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How to Increase Strength - Build Muscle Mass

Updated: Apr 15, 2023

Beginning a workout plan can be intimidating. Where do I start? Gym's today are full of weird looking equipment that I have no idea of how to use, people who appear unapproachable that I don't want to talk to, leading to feelings of being overwhelmed.

There have been hundreds of articles from various authors on gaining muscle mass in an short amount of time, looking for some "magic pill" or secrets to get big quick. But the truth of the matter is there are no shortcuts.

The good news is that your goals can be accomplished with hard work and dedication. Building muscle is a result of sticking to a aggressive workout plan, not just taking a bunch of supplement and slamming protein drinks. It's no secret that strength training (free weights, weight-machines, and resistance bands) can assist in building and sustaining muscle.

The sport of bodybuilding has been around since the late 19th century, with bodybuilders putting on displays of muscle performance. After World War II, the solders came home from the war the men of the country became inspired to get their physique, bigger, stronger and more aggressive in their behavior.

As a result, training techniques were improved, increased focus on nutrition, and the evolution of weight training equipment into an effective means of working muscles. As the popularity grew through written publications, TV, and the movies the sport of bodybuilding grew into a fitness craze.

In 1970 Body building was taken to a new level by the film "Pumping Iron" that was released featuring the new emerging body building star from Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

How to build Muscle Mass Arnold Schwarzenegger's Blueprint Training Program video.

By the 1980's the sport had become a multi-billion dollar industry with millions of people from around the world spend their hard earned money in quest for the perfect body.

Today, gyms, spas, and various athletic fitness facilities are big business, many people are entering into fitness/personal training while making a decent living helping people stay fit and bodybuilding supplement sells are at an all time high.

Weight Training

Body building is the process of developing muscle fibers through various techniques of physical exercise. It can be achieved through muscle conditioning, weight training, increased caloric intake (balanced), and rest. Workouts are designed to focus on certain muscle categories, and foods are consumed with the intention to build the body's metabolism and increase mass.

Weight training develops both strength as well as size of the skeletal muscles through contraction. It uses the force of gravity to oppose the force generated by muscles through contractions. Weight training involves a variety of specialized equipment designed to target specific muscle groups and movements.

The basic principles for weight and strength training are basically the same, they both involve the manipulation of the number of sets, reps, exercise types, and weight moved to cause desired increases in strength, endurance, size and shape. The combination of reps, sets, exercises, and weight depends on the desires of the body builder. Sets with fewer reps can be performed with heavier weights but will have a reduced impact on endurance.

Weight training focuses on form while performing the movements with the appropriate muscle groups and not transferring the weight to different body parts in order to move heavy weight. If you don't use the correct form in weight training, you risk muscle injury which could hinder your progress.

The equipment used in weight training include barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells, pulleys, and stacks in the form of weight machines or the body's own weight as in push-ups and chin-ups. Different weights exercises will produce different types of resistance.

Workout Plan

With any workout, you need to start by warming up and stretching as you are preparing your body to go to work. A warm-up session prior to working out is an excellent way to not only prepare your body but your mind as well.

You should also take the appropriate cool down time after completing your workout allowing your body to recover post-workout. This reduces the possibility of delayed muscle soreness and will help quell the adrenaline that has been building in your system as a result of the workout.

It is important to start slow and not push yourself to hard or too fast in the beginning, you can progressively increase the amount of weight as you get stronger. Ensure that you are not using weights that are too heavy because you increase your risk of injury but use the correct amount of resistance to build muscle.

Push, Pull, Legs (PPL) program

The push, pull, legs program is a basic bodybuilding program to build muscle and improve strength. This program is just one of many programs that you can choose from and the 4/5 day split is just an option. The push, pull, legs program is consider a great option because it doesn't matter what your level of experience is, how much training you've done in the past or if you have physical limitations this program can help you meet your fitness goals.

While there is no perfect program that fits every person the PPL is a weight training program is a flexible and adaptable training program with a split template is considered on of the best. This allows you to design the best workout program for you by incorporating your favorite exercise programs into the various slots that can be adjusted or modified based on your schedule.

The PPL split is 3 exercise regiments done in splits over one week. A basic model goes like this:

  • Workout 1 - pushing exercises (chest, shoulders, & triceps)

  • Workout 2 - pulling exercises (back, traps, & biceps)

  • Workout 3 - lower body exercises and Abs (legs: quads, hamstrings, & calves)

PPL workout routines involves three different workouts: a push workout, a pull workout, and lower body (legs) workout. The push workout emphasizes upper body workouts including chest, shoulders and triceps. The pull workouts emphasizes the upper body including back and biceps. The lower body (legs) workouts emphasizes quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and claves. *Don't forget to incorporate abdominal work in two to three days a week!

The PPL training slit template is not so much as a set in stone exercise routine but as the name suggests a push, pull, and legs training split that allows for various different training exercises into the different date & time slots allowing you to meet your full body workout goals. The PPL split breaks down into weekly workouts, for example:

  1. Workout one: Pushing exercises that focus on the upper body, i.e., chest, shoulders, & triceps.

  2. Workout two: Pulling exercises that focus on the upper body, i.e. back, traps, & biceps.

  3. Workout three: Legs exercises that focus on the lower body, i.e. quadriceps, hamstrings & calves and Abs

Push Workout (upper body)

An example of pushing exercises include barbell and dumbbell bench press both flat and incline press for chest. Over the head and behind the neck military presses using both barbell and dumbbell, both standing and seated overhead press, dumbbell flies, and side laterals for traps. For triceps standing pushdowns, close grip bench press, and dips.

Push Exercises

The push workouts benefit the pectoral muscles (major & minor) of the chest, shoulder trapezius (traps), deltoid (delts) and triceps muscles. This includes exercises like flat and incline barbell bench press, flat and incline dumbbell bench press, dips, flies and reverse isolation triceps extension.


  • Flat Barbell Bench Press: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps

  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps

  • Incline Barbell Bench Press: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps

  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps

  • Cable Crossovers: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps

  • Dumbbell Flies: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps


  • Standing Barbell (Military) Press: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps

  • Seated Dumbbell Press: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps

  • Side Lateral Raises: 4-6 sets, 8-15 ascending reps


  • Triceps Pushdowns: 4-6 sets, 8-15 reps

  • Lying EZ Bar Triceps Extension (barbell or cable) 4-6 sets, 8-15 reps

  • Overhead Triceps Extension (barbell or cable) 4-6 sets, 8-15 reps

Pull Workout (Upper body)

Pulling exercises are strength training exercises that primarily work the back and biceps including the upper back. Pull exercises are opposite of push exercises that involve lengthening the muscle and controlling the resistance as yu move the connection points farther apart. Examples of pull exercises include biceps curl, hamstrings curl, and lat pull down.

Pull exercises focus on the back muscles latissimus dorsi (lats), and biceps. The workout includes:


  • Barbell Row: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

  • Seated Cable Row: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

  • Single-Arm Barbell Row: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

  • Lat Pulldowns: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

  • T-Bar Row: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

  • Pull-Ups: 4 sets, 10-15 reps


  • Standing & Seated Curls 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

  • Preacher Curl: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

  • Hammer Curl: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

Leg workout (lower body)

Strong legs do more than just look good. Event the simplest daily movements like walking require leg strength. This means it is important to incorporate leg workouts into your regular workout routine. When it comes to designing an effective leg workout, simpler is better.

The leg exercise include exercises like squat, leg press, leg extension, deadlift, leg curl, and calf raise.

  • Squat: 4-6 sets, 6-10 descending reps

  • Leg Press: 4-6 sets, 6-10 descending reps

  • Leg Extension: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

  • Deadlift: 4-6 sets, 6-10 descending reps

  • Seated Leg Curl: 4-6 sets, 6-10 descending reps

  • Standing Calf Raise: 4-6 sets, 8-15 descending reps

Abdominal workout

Abdominal exercises are a type of strength exercise that affects the abdominal muscles. Human abdominal consists of four muscles; rectus abdomens, internal oblique, external oblique, and transversus abdominis. Core-strengthening and abdominal-focused exercises can help you target and strengthen your core as a whole.

Abdominal exercises targets your back and core to promote stability and good posture.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your fingers interlaced at the base of your skull.

  2. Resting your feet on the flat surface with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle.

  3. Bend your knees to bring your feet in toward your low back.

  4. Slowly raise your head and shoulder blades off the floor.

  5. Pause for a few counts before lowering back down to the starting position.

  6. Do 4-6 sets


How to Build Muscle Mass for Female Beginner

In recent years women have shown interest in honing their bodies for competitive body building, CrossFit, fitness and swimsuit competitions that have evolved into a real competitive area. Even the over 50 crowd are more active than ever before stating, "fifty is the new thirty."

Many women have expressed concern with lifting weights that somehow, they will have big muscles and looks masculine like a man. You don't have to worry, as a beginner you won't develop huge muscle mass overnight because it takes many years of dedicated and committed work that typically is achieved by professional bodybuilders.

The truth is that women don't have the hormonal support to gain muscle mass like men. The hormone testosterone is responsible for large increases in muscle mass. Weight training increases lean muscle mass, which means the more muscle you have the more calories you'll burn and the leaner you'll become!

*An increase in lean muscle mass will also add shape to your arms, take inches from your tummy and even add roundness to your booty. The term "tone" refers to shaping or to shape strong muscles.

Weight training (beginner)

If you are a beginner at weight training, you shouldn't just jump right in. You need to build up your strength over time over-working your muscles can do more harm than good! Some muscles are naturally stronger than others and building up slowly allows muscles to develop appropriate strength relative to each other.

Muscular strength relates to your ability to move and lift objects. It’s measured by how much force you can exert and how much weight you can lift for a short period of time.

Examples of exercises that develop muscular strength and power include:

  • resistance training

  • weightlifting

  • bodyweight exercises

  • resistance band exercises

  • Running, cycling, and climbing hills are also options.

Strength vs. muscular endurance While muscular strength and muscular endurance are similar in some ways, they have some key differences. Muscular strength is determined by how much force you can exert or how much weight you can lift. Building muscular strength uses heavier weights for fewer repetitions.

Muscular endurance refers to the ability of a muscle to sustain repeated contractions against resistance for an extended period of time. Activities that build muscular endurance include long-distance running, cycling, or swimming, along with circuit training and bodyweight exercises. You can improve muscular strength and endurance by doing repetitive movements until the point of exhaustion. Benefits Muscular strength enhances overall health and boosts athletic activity.

  • A strong body allows you to perform movements and activities that require power without getting tired.

  • Muscular strength helps you maintain a healthy body weight by burning calories and enhancing your body composition, which is the ratio between fat and muscle.

  • Building strength may also boost mood and energy levels while promoting healthy sleep patterns. This may boost confidence, provide a sense of accomplishment, and allow you to add more difficult or strenuous activities to your fitness routine.

  • Developing muscular strengths helps to build strong, healthier muscles and bones. This helps to develop good posture and relieve back pain.

  • You’ll have more stability, balance, and flexibility, making injuries and falls less likely.

Exercises To build muscular strength, size, and power, do exercises and activities that make you work your muscles harder than normal. Since you’re focusing on getting stronger, you may want to try to intensify the exercises by using heavier weights and increasing your body resistance, even if it means that you do fewer repetitions.

Barbell Squat

Rest the barbell on the upper portion of your back, not your neck! Firmly grip the bar with your hands almost twice the shoulder width apart and your feet should be shoulder width apart with your knees and toes pointing a little outward. Keep your back as straight as possible and your chin up.

Bend your knees and slowly lower your hips straight down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Once you've reached the bottom, press the weight back to the starting position. Do these exercises at least two times per week. If you don’t have time for a longer session, squeeze as you squat to make this exercise easier.

  1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance.

  2. Slowly bend your knees to squat down.

  3. Pause in this position before returning to the starting position.

  4. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

Biceps curls

Standing or seated barbell or dumbbell curls can be accomplished by picking up the weight looking straight ahead ensuring to keeping your back straight and abs tight to keep your body from turning from side to as you lift the weight. Concentrate on pulling your elbow back as far as it can go, the weight should end up parallel with your torso.

For this exercise, you’ll need dumbbells or a barbell.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.

  2. Place your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up.

  3. Draw your elbows in toward your body as you slowly lift the weight.

  4. Pause and then slowly lower your hands back down to original position.

  5. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

Modified pushup Once you’ve mastered the form of this exercise, try doing standard pushups with your knees raised and your feet extended behind you.

  1. From tabletop position, lift your feet off the floor.

  2. Keep your head, neck, and spine in line as you slowly lower your body down toward the floor.

  3. Slowly return to the starting position.

  4. Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

Forearm plank

Plank is one of the best core strength exercises for your body. A plank holds also benefits calorie burning not just for belly fat but also improves posture and flexibility.

This plank variation is a good option if you have concerns with your wrists.

  1. From tabletop position, extend your feet and legs.

  2. Come onto your forearms with your elbows underneath your shoulders and your hands extended.

  3. Align your neck, spine, and hips to make a straight line with your body.

  4. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.

  5. Do it 2 to 3 times.

Precautions Before starting any strengthening exercise program if you’re new to exercise or have any injuries or medical concerns. Here are a few tips to help you avoid injury, start slowly and gradually build up the intensity and duration of your workouts over a few weeks.

Listen to your body and stop if you need a break or start to feel any pain. Allow for 1 day of recovery between working different muscle groups. Always use proper form and technique to make sure you’re getting the most benefits from your workouts.

Use steady, controlled movements, especially if you’re doing heavy lifting. Give yourself time to rest in between sets. Use caution when working out any area of your body that’s prone to pain or injury. This may include your neck, shoulders, and back and joints, such as your wrists, knees, and ankles. Avoid being short of breath or holding your breath, which can cause your blood pressure to rise. For each movement, exhale as you lift and inhale as you lower.

When to see a pro If it’s an option, talk to a personal trainer to set up an exercise program if you’re new to fitness or simply want an expert opinion. Your trainer will help you build and maintain the motivation that it takes to stick to your exercise routine and get the results you want.

Working with a professional ensures that you’re doing the exercises correctly and efficiently. They’ll help you stay on track, make sure you’re using proper technique, and advance the exercises when you improve. If it’s not possible to work with a professional, find a training partner. You can help each other stay motivated and make sure you’re both using program.

Finally Challenging your muscles to work harder than usual on a regular basic can help you build muscular strength. To stay on target and meet your fitness goals, it’s essential that you develop a routine that you enjoy. Change it up as often as you like to prevent yourself from getting bored and to target different muscle groups.

Along with weight and resistance exercises, amp up your usual activities, such as climbing stairs or carrying heavy bags, to build muscular strength and endurance. Make a point to incorporate more of these everyday tasks into your daily routine so you can enjoy the benefits of lean muscle mass.

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