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Where To Start With Building Muscle

I don’t think it will come as big surprise for most people when I tell you that the vast majority of people who workout regularly want to lose weight. 

There are some people however that want the opposite of that and in fact really struggle to gain weight, or muscle more specifically. 

That may feel like a really strange thing to hear but for some it’s reality. 

Believe it or not, whether you want to lose, maintain or gain weight the process remains almost identical. 

You need patience, because all things take time. 

You need perseverance, because progress isn’t linear and there will be times where you don’t get the result you think you deserve. 

You need consistency, because without that we will ultimately going round in circles.

Now we understand some of the characteristics and behaviours you need, let’s look at what you need to focus on practically.


You need to decide how many gym sessions per week is going to be realistic. 

3-4 is a solid place for most people in terms of time commitment if you are serious about this and it’s enough to see great results. 

For example, if you were to perform 3 full body workouts every week for a year I think it’s fair to expect to see a significant improvement. 

I’d rather you did that than start with 5 days a week and then burnout after a month and do nothing for 6 months.

From an exercise selection perspective, big compound movements (done well) are recommended.

Examples include:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench Press / Military Press / Tricep Dips
  • Pull Ups / Bent Over Row / Upright Row 


This is where you need to focus on the numbers. 

By working backwards from a viewpoint of how many calories you anticipate you will expend (burn) on an average day will enable us to start somewhere.

For example, let’s say that we have determined your daily calories expenditure to be 2,200 per day. 

A simple place to start would be to add 200-300 calories on top of this for a couple of weeks and see how your body reacts. 

If your bodyweight is creeping up and your waistline isn’t expanding you have a fair idea that you’re on the right track.

It would be ideal to have regular body composition checks along the way to test body fat % levels but I appreciate that’s not available for everyone.

If your weight is going up too quickly and your body fat is increasing with it, reduce calories by 100 per day and see what happens. 

If your weight is not going up, increase your calories by 100 per day and see what happens. 

You will notice here, I often say ‘see what happens’. 

This is because trial and error is required, within a month or so I would anticipate you will find a sweet spot (remember patience!)

A final note on nutrition, a consistent protein intake of 1 g per pound of bodyweight per day is also optimal.


Nothing too fancy here… 

  • 2-3 litres of water per day
  • 7-8 hours sleep each night 

Can it get more complex than all of the above? Absolutely!

But it’s a pretty solid place to begin and will set most people who struggle to gain muscle on the right path. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day.


Do you need confidential help with your health, fitness or nutrition? I have a range of services available, with Personal Training in my Private Gym in Manchester, also at your home or workplace in the surrounding areas. For clients further afield, I provide Online Personal TrainingNutritional Consultancy & Private Fitness Holidays.

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