Oatmeal
  • Brown Pasta
  • Barley, Quinoa, Whole Grains
  • Whey Shakes

Avoid cheap carbs like white bread and white pasta.

While they have the caloric value, they won’t give you long lasting fuel during performance.


Prepare a workout program before reaching the gym. Make sure you pick plenty of exercise that isolate your muscles for performance and target reps to failure. Eat a good protein source every 2 hours every day and have most of your carbs just before and after your workout.  Once you have achieved a lot of muscle, then you can start to manage and reduce your caloric intake for shredding, but never reduce the amount of calories you have before hitting the gym.