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How to Build Muscle: Complete Nutrition and Training Guide

Muscle Building: Complete Guide for Nutrition and Training
Muscle Building: Complete Guide for Nutrition and Training

Do you want to build muscles effectively and quickly? Then this article is just the thing for you. We deal with all factors and tell you exactly how to combine training, nutrition and regeneration in order to build up impressive musculature as quickly as possible.

Building Muscles only works if all the factors are right – your training and also your nutrition.

At the end of the article, you will know exactly how to design your training and diet to achieve optimal results.

How does muscle building work?

How does muscle building work?
How does muscle building work?

Basically, muscle building is divided into two phases:

Stimulation Phase

The build-up of muscle mass (called hypertrophy) only happens when your body recognizes a need for it.

So it is nothing more than a process of adaptation to the stimuli you put on your body.

The aim is a thickening of the muscle fiber cross-section, which is caused by injuries to the existing muscle fibers.

Small cracks in the musculature, which you create during strength training, signal to the body that the musculature must be rebuilt stronger than before.

The bottom line, then, is an adjustment process. If you keep giving your body stronger and stronger stimuli, it must thicken the musculature in order to do justice to the stimuli.

Regeneration Phase

In the second step your body has to recover from precisely these small tears in the musculature in order to build up new mass. That’s the process of building muscle.

Regeneration takes place during rest breaks and significantly during sleep, as the body is not particularly active here. For these repair processes you need enough energy and proteins.

The process of loading and subsequent adjustment is called super-compensation in the training theory. The body thus always adapts to the new conditions.

Training plan for muscle building

A prerequisite for an effective and fast muscle build-up is of course a suitable training plan, which optimally coordinates the known parameters.

Why do I need a training plan?
Why do I need a training plan?

1. Which exercises should I choose?

Many people swear by the basic exercises of squats, bench press, cross-lifting and military press in order to build up quality muscle mass over a long period of time.

This is also the right thought, because these exercises are excellent as measuring instruments for your progress.

With these four exercises you can easily and reliably ensure your progression.

In addition, many professional bodybuilders rely on machine training so that they don’t have to concentrate on training.

This approach also has its justification, but if you don’t want to go on stage, free weights are recommended, because you also strengthen your coordination.

Isolating exercises are also increasingly used for targeted muscle building.

So those exercises that isolate a muscle group. This way you can compensate for weak points or put a special focus on a muscle area. The bottom line is that the exercise selection is secondary. You should make sure that you feel the exercises in the target muscles and that you do not feel any pain during training.

2. Training parameters: Frequency, duration and intensity

It is much more important for the muscle build-up to find a balance between the training parameters that you will be able to cope with.

 balance between the training parameters
balance between the training parameters

Roughly, these are divided into training duration (how long does your workout last?), frequency (how often do you work your muscles during the week?), volume (how many exercises and repetitions do you do per muscle group?) and intensity (how hard do you exercise?).

Training Duration

Training for muscle building should be short and intensive. Those who have the strength to train significantly longer than 45 – 60 minutes do not normally train intensively enough.

A compromise must be found between stimulation and cortisol release.

The longer your workout takes, the more cortisol your body spills. This is a stress hormone that has a catabolic effect in the long term, i. e. has a muscle-degrading effect. During a 2-hour training session your cortisol level is noticeably increased.

As a result, the body breaks down proteins from your muscles in order to use them as energy carriers (among other things). Therefore, your training should not take too long.

On the other hand, you need to train long enough to stimulate muscle growth. Therefore, I prefer to train very intensively and short rather than long and comfortable.

Use your time in the studio and don’t get involved in long conversations!

Training Frequency

To really build up serious muscle, you should go to the gym at least 3 times a week. The less you train, the more muscle groups you need to use per workout.

In this way you may not set enough stimuli to guarantee muscle growth and you can choose between different training splits. The most popular ones are:

  • 2-part split training plan
  • 3-Split Training Plan
  • 5-Split Training Plan

No one is necessarily better than the other. Choose a concept and test it for yourself.

Training Volume

A decisive factor for muscle growth is volume – how many exercises, sets and repetitions you expect your muscles to perform. Too much training will overload your muscles (the result is the so-called overtraining, plus more below), too little volume leads to a low growth stimulus.

Here too, it is important to find a balance. You can follow the following guidelines:

  • Large muscle areas such as the chest, back or legs can tolerate more flowers (9-12 sets)
  • Small muscle areas such as arms, shoulders or calves require less volume (6-9 sets)

Training Intensity

Here the wheat is separated from the chaff. You will only achieve muscle growth if you exceed your exercise limits for training.

Why should the body initiate muscle building if it does not see a need for it?

So if you only get your body’s normal performance every week, you won’t build muscle mass. Intensity is the parameter that you should pay most attention to. If you don’t train intensively, i. e. close to your stress limit, nothing will happen!

Create a training plan

If you don’t know how to create the ideal training plan for yourself, you can find further help here:

Note: Muscle build-up only works if you can record a steady progress in your training. In order to achieve optimal results, the parameters training duration, frequency, volume and intensity must be coordinated.

Nutrition for Muscle Growth

The right nutrition for the training plan
The right nutrition for the training plan

The second major component in muscle building is nutrition. Training and nutrition always go hand in hand.

You can’t compensate for one by the other. If you do not set growth stimuli in training, you will not build up muscles.

If your body does not have enough energy and protein, it cannot build muscle mass.

For a targeted diet, you should especially observe two principles:

  • You need a calorie surplus so that your body can produce new tissue.
  • You have to provide your body with enough protein so that it has the necessary materials at its disposal.

If you are not a bloody beginner, you can only build up your muscles effectively and quickly if you take in more calories than you need to live.

The care of the organs and the maintenance of the organism always has priority.

Protein for muscle building

There is no getting around it: For successful muscle building you need an increased protein intake. The DGE recommends 0.8g protein per kilogram of body weight for people who are inactive in sports.

However, this does not apply to us as strength athletes. For an effective muscle building you should eat 2.0g protein per kilogram of body weight, every day.

In the following table you will find an orientation:

Group of PeopleAmount of Protein
Sporty inactive people0.8g protein per kg body weight
Muscle building2.0g protein per kg body weight
Fat Loss2.5g protein per kg body weight

You should obtain your proteins excellently from untreated foods.

The following sources are recommended by most professionals:

  • Chicken Breast
  • Bollocks
  • Low-fat curd cheese
  • Whey
  • Red meat
  • Fish

Be careful not to eat only the same sources so that you take up a wide range of amino acids. Only if all amino acids are available to a sufficient extent can the body build muscle tissue.

Ideally, each of your meals should contain at least 30-40g of protein to ensure that you have enough protein ingested at the end of the day.

Carbohydrates and Fats

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your strength training and will probably make up most of your dietary plan (up to 50% of the total calories) as you build muscle.

You also need this to have a good pump and strength in training. Use mainly long-chain, complex carbohydrates such as oat flakes or wholemeal rice to obtain energy from them in the long term and to increase insulin levels in a controlled manner.

If you eat too many simple carbohydrates at once, the insulin level will skyrocket and make you tired.

Fats are very important for your hormonal balance. You should not drop below 0.8g per kilogram of body weight to ensure normal production of hormones that are important for muscle growth.

Certain hormones are responsible for muscle growth.

Note: Decisive for muscle growth is an excess of calories and an increased intake of protein. You should absorb 2.0g protein per kilogram of body weight and combine different protein sources to support muscle growth.

Muscle Building Meal Plan

Just as with training, it makes sense to stick to an explicit muscle building diet plan. This usually consists of a breakfast, pre-workout meal, post-workout meal, dinner and 1-2 snacks as needed.

Most athletes swear by carbohydrates both before and after training.

At these two times, you should consume the largest amount of carbs.

By taking it before training, we can increase strength and pump and the carbohydrates after training ensure that our hormone balance becomes tissue-building again.

Immediately after training, a protein shake is recommended to supply the muscles with the important amino acids they need for the repair processes.

Casein protein or low-fat curd cheese with nuts is recommended as the last meal of the day.

The contained milk protein supplies the body with amino acids over a long period of time and thus promotes muscle growth.

Recipes for muscle building

No appetite for rice, chicken and broccoli? That’s no problem at all. The professionals still swear by the classic rice, chicken and broccoli, but nowadays this is simply not necessary any more.

There are numerous alternatives to the always the same meals. You can replace the rice with (sweet) potatoes, the chicken with fish or beef and you have a free ride with the vegetables.

Eat what you like.

But of course this can be boring in the long run. Whey Protein tastes absolutely fantastic and is also heat resistant. There are lots of protein-rich recipes for muscle building that you can easily prepare using protein powder.

How about a weight gainer shake, for example? An ideal calorie bomb for those of us hardgainers who like to drink their calories.

That’s what you need:

  • Oatmeal
  • Protein Powder
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • 1 Banana
  • Rapeseed oil

In the Fitness Recipes section you’ll find all sorts of recipes for muscle building and hundreds of suggestions on how to design your next meal.

Muscle development and regeneration

The last important component to consider when building up your muscles is regeneration. We strain the body several times a week with tons of steel and tear our muscles literally.

Your body must be able to recover sufficiently from these strains to avoid injury.

If you train too often or regenerate too little, fatigue symptoms and injuries accumulate in the muscles. This opens the door to serious injuries. So it is absolutely essential that you give your body the rest it needs.

First and foremost, you achieve this with sufficient sleep. Depending on the amount of training and intensity, you probably need more sleep than your non-exercising colleagues.

It should be at least 7 hours, and even 8 hours of sleep is by far the most effective way to improve regeneration.


What happens if you train too much and can’t keep up with the rest? The imbalance between stress and regeneration is called overtraining.

If you train too hard too often and do not pay enough attention to recovery, you will end up in the state of overtraining.

Your muscle ache then lasts for an unusually long time and the strength values decrease as well.
Make sure from the outset that you take enough rest between training days to allow the muscles the necessary regeneration. Observe these clues to ensure optimal regeneration and avoid over training:

  • Break at least 2 days a week
  • Do not train several times a day
  • Eat sufficient protein
  • Insert a week with less volume and intensity every 6-8 weeks
  • Watch your diet: Eat enough vitamins and minerals

Muscles need time to grow. It is a misguided ambition to train every day.

The body needs its time to repair the resulting micro cracks in the muscles. If you don’t give him this time, you will injure yourself permanently.

Symptoms of overtraining

There are numerous signs of overtraining. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take a break from training. There is no muscle build-up during overtraining!

  • aversion
  • laziness
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • Less power
  • increased resting pulse

Do you feel tired lately and can’t do anything to motivate yourself?

This may be due to over training.

It is extremely important to recognize this condition and to take timely measures to make up for the regeneration.

If you continue to exercise while you are in overtraining, you risk serious injuries.

Strategies against overtraining

The best strategy against overtraining is, of course, to avoid it completely from the outset by good planning. However, if this happens, the following strategies will help:

Reduce your training volume!

Maybe you just took too much out of it and had to slow down a bit.

It is a little trick to find the right dosage between possible stress and recovery. If necessary, simply delete 3-4 sets from your workout.

Use a Deload! A Deload week is a training week in which you consciously train less and also more easily in order to allow the body to regenerate. Spread this week in advance every 6-8 weeks.

Relax the mind!

Not only the muscles, but also your mind needs some rest. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath in the evening, read a good book or do whatever you want.

Note: In the long run, it is absolutely essential for an effective muscle build-up to recover sufficiently. Pay attention to your level of physical activity and avoid over-training through planned breaks. Only when training, nutrition and regeneration are in harmony can you effectively build up muscles.

Supplements for Muscle Growth

The Role of Supplements
The Role of Supplements

You know now that muscle building is essentially determined by three things. Training, nutrition and regeneration.

So if you train hard enough, eat enough protein and calories and allow your body to relax enough, you can build muscle.

Only in the second step should you think about dietary supplements. They can help you with your goal and guide you faster if necessary, but the basics have to be right!

Protein Shake

Most of the people already consider it to be a normal food: The protein powder. It is the supplement that will probably be found in the majority of all sportsmen’s households.

A protein shake provides you with a good portion of 20-30g protein, which is not only quickly digested, but also tastes fantastic. Especially recommended after training.


There are hundreds of studies on creatine, almost all of which come to the same conclusion: Creatine helps us build muscle by providing energy for heavy loads.

Creatine phosphate supplies energy without the addition of oxygen or the production of lactate. This is especially helpful for very heavy weights.

Creatine is not only effective, but also very cheap. Every day 3g is enough to achieve the desired effect.


BCAAs are mainly used in the diet for muscle protection, but they are also of great importance for muscle growth.

BCAA stands for branched-chained amino acids. Among them is leucine, which plays a key role. Leucine creates an uplifting environment in the body as it causes insulin output.

This is exactly what we need after training in order to transport the nutrients directly into the muscle cells.

10g BCAA after training is available with many standard ingredients in the shake.

Muscle Building for Women

Muscle Building for Women
Muscle Building for Women

Also the ladies are asked to iron! The time when women torment themselves for hours on the treadmill is over.

Here, too, it is important to build up muscle in order to achieve a lean and firm body in the long run.

Muscles are fat burning machines and even consume energy at rest.

Nor do you as a woman have to be afraid of looking like a man through strength training.

Women have very little of the typical male hormone – the hormone that is responsible for muscle growth. It is almost impossible to become too muscular as a woman without illicit substances.

A muscle build-up in the women’s sport tends to result in a skin tightening and athletic look.

By the way, you as a woman can train just as easily as the men. Muscle build-up works the same for both sexes. However, women often train differently, as they do not feel that handling very heavy weights is a womanly experience. This is perfectly understandable.

Muscle building for vegans

Vegans are often mocked by the old-school bodybuilders. They say that as a vegan, you can’t build up muscles. This assertion is clearly wrong and without any basis.
The reason for this is often the purely vegetable protein. If you don’t eat chicken, eggs or curd cheese, you simply don’t take enough amino acids.

It is true that animal products have a better amino acid balance, but the vegan can avoid this problem. By combining vegan protein sources with each other, one obtains a complete amino acid profile, which is indispensable for muscle building.

For example, rice with beans complements each other perfectly and provides you with all the essential amino acids to a sufficient extent. As a vegan, the build-up of muscle is just as possible as a meat eater.

The training is the same, only you have to pay more attention to the nutrition as a vegan.

Muscle building in old age

Absolutely everyone benefits from a fast muscle build-up, the youth as well as the generation over 40 or 50, and with increasing age, part of our muscle mass shrinks automatically year after year.

In addition, the level of male hormones also decreases. We can stop these effects of the aging process by means of strength training.

Strength training is necessary to maintain the musculature and to stay fit and healthy until the end of life. Seniors should also build up their muscles.

Care should be taken here to ensure that older people may suffer from an increased risk of injury and need more regeneration between training sessions.

Also, you shouldn’t force absolute best performances in old age. If you just want to do something for your health, you should concentrate mainly on training on the machines, because the movement is given here. Even in old age, the rule of thumb is: Get a grip!

Muscle Building at Home

Muscle Building at Home
Muscle Building at Home

Do you absolutely need a membership in the gym to build up muscles effectively?

No. Training at home in your own four walls is an excellent introduction to strength training and will give you impressive results, and theoretically all you need is your own body weight. Exercises, such as:

  • press-ups
  • burpees
  • pull-ups
  • jackknives

are not only extremely popular, but also very effective. Here, the same rules apply as in fitness training: get up over time and be persistent.

Train at least three times a week intensively for 45-60 minutes and take enough protein to you.

If the training becomes too sluggish for you at some point or if you want to expand your possibilities, you can consider purchasing a weight bench with weights and/or a pull-up bar.

Just a weight bench expands your repertoire of exercises tremendously. The training at home is an ideal start, but really effective muscle building can only be achieved in the long run with additional weight.

Muscle building without equipment is possible, but makes things difficult!

Five Tips for fast muscle building

You can implement these five tips immediately to build up your muscles faster and more effectively!

Drink enough water.

A sufficient supply of water is absolutely essential for every athletic-active person. Water transports vitamins and minerals, is involved in innumerable chemical processes in the body and has a cooling effect. Especially we as strength athletes sweat more often, so drink at least one litre per 20kG of body weight.

Write down your weights. This muscle building tip is worth its weight in gold. If you don’t know how much weight you managed last week, how do you expect to increase reliably?

Apart from that, you have a greater incentive to increase when you see your numbers ahead of you. So keep a training diary and write down carefully what you have achieved.

Eat enough protein.

Seriously. Sufficient protein is a prerequisite for muscle growth. You just won’t make it without it.

If you are not accustomed to an increased intake, you can help with protein powder. It should be at least 2.0g per kilogram of body weight per day.

Eat your carbohydrates after training.

During the training we use our carbohydrate stores heavily and some of them are emptied.

This is exactly what we make use of, because after training the body wants to store carbohydrates in the muscles in order to refill these stores. Ideally, your post-workout shake should also contain some fast carbohydrates to promote muscle growth.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

Sleep is a non-negotiable component. With a lack of sleep you will not be able to achieve success in the long run. If you haven’t managed to get 7-8 hours of sleep in the night, you should take a 30-minute nap to recharge the batteries.

Note: With these five tips for fast muscle building, you are guaranteed to achieve better results in the long run. Don’t be unplanned when you go to the gym and write down your weights! Only if you know where you were last week, you can improve this week. This progression is absolutely necessary for muscle growth.

Questions and answers about muscle building

Does a protein shake help build muscle?

Since a protein shake provides you with many high-quality proteins in an easy way, it indirectly helps you to build up your muscles.

The shake itself is not absolutely necessary if you take in enough protein from your diet, but will undoubtedly help you to reach the recommended protein dose. So if you have problems with eating a lot of food or if you don’t take enough protein, a protein shake can help you to build up your muscles.

How many calories for muscle building?

You roughly need an excess of 10-15% calories. You don’t have to stuff yourself and eat anything that isn’t on the tree at three. If you eat uncontrolled, you will simply put on too much fat, which you have to lose again. Your body’s ability to build muscle is limited, so eating more does not help. The article on how to create your muscle building diet plan tells you exactly how many calories you need.

Do I need sore muscles to build muscle?

The sore muscles are a bit annoying, but it also has something soothing. It is virtually a guarantee for good training. But does this automatically mean that muscle soreness guarantees muscle growth?

No. If you go down a steep mountain, I can promise you that you will have severe muscle ache the following day. Unusual strain also causes sore muscles. You may know this when you have tried a new exercise and you feel it the next day. However, this does not necessarily mean that muscle building takes place.

How much weight should I use?

The bodybuilder uses weight as a means to an end. If you only want to build up an aesthetic body, the weight is actually of secondary importance. It is important that you hit your muscles optimally and feel them during training. Most people use much too much weight, so they exercise everything, but not the target muscles. When building up muscle, the feeling of muscle should always take precedence over weight. In case of doubt, reduce weights!

How can I build up muscles quickly?

Your muscle build-up runs optimally if you are persistent, train intensively, consume enough calories and protein and regenerate sufficiently.

Depending on your level of performance you can build up very impressive musculature after 1-2 years. 10-12 kilos of muscle mass are therefore realistic if you take the matter seriously. There is no abbreviation, muscle building is hard but worthwhile work!

Concluding words

Build Muscle is a combination of training, nutrition and regeneration. All these parameters must always be consistent to guarantee the build-up of muscle mass.

It is therefore a simple but not an easy process. Anyone can build up muscle successfully, but only a few have what it takes to do it. At the end of the day, this is the most important character trait you need to have: perseverance. If you can hold out and don’t give up, you can also build up your muscles!

Do you have any questions about Build Muscle, training, training plan or optimal nutrition? Then feel free to contact us.


Written by Marcus

Fitness is not always easy and there is no perfect plan for everyone to stay fit for life. That is why I have set myself the goal of finding the most accessible way for people to build healthy lifestyles.