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How to build strong muscle effectively

Table Of Content

Everyone dreams about having big muscles and aims to be strong as well (well, at least I do), but in order to do that, you need to build muscle, obviously. The question is how can you build it effectively? First, let’s get the basics out the way.

Muscle Hypertrophy

Muscle hypertrophy, better known as muscle growth, is an increase in muscle mass, i.e. size of your muscle. There are two types of muscle hypertrophy: Myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic.

Myofibrils are bundles of protein filaments that are responsible for contraction and relaxation. They run parallel to each other forming fibres. Myofibrillar hypertrophy is when the number of fibres increase meaning that the volume and density to also increase resulting in muscle growth and size.

Sarcoplasm is a fluid which surrounds the myofibrils in the muscles. It contains molecules such as glycogen, water, and creatine phosphate. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is slightly different to myofibrillar hypertrophy. Instead of increasing the number of fibres, the volume of sarcoplasmic fluid is increased resulting in an increase in muscle volume.

There are a couple of ways in which you can build muscle effectively.


Mechanical tension

Progressive overload is the best way to increase the weight amount of mechanical tension being generated when performing an exercise. Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight or load making your muscles work harder in order to lift that weight which in turn results in hypertrophy.  A sign that you should increase the is if you are able to lift a weight that used to be hard but now you can lift it without much of a challenge for a certain rep range.  

There are different ways of applying progressive overload in your training routine. The most common way to progressive overload is to increase the weight or resistance by small increments. For example, if you are bench pressing 80kg for 10 to 12 RM (Repetition Maximum), increase it by 5kg and perform the same amount of repetition. If it is not challenging enough for you, increase the weight.

Secondly, you can increase the volume. Volume is simply the sets multiplied by reps multiplied by weight/load. In this case, if you are doing three sets of 10-12RM, add another set, making a total of four sets.

Lastly, you can increase the training frequency. If you want to target a specific muscle group, you can increase the training frequency by working out that specific muscle group twice a week.


Metabolic stress


Building muscle takes a long time and you have to put in the work and stay consistent to see progress.

The key takeaways:

  • Mechanical tension through progressive overload is the best way to grow your muscles
  • Metabolic stress induces muscle growth at a moderate to higher rep range with moderate weight and shorter rest time
  • Drop sets have been shown to increase muscle thickness but only with people who have been weight training under a year

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